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Monday, 9 December 2002
Page: 7380


Senator CHAPMAN (2:10 PM) —My question is directed to the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Ellison. Will the minister update the Senate on the federal government's successful leadership in tightening access to, and the availability of, hand guns in the community?


Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) —I thank Senator Chapman for the question on what is a very important subject and one which concerns many Australians. Last week, COAG endorsed a comprehensive range of measures dealing with hand gun law reform. It accepted the 28 recommendations made by the Australian Police Ministers Council and looked at the question of how hand guns can be determined to be lawful or otherwise by virtue of the barrel length, the calibre and the capacity of shot. This was a very important decision, and it balanced public safety and security on one side with the interests of legitimate sporting shooters on the other. What COAG agreed to in relation to hand guns was that there be measures to ban semiautomatic hand guns with a minimum barrel length below 120 millimetres and revolvers and single-shot hand guns with a minimum barrel length below 100 millimetres, and that all hand guns are to have a maximum capacity of 10 shots. In relation to calibre, the option agreed to by COAG will apply a maximum calibre of up to .38, with a provision of a calibre of up to .45 for specially accredited sporting events, agreed to by COAG following some further consultation with the Sporting Shooters Advisory Council, which I have set up.

We believe that these measures will see more than 500 hand gun models banned. We will also, of course, see a buyback situation, which will be introduced to assist in the removal of banned hand guns from the community. Firearm owners will be offered fair compensation for those prohibited hand guns. A list of hand gun makes and models to be prohibited, together with values, will be prepared in consultation with experts in each jurisdiction. As far as funding is concerned, the Commonwealth will provide $15 million of funds remaining from the 1996 buyback, with the costs to be shared on the basis of two-thirds from the Commonwealth and one-third from each jurisdiction of the states and territories respectively. This buyback scheme will operate from 1 July 2003 to 1 January 2004. An amnesty will be run in conjunction with the buyback for people to surrender illegally held hand guns from 1 July 2003 to 1 January 2004.

What we have here is cooperation across the country between chief ministers, premiers and the Prime Minister in relation to the Commonwealth's initiative following the Monash tragedy. The Prime Minister originally proposed the hand gun law reform, and, after consultation with the states and territories, we had that agreement the other day. They also adopted other measures which relate to graduated access, a probationary period for people who want to join the sport, a period of 12 months relating to the acquisition of a hand gun—for the first six months there will be no ownership of a hand gun and for the next six months legal possession would be restricted to two hand guns of a restricted type—and minimum participation rates to qualify as a genuine sporting shooter. Tighter requirements will need to be met in terms of minimum participation rates by the person concerned. There are other provisions relating to medical reporting, the authority of clubs to expel members and measures to prevent club-shopping by individuals. This is a great initiative and a great decision by the governments of Australia and is, once again, the result of the leadership of the Prime Minister on what is a very important issue for all Australians.