House debates

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Questions without Notice

Gun Control

2:44 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. I refer to the minister's previous answer where he explained that the only influence for lifting the ban on rapid-fire lever-action shotguns after 12 months was the negotiation with the states. Why then was he offering, or his office was offering, a sunset clause in return to secure votes in the Senate on completely unrelated legislation?

2:45 pm

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

I think I just answered that in the last answer. I did. I answered exactly that. I answered exactly that question. I will go through it again for the benefit of the Leader of the Opposition, who clearly does not understand anything about firearms. He continues to ask questions that demonstrate his lack of knowledge about how this actually works. Let me explain it again. There was going to be a large import of lever-action shotguns with a magazine capacity of over five. We had many representations from our own law enforcement officials and from state governments that they were concerned about this import. At the time, and it is still the case, all lever-action shotguns, regardless of their capacity—two, six, eight—were classified in category A, the least restrictive category of licence that is available. When we were advised about the concern about this large-scale import we took action to restrict the import whilst we had a conversation with the states about where these guns were to be classified. That temporary ban will remain in place until we can conclude that conversation.

We had a conversation with Senator Leyonhjelm about the regulation that needed to pass the Senate for us to regulate this temporary import ban. As part of that conversation, we inserted a sunset clause in that regulation so it would expire after 12 months and, at the end of that 12 months, we would have seen where we were at. My hope was, of course, that the negotiation with the states would have been concluded. They were not, so it continues that that temporary import ban remains in place.

Mr Bowen interjecting

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

I remind the member for McMahon he has been warned!

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

This is not a new piece of information. It has been out in the public domain for some time, and Senator Leyonhjelm, of course, has mentioned it many times. In fact, he has released that correspondence on many other occasions, but apparently the Labor Party has never seen it before today. So, let me repeat: we will keep the ban in place until the states come to an agreement about where they are going to classify these guns. You can keep asking me about the sunset clause. The explanation remains exactly the same. And, as I said, this is not a new piece of information, but apparently Labor has been completely asleep to do with anything about guns.

Let me just go through what the record of the Labor Party was, when they were in office, about guns. They cut the ability of Customs and Border Protection to detect illegal guns coming into this country. They slashed the resources of the Australian Crime Commission by fully one-third and the funding of the Australian Crime Commission by fully one-third—our criminal intelligence agency that helps us detect illegal guns. We will continue to do what we have always done, which is crack down on the illegal market whilst maintaining John Howard's gun laws— (Time expired)