BOTH BARRELS: Owner blasts ‘non-essential’ ruling
A COAST gun shop owner has given the State Government both barrels as coronavirus-driven changes threaten a business into which he's poured half a million dollars.
Sunshine Coast Gun Shop owner David Longrigg said restrictions on trade for licensed armourers and dealers deemed non-essential services had left him baffled, while op shops, whitegoods and other stores remained open for business.
The State Government announced changes to the measures earlier this week which would allow gun shops to provide weapons and ammunition to commercial pest controllers or feral animal controllers, vets, shark control contractors and some other state and federal bodies.
Mr Longrigg said the changes had thrown in doubt the Farmer Assist program, which enabled registered shooters to go and help farmers with pest control, by hunting feral pests on their properties.
He said those customers accounted for about 50 per cent of his business, and if they were able to continue, he felt his business could still operate.
"That can't happen now," Mr Longrigg said.
"They've hidden behind the COVID-19 scare to close down gun shops."
He said it had been frustrating, after he and his wife had sunk about $500,000 into the business, which had doubled in their time, to now be restricted from even trading online or offering delivery services to people licensed to own weapons.
Mr Longrigg said it was double standards, when they followed all health advice, that they weren't considered an essential service while others still traded.
"If anything we are an essential business," he said, noting a bumper crop was expected this year, which meant farmers would need pest control assistance.
"This is a cheap shot."
A State Government spokesman said any declarations made by the state's Chief Health Officer regarding restrictions were "temporary and can only be in place while a public health emergency remains declared".
"Any formal request from the industry to expand exemptions would be assessed on its merits and take into account overall need for any further expansion," the spokesman said.