Chinchilla firearm dealer fights for farmers livelihood
ONE Chinchilla firearm dealer was one day in the middle of laying off his staff and closing his doors before the next day his entire situation turned around.
Last Monday John Dolling, owner of Scouller Saddlery in Chinchilla, had to shut up his shop as selling firearms was classed a non-essential service and prohibited from operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"For us because we have firearm dealership attached to us we had to close all trade," he said.
"We couldn't even operate the other parts of our store such as sell ammunition, clothing, workwear or saddlery supplies, meaning locals would have to go to out of town to Roma or Toowoomba for their essential farming equipment.
"At that stage, we looking at being a six-month closure so we in the process of working out how to best look after our staff to ensure they could survive life without a job."
However, by Tuesday (the very next day), the announcement came that the original decision was overturned and firearm dealers are now on the list for essential services.
Noting that the milk and meat don't just come from the supermarket alone and that it's the farmers working hard to produce these items, Mr Dolling said they are the backbone of our country and need the ability to protect their farms and livelihood.
"Unfortunately the feral animals didn't get the note that they couldn't be out and about breeding and eating people's crops," he joked.
"Only two years ago one of the properties we used to shoot on locked up 400 acres two-foot-high baffle grass and when they went to put cattle back in and nothing was left because feral animals overran the property.
"Being a firearm dealer in a rural community it is a service because by the time we take into account all our expenses, we don't make a profit out it and we do it do it to serve the community."
Angered and upset by the original decision, he straight to the local MP for Callide Colin Boyce to complain and get action for the farmers.
He also encouraged any primary producers to contact the health minister.
"The health minister saw the mistake he had made and did correct it so that primary producers can move forward and obtain the gear they need to obtain," Mr Dolling said.
"We should never have been shut in the place, but I would like to congratulate Colin, who went in to fight for us and took the letters and emails to the state government meeting.
"We would also like to thank the primary producers who put in their letters because they are the ones who got it back for themselves.
"If they hadn't stood up for themselves, we would probably still be shut."