Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 5 (Hansard) 16 May) . . Page.. 1394 ..
Debate resumed from 14 May 1996, on motion by Mr Humphries:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
MS FOLLETT (4.49): Mr Speaker, as I have said both publicly and privately, the Opposition will be supporting this amendment to the Weapons Act put forward by Mr Humphries. The amendment has the effect of including some additional weapons in the schedule of prohibited weapons. Those weapons are a self-loading centre-fire rifle of a military type, a self-loading rifle, a self-loading or pump-action shotgun, and weapons that substantially duplicate those weapons and are capable of firing a projectile. In addition, the amendment brought forward by Mr Humphries makes some provision for the payment of compensation for weapons which were lawfully held prior to this legislation coming into effect but which will be made illegal or prohibited as a result of this legislation.
Mr Humphries said, in introducing the Bill, that it was the first step in implementing the agreements arrived at at the special firearms meeting of the Australasian Police Ministers Council held on 10 May. I support all of the provisions made at that meeting and I look forward to Mr Humphries bringing forward a later batch of amendments to the Weapons Act. I do not think it is any news to anyone in this Assembly that I am strongly in favour of our Territory having the most restrictive and most stringent weapons laws we can possibly devise. I believe that we have to consider the issue of community safety, and we ought to consider that issue in a bipartisan or multipartisan manner. I am very pleased to say that that has generally been the case in this Assembly.
I have been extremely alarmed, over the course of the past couple of days, to hear through the media increasing dissent being voiced against the special Police Ministers Council agreement. If anybody else was listening to the AM program on ABC radio this morning and heard some comments that were relayed from a meeting of gun lobbyists in Queensland - I think it was at Gympie - they would have been equally alarmed. The thrust of the comments that were being made was not just that there would be a campaign of disobedience against any increased gun legislation; one of the people present at that meeting actually threatened that blood would be spilt in order to defend his so-called right to bear arms. I believe that that kind of action and those kinds of statements ought to be condemned by every responsible elected representative, and I certainly do condemn them.
These gun lobbyists clearly have not got the message that things have been changed. A sea change has swept through the Australian community and people are no longer prepared to permit unfettered gun ownership or unfettered use of guns, and I believe that that is very much the will of the community. I think the gun lobbyists are as blinkered as they are intemperate in their approach to this whole issue at the moment. I believe that there is really only one solution to their attitude, and that is for the political arena to leave these gun lobbyists nowhere to turn. If all political parties, all representatives, were to say, "We are not interested in your views; we are interested in governing for the good and