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Thursday, 2 October 1997
Page: 7440

Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer)(10.07 a.m.) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

The Australian Firearms Buyback which has been a central part of the implementation of the nationwide agreement on firearms regulation comes to a close on 30 September 1997. To date more than 540,000 firearms have been surrendered in the various States and Territories.

The National Firearms Program Implementation Act 1996, which appropriated the funds required to reimburse the States and Territories for the compensation paid for surrendered firearms, followed the letter of that nationwide agreement. It applied, however, only to those firearms which were expressly prohibited by that agreement.

There have in addition, of course, been historically prohibited weapons, including sub-machine guns, heavy machine guns and other similar weapons in the community. It was certainly the intention of the Australasian Police Ministers' Council that these weapons should also be surrendered for fair and proper compensation.

To ensure that this compensation can be properly reimbursed, it is necessary to provide authority for the Attorney-General to certify that the surrender of particular firearms or other weapons is consistent with the spirit of the national program and to allow the Attorney-General to authorise payments for the purpose of providing compensation to firearm owners and dealers.

The bill is of major importance in the implementation of the national firearms program. It is, therefore, extremely important that the bill be passed as quickly as possible. The national firearms program has had bi-partisan support throughout and I ask that that support continue.

I commend the bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Chris Evans) adjourned.