Page 2755 - Week 07 - Thursday, 3 July 2008
when a person holding a firearms licence is likely to use their firearms in a threatening or lethal matter. But I do not see the not rebuttable connection between a firearms licence, on one hand, and the combination of a good behaviour undertaking made 10 years ago and a driving offence 10 years later, on the other hand. It does seem that retaining basic natural justice provisions and giving the registrar more discretionary powers and perhaps more statutory guidance would have been a fairer and more sensible approach. Otherwise, I am reassured by the fact that the criteria under section 4BH are called discretionary and presumably, if the registrar is considering cancelling a person’s firearms licence on grounds other than the automatic repeal provisions, that person will have an opportunity to present reasons as to why their licence should not be cancelled.
People whose perceptions are solidly grounded in stereotype and ignorance might be surprised that a Greens MLA is not steadfastly opposed to private firearms ownership. While I am not in any way a firearms enthusiast, having lived on a farm for many years, I am well aware that the appropriate calibre firearm can be a useful tool at times.
I am also aware that target shooting is a very popular sport in Australia and that Australians, including some very talented Canberrans, have performed very strongly in international competitions. Here, I must declare that some members of the Greens are members of the Canberra Sporting Shooters Association and that I have been out to dinner and presented awards at their facility on Majura Road. I do not see any problems with that. I want to acknowledge their hospitality and the warmth with which the members of the association received me.
I agree with the government that the safe storage of firearms is critically important but I also am aware, anecdotally, that the exact conditions and requirements for safe storage are not well advertised. Given the seriousness associated with breaches of the safe storage requirements, I suggest that these conditions are put into a pamphlet that is handed out by the registrar when firearms licences are issued or amended. I note that the explanatory statement says that this information is provided when a licence is granted but I believe, from direct anecdotal evidence, that this is not true in all cases.
I am glad that ministerial approval has been retained for the issue of a class D licence and I am glad that ownership of this category of weapon is being restricted. I must say that it is very hard to see why any class D weapons would need to be issued to a private licensee in the ACT. These are, effectively, fully automatic weapons with large capacity magazines—in other words, machineguns.
Given that many self-loading rifles can be converted to fully automatic weapons with the inclusion of something as minor as a matchstick, even class C weapons are potentially machineguns but, unlike class D weapons, they are limited to magazines of 10 rounds or less. That is not much reassurance if someone was going berserk in a public place with one. Such incidents are so far unknown in the ACT and legislation like this is instrumental in keeping it that way.
I recognise that a suitable calibre firearm is needed for the relatively humane killing of large animals but, given that there are no mobs of wild camels or buffaloes in the ACT that might require culling, it is hard to imagine a circumstance where an ACT