Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 901 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer): I seek leave of the Assembly to make a ministerial statement on the outcome of the June 1998 meeting of the Australasian Police Ministers Council.
MR HUMPHRIES: I thank members. Mr Speaker, the Australasian Police Ministers Council met for the first time this year in Wellington, New Zealand, on 10 June. Several issues arose at that meeting which will be of interest to members. Before starting to outline some of those issues, I wish to make a brief statement about the application of the Administration (Interstate Agreements) Act 1997 to that meeting. As members will be aware, that Act requires Ministers to consult with members of the Assembly before entering into undertakings at ministerial councils which will involve the ACT having to make legislation on any matters. Several proposals were contained in the final agenda for the meeting which would have required the ACT to undertake legislation if approved, but the final agenda for the meeting was actually communicated to governments less than a week prior to the meeting.
Practically, it was therefore impossible to enable a process of consultation on matters for the meeting with Assembly members which would have allowed them an opportunity to consider the issues, seek advice on them and respond. Instead, Mr Speaker, I pointed out to the meeting that the ACT Government was constrained in entering into agreements which involved legislation without having considerable time to consider the implications of such proposals and consult as required under the Act. Several other jurisdictions which are in the same position of being minority governments also made the same point about their inability to commit without first undertaking a process of consultation.
In the spirit of the Administration (Interstate Agreements) Act 1997, in all cases where resolutions were proposed which committed to legislation, I sought, on behalf of the ACT, to amend resolutions to note the possible need for legislation or to agree in principle to a concept, with a reservation that legislation would need to be the subject of appropriate levels of consultation. In future, I am hopeful that resolutions of the Australasian Police Ministers Council which seek undertakings to commit to legislation will be communicated to jurisdictions much earlier, to enable that process to occur.
Mr Speaker, I now turn to the substantive issues which were raised at the meeting. Firstly, and I think of paramount concern to members of this Assembly, will be the issue of the national firearms controls agreement. Following recent public concern at changes to the firearms laws in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia, in particular, the Commonwealth Government sought a reaffirmation from all States and Territories of the national firearms controls agreement. That reaffirmation was given; but I expressed,