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Firearms compensation about to end

I have today written to the Queensland Police Minister, Mr Russell Cooper, reaffirming that there will be no extension to the buyback period.

If a firearm has not been handed in before 30 September 1997 then, regardless of whether an application for a licence has been made before that date, any compensation paid by the State in respect of that firearm cannot, under the Commonwealth legislation, be reimbursed by the Commonwealth.

All Australians who wish to apply for a category C and D firearms licence must and should hand in their firearms before 30 September, to be eligible for compensation funded by the Commonwealth Government.

All Australian Police Ministers, including Mr Cooper, have been aware of this situation for many months.

New South Wales and Victoria have acted to ensure that firearms owners are aware of the need to surrender their firearms before 30 September pending determination of their licence applications. I have urged Mr Cooper to follow that same path.

Since 10 May 1996, each State and Territory in Australia has instituted the most comprehensive reform of firearms laws in Australia's history and now 12 months later, Australia is a safer place for all Australians.

The Australasian Police Ministers' Council made the historic 1996 Nationwide Agreement on Firearms and set us on a path to better firearms regulation after decades of failed attempts to implement uniform and effective national laws.

As at the close of business yesterday, Australians have handed in 551,751 prohibited firearms and been paid $277,391,961 in compensation.

The removal of dangerous firearms from our communities and the establishment of uniform registration and licensing together with the introduction of comprehensive conditions for firearms ownership marks a significant turning point in our nation's approach to firearms.

Media contact: Brett Bayly, 02 6277 7300