HUNTFEST will operate a mobile air rifle range and have guns for sale at the 2015 event in Narooma after Eurobodalla Council passed a variation to its event license on Tuesday night.
After much debate and four presentations during the public forum portion of the council meeting, the majority of councillors voted in favour of approving the license variation.
Also included in the amendment was to extend the event license area to cover the whole of Narooma’s NATA reserve.
Mayor Lindsay Brown declared a conflict of interest on the issue and left the council chambers during discussion and voting, as a family member is employed by one of the stall holders at HuntFest.
Cr Fergus Thomson was absent from the meeting, leaving seven councillors left to vote on the variation.
Councillors Danielle Brice and Gabi Harding spoke against the variation and believed many questions surrounding the event were still unanswered.
Cr Harding’s main concern was the details surrounding the sale of rifles and safety at the event.
“In the past, not here, but at arms fairs generally there has been little, if any, checking that those participating in these events have authority to do so,” Cr Harding said.
“This is a concern to me.
“Our local community has said they are not happy with the idea of this event going ahead.”
Cr Brice was worried about the safety concern for the community.
Councillors Rob Pollock, Liz Innes, Peter Schwarz, Neil Burnside and Milton Leslight voted in favour.
Cr Innes said she was comfortable that safety issues had been addressed.
Three public forum speakers spoke against the variation and one spoke in favour.
Jim Bright believed not enough information on the event was provided to councillors and opposed the proposition of gun sales.
Alan Baxter argued the majority of the community does not want guns displayed at the event in Narooma.
Peter Cormick said more guns would find there way into the community because of the event.
South Coast Hunters Club president and HuntFest organiser Dan Field said the event would continue to grow and benefit the community with the variation approved.
He said the police were the only suitable ones to decide whether guns are sold at the event or not.
“The police are very rigorous with what we are allowed to do at these events and the security has to be 100 per cent to even be granted a license,” Mr Field said.
Mr Field assured those at the council meeting that firearm dealers would be set up inside the building at the venue.
The air rifle range will be outside but within the secure areas in front of the building.
“The NADA oval will only be used for camping, caravanning and fishing equipment,” Mr Field said.
“Unless you hold an A or B category firearm license you cannot handle a firearm.
“If you purchase a firearm at the event, you cannot walk around with it and will collect it as you leave the event.
“The firearm must be locked and in a locked case, as per the firearm act, before it leaves the premises.”
Although council passed the variation to the event license, HuntFest must now fulfil all regulations before being granted an Arms Fair Permit by NSW Police.