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Police Ministers approve firearms reference.

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Media Release SENATOR THE HON. CHRISTOPHER ELLISON Minister for Justice and Customs

Senator for Western Australia

E138/02 5 November 2002

Police Ministers Approve Firearms Reference

The Commonwealth, States and Territories have taken concerted national action on illegal handgun trafficking, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, announced today.

The Inter-Governmental Committee of the National Crime Authority today approved references to the NCA to pursue firearms trafficking and the illegal use of handguns.

The reference enables the NCA to immediately begin using its coercive powers in national investigations into firearms trafficking.

“All governments have shared concerns about the availability of handguns in the community and this reference to the NCA will complement the firearms control initiatives under consideration today by the Australasian Police Ministers Council,” Senator Ellison said.

A meeting of State and Territory police and justice ministers in Sydney in August this year agreed that the first priority for the new Australian Crime Commission, which will replace the NCA, would be illegal handgun trafficking into and within Australia.

Legislation to replace the NCA with the ACC is currently before Federal Parliament and is intended to take effect from 1 January 2003.

“In light of recent events, all ministers agreed that action needs to begin immediately,” Senator Ellison said.

“The NCA firearms reference lays the foundations for the ACC to tackle illegal handgun trafficking on a national basis.”

Media inquiries: Mairi Barton. Ph 02/6277 7260 or 0439 300 335