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Discussions on firearms

I today met Sir Thomas Thorp, the Head of the Review of New Zealand Firearms Control. Sir Thomas will report to the New Zealand Government on the effectiveness of New Zealand's firearms laws in September 1997, and the need for any amendments to the existing legislation.

My discussions with Sir Thomas Thorp were productive and underline the benefits of Australia sharing its experience with other countries on this critical issue.

New Zealand has maintained a continuing interest in the recent reforms to Australian firearms legislation. An observer from New Zealand attended the historic meeting of the Australasian Police Ministers' Council on 10 May 1996, at which all Australian jurisdictions agreed to the Commonwealth's proposals for effective uniform nationwide firearms controls. Since then, the Commonwealth has provided New Zealand authorities with details of the new laws enacted across Australia.

I was very pleased to advise Sir Thomas that new firearms legislation has now been enacted in all States and Territories and that the buyback scheme is a continuing success. More than 340,000 prohibited firearms have now been handed in across the county in return for compensation totalling almost $170 million. The reforms introduced in Australia are clearly working, and have the support of the vast majority of Australians.

I have encouraged Sir Thomas to consider Australia's reforms in course of his review, and will continue to assist the New Zealand authorities.

Media contacts:

Megan Bonny, Attorney-General's Office, 0419 423 96S

Jack Woodforde, Attorney-General's Dept, 06 250 6512