What does $6 million buy at Queensland’s Weapons Licensing Branch?

Every year, the Queensland taxpayer burns through millions of dollars on their firearms registry.  The Queensland Police admit about $6 million, but we believe the true cost to the taxpayer is much higher.  (We’ve applied for access to financial records to help us establish the true cost, but Queensland Police have been delaying providing the documents for three months.)


Shouldn’t good service be the norm?

Once you have a firearms license there is no excuse for long delays and bad service.  The Weapons Licensing Branch knows who you are.  They know why you have a license.  They know what you own.  There’s no reason 90% of transactions shouldn’t be completed within a few days.

Last week, an online survey let us capture a snapshot from 33 law-abiding firearms owners over a few days.  They’ve tried to get simple things done with Weapons Licensing Branch.  Let’s look at their real life experience.


License Renewals: Grade F

Five law-abiding firearms owners sought to renew existing licenses (4 category A/B and 1 category H target pistol license).  All five waited more than three months to get a simple license renewal.  This reflects an office in crisis.

What happened for one of them is utterly scandalous.  He asked what to do with his firearms, given he had waited so long he was about to lose any legal authority to posses the firearms in his safe.  He was simply told to hang on to them.  As the user told us:

I am quite sure that if it had come to that and I had been inspected, then when I couldn’t produce a valid licence I would surely have been arrested.  No amount of protesting “but Weapons Licensing told me it was OK” would have done me any good. Lord knows what other spurious advice is being dished out by these people!

This is totally unacceptable.  It can only reflect an attitude from the leadership of Weapons Licensing where they only take the law seriously when it suits them.


Permits to Acquire: Grade C

Some shooters have reported getting quick approvals through Weapons Licensing’s online service for permits to acquire a new firearm.  13 people who responded to our survey were trying to get a new permit to acquire.  10 were for Category A/B rifles or shotguns and 2 were for target shooting pistols.  Six out of 12 had to wait more than two weeks to get a simple Permit to Acquire in the mail!

As one user wrote:

Shouldn’t take 2 weeks plus for an online system!

These people did not submit incomplete information or have to give Weapons Licensing additional information.


Speaking to Weapons Licensing staff: Grade D+

Eleven out of 33 users had to speak to Weapons Licensing staff.  Only seven of the 11 told us about their experience speaking with staff, but five had a poor experience.  Even if we assume the people who didn’t tell us about the staff were happy with their service, this is a result that would cause alarm in any other government agency.  For the leaders of Weapons Licensing, it’s just another day at the office.


Overall rating of experience with Weapons Licensing Branch

29 users gave us a rating of their experience with Weapons Licensing Branch in that transaction.


Why did LAFO even have to run a customer service survey?

This survey represents a snapshot of transactions in time, but again, it should be cause for alarm.  Reflecting on their experience, one user mused:

The system is broken on so many levels. Why are renewal applications processed in the order they are to expire rather than the order they are received? Why don’t the QPS staff at the local station (where the payment is made) have the adequate resources (i.e. ETFPOS or change for cash) to process payments? Why do I have to supply a photo? Why can’t we adopt the NSW model for licence cards which uses government facilities at the RTA?

As a final question, what does it tell you about the existing system that a non-profit organisation representing the most law-abiding segment of the community even has to run a customer satisfaction survey?  The Weapons Licensing Branch Branch don’t seem interested in good government administration.