Premier accused of using COVID to hide political agenda
The State Government has been accused of using the COVID-19 pandemic as a smokescreen to push the ALP's political gun agenda.
Katter's Australian Party leader Robbie Katter claimed a Right To Information document relating to the sudden closure of the state's gunshops in March contained proof the government was making decisions based on political and ideological whims, as opposed to sound medical advice or best practice procedures.
"This document makes it very clear these decisions were made by people with no expertise in the area and were not related to public health concerns at all," the Member for Traeger said.
"The people who made these decisions were so incompetent that police officers were not able to buy ammunition to do their jobs."
Mr Katter said on the same day the Premier forced people to queue in line to vote in the local government elections (March 28) the government decided to close gun shops.
He said the documents showed the decision was made, not because it was unsafe because of the COVID-19 threat, but because of concerns about the heightened anxiety some in the community might experience.
Mr Katter said the decision limited the ability of police, ADF and security personnel to access weapons, prevented licensed firearm owners like farmers from conducting pest control and protecting stock and immediately crippled the national industry, including small businesses.
Mr Katter's comments come as criticism mounts for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's refusal to budge on hard border closures, which are being described as "sabre-rattling" and "electioneering" and not for the safety of Queenslanders as claimed.
The Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce president Martin Hall said confusion was rife among business owners about the road out of border closures.
"We still don't have a good plan. We've got electioneering getting in the way," Mr Hall said.
Last week it was announced the state government has set up a special unit to look at the hardship cases in northern NSW where people with urgent medical needs have been unable to access specialist care across the border.
This was on the back of stories of medical heartbreak resulting from the border closures.
At the same time the Premier was under fire for her decision to allow hundreds of AFL officials to cross the border ahead of the upcoming AFL grand final which will be played in Brisbane in October.
Ms Palaszczuk has said the "health of Queenslanders is our No. 1 priority and we don't take these safety measures lightly".
She said the Economic Recovery Plan was "the most comprehensive".
Mr Katter, whose brother-in-law Robert Nioa is the president of the Firearm Dealers Association of Queensland, claimed the closure of the state's gun shops had nothing to do with controlling COVID-19.
He said it was clear from the documents that the decisions were made on political factors and not genuine medical advice.
"It's not good enough, and it has to stop. The COVID-19 crisis is real and must be addressed - but it should not be an opportunity for the government to exploit the goodwill of Queenslanders by using the virus to pursue hidden agendas."
Mr Nioa's business, NIOA, is one of the nation's largest providers of arms and ammunition, supplying to the Australian Defence Force and Victoria Police.
Originally published as Premier accused of using COVID to hide political agenda