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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 32 firearms matters due processes noting that NTCAT is made up of 30 odd members who do not have expertise in firearms appeals.50 3.67 The issue of whether a jurisdictions civil and administrative tribunal was the appropriate body to review FPOs has also been raised in relation to the Victorian legislation, with the Law Institute of Victoria expressing the view that such tribunals: are constituted by very experienced judges of the Supreme and County courts and other lawyers who are delegated in the tribunal. There are sufficient restrictions within the Act [Victoria] for these reviews to remain in the public interest when you are talking about police information or police integrity.51 3.68 The Committee sought clarification from NTPOL regarding the rationale for requiring appeals to go through NTCAT rather than through the FAT and was advised that: The procedures for the Firearms Tribunal are set out at Schedule 7 of the Act. There are no provisions applicable to confidential information, especially information falling within the ambit of criminal intelligence. There are no provisions for closed court proceedings. There are no provisions about maintaining confidentiality. Instead, Schedule 7 states that proceedings of the Tribunal must be conducted with as little formality and technicality, and with as much expedition, as a proper consideration of the matter before the Tribunal permits. A Tribunal that is mandated to be conducted with as little formality and technicality as permissible is an inappropriate forum for the ventilation of matters involving criminal intelligence holdings. Criminal intelligence holdings are confidential information gathered by police intelligence, particularly in respect of terrorism activities, drug enforcement operations and organised crime. Criminal intelligence holdings are often obtained via criminal informants on a basis that their identity and information remains confidential. The resulting effects of criminal intelligence holdings being ventilated in any public forum are of serious concern for police. The primary concern for police is that any information ventilated publicly has the potential to identify confidential informants. This is both a potentially dangerous situation for informants and would significantly decrease the likelihood that any informant (both existing and future) would provide any further assistance to police. Without ongoing assistance from informants, the ability of police to effectively and successfully detect and investigate serious crimes would be significantly reduced. Another concern is that ventilation of intelligence in a public forum will alert criminals and suspects that they are being monitored by police and potentially the extent of police knowledge. This is especially dangerous for law enforcement gathering information on potential terrorist activities. Exposure of the information known to police would likely result in criminals changing tactics and plans, effectively rendering the information gathered void. It is for those reasons that criminal intelligence holdings must remain confidential during all stages of a firearm prohibition being issued, served, reviewed and enforced. NTCAT on the other hand has specific legislated powers about the manner in which confidential information can be presented and used. These provisions are vital safeguards in ensuring confidential criminal intelligence remains confidential. Unlike other matters handled by the Firearms Tribunal, specific firearms knowledge is not required in order to assess the appropriateness of a firearm 50 Submission 4 NT Firearms Council Inc., p. 3. 51 Legislative Council, Legal and Social Issues Committee, (Victoria), Inquiry into Firearms Prohibition Legislation, 2 September 2019, p. 19, https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/SCLSI/Firearms/transcripts/3.FP-FINALWALKER.pdf https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/SCLSI/Firearms/transcripts/3.FP-FINAL-WALKER.pdf https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/SCLSI/Firearms/transcripts/3.FP-FINAL-WALKER.pdf