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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3626 ..

Review of Firearms Act 1996

Paper and statement by minister

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts and Minister for Police and Emergency Services): For the information of members, I present the following paper:

Review of the Firearms Act 1996.

I ask for leave to make a statement.

Leave granted.

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I present the report of the review of the Firearms Act 1996. Section 128 of the Firearms Act requires that the act be reviewed to determine whether its policy objectives remain valid, and its terms continue to be appropriate to the securing of those objectives. The terms of the act call for the report of this review to be tabled by four years after the commencement of the act. As the act commenced on 17 May 1997, the four-year period expired on May 17 this year. I have already written to the chair of the Justice and Community Safety Committee expressing my regret that it has not been possible to meet the deadline.

However, Mr Speaker, today I am pleased to present this report, which concludes that the policy objectives of the act remain valid, and that the terms of the act remain appropriate to the meeting of those objectives. Mr Speaker, the report notes that, following a call for submissions from interested members of the community, no substantive concerns were raised about the policy underlying the act or the terms of the act itself.

A range of suggestions for technical changes to the act has been made, largely by the Firearms Consultative Committee, and the government has indicated its agreement to most of these suggestions. As the report notes, quite apart from the formal legislative requirements for a review of the act, there has been an ongoing process of review since the act commenced. The government has made the appropriate amendments or regulations to ensure that the act continues to maximise community safety, while recognising the legitimate activities of groups like sporting shooters and those whose employment requires them to carry a firearm.

As the report notes, the ACT government has been a strong supporter of the nationally agreed principles that were endorsed by police ministers following the Port Arthur massacre. The police minister at that time is now the Chief Minister, and he led that action nationally, Mr Speaker. The ACT government continues to vigorously maintain the principled stance it has taken on the question of firearms control, and believes that this report reflects that approach.

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