Economic Policy Scrutiny Committee Inquiry into the Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 November 2019
Tabled paper 1423
Tabled Papers for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
Tabled by Tony Sievers
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Department of the Legislative Assembly
Examination of the Bill 15 3 Examination of the Bill Introduction 3.1 Of the four submissions received by the Committee, three supported the Bill with amendments while one considered it should not be passed. The Alannah and Madeline Foundation supported the Bill but suggested a minor amendment. The Foundation also raised a number of other issues that relate to areas in which the Firearms Act 1997 (NT) does not comply with the National Firearms Agreement but which are not being addressed by this Bill. Civil Liberties Australia (CLA) does not support the Bill and considers it should be re-drafted. The Law Society generally supports the Bill but identifies a number of areas for amendment. The NT Firearms Council generally supports the Bill but recommends two amendments. Issues raised in relation to the Bills impact on human rights 3.2 Both CLA and the Law Society NT raised concerns at the expansive powers provided to police under the Bill and the associated infringement of human rights. The Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights acknowledges that the Bill engages a substantial number of rights but justifies any infringements on the basis that they are necessary in order for FPOs to be effectively implemented and to safeguard public safety by enabling police to effectively deal with dynamic unfolding situations.6 3.3 Civil Liberties Australia commented that the Bill effectively gives powers to police that should be reserved for the judiciary, noting that the Bill enables these powers to be exercised based on criminal intelligence or criminal information rather than on evidence. This was considered to be aggravated by the unintelligibility of the Bills definition of criminal intelligence. The concerns raised regarding the definition are justified and are discussed under clause 4 below. 3.4 The Law Society NT commented that the rule of law generally requires that the use of executive powers should be subject to meaningful parliamentary and judicial oversight, including regarding powers to enter private premises, to seize property and to copy and seize information.7 In particular they noted the importance of ensuring that the powers granted to police do not encroach on the rights of people who are not subject to the orders contemplated by the Bill.8 These concerns have relevance for proposed sections 49U, 49V, 49W and 49X which are discussed below. 3.5 The Committee acknowledges these concerns and notes that similar issues have been raised in relation to equivalent FPO legislation in NSW and Victoria, both through the NSW Ombudsmans Report and the Inquiry into Firearms Prohibition 6 Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights, Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 (Serial 106), p. 2, https://parliament.nt.gov.au/committees/EPSC/106-2019 7 Submission 3 Law Society NT, p. 2. 8 Submission 3 Law Society NT, p. 2. https://parliament.nt.gov.au/committees/EPSC/106-2019