Do you sell knives, box-cutters, daggers, axes, tomahawks, machetes, sickles, scythes, swords, spears, spear guns or gel blasters? 


Laws impacting the sale of knives
and controlled items in Queensland

Regulations enforceable 1 September 2024

There are new laws coming into effect in Queensland from 1 September 2024
which mean that knives and other items will be considered controlled items.


Sellers must ensure knives and other controlled items are not sold to minors under 18 years and this will require age checks, staff instruction, in-store signage, and advertising restrictions.  Some knives, such as those made from plastic or with a rounded end, are exempt.

Particular controlled items, such as axes, machetes, and swords, cannot be sold to minors but must also be securely stored prior to sale, such as in locked cabinets or tethered so they cannot be removed without staff assistance.  Restricted items, such as gel blasters which could be mistaken for real firearms, cannot be sold to minors, must be securely stored, and have additional obligations for both sellers and buyers.

Information and support for business

– Laws impacting the sale of knives and controlled items in Queensland –

The National Retail Association has been officially engaged by the Queensland Police Service to engage and assist businesses to understand and prepare for the new laws.  From May to October 2024, the National Retail team are delivering a range of support services for businesses, including a tollfree hotline, factsheets and signage, online webinars, and physical visits to thousands of stores in retail centres and precincts across Queensland.

Support services available >

Mandatory signage now available

4 July update: National Retail has received official confirmation of signage
which is mandatory for sellers to display in-store from 1 September 2024.

Download A4 signs

Download A5 signs

Please download, print and display signs in the specific locations
as described under Step 04 below.

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8 Steps for Sellers

  • 8 Steps for Sellers

    01   Assess your range for impacted items.

    02   Consider whether you need to sell these items.

    03   Ensure you do not sell to minors.

    04   Display signage about age restrictions.

    05   Instruct your staff and keep records.

    06   Check items are not promoted illegally.

    07   Ensure particular controlled items are securely stored.

    08   Check requirements for restricted items and weapons.

    Click on each tab below to understand the legal requirements for sellers or download the full Guide for Sellers.

  • 01 Assess your range.

    To understand your responsibilities, review your range and determine whether an item is:

    • Exempt
    • Controlled
    • Controlled-Secured
    • Restricted

     

    If unsure, the National Retail Association recommends a risk-averse approach which focuses on the intent of the legislation which is to prevent potentially harmful items from ending up in the wrong hands.

    We recommend that businesses should not rely on how the product is named or labelled, and should also check for controlled items, such as box-cutters, in multi-item or toolbox kits.

    Consider how an average person (not a specialist or tradesperson) would classify the item, whether it poses danger in the hands of minors or if it was used in a crime, and what is the risk of breaching the law if you classify it incorrectly.

    For example, an item may be labelled as a hatchet but most people would still consider this a form of axe, therefore it may be best to treat this as an axe and apply secure storage requirements.

    Click to expand in new tab

    EXEMPT

    • Knife with rounded or dull tip (eg. butter knife)
    • Plastic or wooden knife for eating
    • Cheese knife
    • Items that are not likely to be considered knives, such as scissors, shears, secateurs, most shaving razors and replacement blades for box-cutters or scalpels

    CONTROLLED

    Knives with one single-sided blade, such as:

    • Kitchen or steak knife
    • Utility knife or box-cutter
    • Fishing knife
    • Craft scalpel
    • Cutthroat razor
    • A single-sided knife within a multi-tool or kit.

    CONTROLLED-SECURED

    A specific list of items are identified:

    • A dagger that has a double-edged blade
    • A knife (or multi-tool) with a blade at each end
    • A sword
    • A machete
    • An axe or tomahawk
    • A sickle or scythe
    • A spear gun or spear
    • A bladed item prescribed through regulation (further items can be regulated in future).

    RESTRICTED

    Replica weapons under the Weapons Act 1990. Example:

    • certain gel blasters which could be mistaken for a real firearm.

    Note: please see Weapons Act 1990 for extensive list of items considered weapons
    or restricted items.

     

    Need help understanding if your item is impacted?

    Businesses can contact the National Retail Association for industry insight or seek independent legal advice.
    Come along to an online information session or contact us.

  • 02 Consider whether you need to sell these items.

    Some businesses need to sell knives, axes, machetes, and other controlled items.

    However, if these items are not a core product line and you don’t have a clear reason for selling them, consider removing them from your range.

    If you continue selling these items, you will need to comply with all of the legal requirements, such as ID-checking processes, staff training, displaying signage, changing promotional materials, and you may need to install locked cabinets, cages or tethering devices which could entail significant expense.

    If you no longer sell these items, you can reduce:

    • your risk of breaking the law,
    • secure storage costs,
    • having these items stolen, or
    • inadvertently contributing to violent crime.

     

    For example, some homewares, variety and convenience stores offer a few knives or a impacted tools as a small part of their range, and are making the decision to no longer sell these items as the cost, danger and complexity of offering them outweighs their minimal sales.

    Other businesses are choosing to remove controlled items from their online store as setting up strong ID checking processes or software, as well as changing all combat-style promotional materials and packaging, is not worth the investment or risk.

    Even members of the public who sell secondhand controlled items through online platforms, local markets or events must comply with the law.

    If you don’t need to sell controlled items, or if you have concerns about complying with the new legal requirements, consider phasing out these items immediately.

  • 03 Ensure you and your staff do not sell to minors.

    Across Australia, crimes involving knives and other controlled items pose a serious risk to the community with increased offences reported, especially in crimes committed by minors.

    By prohibiting the sale of specific items to minors, we can reduce their accessibility to young people, disrupt and deter violent offences, support responsible retailing, and improve community safety.


    Legal requirements for sellers:

    • Sellers and their employees must not sell a controlled or restricted item to a minor aged under 18 years.
      • You should take all reasonable steps to verify a customer is not a minor. Unless you can reasonably assess that a person is over 18 years, you must sight appropriate identification which displays their age.
      • Sellers may refuse to sell a controlled item without repercussions under the Anti-Discrimination Act if they have reason to suspect the item is being purchased by, or for, a minor.

    Penalty for sellers failing to meet these requirements: up to 420 penalty units. Employees who sell to minors face penalties up to 40 penalty units.


    Legal requirements for customers:

    • A person is prohibited from falsely representing themselves as 18 years or older to buy a controlled item.
      • Buyers are required to present identification if requested by staff, assuming it is reasonable to suspect you are under 18 years (or appear to be around that age).

    Penalty for a person failing to meet these requirements: maximum 25 penalty units.


    DOWNLOAD STAFFROOM SIGNAGE >

    National Retail has developed posters for businesses to display in staff rooms or behind counters to remind staff of their obligations and how to check ID.

    Scroll down or click here for resources.

     

     

  • 04 Display signage about age restrictions.

    To promote awareness of the new offences, reflect the seriousness of selling controlled items to minors and to reinforce compliance, sellers are required to display signage publicising the prohibition in all retail outlets where these items are sold.


    Legal requirements for sellers:

    • Sellers must display clearly visible signs advising that the sale of controlled items to minors is prohibited.
    • Prohibition signs must be displayed either:
      • at each point-of-sale in the outlet so it is clearly visible when a person is purchasing a controlled item,
        • OR
      • at each place where a controlled item is displayed in the outlet so it is clearly visible when a person is viewing the displayed products.
    • If there is no display location then a sign must be at every point-of-sale. A retail outlet includes any physical premises where the item is sold to customers.

    Penalty for sellers failing to meet these requirements: maximum 20 penalty units.


    MANDATORY BLACK-AND-WHITE SIGNAGE

    Sample image only

    Similar to other regulated items, such as spray paint, there will be specific wording, size and colour requirements for signage.

    While regulations are yet to be finalised, indications are that signage requirements will include:

    • minimum size – at least 14.8cm x 21cm (A5) in size;
    • design requirements – black text on white background;
    • text size – black text which is at least 8mm high; and
    • specific wording:
      The sale of knives and other controlled items to minors is prohibited.
      Penalties apply.
      Acceptable evidence of age may be required. 

    Download official signs now

    Official A4 and A5 signs that comply with the above requirements are available now – so businesses can simply download, print and display these signs. You are welcome to make your own and use your own brand, however it must follow the requirements listed above.

    Download A4 signs

    Download A5 signs

    Signage which follows the requirements defined under regulation must be clearly visible at either each point-of-sale or where each item is displayed from 1 September 2024.

    Receive official signage files when they are released: Register here > 

     


    OPTIONAL CAMPAIGN SIGNAGE

    In addition to displaying signs which meet the specified requirements which will be defined in regulation, businesses may choose to display further campaign materials to help educate your customers. For example:

    • You may want additional signage throughout your store which uses your business branding or is customised to fit certain shelves, counters or registers.
    • You may want to include statements to help customers understand your age verification processes, such as “If you look under 25, we will ask for ID”.
    • For items which are Controlled-Secured you may want to include additional statements advising customers that the items are required by law to be securely stored, and how to ask staff for assistance.

    Queensland Police Service and National Retail have developed a range of campaign materials in various sizes which businesses can use voluntarily to supplement the mandatory signage.

     

    IMPORTANT: The colour campaign signage is not a substitute for mandatory black-and-white signage which must follow the wording, colour, size and location requirements prescribed under regulation.

     

     

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  • 05 Instruct your staff and keep records.

    Employees are often responsible for serving customers and processing sales, rather than the business owner. It is vital that staff members understand their obligations and the consequences for them, the business, and the community if controlled items end up in the wrong hands.


    Legal requirements for sellers:

    • Staff must be instructed and warned that it is illegal to sell a controlled or restricted item to a minor, with staff acknowledging this in writing.
    • Sellers are responsible for ensuring you instruct all employees about:
      • the prohibition on the sale of controlled items to minors, and
      • the requirement that all employees sight acceptable evidence of age before selling a controlled item unless satisfied that the person is an adult.
    • You must also warn employees of the legal consequences of selling to a minor, and that both the owner and employee can be held liable.
    • Sellers must obtain the written acknowledgement from the employee that confirms the employee has received these instructions and warning.

    Penalty for sellers failing to meet these requirements: maximum 40 penalty units.

    TIPS

    Staff instruction

    It is at the discretion of the business whether to incorporate instruction about the new laws into existing training or by conducting individual or group meetings with their team.

    To meet the legal requirements, your instruction of staff must include:that controlled items must not be sold to minors,

    • that staff must sight acceptable evidence of age unless they are confident the person is over 18 years,
    • that selling a controlled item to a minor is a breach of law which carries legal consequences, and
    • that both the owner and employee can be held liable.

    Keeping records

    It is a requirement to obtain written acknowledgement from the employee that confirms they have received instructions and warning about their obligations. This could be a simple physical letter or an electronic form, as long as the business can clearly demonstrate what was instructed and that this was acknowledged by the employee.

    It is recommended that businesses keep these records for a reasonable time beyond that staff member’s employment in case an incident requires investigation in future.


    DOWNLOAD STAFF ACKNOWLEDGEMENT FORM >

    National Retail has developed a sample staff acknowledgement form for businesses to incorporate into staff training and record-keeping if you do not already have a system in place.

    Scroll down or click here for resources.

     

     

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  • 06 Check items are not promoted illegally.

    While knives and other controlled items are primarily designed for household uses, trades, and sports, some of these products are being promoted or glamorised as weapons suitable for combat or violence.


    Legal requirements for sellers:

    • Sellers must not suggest or promote item as suitable for combat or violence.
    • Sellers must not sell a controlled (or highly controlled) item that indicates or suggests the item:
      • is suitable for combat or intended to be used for violence, whether actual or threatened, against a person or fictional creature (eg. zombie weapon), or
      • is likely to stimulate or encourage violent or criminal behaviour that involves using the item.

    Penalty for sellers failing to meet these requirements: maximum 25 penalty units.


    Check all features of a controlled item, or the way in which the item is sold, such as:

    • images, words or markings on the item
    • images or words in an advertisement or signage
    • images or words in website content
    • images or words packaging for the item
    • product names

    These elements must not indicate or suggest that the item is suitable for combat, intended for violence, or be likely to encourage violent behaviour.

     

    Requirements for most single-edged knives cease here.
    Continue to Step 7 and 8 if you sell controlled or restricted items requiring secure storage.

  • 07 Ensure particular controlled items are securely stored - Only applies to particular items.

    Unfortunately, particular items, such as axes, machetes and hunting knives are increasingly being stolen and used in criminal activity to create fear, harm and even death. While most people do not use these items inappropriately, precautions are needed to prevent to prevent theft and unauthorised access, given their ability to be used a deadly weapons.

    Which items must be securely stored?

    Under the new legislation, particular controlled items and restricted items must be securely stored. Secure storage for single-edged knives is not mandatory.

    Controlled items requiring secure storage are:

    • A dagger that has a double-edged blade
    • A knife with a blade at each end (including multi-tools with blades at each end)
    • A sword, machete or axe
    • A sickle or scythe
    • A spear gun or spear
    • Any other bladed item prescribed by regulation.

    Secure storage already applies to items classified as restricted items or weapons, such as certain gel blasters and handcuffs.

    See STEP 01: Assess your range for examples of Controlled-Secured items and Restricted items, as well as advice on how to determine how your item is classified.

     

    Legal requirements for sellers:

    • Sellers must ensure particular controlled items and restricted items are securely stored prior to sale.
    • Secure storage is defined as:
      • a locked room,
      • a locked cage,
      • a locked counter,
      • a locked cabinet, or
      • some form of secure tethering cord or device which allows customers to inspect but not remove the product without the assistance of a sales attendant.

    Penalty for sellers failing to meet these requirements: maximum 50 penalty units.

     

    What is secure storage?

    • Options for secure storage: a locked room, cage, counter or cabinet, or some form of secure tethering cord or device which allows customers to inspect but not remove the product. Sellers may also use empty packaging or images on display while the actual items are locked away.
    • Insufficient storage: The permitted range of secure storage options is specific in the legislation. Placing items under or behind unlocked counters, on high shelves, or in unlocked storerooms, is not sufficient. Similarly, it is not sufficient to install tether cords or devices where multiple items are secured to each other but could be removed as a whole. Installing security tags or alarms is also not sufficient.
    • At all times: Items must remain securely stored at all times prior to sale, except while in physical possession of a staff member. Ensure that all rooms, cages, cabinets and tethers remain locked when unattended.

     

    Business considerations

    • Many businesses already store some products securely to reduce damage or deter theft of popular, expensive or other age-restricted items, such as spray paint and tobacco.
    • Some businesses may need to make minor adjustments, such as moving stock into existing locked cages or cabinets, adding a locking mechanism to your counters, installing grills and doors across pallet racks, or keeping product in a locked storeroom with empty boxes on display.
    • Some businesses may need to consider significant changes to equipment, customer service processes and store design, if they decide to continue selling particular controlled or restricted items.

    Store processes and training

    Sellers need to ensure the items remain securely stored at all times, including when the stock is not on display, except when in the physical possession of a person.

    The National Retail Association recommends businesses implement processes and training to ensure you can maintain security while managing the busy demands of a store. For example, you may want to consider how keys are stored and monitored, and which staff will be allowed access. You may need to look at how new, excess, returned, or damaged stock of controlled items will be securely stored at all times. We also recommend that businesses train their staff in safe opening of cages and cabinets which do not put staff at risk should thieves attempt to steal dangerous items.

     


    DOWNLOAD SECURE STORAGE SIGNAGE >

    Sellers of items requiring secure storage may want to consider additional optional signage to help customers understand what they need to do in order to access secured items.  National Retail has developed optional signage for businesses which advises customers of age requirements, secure storage laws, and how to ask staff members for assistance.

    IMPORTANT: Campaign signage is not a substitute for mandatory signage which must follow the wording, colour, size and location requirements prescribed under regulation. See Step 04.

    Scroll down or click here for resources.

     

  • 08 Check restricted items and weapon requirements, such as certain gel blasters.

    Under the Weapons Act, a person must not possess or acquire a restricted item, without reasonable excuse. Restricted items include replica weapons and items that could be easily mistaken for real weapons, such as certain gel blasters.

    These items have the potential to cause serious psychological harm to victims, bystanders and police, and may result in the serious physical harm or death of the offender if responding police officers believe the item to be a genuine firearm and utilise proportionate force to mitigate the perceived threat.

    There are further requirements for other items considered Restricted Items. Examples include handcuffs, nunchaku, kung-fu or similar sticks, batons, laser pointers, replica firearms and inoperable weapons. Further regulations apply to items classified as weapons.

    Sellers are responsible for ensuring they are aware of their obligations for all products they sell. More information on gel blasters, restricted items and weapons is available on the Queensland Police Service website.

    Gel Blasters

    Gel blaster which looks like a real firearm

    A replica firearm that is a restricted item includes life-like toy guns known as Gel Blasters (also known as a gel gun, hydro blaster, or gel ball blaster) that shoot gel pellets, if the design of the item replicates a firearm to the extent that it may be mistaken for a genuine firearm. Gel Blasters like this are a replica firearm under section 9(f) of the Weapons Category Regulation 1997 and regulated under section 67 of the Weapons Act 1990.


    Legal requirements for certain gel blasters:

    Applies to: Gel Blasters which may be mistaken for a firearm.

    • A person (of any age) must not, without reasonable excuse, possess or acquire a Restricted Item.
    • The sale of gel blasters (or any Restricted Item) to minors is prohibited.
    • A person who possesses a restricted item must, when the item is not in the person’s physical possession, store it in a locked container.
    • A person who possesses a restricted item must take reasonable precautions to ensure the item is not accessible to persons who are not lawfully entitled to possess the item.
    • When possessing a Gel Blaster in a public place the item is to be carried in a way that is not visible to the public, so it will not cause alarm to any person.

    Recommendations for sellers of Gel Blasters

    Applies to: Gel Blasters which may be mistaken for a firearm are prohibited from being sold to minors.

    Sellers should also implement all measures described previously in this Guide for Controlled-Secured items:

    • Sellers should take all reasonable steps to verify a customer is not a minor. Unless you can reasonably assess that a person is over 18 years, you must sight appropriate identification which displays their age.
    • A person is prohibited from falsely representing themselves as 18 years or older to buy a controlled item.
    • Staff must be instructed and warned that it is illegal to sell a controlled or restricted item to a minor, with staff acknowledging this in writing.
    • Sellers must display clearly visible signs advising that the sale of controlled items to minors is prohibited.
    • Sellers must not suggest or promote item as suitable for combat or violence.
    • Sellers must store restricted items, such as Gel Blasters, in a locked container prior to sale, and take reasonable precautions to ensure the item is not accessible to persons who are not lawfully entitled to possess the item.
    • Sellers are encouraged to make buyers aware of the storage and carrying requirements of possessing a restricted item at time of purchase.

    A weapons licence is not required for a gel blaster.

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Additional FAQs

  • The basics - what? why? who? when?

    WHAT

    There are new laws coming into effect in Queensland from 1 September 2024 which mean that knives and other items will be considered controlled items.

    Sellers must ensure controlled items are not sold to minors under 18 years and this will require age checks, staff instruction, in-store signage, and advertising restrictions. Some knives, such as those made from plastic or with a rounded end, are exempt.

    Particular controlled items, such as axes, machetes, and swords, cannot be sold to minors but must also be securely stored prior to sale, such as in locked cabinets or tethered so they cannot be removed without staff assistance.

    Restricted items, such as gel blasters which could be mistaken for real firearms, cannot be sold to minors, must be securely stored, and have additional obligations for both sellers and buyers.

    WHY

    While the majority of knives and bladed items purchased from a store are not used in crime, some are bought or stolen and used as a weapon.

    Knife-related crime poses a serious risk to community safety with increased offences reported, especially in crimes committed by minors.

    Queensland’s new laws are designed to reduce the accessibility of certain items to young people, deter violent offences, support responsible retailing, and improve community safety.  Restrictions on controlled items are just one part of a large suite of initiatives being implemented by the Queensland Government and the Queensland Police Service to strengthen community safety.

    WHO

    The laws apply to all persons, businesses and places which sell impacted items outside Queensland and/or to a person in Queensland.

    This includes all retailers, such as supermarkets, hardware, sporting, outdoor, fishing, craft, discount, convenience, kitchenware and other outlets.

    It also applies to members of the public or non-business organisations who sell controlled items, such as sporting groups, online sales, second-hand sales, market sellers or events.

    WHEN

    In 2023, the Queensland Government announced their intention to strengthen knife legislation. In February 2024, the Summary Offences (Prevention of Knife Crime) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill was passed.

    Regulations are being drafted and will come into effect from 1 September 2024.  Penalties apply for non-compliance.

    Businesses are encouraged to start making changes immediately.

  • Can staff under 18 sell controlled items to adults?

    Yes. Underage staff can sell controlled items to people over 18.

    It is not an offence for a minor to sell a controlled item to an adult, but they cannot sell to a minor.

    It also not an offence for a minor to possess a controlled item if they have a reasonable excuse, or to supply a minor with a controlled items, such as supplying them with a box-cutter to open cartons during work.

  • Can a minor buy a knife for work purposes?

    No. A minor cannot buy a knife for any purpose.

    Some minors, such as trade apprentices, may require knives, box-cutters or other controlled items for work purposes.

    Minors are allowed to possess controlled items if they have a reasonable excuse, however they cannot purchase these items if they are under 18 years.

    Adults in a business can purchase and supply controlled items to under-age employees (free or as part of other work arrangements), however they cannot sell these items to under-age employees.

    It is not an offence to sell a controlled item to an adult who is accompanied by a minor. It is an offence to sell to a minor.

  • How should we verify age online?

    Sellers must take all reasonable steps to ensure they do not sell to minors, including online and delivery.

    A basic pop-up screen or tick box asking ‘Are you over 18’ is unlikely to provide responsible businesses with confidence that they are not at risk of selling to a minor and breaching the law.

    While a minor can also be penalised for falsely representing themselves (such as via a fake ID), a seller must be able to prove they took all reasonable steps to verify age.

    You may like to consider ways to verify age through the online sale process, such as:

    • using third-party verification software or apps which check if ID is valid
    • restricting controlled items to click-and-collect only so ID can be checked upon pick-up
    • ensuring delivery drivers or transport services check ID during home delivery
    • informing customers that sales of controlled items will not be finalised until ID has been provided and verified

    Consider whether you need to sell controlled items online and whether you have the capacity to perform the necessary ID checks. If you are unsure, consider phasing out these items, or limit them to physical store sales or click-and-collect.

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Support for business

The National Retail Association has been officially engaged by Queensland Police Service to assist businesses to understand and prepare for the new laws.

From May to October 2024, the National Retail team are delivering a range of support services for businesses, including a tollfree hotline, factsheets and signage, online webinars, and physical visits to thousands of stores in over 500 shopping centres and retail precincts across Queensland.


Queries about the regulations from the general public, media or community organisations should be directed to PoliceLink.

For emergencies, call Triple Zero (OOO).

Come along to an online session

Regular online webinars for businesses to receive an overview of the laws and ask questions. Every Thursday 11am AEST starting 30 May.

REGISTER HERE (via Humanitix)

Call us

Businesses can call the National Retail Association for industry insight and advice via our tollfree hotline (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday).

CALL US (1800 571 146)

Email us

Businesses can email the National Retail Association for industry insight and advice (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday).

EMAIL US (policy@nationalretail.org.au)
  • FAQ: When will the mandatory signage be available?

    Similar to other regulated items, such as spray paint, there will be specific wording, size and colour requirements for signage.

    While regulations are yet to be finalised, indications are that signage requirements will include:

    • minimum size – at least 14.8cm x 21cm (A5) in size;
    • design requirements – black text on white background;
    • text size – black text which is at least 8mm high; and
    • specific wording – yet to be determined by regulation.

    We are advised that the wording required for this mandated signage is likely to be “The sale of knives and other controlled items to minors is prohibited. Penalties apply. Acceptable evidence of age may be required.” Businesses are welcome to start using this wording, but there is a chance the final regulated wording will be slightly different.

    Businesses are encouraged to check the Queensland Police Service website (endknifeviolence.com.au) regularly as printable signage will be available when regulations are finalised (expected within next 6 weeks).

    Signage which follows the requirements defined under regulation must be clearly visible at either each point-of-sale or where each item is displayed from 1 September 2024.

    Receive official signage files by email as soon as they are released: Register here > 

Do you sell knives, box-cutters, daggers, axes, tomahawks, machetes, sickles, scythes, swords, spears, spear guns or gel blasters?

There are new laws coming into effect in Queensland from 1 September 2024 which mean that knives and other items will be considered controlled items.


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Please note that this guidance does not constitute legal advice. Businesses are encouraged to refer directly to the legislation and seek independent legal advice to ensure compliance.