Wednesday, 16 February 2022
Criminal Code Amendment (Firearms Trafficking) Bill 2022; Second Reading
That this bill be now read a second time.
The criminal misuse and trafficking of illegal firearms is a deadly crime and an ongoing threat to the safety of the Australian community.
At the 2019 election, the coalition government recommitted to the Australian people to implement tougher criminal penalties for gun related crime.
These reforms fulfil that commitment. We are doing everything in our power to ensure the ongoing safety and security of all Australians.
Not only are illegal firearms used regularly to threaten and commit acts of violence; they enable organised crime groups to protect their interests and be more lethal in their activities.
One illegal firearm in our community is clearly one too many.
The continued supply of firearms, combined with their durability and recirculation through the community after being trafficked, is a growing and serious threat to the safety of our communities.
It only takes one illegal firearm in the hands of a person with malicious intent—whether it be criminal gangs or domestic violence perpetrators—to be of great concern to the community.
This bill shows the government's intent towards traffickers and criminal networks. Gun related crime and violence will not be tolerated.
The bill will double the maximum penalty for existing firearms-trafficking offences from 10 to 20 years imprisonment under the Criminal Code Act 1995.
For those trafficking in large quantities of firearms and firearms parts, the bill introduces aggravated offences to the Criminal Code. These serious crimes would carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
The bill will also ensure that offenders cannot use loopholes, such as breaking up trafficking shipments and operations into smaller numbers, to avoid aggravated offences and the resulting higher penalties.
As promised at the last election, the bill will also impose a mandatory minimum sentence on these offences of at least five years imprisonment, a further reflection on the serious nature of this crime. This will be accompanied by appropriate judicial discretion for cooperation with law enforcement and guilty pleas.
The combined effect of these increased penalties and aggravated offences will be to provide a strong deterrent against traffickers, their facilitators and backers in organised crime.
Illegal firearms put us all at risk.
Any efforts to reduce the number of illegal firearms in the community is a positive step forward.
The bill appropriately reflects the community's expectations, the serious consequences of gun related crime and the gravity of the offences.
These measures are a further demonstration of the Morrison government's commitment to keep our communities safe.
I commend this bill to the House.