Page 1266 - Week 04 - Thursday, 10 April 2008
modernising the licensing regime. The powers exercised by police have also been modernised to ensure that they comply with the Human Rights Act 2004.
Mr Speaker, amendments contained in this bill also reflect the recommendations of two reviews undertaken by the ACT Firearms Consultative Committee and the Department of Justice and Community Safety. The bill also draws on recommendations made by the Australian Institute of Criminology, the Australian Crime Commission, the ACT Firearms Registrar and the ACT Government Solicitor.
The bill will also regulate the paintball industry to provide enthusiasts with a proven commitment to the sport a legal framework to purchase, own and store their own paintball marker. The change comes about as a result of the fact that the ACT is the only jurisdiction that classifies paintball markers as prohibited firearms. The government committed itself to addressing this anomaly when it was first brought to its attention in late 2006.
The bill defines some key concepts to add clarity and consistency to the simplified licensing and permit scheme in the bill. With these changes, a person who wishes to own a firearm will need to obtain one of the licences in the simplified scheme. The bill provides for four types of licence. These include adult firearms licences, composite entity licences, minors’ firearms licences and temporary international firearms licences. With this licensing model, the bill deals with the complexity around the existing permits.
Notably, the bill extends the matters to which the Firearms Registrar can look when considering an application for a licence to information held by other law enforcement agencies. The bill improves the permit scheme for the acquisition of firearms. The acquisition and disposal of firearms are amongst the core tenets of the bill, as it is intended that each and every exchange or change in possession of a firearm must be recorded. This will enable tracking of firearms and minimise opportunities for illegal diversion.
This bill increases the penalties associated with the illegal possession and use of firearms and prohibited firearms. The maximum applicable penalties will be increased and graduated, between five years and 20 years, depending upon the number of firearms unlawfully possessed and whether or not the firearms are prohibited. The increases in penalty reflect the true seriousness of the offences associated with illegal possession of firearms. The increases are also in response to Australian police ministers council agreement that the offence of illegal possession, particularly of a prohibited firearm, should attract a substantial term of imprisonment.
Mr Speaker, I would like to thank members of the community who have been involved in the development of this bill. I would particularly like to thank the members of the Firearms Consultative Committee for their valuable and ongoing contribution to the development of firearms policy in the ACT. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak) adjourned to the next sitting.