Queensland police approved the import of 2,000 Adler A110 lever-action shotguns from Turkey in 2015 by one of Australia’s largest firearms dealers.
The federal government imposed an import ban on lever-action shotguns with a firing capacity of more than five rounds in July 2015 following the emergence of the Adler A110 in Australia’s gun market.
One of the Australian companies known to be importing the weapon, Nioa, is led by Robert Nioa, the son-in-law of independent MP Bob Katter.
Gun Control Australia sought access to import permission documents from Queensland police, which was initially refused.
But after a lengthy appeal the state’s information commissioner ruled in a preliminary decision there was a clear public interest in the release of the document. Disclosure would also “contribute to a positive and informed debate about the regulatory requirements for importation of the Adler shotgun into Queensland”, assistant information commissioner Anna Rickard ruled.
The documents show that in May 2015 Queensland police granted Nioa permission to import 300 seven-shot Adler A110s and 300 five-shot versions, shortly before the import ban was introduced.
Nioa told Guardian Australia the seven-shot Adler A110s were awaiting collection from the manufacturer in Turkey when the ban was introduced. But he said they were modified to five-shot weapons before they were imported to ensure they complied with the spirit of the ban.
“Whilst Nioa held valid import permission for the firearms we opted to convert the firearms to five-shot magazines to ensure the spirit of the suspension was achieved. The expense of the conversion and delay was borne by Nioa,” he said.
Following the ban Nioa continued to import the five-shot version. Queensland police approved the import by Nioa of 1,400 five-shot Adler A110s between August and November 2015, the documents show, making a total of just over 2,000 across 2015. Nioa declined to outline the sales records for the firearms.
Queensland police appear to have granted permission for the imports without raising any objections. Nioa’s letters request that the weapons licensing branch “please supply” the certificates for their imports. The certificates were supplied in a matter of days on each occasion.
While in some cases import approval must also be sought from the attorney-general’s office, a spokeswoman for the department said it was not required for the Adler.
Gun Control Australia chair Sam Lee said: “If gaining police certification to import firearms is this easy, then no wonder Australia’s firearm figures are at an all-time high.
“These documents raise some concerning questions about what role the department of border protection is undertaking when it comes to monitoring the import of firearms.”
Nioa has been a central figure in the debate over Australia’s firearms laws over the past two years. He is a director of the Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia, which donated to Liberal and National MPs in the lead up to the 2016 election.
Asked about the donations, Nioa said: “I am not authorised to disclose the contents of various Sifa meetings, however I can say that I am happy for organisations I am associated with to comply with electoral disclosure laws and support political parties and/or individual members of parliament that are in favour of open consultation on firearms issues and that are supportive of evidence-based, rational and safe firearms’ regulations.”