Debates Day 3 - Thursday 19 June 2003
Parliamentary Record 13
Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 19 June 2003 governments in specific policy areas; initiate, develop and monitor policy reform jointly in these areas; and take joint action in the resolution of issues that arise between governments. In particular, ministerial councils may develop policy reforms for consideration by COAG and oversee the implementation of policy reforms agreed to by COAG. On 21 October 2002, at about 11 am, a shooting incident occurred at Monash University in Melbourne. A person entered a tutorial room on the 6th floor of the Sir Robert Menzies Building and allegedly fired indiscriminately into a tutorial group. Two people were killed and five wounded before the alleged gunman was subdued by a lecturer and students. It was subsequently reported that the alleged gunman was a licensed pistol owner with access to several hand guns, including semi-automatic pistols and a .357 mm Magnum revolver. On 22 October 2002, the Prime Minister, in Question Time in the House of Representatives, commented on the tragedy and foreshadowed that he - the Prime Minister, the person whom the Leader of the Opposition seems to be disavowing any knowledge or any creative role in this - would raise with the state Premiers and Chief Ministers of the territories a proposal to further strengthen gun laws in Australia. The Prime Ministers stated objective in raising the matter at inter-governmental level was to see whether there are additional things that we can do to take more weapons out of society, consistent with protecting the rights of sporting shooters in a legitimate sense. The Prime Minister contended that the taking out of firearms which followed the Port Arthur shooting tragedy in 1996 had been successful in reducing the murder rate involving guns in Australia. A similar observation was made in the Senate at Question Time by Liberal Senator, the Honourable Christopher Ellison, Minister for Justice and Customs, and Senator Andrew Bartlett of the Australian Democrats, when they noted the distinction between homicides committed with firearms and firearm offences that did not result in death, such as armed robberies and gun threats. The Senators advised that Australia had seen an increase in crimes committed with hand guns, combined with the concern over trafficking in illegal hand guns. Indeed, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Christopher Ellison, issued a media release on 16 May 2003, stating: The issue o f traffic in illegal hand guns remains one o f the utmost importance to the ACC, which is indicated it remains the subject o f special investigation. The ACC is the newly created Australian Crime Commission which is a combination of the functions of the former National Crime Authority, the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence and the Office of Strategic Crime Assessment. It was that shooting incident at Monash University which prompted the Prime Minister to place firmly on the COAG agenda the need to reduce the number of hand guns within our society. COAG, or more accurately the Australian Police Ministers Council - which is one of a number of ministerial councils that are part of COAG, and was the council charged with carriage of these reforms - is not a paper tiger. In general terms, they considered that they were presented with a proposal that lacked any detail. The NSW position, and one to which we in the Territory subscribe, was that participation in lawful sporting activities is a genuine reason for firearm possession by legitimate licensed shooters. Debate in the council has been quite strong on the issue of firearms control, and the position adopted by our Liberal Prime Minister. No matter what he does to distance himself from it, that is his man in Canberra; he and his CLP mates are always prattling on about having these tete-a-tetes with the Prime Minister and having great influence - where were they? On 28 November 2002, it was reported that state and territory police ministers ganged up - contrary to what he would say in here-to undermine the Commonwealths proposed ban on hand guns, prompting an angry Prime Minister to wish a curse on them. This is the lot that he is saying rolled over. You have the Prime Minister, the highest officer in the land, cursing the states. If you want to get into the depth of passion of the Prime Minister - and we have all seen that he is not averse to rolling places, and the Middle East is one small example. Right? Such is the passion that this man has brought to this debate. Some states reserved the right to opt out of a hand gun ban altogether, instead proposing major restrictions that would make it harder to obtain guns. The Prime Minister hinted that he might be prepared to use Commonwealth Constitution authority over importation laws to overcome the states intransigence. We know the powers of the Commonwealth, and we know that they would use these powers to roll the states. 4419
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