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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 3 July 2008) . . Page.. 2756 ..

property owner would need anything other that a high-powered, high-calibre semiautomatic rifle under a class C licence to cull vertebrate pests on their property. I presume we are talking about pigs, horses and deer under this category.

I do have a problem with the idea that a private individual can amass a veritable armoury of various firearms and I think there should be some limit placed upon the number of firearms a person can possess; particularly, there should be some restrictions on the number of high-powered, semiautomatic hunting rifles, shotguns and handguns.

A few months ago, as I said, I visited the Canberra Sporting Shooters Association’s Majura Range and was impressed by the professionalism of the club, the obvious emphasis which they placed upon training and the safe handling of firearms and the community spirit which obviously exists among the club’s various members and competition disciplines. The regulations applying to minors were explained to me and I am pleased that minors are still able to compete and participate in these activities under the strict guidance of a responsible adult.

I welcome the amendments to the Register of Firearms that enable the ACT’s register to be linked to a national scheme for firearms registration. To be quite honest, I am surprised that such a register does not already exist. I will be supporting the government’s amendments and I will be making some comments on Mr Stefaniak’s amendments when we get to that point.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (5.56), in reply: I thank members for their contribution to the debate and their support for the bill in principle. The bill amends the Firearms Act 1996 and the Prohibitive Weapons Act 1996. These amendments adopt the resolutions contained in the national firearms trafficking policy agreement of the Australian Police Ministers Council. The bill has also been prepared in consultation with the ACT firearms registrar, the ACT Government Solicitor and the ACT Firearms Consultative Committee.

Maintaining a highly regulated system that recognises that it is a privilege rather than a right to own a firearm remains a national imperative for our community. The bill recognises the legitimate interests of licensed firearm owners whilst adopting a legal regime that targets the illicit trade in firearms. The bill does this in the following ways: first of all, it ensures the legislation includes substantial penalties for the illegal possession of a firearm; creates a new offence of trafficking in firearms; increases penalties for offences related to the defacing of serial numbers; introduces close-associate provisions to protect firearms dealers from organised crime; excludes unsuitable people from employment in firearm dealerships; and provides for better recording, reporting and inspection of firearm transactions.

The bill also provides new powers for police and the firearms registrar to ensure firearms licensees adhere to their licence conditions to prevent theft and loss of guns. The firearms registrar will also be given an important new power to declare an item a prohibited firearm or a prohibited weapon. The bill makes a series of significant changes to the act, to modernise and streamline licensing and improve the overall operation of the regulatory regime.

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