House debates

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


Gun Control

12:17 pm

Photo of Tanya PlibersekTanya Plibersek (Sydney, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition) Share this | Hansard source

I think, both on this side and the other side, we would have been happy to allow the Leader of the House to continue, indeed to extend, the time available for this debate, because we did not hear one single word about guns from the Leader of the House—not a single word about gun control and the risk to this nation if the strong gun-control laws introduced by John Howard as Prime Minister are watered down. And watered down why? For a nasty deal to introduce an unnecessary Building and Construction Commission. The Leader of the House does not even have the courage to say what the member for Warringah has said:

Disturbing to see reports of horse-trading on gun laws. ABCC should be supported on its merits …

If those opposite want to make a case for it, of course they have every right to make a case for it. But we should never, ever water down gun laws in this country, particularly not for a grubby deal like this.

Every single Australian adult who was of an age two decades ago to remember the Port Arthur massacre would remember exactly where they were that evening as the news came through of those 35 Australians who lost their lives and the 18 who were injured—and there were thousands, if not millions, I would say, who were traumatised to hear of that crime in this country. There are a lot of things that I did not agree with John Howard about, but he took action. He drew something good from this tragedy, something that all Australians could be proud of. Prime Minister Howard said at the time, in 1996:

We have an opportunity in this country not to go down the American path.

I can tell members that those who are fighting for better gun control in the United States use us as an example often. They say, 'Australia had a shocking tragedy, an unthinkable tragedy, but they used that tragedy for good.'

In the United States this year, 2016, there have been 11,616 gun deaths according to the latest report. Three hundred of those have been in mass shootings. In Australia, in the decade between 1986 and 1996, this country had 10 mass shootings. How many have we had since those gun laws were amended? How many have we had since those gun laws were tightened? None. We have had no mass shootings. What is this parliament being asked to do?


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