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States must not be allowed to drag the chain on gun laws



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Senator Cheryl Kernot Australian Democrats Parliamentary Leader

5 June, 1996 _______ MEDIA RELEASE___________________ 96/307

STATES MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO DRAG THE CHAIN ON GUN LAWS

Democrats call on Howard to set a deadline

Australian Democrats' Leader Senator Cheryl Kernot today called on Prime Minister John Howard to set a deadline for the states to implement agreed gun laws.

Senator Kemot said some states, Including Queensland, appeared to be dragging the chain on implementing legislation.

She said Mr Howard must make it clear to the states that unless they fulfil their part of the Canberra agreement on gun laws, the Commonwealth will step in.

“The Democrats indicated before the police ministers meeting that we would introduce a bill for a referendum to give the power to the Commonwealth unless the states came up with a satisfactory resolution,” Senator Kemot said.

“Giving the opportunity to the Australian people to decide this issues would bypass the political pressure that can be applied to a minority government, such as Queensland's National Party Government.”

Senator Kernot said the Federal (Government had done its part by introducing legislation to provide compensation for the guns buy-back.

“But Mr Howard cannot afford to let the states be bullied by an extremist minority in the gun lobby and fail to implement what the clear majority of Australians want and deserve,” she said. .

"Some extremists say they’re angry about the laws being passed, but they need to be reminded that the vast majority of Australians are angry that such lax gun laws have been allowed to exist for so long and that we risk heading down the American path.

“Most Australians will also be extremely angry if national unity is not translated into national action.

"The Democrats have already drafted the necessary legislation to set up the referendum and give the power to the Commonwealth.

“If the states don't act within the next four sitting weeks of their Parliaments, then John Howard should act - or the Democrats will.”

To arrange comment, contact: Cheryl Thuriow (07) 3844 3696 or 0418 630 137.

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