CONTROL OF WEAPONS AND FIREARMS ACTS AMENDMENT BILL 2011 – Tuesday, 28 Feb 2012

Posted on 08. Mar, 2012 in Speeches

Mr LIM (Clayton) — I heard the accusation thrown across the chamber about us being lazy, but I am just trying to come to grips with why it took 18 months for the government to come up with this bill. The government took 18 months, yet at the last minute we see it scrambling to come up with amendments. These amendments have come about simply because concerns were raised with us by the shooting fraternity; that is why these amendments have been proposed.

It would be remiss of me not to mention that on this side of the house we have a long tradition of supporting all sporting bodies. This is reflected in the fact that it was the previous Labor government that went to the election with a commitment of at least $13 million to buy the land and build the infrastructure to support the shooting sporting community. That is an indication of what Labor is all about when it comes to shooting sporting activities. It goes without saying that we do the right thing. We are not just talking; we are not lazy. This is unlike the government, which has taken 18 months to come up with this unprepared, unpolished and unready bill, only to then have to scramble for amendments.

I will now turn to the bill. It would appear that the bill has two main aspects. Firstly, it amends the Control of Weapons Act 1990 to make it an indictable offence for a prohibited person to carry an imitation firearm. Secondly, the bill does away with the requirement that at least seven days notice be given in the gazetting of a planned designation of a search area.

I would like to touch on the first point — the indictable offence for a prohibited person to carry an imitation firearm. I will start with the definition of what is meant by ‘prohibited person’. The bill gives an extensive definition of such a person. I do not wish to read this long list into Hansard, but suffice it to say that a prohibited person is a serious criminal, a perpetrator of family violence or a person convicted of firearm offences of a violent nature. These are not the sorts of people that our community would want anywhere near a firearm.

To take it to an extreme, where I come from these people do not deserve to walk this earth because the violence that they perpetrate on their own family and community is most unacceptable, has no place and should not be tolerated. To suggest that this person could be in a position of being able to convert an imitation firearm into a weapon that could use real bullets and use effectively it as a firearm is a dangerous idea to entertain. It should be noted that the possession of an imitation firearm was originally an indictable offence, but from 1 July 2011 the maximum penalty was 240 penalty units or two years jail. Clause 4 of the bill before the house raises this penalty to 1200 penalty units or 10 years imprisonment, which is a significant change.

The second aspect of the bill that I want to touch on concerns the removal of the seven‑day notice period in the gazetting of a planned designation of a search area. This raises some questions, but I would not want to go down the track that the member for Mitcham suggested — that is, an almost gung‑ho, cowboy‑style interpretation of that aspect of the bill. We need to strike a balance between civil liberty and the safety of the community, and this point was raised by the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee. It is interesting to read the committee’s Alert Digest No. 1 of this year in the context of this provision. It states:

The committee will write to the minister seeking further information as to the required period of time between notification of a designation in a daily newspaper and when the designation may validly operate. Pending the minister’s response, the committee draws attention to clause 5.

I checked a copy of the subsequent Alert Digest No. 2, and there is no mention of the minister’s response, which is a concern.

Another aspect I bring to the attention of the house is that in this day and age of the latest technology, we are talking about how we convey to the community information in this area. The traditional way would have been to put the information in the newspaper, but I suggest that we use the latest technology — the internet, Twitter, Facebook and all that. Maybe the government needs to think about bringing this latest technology into play. I am talking about this in all sincerity and without wanting to be glib. We live in an age of modern technology, and we have to properly come to grips with it in reality.

As we all know, the opposition will not oppose this bill. However, I am keen to see if there is a need for further amendments in the Council. Having mentioned all the major concerns I have, I hope the government will take them into account during the passage of this bill through the chamber.

 

Comments are closed.