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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 13 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 4450 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

I think there is a major lesson for us there. We are at a point where we can make a choice of going down the sort of path that the United States has gone down, where guns are getting bigger and better, or of going down the path which this Assembly is unanimously choosing to go down and which I know our society overwhelmingly supports - having a restriction on guns. If there are fewer guns in our society, we will have a safer society. At the same time, I think the Assembly recognises - and I have argued it in other ways - that prohibition in other areas has been a failure. I believe that most members would agree that, in this case, if we tried to go down a path of complete prohibition, that would simply exacerbate a whole series of other problems and would not achieve the goals that we want to achieve. It is far better to recognise that there are people who are using their guns sensibly and who will continue to do so, and to try to facilitate those people who will do that. Indeed, this legislation does do that. It is exactly what it does.

Mr Speaker, I think that, because of this legislation and because of the national agreement, instead of seeing an escalation in the number of guns in our society, if we were even to achieve the capping of the number of guns at the level we have now, it would be a huge achievement. But we are aiming to go further than that. We are aiming to reduce the number of guns in society. We are aiming to reduce particular types of guns in society. That can only provide for a safer and healthier society. I think that in itself, Mr Speaker, is a strong enough reason for us to support this sort of legislation. I think that we can all stand with pride today in ensuring that the legislation goes through, more so because this Assembly has indicated that it is going to do so unanimously.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (12.28), in reply: In closing this debate, let me indicate my appreciation to members of the Assembly for the support they have given for this legislation. I remind members again of what I said when the first stage of the legislation was passed earlier this year, and that is that changes such as this would have been completely unthinkable only one year ago. Much smaller issues in respect of gun control in the community generally - I do not mean just the ACT - have attracted great controversy and been the subject of much debate, and, in fact, have been reacted to slowly by most parliaments around the country. Port Arthur changed all of that, and the strong perception Australians have gained from Port Arthur is that there needs to be a much greater measure of control over the use of guns in this community.

The legislation we are passing today is the completion of the package the ACT puts in place to respond to that issue, and I think members deserve congratulations for their capacity to retain their solidarity on the question of control of guns in this community. We have had some disagreements about elements of the amendments coming forward, as Ms Tucker correctly notes. The amendments that will be put forward will be broadly agreed by all members of the Assembly, with one or two exceptions. I believe, therefore, that we can all take pride in and credit for the legislation that will be enacted after today.

Working together is a vitally important part of the process of ensuring that the community as a whole - particularly those who disagree with the legislation and believe that it should not be enacted, indeed should be rolled back - understand that in a sense there is nowhere politically to turn to to achieve that outcome. The consensus of the mainstream,

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