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Thursday, 16 February 2017
Page: 1355

Firearms Trafficking

Mr FALINSKI (Mackellar) (15:03): My question is to the Minister for Justice and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Counter-Terrorism. Can the minister update the House on threats to community safety posed by illegal firearms? Are there any threats to the government's approach to cracking down on firearms trafficking?

Mr KEENAN (StirlingMinister for Justice and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter-Terrorism) (15:04): I thank the member for Mackellar for that question.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission estimates that there are up to 250,000 guns within the Australian black market. Most worryingly, they are increasingly held by criminals or organised crime groups, like outlaw motorcycle gangs. This pool of weapons poses an ongoing threat to community safety. Just as one of these guns can do serious harm, anyone who smuggles one is only going to use it for a serious criminal purpose.

The latest information we have is that guns are used in 11 per cent of murders, almost 20 per cent of attempted murders, six per cent of kidnappings and nearly seven per cent of robberies. And criminals in every Australian jurisdiction are using illegal firearms to protect their criminal interests, to strike fear and to intimidate and to commit acts of violence and crime. This is why it we on this side of the House are committed to taking tough action against people who smuggle guns.

On Monday night in the Senate we introduced a bill that was debated in good faith, and government supported amendments, to further decrease the maximum penalty for gun smuggling. But, astonishingly, the Labor Party stripped away the most important element of that bill: a mandatory minimum sentence for gun smuggling. On this side of the House, we believe that if you smuggle a gun you should go to jail for a long period of time. But apparently Labor do not believe that, and their explanation is that it is long-held Labor policy that they always oppose mandatory sentencing. It is a principle that they would never deviate from.

This is interesting, because I have come across this document: A Secure and Fair Australia, brought to us by Julia Gillard and Labor.

Mr Burke: What year?

Mr KEENAN: From 2010. In it it says:

In May 2010, Federal Labor introduced tough new people smuggling offences. They included penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment and mandatory minimum terms …

The shadow minister for justice was asked about this at an interview on Sky News. She said, 'Oh well, that was a long time ago.'

Well, it was not that long ago. This document was brought to us by the member for Gorton, so it is not that long ago, and it was supported by none other than the member for Parramatta, who said at the time:

Importantly, it extends mandatory minimum penalties for people-smuggling.

…   …   …

I am proud to stand to support this bill, because we must fight to stamp out the organised crime of people-smuggling …

It was also supported by the member for Moreton—I doubt he is still here—and he said in the debate: 'The amendments demonstrate that the Rudd government is serious about stopping people smuggling.' Well, we are serious about stopping gun smuggling. That is why we want a mandatory minimum sentence, and, if you were serious about gun smuggling, you would have supported the measure. (Time expired)