Page 1896 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 6 June 2017

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But just signing up and trying to be the first jurisdiction to change, which may indeed be basically messing up a system that we very carefully put into action after the Port Arthur massacre, is not necessarily an improvement.

I want to get something else on the record. The minister noted in his tabling statement that the Martin Place siege was relevant. Yes, perhaps it did kick off a series of conversations, but I think it is important to note that Mr Monis, who was the perpetrator of the Martin Place siege, was not a licensed firearm owner and would never have been because of his record, and that he was using a sawn-off shotgun, not an Adler. The commonwealth and New South Wales review of the Martin Place siege makes no reference to lever action firearms. In fact, in my briefing from the minister’s office it was stated that the two issues were really not particularly closely linked. As I say, the offender at the time had no firearms licence, would not have had one, and that is right.

Minister, there are concerns among law-abiding firearms owners that the reclassification of lever action firearms with a magazine capacity of up to five rounds will result in some owners having to justify their ownership rather than addressing the serious issue of illegal firearms. Only those with a real reason to have a firearm will currently have this weapon. They are farmers, recreational hunters and pest controllers. I understand that the government, as you say, has already tried to contact everybody, but I am not certain that that has occurred.

Some are concerned that the reclassification of lever action shotguns from an A category to a B category will create some small issues. Once reclassified, owners will, over time, be asked to continue to justify their need for the weapon. I note that the Canberra Times article on 30 May states that no gun owners will be forced to surrender their firearms, despite these restrictions. That was the advice of the minister’s office but, presumably, if they are not able to justify a category B licence, then they will.

There are a number of questions left unanswered. For example, how many people will the bill affect? Is it four or is it 40? Was the AFP’s figure in the Canberra Times incorrect? Is there a guarantee that no lever action firearm holder will lose their firearm? How long have lever action shotguns been available to firearm owners in Australia? How many deaths or injuries have been attributed to actions of shotguns such as this? Using the Martin Place event to justify what seems to be a kneejerk reaction to the importation of a large group of a particular brand of lever action shotguns, which has also been given to me as an additional justification for this change, seems to be a little ad hoc for a policy development process.

The Liberal Party sees this as a relatively minor change. However, we disagree with the treatment of the Firearms Consultative Committee and the regular increases in restrictions on firearm owners who are law abiding and who already feel that the system assumes they may not be. We will not oppose the change, but we highlight the disrespect and the sloppy manner of its preparation.

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