Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 6 June 2017) . . Page.. 1899 ..
have a genuine need for them. So on that basis, as I said, the Greens will be supporting this bill today. We believe that it is consistent with the national agreement and appropriate in finding the right balance of community safety and necessary access for those who need it.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Urban Renewal) (11.06), in reply: I thank members for their comments on this bill. The Firearms Amendment Bill 2017 amends the Firearms Act 1996 to reclassify lever action shotguns. Currently, lever action shotguns are classified in the least restrictive gun ownership category, category A. When this bill is passed and commences, lever action shotguns with a magazine capacity of up to five rounds will be changed to category B. Lever action shotguns with a magazine capacity of more than five rounds will be classified as category D under the new law.
These changes support the importance of public safety in regulating the possession and use of firearms by members of our community. The principle of public safety is embedded in the Firearms Act, which was passed following an Australia-wide firearm law reform process in the late 1990s, primarily in response to the Port Arthur shootings in Tasmania in 1996. One of the fundamental responses to Port Arthur and other events afterwards including firearms was the agreement by the federal, state and territory governments to enter the national firearms agreement. The national firearms agreement created, for the first time, a uniform national approach to firearms regulation. Importantly, this resulted in restricted legal possession of automatic and semiautomatic firearms, as well as standard permit and licensing criteria.
Almost 20 years later, a review of the technical amendments of the national firearms agreement was recommended following the 2014 Martin Place siege. As part of the review, at the Council of Australian Governments meeting on 9 December 2016, first ministers agreed to reclassify lever action shotguns. Following this commitment, and the public release of the updated agreement in February this year, the bill implements the change of classification that is supported by all Australian governments.
In 2015 the Australian government temporarily prohibited the importation of lever action shotguns with a magazine capacity greater than five rounds. This was in response to the imminent arrival in Australia of a significant number of lever action shotguns with a magazine capacity of seven rounds, in particular one we have talked about: the Adler A110. Subsequently the Australian government extended the import prohibition on lever action shotguns to allow all jurisdictions time to give effect to the Council of Australian Governments’ December 2016 decision.
Lever action shotguns use a lever motion to load fresh cartridges into the barrel, in contrast to bolt action or semiautomatic weapons. While lever action shotguns are not new technology, the concern of commonwealth, state and territory law enforcement agencies is the significant rate of fire, combined with a higher magazine capacity. As technology evolves, lever action shotguns of any brand will become more sophisticated and potentially more dangerous when in the wrong hands. It is important that our legislation keep pace with innovation in order to adequately regulate firearms.