Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 3 July 2008) . . Page.. 2746 ..
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.19): As is the custom in this place, if there is any potential conflict of interest that members have, they should declare it. Let me start by saying that I actually shoot; I own firearms. I am a member of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, ACT branch, and I recently renewed my membership for five years because I get sick of annually renewing membership of the many organisations I am involved with. I attempt to go out to the range, so I do at least my four days of qualification during the year, although being in this place makes that rather hard. I occasionally go hunting, usually for pigs and rabbits, and occasionally in the past kangaroos as well. Also, if anyone wants to buy a 1941 Indian army .303, I would be happy to sell it to them.
MR SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr Stefaniak; we will be very careful. We have been warned.
MR STEFANIAK: I withdraw that. It is probably sensible not to mention that. I say that in jest, Mr Speaker. I am pleased to see the way in which this bill has turned out. Whilst we have several amendments, and whilst something this huge probably is by no means perfect, it was not all doom and gloom and problematic, which I was led to expect when a draft was put out last year.
I recall talking to one of the very few firearms dealers in Canberra, Mr Bruce Brown out at Mitchell, who had some huge concerns about how whatever was in the initial draft was going to affect legitimate owners of businesses and introduce some unworkable provisions. He and I sat down while he went through all of his concerns. I do not think I had the draft but he mentioned those to me, and I was concerned. I was very pleased to find that, several months ago, he had very few concerns in relation to this legislation.
Obviously, there has been reasonable consultation on this matter, and the views of legitimate owners and dealers in firearms have been listened to. There are a couple of areas where they probably have not, and I will come to those in relation to some amendments. But it is fairly clear that what could have been substantial problems last year have largely been ironed out. I thank the officials, the minister and everyone involved in doing that, as well as the Firearms Consultative Committee.
Since 1996, we have effectively had uniform legislation. From time to time, it does need to be revised. I think that has been very important for Australia generally, for victims, and for lowering crime. It is pleasing to see that the incidence of firearms used in serious crime, especially in things like murder, has dropped considerably. I have seen figures showing that, whereas at one stage it may have been 100 per cent, it is down to about 40 per cent. That has occurred simply by tightening up gun law. What often happened, sadly, about 20 years ago, in crimes of passion within families, was that firearms were used. That is much harder now because of sensible restrictions that have ensured that there are checks. There are real restrictions on how firearms are used and how they are stored. That really has taken firearms out of the equation in terms of a lot of domestic crime.
I saw some figures during the course of looking at this bill and consulting with people about it which showed that, in a one-year period recently, only five registered firearms