Wednesday, 25 October 2017
Criminal Code Amendment (Firearms Trafficking) Bill 2017; Consideration in Detail
If I'm called left wing outside this chamber, I'll take defamation action I can assure you! There have been very few times in this place I've seen a person who can get such unanimity between the left and right so effectively. I would not like to be a country member of parliament running in the forthcoming federal elections. Everyone regularly goes overseas these days—I'm one of the few who doesn't—and people from the country, by their very nature, have firearms. I mean, it is an absolute necessity. It's not what you like to do; it's what you have to do.
I don't know, the estimates seem to be that there are about 10 million pigs in North Queensland and there are problems on the Barrier Reef—arguably very much coming from this area. The Julia Creek dunnart is the most threatened species in Australia, and Stephen Malone, the expert in this field, has said that unless something's done about pig populations, then it will be extinct. It's only one of many, many items that will be extinct. So these people have guns around all the time.
When you have guns around all the time, you forget when you put some brass in your pocket. You take your trousers off and pack them. You go overseas. You come back into Australia with a shell in your pocket and you go to jail for five years! Now apart from anything else, in Queensland it costs the taxpayers $580,000 a year. A conservative estimate would be about 2,000 people going to jail each year. Minister, we can't afford you. We really, seriously just simply can't afford you—and you won't be able afford anything if you call me a leftie outside of this place!
I do want to seriously say about mandatory sentencing that anyone who has gone to law school, and as I understand it the minister has—I don't talk about it much, but I was president of the law faculty at Queensland university. My brother lectures in law, and I have the privilege of saying I was right on Mabo to the Queensland government. I know the law intimately. In Magna Carta, they died for the principle of being judged by your peers. This is not judgement by your peers. This bloke, this minister, thinks that he can do the judgements forevermore, because we're locked into automatically putting people in jail—whether we like to or whether we don't.
Each of the Labor speakers have quite rightly pointed out that a lot of people will be getting off the hook here who should be on the hook, because people will baulk at putting a human being in jail for five years. But the sorts of people who will be caught in this net are not the people who are the bad guys. The bad guys are not going to be stupid enough to bring a shell casing back in a trouser pocket. Once again I reiterate: you know how—but you don't know, Minister, because you've never spoken to them.
The gun people in Australia have the greatest vested interest in no-one running amok and shooting people, because every time it happens we get punished. We're the ones that desperately don't want this to happen. And of course we are pointing it out to the government and the minister—well, we can't point it out to the minister, because none of the gun groups said they had any listening with him. Either they had a meeting in which he didn't listen and treated them with absolute contempt or they couldn't get a meeting at all.
I find out today from the opposition that he believes in equality, apparently, as he treats the gun people with exactly the same contempt as he treats the judicial people of Australia! And he must be a very clever person, because he knows more than all of them put together!
I repeat that only a quarter of the mail was inspected, and they found 67,000 prohibited imports. This is coming in not through all the mail but the 25 per cent of the mail being inspected. Only 0.2 per cent of the containers coming in are inspected. Should the police and the government spend their money on this stupidity or on stopping the containers? (Time expired)