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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 5878..

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Firearms Amendment Bill 2010

Debate resumed from 18 November 2010, on motion by Mr Corbell:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (4.48): The Liberal opposition will be supporting this bill, which will pave the way for the government to engage interstate professional shooters for the control of vertebrate pest animals in the ACT. To do this, the bill inserts a new section 140A to allow temporary recognition of interstate licences for professional shooters who hold a licence that corresponds to the category D licence in the ACT.

The category D licence covers a range of self-loading rifles and shotguns, including pump action shotguns. Authorisation would only be given to interstate shooters who are employed by or contracted to a government agency, usually TAMS, for the purpose of culling vertebrate pest animals. Such activities would normally be conducted from the air using a helicopter.

The registrar must refuse authorisation if not satisfied that the individual has a special need, and the special need cannot be met in another way, or the minister refuses to approve the authorisation in writing. Conditions can be attached to the authorisation as prescribed by regulation or as the minister considers in the public interest.

A period of authorisation is for a maximum of six months. In addition, the major driver for this bill, as Mr Corbell noted in his presentation speech, is the lack of skills in the ACT for this kind of work. This bill will enable the government to contract suitably licensed interstate shooters. I would hope, however, that, if this kind of work was to present a viable opportunity for existing or potentially suitably qualified ACT-based professional shooters, the government might give some priority to those shooters in future culling programs. In that regard, I note that section 65 of the principal act covers the issuing of category D firearms licences to ACT resident shooters. Thus, this bill merely augments the government's options for skills recruitment when these culling programs come forward.

I note the attorney's comments in the presentation speech that this bill will "achieve consistency with other jurisdictions". That this is so also warrants support. Cross-border consistency is important in matters such as this. I note that the advice that we have received from the minister's office is that this is not a time-critical issue. It is, however, quite simple, and, while the opposition supports this bill, it is inappropriate that it has been brought on so quickly. We would have liked the opportunity to consult more fully with rural lessees and some nature conservation groups in the ACT.

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