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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2596 ..



assess the disputed value of any standard or specialised hand gun and determine a fair price. The ACT will employ the services of the New South Wales valuation panel to ensure consistency.

I should also address a number of matters in the report of the scrutiny of bills and subordinate legislation committee. The report draws attention to the adequacy or otherwise of the buy-back scheme for surrendered prohibited firearms in respect of the right to property. Prohibited firearms, and associated parts and accessories, which are surrendered to the police will be compensated for in accordance with nationally agreed values for standard hand guns in as-new, good and fair condition. These values will be published on a national website.

Any disputes about the initial valuations by police, or of specialist non-standard hand guns, will be referred to the valuation panel, and their decision on the level of compensation will be final. It is, of course, open to any shooter who is not satisfied with this process to take the matter to the Supreme Court under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act.

With regard to clause 7 of the bill, which amends section 16 of the Firearms Act 1996, I note the comment that the example given refers to circumstances in which a person authorised to use a firearm uses that firearm for a purpose other than that established by their genuine reason, and this may create a perceived limitation to the offence. However, the words of the proposed section 16 (1) (b) are clear and unambiguous- namely, that a person cannot possess or use a firearm unless authorised by a licence or permit. The example is but one of many possible examples and does not limit the operation of the section.

The scrutiny committee questions the strict liability offence relating to the manufacture of a firearm in proposed section 84A. The unauthorised manufacture of a firearm is a serious matter, both in terms of individual safety and to the community, and there can be no reasonable excuse defence. Such manufacture can range from a young person constructing a firearm from a piece of pipe to a criminal assembling one or more parts.

Clearly, this is not acceptable. Firearms are complex and dangerous items, and their manufacture requires skill and experience. They need to be safety tested and accounted for. Their unauthorised manufacture would undermine the whole licensing and registration regime as well as community safety. I am satisfied that the strict liability offence is appropriate.

The committee also raises concerns about the broad regulation-making powers in the bill. These are necessary to detail the elements of the buy-back, including the list of nationally agreed values and the procedures for resolving disputes. As I indicated earlier, there are a number of outstanding matters for national resolution by COAG that do not affect the fundamental operation of the bill but which may need to be provided for following COAG's decision. All such regulations would be disallowable and subject to consideration by members. I have undertaken to advise members in advance of any such regulations.

The Prime Minister has clearly stated that the Commonwealth requires all states and territories to conform fully with the COAG agreement and will vet each jurisdiction's

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