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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (4 May) . . Page.. 1297 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

that it does not create an internal inconsistency in section 49A that might have been otherwise avoided with a different approach. I just wanted to put on the record that I do not think it is a particularly clean amendment, but the Labor Party will, nevertheless, support it.

MS TUCKER (10.45): The Greens will also be supporting this legislation. I was a little bit concerned at one point because I know that in the agreed national guidelines it was required that uniform gun laws would severely restrict the use of semiautomatic weapons except to bona fide members of the Australian Clay Target Shooters Association. We know that that has not occurred in Victoria where members of the field and game shooters body have been allowed to obtain permits for semiautomatic weapons for use in competitions. I did raise concerns about whether or not it would mean that such an organisation could be part of competition in the ACT, and Mr Humphries assured me that it would not.

It is clear to me now that the ACT legislation only allows clay target shooters who meet the ACT requirements, membership of the Australian Clay Target Shooters Association, to get a temporary licence to compete in the ACT target shooting competition, and these requirements are spelt out in the regulations very clearly. So it is obviously a useful piece of legislation at this point in time, but I think we do need to be aware that really in Victoria we are seeing the national firearms agreement being watered down, which should be of concern to all Australians. We do need to remain vigilant in the ACT about this matter.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (10.46), in reply: Mr Speaker, I want to thank members of the Opposition and crossbenches for supporting this Bill. I think members have accurately described what it attempts to do. I also thank members for their cooperation in adapting to the position that the Government has ultimately taken with this Bill.

Members will recall that I wrote to all MLAs about the effect of discussions taking place on the modifications to the national gun laws. I indicated in my original correspondence that the Government believes that exemptions of this width are not appropriate, and when the Government came back to the Assembly with the amendments a wider set of exemptions was provided for. As a result of the discussion that took place at the Australian Police Ministers Council, Mr Speaker, the Government ultimately made a decision that we wanted to remain part of the process of implementing the national gun laws and being part of a national consensus on that.

We had the option of opting out of that and exercising more restrictive arrangements, but decided that was not appropriate and that we should remain part of the national gun scheme and reflect all provisions of that scheme in ACT law, and hence the difference. Mr Speaker, the vital factor in that decision was, of course, the desire by the ACT to ensure that the Olympic Games were successful and that pre-Olympic events being held in the ACT were not circumscribed or excluded altogether by virtue of the state of our gun laws.

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