Page 258 - Week 01 - Thursday, 14 February 1991

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on Social Policy tabled its report on this issue on 12 February - two days ago - after some twelve months' work. It would be irresponsible not to maintain fluoride in the water supply until we have had adequate opportunity to consider this significant report.

I therefore present this amendment to the Water Supply (Chemical Treatment) (Amendment) Act which extends the suspension of part VIIIA of the Electricity and Water Act until 31 August 1991. By this date, I would expect that this Assembly would have had the opportunity to fully debate and resolve this issue.

Mr Speaker, I present the explanatory memorandum for the Bill.

Debate (on motion by Mr Berry) adjourned.


MR COLLAERY (Attorney-General) (10.34): Mr Speaker, I present the Weapons Bill 1991. I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

The Weapons Bill, Mr Speaker, is the culmination of a comprehensive review of the existing Gun Licence Act 1937. It began a number of years ago, and was hastened by much publicised multiple killings, both in the ACT and elsewhere.

Members will recall that on 22 February 1990 I introduced an exposure Weapons Bill into the Assembly, for the express purpose of promoting community debate on the proposals. A large number of letters and submissions were received in response to the exposure Bill. In addition, a useful and exhaustive consultative process was undertaken with the major gun interest groups such as the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia and the ACT Shooting Association. This led not only to some refinements to the exposure Bill, but also to the closing of some potential loopholes.

Since that time, the report of the National Committee on Violence, Violence: Directions for Australia, has moved many commentators to pose fundamental questions about the proper role of gun laws. Coincidentally, a significant proportion of the correspondence I received supporting a ban on pornography also defended the so-called right to bear arms.

Clearly there are divergent views in the community on the issue of firearms control and, among those who favour some form of control, its extent. No doubt some would wish to see in Australia the freedom to bear arms that exists in the United States under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Its effect is to limit the scope for a meaningful reduction in firearms and, as members may be

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