Page 2757 - Week 07 - Thursday, 3 July 2008
Notably, the bill establishes a scheme to allow for the private ownership of paintball markers and the temporary recognition of interstate paintball marker licences.
I have tabled a revised explanatory statement in response to the matters raised by the scrutiny of bills and subordinate legislation committee in its report No 54. The first of these amendments relates to the standard of proof for the defence associated with the contravention of section 66E. An offence is committed where a firearms dealer either employs a prohibited person or allows a prohibited person to act as their agent.
The provision provides a defence in instances where a dealer can prove that they did not know and could not reasonably be expected to have known that their employee or agent was a prohibited person. The revised statement makes it clear that a firearms dealer bears a legal burden of proof rather than an evidential burden, as previously stated; that is, they must produce evidence that convinces the trier of fact on the balance of probabilities of the existence of the defence.
At 6.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.
MR CORBELL: The revised statement also provides additional material with respect to the contravention of licence conditions, in particular the application of the exception available in subsection 16AC (3). The exception will apply where a licensee refuses entry to police to inspect facilities and the refusal is reasonable in all the circumstances.
The scrutiny report raised the question about whether the term “reasonable in all the circumstances” was vague and led to incompatibility with the Human Rights Act, specifically the right to liberty and security of a person, subsection 18 (2), or the retrospectivity of criminal law, subsection 25 (1). Given the wide potential variety of situations that could apply to a particular licensee, subsection (3) is cast so that the court has sufficient flexibility to consider all circumstances raised by an accused person to establish the exception.
I foreshadow, for the benefit of members, that I will move government amendments. Members may be aware that I have recently announced the government’s intention to include amendments to ban handheld laser pointers. The government has also decided to allow 16 to 18-year-olds to participate in the sport of paintball, with the written consent of their legal guardian.
The provisions dealing with licence applications have been amended, making them more coherent and easy to use. The changes create a division of mandatory and discretionary criteria for determining the suitability of applications for firearms licences. The firearms registrar will be able to consider information held by law enforcement agencies such as the Australian Customs Service and the Australian Crime Commission that indicates that it would not be in the public interest for the person to have access to a firearm.