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Economic Policy Scrutiny Committee Inquiry into the Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 November 2019



Economic Policy Scrutiny Committee Inquiry into the Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 November 2019

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Tabled paper 1423


Tabled Papers for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT




Tabled by Tony Sievers


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Inquiry into the Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 4 Chairs Preface This report details the Committees findings regarding the examination of the Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2019. The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Firearms Act 1997 to provide for a new firearm prohibition order scheme that will enable the Commissioner of Police to make an order prohibiting an individual from acquiring, having possession of, or using any firearm or firearm related item. Although the Act provides a number of mechanisms to prevent firearm related crime, police currently have no capacity to take prompt action in circumstances where immediate intervention is required to deal with dynamic unfolding situations. Firearm Prohibition Orders (FPOs) are currently in force in Victoria, New South Wales (NSW), South Australia and Tasmania. The provisions in the Bill are largely modelled on the equivalent provisions in the Victorian Firearms Act 1996 as this is considered to be the most contemporary legislation. The Committee received four submissions to its inquiry two of which raised concerns about the expansive powers provided to police and the associated infringement of human rights. The Committee acknowledges these concerns but notes that there are precedents for such infringements, particularly in relation to preventing criminal conduct that threatens public safety. Particular concern was expressed regarding the search powers provided to police. These powers can be exercised, without warrant or consent, if police deem the exercise of the power is reasonably required to determine whether a person with a firearms protection order is contravening the order. The Law Society considered the threshold of reasonably required to be a lower threshold than the wellestablished principle of reasonable grounds and commented that similar legislation in NSW and Victoria has resulted in inappropriate use of these powers. The Committee acknowledges these concerns but considers there to be sufficient safeguards against inappropriate use of the powers, noting that the Bill provides for the Ombudsman to review the exercise of police powers within two years after commencement and that NT Police will be implementing mandatory training on FPOs for relevant officers. The Committee has recommended six amendments five of which are technical in nature and seek to ensure the Bill is unambiguous and drafted in a sufficiently clear and precise manner. Recommendation 7 proposes an amendment to provide that the Police Commissioners powers in relation to firearm protection orders can only be delegated to a police officer at the level of superintendent or higher. Although the Committee considers it may be necessary to allow some infringement of human rights, it notes that as the Bill makes rights and liberties dependent on administrative power, it is essential to ensure that the power is sufficiently defined and subject to appropriate review. On behalf of the Committee I would like to thank those who made submissions. The Committee also acknowledges the NT Police Force for the high quality and comprehensive nature of the advice they provided. I also thank my fellow Committee members for their bipartisan commitment to the legislative review process. Mr Tony Sievers MLA Chair