House debates

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Questions without Notice

Gun Control

2:25 pm

Photo of Bill ShortenBill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Justice. Since coming to office in 2013 has the minister ever offered to weaken Australia's gun laws for support in the Senate?

Photo of Michael KeenanMichael Keenan (Stirling, Liberal Party, Minister for Justice) Share this | | Hansard source

What that question from the Leader of the Opposition shows is that he has absolutely no understanding about the way we regulate guns in Australia—and neither does anyone else on the opposition frontbench as far as I can tell from all the nonsense that has been said about this today. Let me go through it. I will be as precise as I can so you can actually understand what is going on. In Australia since 1996, lever action shotguns of any capacity have been classified in category A. That has been the case since 1996; and, of course, that was the case during the six years of Labor government during that period. During the six years of Labor government all lever action shotguns, regardless of their capacity, were in category A, the least restrictive category of licence that is offered anywhere in Australia.

About 18 months ago it was made known to the Commonwealth, through both officials at the state level and our own law enforcement officials, that there was going to be a significant import of lever action firearms with a magazine capacity of over five. Subsequently, we took action to restrict their import until we could start and complete a conversation with the states about the appropriate classification for lever action shotguns. Those conversations have been ongoing but they are not yet concluded because we have not yet got agreement between the states. So we have said the ban will remain in place until we have that agreement with the states. I am hopeful that we will have that agreement soon. But the government has been very clear that the temporary import ban is going to remain until that time.

Anyone who knows anything about community safety and guns in Australia knows that the real issue is the illegal firearms market.

Mr Bowen interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for McMahon will cease interjecting.

Mr Bowen interjecting

The member for McMahon is now warned.

Photo of Michael KeenanMichael Keenan (Stirling, Liberal Party, Minister for Justice) Share this | | Hansard source

Since we arrived in office we have worked to restrict the access of criminals to illegal guns. Part of that is making sure we have tougher restrictions for gun smuggling. We have presented that to the parliament twice and twice the Labor Party has stood in the way of us passing these stricter penalties for gun smuggling. So there is all this confected outrage, all this nonsense, about issues that they clearly do not understand. Yet they are standing in the way of us having stricter penalties for organised crooks who smuggle in the black market. That is actually the issue that we should be addressing as a parliament. We will continue to make sure that John Howard's very strong, very successful firearms laws remain in place. And we will continue to do the most important thing with regard to public safety, and that is crackdown on the illegal firearms market. If you cared about this, you would join us in doing that.