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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 9 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 2767 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

undertaken lightly or for improper reasons. The vast majority of firearms owners, both here in the ACT and around the country, understand and respect this principle. They are responsible and law-abiding people, and they support the principles encapsulated in this Bill. Unfortunately, there are some vocal elements in the so-called gun lobby which will seek to criticise and detract from this legislative package and similar packages to be introduced in other jurisdictions. They do so without the support of most firearms owners and, indeed, the wider Australian community.

Before going on to discuss the Bill in some detail, I want to outline some of the events which led to this Bill being developed. All Australians were shocked and dismayed to learn of the events which occurred at Port Arthur on 28 April this year. That event, I am sure, will be etched in our memories and the memories of our children for many years to come. Thirty-five people lost their lives, and many others are suffering injury and trauma which will last for years to come. The nation's Police Ministers met in Canberra on 10 May to consider what for years has been seen as an issue for the too-hard basket. At that meeting all jurisdictions agreed to a range of measures, including a nationally linked firearms registration scheme, minimum licensing conditions and a ban on semiautomatic and self-loading firearms across all of Australia.

Legislation to ban semiautomatic firearms was presented to this Assembly the following week and was passed with the support of all members. I would like to acknowledge the multipartisanship with which this issue has been handled in the ACT, and I can only hope that my colleagues in other jurisdictions will find the same level of support in their parliaments. That multipartisanship marked a new moment for this Assembly and for the ACT community as a whole. Our community expected action and we, as the representatives of our community, delivered quickly on those expectations. I hope that the measures which I am announcing today will be met with similar support in this Assembly and in the wider community. There is a pressing need now to enact comprehensive legislation which will provide for national uniformity and a clear statement that Australia will not proceed down the path of some countries, such as the United States of America, by weakening controls on firearms.

Mr Speaker, the national guidelines for firearms control which have been adopted by Police Ministers are different in approach to the current position in the ACT, but they are not different in concept. The objects of this Bill are to prohibit the possession and use of firearms, except in appropriate circumstances which are outlined in the legislation; provide for permits to be issued subject to appropriate conditions for the possession, acquiring and use of firearms; and provide for a licensing and enforcement scheme for firearms owners. Together with the Prohibited Weapons Bill, which I will introduce shortly, this Bill will enhance the overall safety of members of our community. It will also facilitate a smooth transition to the agreed national system for the control and regulation of firearms.

I table, for the information of members, the full text of the resolutions agreed to by Police Ministers at meetings in May and July. The resolutions of the May meeting were as follows. Resolution 1 required that bans be placed on semiautomatic and self-loading firearms. That resolution resolved that all jurisdictions would move as quickly as possible to implement that ban. The ACT moved within the week to introduce that ban

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