Page 1900 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 6 June 2017
The ACT is the first jurisdiction to introduce legislative amendments to the treatment of lever action shotguns, to align with the updated national firearms agreement. The ACT government, in taking the lead to make these changes to our firearms laws, is demonstrating its strong commitment to national cooperation on the national firearms agreement and the agility of our legislative process.
Community safety must be approached holistically through appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures. Tackling gun violence is a whole-of-community effort that requires long-term thinking and commitment. And, while there are broad policy challenges that must be continuously addressed, regulatory legislation has a role to play in maintaining an up-to-date and effective framework for responsible firearms ownership and use. The government acknowledges the needs of firearms licensees in the ACT and aims to ensure access to, and the ability to use, firearms for those who have a legitimate purpose to do so.
Mr Assistant Speaker, I should make some comments in response to Mrs Jones’s comments today, firstly, in response to engagement with the Firearms Consultative Committee. The Justice and Community Safety Directorate engaged on multiple occasions with the FCC on the review of the NFA and these changes to the Firearms Act, including at FCC meetings in February and May of this year. Additionally, in March of this year I met personally with the chair of the FCC and discussed these changes.
In fact, there have been a number of engagements with the FCC. This began on 10 September 2015, when the FCC made a submission to the review of the NFA, following requests for submissions by the commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department. On 13 September 2016 JACS officers spoke to the FCC about the review of the NFA. On 7 February this year JACS officers spoke to the FCC about the firearms amendment bill and the review of the NFA. On 1 March this year the chair of the FCC met with me in a face-to-face discussion about a number of issues, including lever action shotgun legislation. And on 9 May this year JACS officers spoke again to FCC about the progress of the Firearms Amendment Bill and the review of the NFA. So it is important that we engage with that committee. They do represent, of course, firearms owners in the ACT.
I will make some comments about Mrs Jones’s mention of attending COAG. Of course I do not attend COAG. I am not first minister at this point in time. Later on we will see how things progress, Mr Assistant Speaker. But I will say that at any meeting, at ministerial council meetings with my colleagues from other states and territories and the commonwealth, I certainly do not strut around. I just want to make that clear. With regard to Mrs Jones’s comments about ad hoc legislation being drafted, this process has been going for a number of years and all stakeholders, all state and territory governments and the commonwealth, have agreed to do this legislation, so it is certainly not ad hoc.
I recognise the importance of allowing those members of the community who legitimately need to use firearms to do so. However, this must be balanced with the needs and expectations of the broader Australian and Canberran communities for a safe approach to the possession, use and management of firearms.