MAS Laser Policy
1. There is absolutely no excuse or defence for the act of deliberately aiming a laser pointer, of any power, at any aircraft, vehicle or person and the Macarthur Astronomical Society condemns such actions without reservation.
2. We earnestly commit ourselves, as a Society and as individuals, to the practice that while conducting private astronomical observations and public displays we will never, ever, under any circumstances, aim our laser pointers at or anywhere near the vicinity of any passing aircraft.
3. We encourage members to keep their laser pointers securely locked up when not in use and we will always insist that members comply with the law.
Laser Pointers can be dangerous
It's The Law
NSW Summary Offences Act
Laser pointers are classed as "dangerous implements" and a person must not, without reasonable excuse, use or have custody of a laser pointer in a public place.
Laser pointers are defined as a "hand-held battery-operated device". There is no distinction in this Act regarding colour/frequency nor is there any minimum output power.
It is a “reasonable excuse” for a person to use or have custody of a laser pointer for the lawful pursuit of the person’s occupation, education, training or hobby.
NSW Weapons Prohibition Regulations
Individuals who wish to obtain or continue to possess battery operated hand-held laser pointers of more than 1 milliwatt are required to apply for a Prohibited Weapons Permit and will be 'subject to criminal and probity checks'. The permit fee is $127.00.
A person who has been a member of an approved Astronomical Society for more than three months will not be required to obtain a permit for astronomical use but may be asked to prove membership of the Society.
If you possess a laser pointer but your membership of Macarthur Astronomical Society then lapses, you may be in breach of the law and you are advised to obtain a permit or surrender the device to the police.
The Federal Government has banned the importation of laser pointers into Australia. Anyone seeking to import a laser pointer stronger than 1milliwatt must possess an appropriate exemption, which will work in the same way as for other restricted goods. The import ban allows legitimate users (including astronomers) to apply for an exemption from the ban.
Importers will need to obtain police authorisation and an import permit, so if you buy one over the internet or by mail order you will need the relevant authorisation, which needs to be obtained first from the NSW Police Firearms Registry and then from Australian Customs (see links below).
Unauthorised importations are likely to be seized by Customs.
Image: Wikimedia Commons by Netweb01 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11920118
Legal Laser Links
These useful links are updated from time to time but may sometimes become dead links, due to government agencies updating their websites:
NSW Police list of approved Astronomical Societies: >> Here <<
NSW Police Laser Pointer page: >> Here <<
NSW Police FAQ page: >> Here <<
NSW Police Prohibited Weapon Permit page: >> Here <<
Australian Government Customs Firearms & Weapons page: >> Here <<
Macarthur Astronomical Society Members Laser Pointer Registration Form: >> Here <<
Laser Pointer Safety website (American): >> Here <<