Who is Alex Mandl?

Mr Mandl holds a senior role in the Queensland Public Service as Chief Inspector of Explosives. This man sets a lot of rules for firearms and ammo dealers. He consults with industry groups in setting those rules.

He’s come to our attention once before. In the pandemic (March 2020), the Queensland Labor government joined all Labor State governments in rushing to close all firearms dealers. Why? Ostensibly, because firearms owners would start committing more domestic violence if dealers were open. You can’t make this stuff up, so go and read:

  1. Our original coverage of the dealer shutdown,
  2. The 30 March email to Alex Mandl, confirming the they were shutting the dealers to limit domestic violence (about half way down this post).

Documents blocked for 12 months!

The tedious journey to obtain the disparaging remarks began in April 2020, with Right To Information requests to several departments, including the Department of Agriculture. For 11 months, Ag sent ‘extension of time’ requests. At 12 months, we said ‘enough’ and lodged an external review application with Queensland’s Information Commissioner.

Four months later, Ag finally agreed to release some (heavily redacted) documents. The Information Commissioner gave us just 7 days (one week) to respond to the release of 164 pages of documents. If we didn’t raise any further objections they would automatically close the external review we had requested.

When a non-profit, staffed by volunteers, is given 7 days to respond to redactions across 164 pages, you’ve really got to ask: just how committed is the Information Commissioner to government transparency?

What did Mr Mandl write?

In March-April 2020, Queensland Health and various politicians received a torrent of correspondence from dealers and from shooters like you about the dealer closures. This prompted a series of changes to the public health orders, culminating in dealer re-openings to serve farmers and industry (but not to serve target shooters).

Here’s what Mr Mandl had to say about a shooting group that was lobbying for reopening:

[SHOOTING ORGANSATION REDACTED] still agitating with their members today. Amendments to the Health Direction will settle them down a little, but they are usually behind and not that willing to listen.

— Chief Inspector of Exposives, Alex Mandl, email to other Queensland Departments, 6 April 2020

The story isn’t over. We’ve objected to the redaction, and we’re going to do our best to find out who exactly Mr Mandl was disparaging.

How can we take regulators seriously, when they appear to write disparagingly about recognised shooting associations to other government departments?