Wednesday, 2 December 2015
Criminal Code Amendment (Firearms Trafficking) Bill 2015; Second Reading
That this bill be now read a second time.
The coalition government at the 2013 election made a commitment to the Australian people to implement tougher criminal penalties for gun related crime.
The criminal misuse and trafficking of guns is a deadly crime and an ongoing threat to the safety of our communities.
Although there is no single group which dominates the sale and supply of firearms to the illicit market, the illicit use and possession of firearms is a significant element of organised criminal activity in Australia.
We all know that money and power are key drivers for organised crime. Guns are regularly used as an enabler to protect interests and commit acts of violence.
The imperishable nature of firearms and the ongoing supply of firearms to the illicit market mean they remain a serious threat to the Australian community.
Now, more than ever, we must do everything in our power to ensure the ongoing safety and security of all Australians.
That is why the government is again introducing increased penalties to disrupt the illicit firearms market in Australia.
This bill will introduce a mandatory minimum sentence of five years imprisonment for offenders convicted of trafficking firearms or firearm parts under the Criminal Code Act 1995.
Mandatory minimums send a strong and clear message that gun related crime and violence will not be tolerated.
The mandatory minimums will capture all offenders who engage in the illicit firearms trade, not just those who trade in large numbers of firearms or parts.
Regardless of the number of articles that are trafficked, it is vital to put in place substantial penalties on all trafficking offenders, with the aim of preventing even one more firearm from entering the illicit market.
However, these mandatory minimum sentences are not without safeguards. They do not include specified nonparole periods, nor do they apply to minors, which means the courts will retain the discretion to set custodial periods consistent with the particular circumstances of the offender and the offence.
In addition to the mandatory minimum sentence, the government is also increasing the maximum penalties for firearms trafficking from 10 years' imprisonment and/or 2,500 penalty units to 20 years' imprisonment and/or 5,000 penalty units.
The increased maximum penalty is necessary to ensure that the serious offences of trafficking firearms within Australia, and into and out of our country, are matched by appropriate punishments.
This bill introduces amendments to reflect the seriousness with which the government views gun crime, and the gravity of supplying firearms and firearm parts to the illicit market.
The combination of mandatory minimum penalties and increased maximum penalties will send the strongest possible message to the community that the illegal trafficking of firearms will not be tolerated and will act as a strong disincentive for people who would seek to illegally import firearms and gun parts into Australia.