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Tuesday, 26 September 1972
Page: 1141

Senator NEGUS (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I direct a question to the Attorney-General because I spoke to him recently and I believe that he may be able to answer the question. Does the Minister know that quantities of gelignite, fuse and caps and probably most other types of explosives are easily obtainable without permits practically anywhere in Australia? ls he aware that identification of a purchaser is not necessary? Does he recognise, in view of the recent bomb incidents, that immediate and urgent action should be taken by the Government to correct this situation? Will the Minister advise the Senate whether the Government is taking or intends to take action to introduce rectifying laws in connection with these matters? If not, will he request the Government to do so immediately before any further bomb explosions occur? Will action be taken to require persons to declare all explosives held by them at present? Further, if this matter of control of explosives is considered to be a State matter, will the Minister recommend the immediate introduction of legislation by the State in an endeavour to reduce further bomb incidents?

Senator GREENWOOD - As Senator Negus indicated, he raised this matter privately with me late last week, and I am indebted to him for raising this question. As a result of discussions and investigations which I have made, I think that the position with regard to the availability of gelignite and of explosive materials generally must be looked at with greater care than generally it has been in the past. In some States these explosive materials can be purchased only with a permit, but in other places they would appear to be, if not easily obtainable, obtainable in a way that a person who wishes to purchase them can do so without any real restraint being placed upon him. 1 believe that this is an area in which useful work can be done and in which there can be greater restriction upon the availability of explosives than exists at the moment, and certainly that may have the effect of deterring people who may wish to use gelignite for criminal purposes. What I have done is to arrange, within my Department, for a complete survey of the position throughout Australia to be prepared for me, and I propose when I have that to take up the matter with my colleagues in the various States with a view to seeing whether some uniform restrictive action can be taken.

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