G’day, my name is Shane Aylmore and I am the owner of the pastoral lease for Ella Valla Station. Ella Valla is located 28km south-east of Carnarvon in an area known as the ‘Goat Triangle’. In it’s hay-day Ella Valla was a successful sheep station, in modern times it is a financially struggling cattle station.
In 2015 I was granted a diversification permit (by the Department of Lands) for the purposes of granting access to recreational shooters for shooting tourism purposes. I applied for this diversification for reasons of being a lifelong passionate sporting shooter myself and to financially support my farm and my family during the station’s recovery from damage to feed, livestock, and infrastructure caused by fires that burned through the region for four months in 2011.
Importantly, my diversification provides a remote and safe venue for Western Australian shooters to enjoy their chosen sport for both the destruction of vermin and target shooting.
As part of the diversification process I also established a 2.7 kilometre-long shooting range which provides a unique privately owned WA range facility for the use by owners of long-range precision rifles and the only civilian range currently in WA that is suitable for the use of 50BMG rifles. This range is the largest non-military range of its kind in Australia and gives WA shooters a safe place to visit, practice, and compete in their chosen sport. Some fellow competitive shooters and I also established the Widji Bandi Sporting Association (Inc) for the purposes of providing a Club environment at the Ella Valla range to foster shooting sport comradery, training, allow the exchange or knowledge, and to promote the participation in the competitive nature of this challenging but fulfilling targeting shooting sport. This culminated in Widji Bandi and Ella Valla hosting the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia Long Range Precision Nationals and the first WA internationally sanctioned 50 Caliber Shooting Association (Inc. USA) championships in July 2018.
WHAT IS THE ISSUE?
It is no secret that the Western Australian Police Licensing Enforcement Division (WAPOL) have an intense disliking for firearms owners. Whilst there are laws that have been passed through parliament that allow firearms ownership under specific circumstances, WAPOL believe it is their mandate to try and prevent ownership altogether by interpreting the Firearms Act and Regulations in their own new and inventive ways. This approach has become far more acute in recent months with WAPOL making it their mission to prevent law abiding people from obtaining licenses for large calibre long range firearms (amongst others) or, if you have one already, they are also trying to get your existing firearm off you by revoking licenses, making illegal seizures, making frequent requisitions for information in which they are not legally entitled, and/or threatening you under sections of the Act that are not even applicable or relevant to you, your circumstances, or your licence conditions. They are the ones acting unlawfully and well beyond their powers and remit. Now, they see the easiest target is to attack the very venue which provides these shooters with the facility that their firearms can be safely used – the range at Ella Valla.
WAPOL’s strategy is quite clear to every shooter involved in these actions and that is WAPOL are abusing their position of power to make life as complicated as possible even in the complete absence of any complaint, an allegation of wronging, or suspicion of criminally activity. They use the strength of the Government’s cheque book with State funded lawyers to force as many sporting shooters as possible to either concede to their demands or be forced to spend their after-tax money to fight a fight started with resources funded by the taxes you paid. It’s a despicable misuse of public resources and it must be stopped. The only recourse to remedy WAPOL’s misuse of powers is to take matters to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) or, if necessary or that fails, the Supreme Court.
Just this morning I was in SAT having to have lawyers argue a Stay on conditions which the WA Police are trying to impose on Ella Valla. These conditions are unreasonably onerous, are not in the public interest, and are imposed on no other range in the State which goes a long way to demonstrate the complete lack of impartiality in their actions and their clear targeting of Ella Valla.
Make no mistake, the prejudice and ill-will expressed and demonstrated towards a specific legitimate recreational sporting pursuit under the guise of their “audit and compliance” has the ultimate goal of having firearms owners relinquish ownership through pure frustration or attrition. This behaviour does not meet the objectives of the Firearms Act nor is it in the public interest. I will not let them do this to me and the Ella Valla Range and I will continue to do what I can to prevent it happening to you.
THE PUNCH LINE
I have decided to take this fight to WAPOL because I believe what they are doing is fundamentally wrong, corrupt, and I believe if I fail to defend the rights of the Ella Valla range, every other sporting shooter is next in line. Ella Valla is the first line of defence to their corrupt actions. I will not concede to WAPOL’s unlawful demands and I intend to fight each and every unlawful condition or matter to defend the rights of all WA sporting shooters for the safe legitimate enjoyment of their chosen sport.
Regrettably taking up this fight is placing a financial burden on me. I am placed in the position of having to seek expensive legal advice and representation along with initiating SAT actions to fight unlawful, unnecessary, and intentionally malicious conditions imposed on me and the range. The Widji Bandi Club is also playing its part in helping individual firearms owners deal with the unlawful requests of the Police which comes at an enormous legal cost for such a small fledgling sporting club.
I have been encouraged to set up this page by some friends who can see the effects this burden is having on me, the time I am having to divert from my normal work, and the direct costs that I am having to occur for legal representation. Whilst it would be much easier for me to roll over and submit to the unlawful and corrupt actions of WAPOL, I am taking up the fight out of principle and law and as the little guy who is prepared to stand up in the face of an abuse of position and the blatant misuse of public funds.
I respectfully invite you to help me take up the fight by participating in this fundraising campaign.
My undertaking to anyone who is kind enough to contribute to this campaign is that 100% of the funds raised will be directly used to cover the direct legal and court costs incurred in fighting the unlawful actions of WAPOL in SAT (and if necessary the Supreme Court) where it relates to the Ella Valla Range and the Widji Bandi Club matters. If there are any surplus funds after the conclusion of these actions, those surplus funds will be directly used to improve the Ella Valla range facilities and infrastructure for the safe enjoyment of sporting shooters in Western Australia. I will be accountable for those improvements by proving you updates on the Widji Bandi club website.
For some further background I encourage you to view ABC Landline story which aired 14 October 2018 here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-14/shooting-farm:-firearms-tourism-on-a-remote/10375316?pfmredir=sm
Some background on the range and Widji Bandi and our recent competition can also be found here: http://www.widjibandi.org/video-gallery.html
With sincere thanks in anticipation
- Peter Williams
- Timothy Surtees
- Stu Obrien
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