SINCE the age of 14, Wayne McLennan’s pocket knife has barely left his hip, and until the age of 74 the trusty farming tool never got him into any trouble.

But because of the pocket knife, Mr McLennan was recently charged by Chinchilla police and fined for the crime of carrying a dangerous weapon in public.

Mr McLennan, who’s known far and wide by the nickname “Cowboy”, was leaving a local pub in his ute after a few beers last month when he was pulled over by police.

He recorded a blood-alcohol reading that was marginally above the legal limit but his second breath test, back at the Chinchilla Police Station, was under the limit.

He’d therefor committed no drink driving offence, but he was charged and issued a notice to appear in court over the pocket knife, which was inside its leather pouch and attached to his waist belt.

“I was dumbfounded,” Mr McLennan said.

“I said to the copper, “you go into the supermarket or walk down the street and you’ll be booking a lot of people for carrying a pocket knife.”

“When I went to court I was waiting outside and even the prosecutor fella said “haven’t they got anything better to do?”.

Mr McLennan, an aged pensioner, pleaded guilty in the Chinchilla Magistrates Court and was fined $100.

Wayne “Cowboy” McLennan keeps his pocket knife inside its leather pouch and attached to his belt

A retired farmer, “Cowboy” has travelled all over the country on the rodeo and campdraft circuit.

He flicks the blade out whenever he has to cut some baling twine, castrate calves or carry out whatever other menial task might arise for a typical bushie.

He admitted to having a minor criminal history, but said he believed he was unfairly targeted by local police.

“They don’t like me from way back,” he said.

“I’ve been to court two or three times in the past. I was even wearing me pocket knife then and it didn’t cause me any trouble.”

Police confirmed to the Caller that under the Weapons Act 1990, it’s prohibited for a person to carry a knife in a public place without a reasonable excuse.

Mr McLennan’s conduct was illegal because at the time he was not performing work in primary production (farming).

Cowboy McLennan, a retired farmer, is a veteran of the Australian rodeo and campdrafting circuit
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  1. Yes, pretty pathetic. I hear cars doing burn out and speeding in town. Drugs seem to be pretty common and these people who are supposed to be attending to these issues have nothing better to do than pick on a man and his tool of trade.

  2. As I read this story I thought it was a send up. On reaching the end I concede it is not. It is absurd. Police in Queensland are the laughing stock of police in other States especially at their inaction over youth crime. We constantly read of Qld magistrates exercising excessive leniency and granting bail to offenders convicted or who plead guilty to ‘assault police’. Surely, in all the circumstances this charge ought to have been dismissed. Wake up police and magistrates in Queensland.

  3. I am almost 71, and I have been carrying a pocket knife since I was a pup, and I won’t be giving away carrying it over totally stupid rules. I fully support Cowboy.

  4. Wayne, you should immediately appeal this conviction under section 51(2)d of the Weapons Act 1990. “A person may carry a pen knife or swiss army knife for use for its normal utility purposes.”

      • Andy, Robert correctly identified the applicable law, in force now. Among the examples given in paragraph (2):
        Examples for subsection (2)(d)—

        2 A person may carry a pen knife or swiss army knife for use for its normal utility purposes.

    • And you could certainly appeal the argument the prosecution/police made (i.e., conduct was illegal because at the time he was not performing work in primary production (farming)) by utilising Subsection (6) of the act. That is, “In deciding what is a reasonable excuse for subsection (1) , regard may be had, among other things, to whether the way the knife is held in possession, or when and where it is held in possession, would cause a reasonable person concern that he or she, or someone else in the vicinity, may be threatened or harmed.” Would any reasonable person, including the magistrate one would expect, reasonably assume a farmer with a penknife on their belt to be a threat? Preposterous. Police should be called out – magistrate should be embarrassed for simply ticking the box. Of course, it would cost more than the fine to appeal, so some copper will have their ‘win’.

  5. City folks know nothing about the country and how things work out here. City folks will end the good parts of Australia.
    For example much like the knife situation back when Amalgamation of Councils took place the city folds out number country folks and thus country folks never had a chance and now city folks tell us country folks how we have to live. Now they have the power and we get poorer services from our local councils.
    I carry a pocket knife, a multi tool in fact, so does my son.

    A few years ago I was in town to purchase something and wanted to see it out of the packaging and the shop girl was struggling to get it out of the box, I took out my knife to help open it and she freaked out, started trembling like I was going to attack her. I put it away and she got a box cutter to do the job. After she got the box open I pointed out to her that more people had died from a box cutter than a pocket knife. A blank look on her face told me she had no idea what I was talking about until I pointed out that everyone who died on 9-11 did so from a box cutter.

    Fact is a trained, motivated individual can kill you with a pencil.

    How about realizing it is not the tool that kills but the person.
    It is the drunk driving the car, not the beer.
    Assign responsibility to where the responsibility lies.
    As ex military, I can use my knife to save you or kill you.
    And I have never killed anyone that did not need killing, and there are some bad people out there.
    If you cannot defend yourself maybe you need someone to defend you. You never know when a good person will step up and save you from a bad person.

    If I see you chocking and about to die, I can perform a tracheostomy to save your life, then you will be happy I carry a knife, or I could stand around and watch you, or your loved one die.

    As said before assign responsibility to the person not the bit of hardware.

    Ken Lowe
    Ebenezer Queensland

  6. Time we used a bit of comment sense. When I was in bush I never travelled with out a rifle in my car. It was not for protection from anybody. If I should break down I could fire 3 shots in the air, anyone near by would know I needed help.

  7. I lived for 50 years on a property with Chinchilla as our address…. Had some “adventures” with one of the police there years ago… have carried either a pocket knife or Multi-tool continuously for almost 60 years now, so far without a problem….. Some things are getting ridiculous though, so have little doubt that there could be a question somewhere…. Got pulled up in Townsville some years ago with a pair of tweezers in my carry-on overnight bag…. about as ridiculous as it could get!

  8. THat was a SLIP joint folder . In a pouch, on a belt . So in this case what if it were a Multi tool in a pouch . It looks like the Australian police are going out of there minds ! THat and the Australian governments dysfunction regarding the P19 epidemic and how they dealt with it . Don’t the police have more important things to do than this type of harassment . The Farmer did not pull the pocket slip joint folder out and threaten anyone . He had become so used to carrying it in pouch he was unaware of it . Its TOOL not a threat to humanity unlike the Police or Australian government are .

    • Australia still operates under the 1688 Declaration and Bill of Rights. Article 7 confirms our Common Law right to carry weapons and is still current statute law, notwithstanding the Australia Act 1901. You don’t need to carry things like pocket knives for defensive purposes, you are simply allowed to carry them, what you do with them is up to you. The removal of our right to carry things like knives, irritant sprays, handguns etc. is denied to us as a matter of policy, not law, as the following judgment in my case confirms. You do not need a reasonable excuse as you have lawful authority.

      • This was the very argument pursued in Essenberg v The Queen [2000] HCATrans 297, regarding the Weapons Act 1990, which was rejected:

        McHugh J said:

        “Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights are not documents binding on Australian legislatures in the way that the Constitution is binding on them. Any legislature acting within the powers allotted to it by the Constitution can legislate in disregard of Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights. At the highest, those two documents express a political ideal, but they do not legally bind the legislatures of this country or, for that matter, the United Kingdom. Nor do they limit the powers of the legislatures of Australia or the United Kingdom. “

        “I understand that and persons who have not had full legal training often think of Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights as fundamental documents which control governments, but they do not. After all, Magna Carta was the result of an agreement between the barons and King John and the barons themselves had their own courts, had their own armies, they, in effect, levied what we would call taxes today and they were concerned to protect themselves against the growth of the central power of the royal government, the central government, and that is how Magna Carta came into existence, but modern Parliament did not arise until late in the 17th century and the early struggle was between the King and the barons. We are dealing now with the question of the legislature. I mean, Parliament established its authority over the monarch after the struggles which led to the execution of Charles I and the flight from the kingdom of James II in 1688. But Parliament – some people would regard it as regrettable – can, in effect, do what it likes. As it is said, some authorities could legislate to have every blue-eyed baby killed if it wanted to.”

        “… we are ruled by law and law is the law of Parliament; it is called legal positivism. It is the law laid down. This Court makes decisions and, unless they are constitutional decisions, the Parliament can overrule them and often does. We lay down a law, Parliament can change it. It is the democratic right of the people to do it through their parliamentary representatives. So, what you are faced with is the Queensland Parliament enacting this legislation, which you obviously think is a bad piece of legislation and infringement with your rights and which other members of the community think is a good thing, that is something to be debated at the ballot box, but it is not a constitutional matter…“

  9. It’s legal to carry a folding pocket knife for its normal utility purposes. You don’t need a specific purpose at the time and place the police officers find you. Section 51 of the Weapons Act sets this out in black and white. This man should have contested the charge.

    • To Ken…that was my first thought after I read about it, especially after the
      prosecutor made his comment!
      I wish karma would hurry up and catch up with the Palace Chook and her thuggish chickens!

  10. There was a time when the barber shop walls were full of cards with small elastic loops holding all Manner of pocket knifes from 10c to $5-80. mother of pearl , fake wood grain plastic. And bone Handle.24 to a card. It’s un-Australian.
    In a recent news article about a course ruling A new Australian lad can take a short blade to school for religious reasons
    How did this man , the cowboy get charged?
    It is UN -Australian Fair ,Just & transparent
    Is what we expect. IanH

  11. Pleading guilty just opens the opportunity for police to ride Mr. McClennan at any time in the future. He should appeal and oppose the charge under the Utility section of the applicable code that have already been identified by other posters. Here in Canada we have some of the same lunacy going on. I work in Agriculture and routinely carry an Anvil Bullshark (google it). I’m sure I would be shot on sight in Oz.

  12. Harry, did you make any enquiries with the Court or the Police to obtain the statement of facts in this matter or you just relying on the version of the events from the “old timer”?

  13. If ya’ll can’t legally carry a pocket knife down under . . you are way past serious problem . . whadya gonna do arm your selves with crocs and roos and try and beat the crap out of your masters?

  14. Our cops have become such heros ( NOT) now they pick on the old ozzies, and I can bet the coppers where not from ozzie origin, we old fellas are just easy targets for coppers with nothing better to do than make easy targets, What happend to our wonderfull country, the men the died in wars for us to have our freedome, and now we put poeople in charge give them gun and they think they are heros, the real heros are either dead or very old. GO Chinchilla Police, you arrestin offices should be awared a medal of honour for caputuring this old fella criminal.

  15. Everyone should email the Chinchilla Police Station and tell them how pathetic they look now that this story has gone viral on the internet. The O.I.C could show an act of good faith and give the old guy his $100 back out of their own petty cash to regain some P.R credibility within the community they serve 🙂

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