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WA Police given safety warning over 'outrageous' rifle media stunt



The Western Australia Police Force was given repeated warnings about a media stunt with a "high-powered" rifle, that posed an "air danger" risk, according to internal documents.

The sniper rifle was on show during a press conference in March last year, attended by the premier, police minister and former police commissioner.

The media event at the rifle range was to launch a campaign to overhaul the state's firearms legislation and crack down on illegal weapons.

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But freedom of information documents show the police force was warned of the dangers by its own officers, SAS and the Royal Australian Air Force while planning the stunt.

It forced the RAAF Base Pearce to issue an urgent air notice for danger to a height of 18,000 feet for two days.

The National Shooting Council have also condemned the media event.

"It is absolutely mind-blowing this media event was allowed to go ahead there were just so many so many serious safety breaches," National Shooting Council Vice President Peter Zabrdac said.

A 0.50-calibre sniper rifle used in the stunt cost an estimated $8500.

"To use taxpayer money for a media stunt to purchase a gun which the government is proposing to ban is completely outrageous," state Liberal Opposition Leader Libby Mettam said.

It's now being stored in the force's ballistic library, which is used for criminal investigations.

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WA Police admitted a number of potential issues of staging the event at Pearce air-base were raised.

But it insisted all were addressed with mitigation strategies including a direct line of communications with RAAF for the entire demonstration.

"I'm sure it was done in the right way and I'm sure it was communicating a very significant issue which is gun ownership in the community," Transport Minister Rita Saffiotti said.

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