Page 2776 - Week 07 - Thursday, 3 July 2008
While we have been very fortunate that no serious accidents have occurred to date, it is not a risk that the government is prepared to tolerate. The inclusion of this item is a restatement of the government’s continuing commitment to and support for the national approach to the control and prohibition of dangerous weapons. This matter has been a cause for concern in all Australian jurisdictions. The Police Ministers Council recently resolved to have this matter reviewed by the Model Criminal Law Officers Committee for the consideration of model provisions. The ACT will consider these model provisions in order to ensure that the ACT is not out of step with other jurisdictions on this question.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (7.03): The opposition will be supporting this amendment, as we do any sensible amendments from the government. Might I say that I commented earlier in another debate that this government often takes forever in getting sensible changes to the law enforced. I think I made that comment in relation to the very sensible amendments dropped on the table today in relation to sexual assaults, something I believe could have occurred a couple of years earlier.
This laser problem is a fairly recent phenomenon and it emanates from some pretty scary things happening in New South Wales. It is a great danger to pilots and, indeed, passengers. The last thing I think anyone would want to see is a misused laser bringing down a passenger aircraft, with several hundred people on board, into a built-up area. It is horrendous. You are talking 9/11 stuff there. It is often just through absolute stupidity, with some fool playing around with a laser. It is an incredibly serious matter and needs to be treated as such.
We welcome this amendment. Indeed, it is a timely amendment and it has been brought forward in a timely manner. Given that we are, effectively, pretty close to the end of the bill, might I say that we will certainly monitor this to see how well this goes and whether, in fact, any further amendments need to be made in relation to lasers, just like we will monitor the other part of the bill to see whether any further amendments are needed in relation to sensible regulation of dangerous weapons and firearms.
I think, on some parts of this bill and in some of the debate tonight, we have got overly technical. It is important to ensure that dangerous items are not misused. I think we do that fairly well with firearms. I am concerned that the government is being overly difficult in terms of things like heirlooms.
This particular amendment, however, is timely; we certainly support it and it brings us into line with both commonwealth legislation and New South Wales legislation. We are an island within New South Wales and we will always support the government when it has sensible moves to bring us into line with New South Wales. It is a pity it is rather selective in when it wants us to come into line with some state or otherwise when its own ideology seems to be paramount.
But this is certainly one instance where it is utterly essential, as I think I have said from the beginning on this particular issue when it first came to light several months ago, that we be in line with New South Wales. All flights to Canberra from New