Firearms Miscellaneous Amendment Bill


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (15:59): I will be the opposition's lead speaker, and I am very grateful to the member for Chaffey for rising to his feet when I was otherwise occupied—

The Hon. L.R. Breuer: Where is your commitment?

Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: —in my office, member for Giles. I rise to speak on the Firearms (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2013. Let me just put on the record that unfortunately it was only possible for me to get a briefing from the government and from SAPOL today.

As the member for Chaffey quite rightly said, it does appear that there is a great rush on the behalf of the government to push this legislation through. It was tabled last sitting week, and I offered times when I would be available in Adelaide last week for a briefing between the sitting weeks, and I made it very clear that I would not be available, unfortunately because of some funerals, to attend a briefing in Adelaide on Monday or Tuesday. The result was that I was offered a briefing on Tuesday.

That was a fairly clear message from the government in regard to how they wanted to do things. I understand that the government is busy, I understand that SAPOL are very busy, and I understand that the firearms branch is extremely busy, but it certainly sets a pattern, and I am not alone in this view. The government seems determined to rush this through before the end of sittings. It does have an optional week, which it could use if it chose to, so it will be very interesting to see how that goes.

Nonetheless, I did get a good briefing this morning, and I appreciate the fact that the two officers from SAPOL who came along were both very open in regard to answering the questions. In opposition, we really do understand that SAPOL have a tough job to do—a very tough job to do. It is a very natural desire, and the opposition supports that desire, to get as many firearms as possible—ideally, all of them—out of the hands of criminals, including illegal owners and users of firearms, because even by just possessing an unregistered firearm or possessing a registered firearm without a licence, or any of those various combinations, and doing nothing with it, you are still a criminal.

We support wholeheartedly SAPOL's desire to clean things up. The government is clearly very concerned about the publicity it has had lately in regard to bikies and organised crime—and I think that is for good reason—and they are trying to really push this through. We support the police in their desire to do the work they do. I understand that the police broadly, quite rightly, really focus on what they want to achieve and what they need to achieve to fight crime; good on them for doing that, but there are other issues that come along with this legislation.

It would be pretty handy for all of us if it were possible just to say, 'Please, give SAPOL whatever tools they need to go and get the crooks. Have as much power as you like.' We would all be happy with that if there were no unintended consequences that went with that path of action. It is the unintended consequences that really are the focus of the concerns of the opposition and also the broader firearms-owning community.

In the government's rush to get this legislation through parliament, it just has not consulted. It just has not consulted with the people who count on this issue. I understand SAPOL's view that we are not actually trying to impact upon the legal and responsible firearms owners and users: we are trying to impact on the crooks. So, we are not consulting with the other groups because we are not actually trying to have an impact on them. I understand that, but the reality is that there is an impact, and there is certainly a lot of concern out there about the impact of this legislation on people.

I have had an enormous amount of feedback from the public on this bill, and the one single common thread—certainly not the only important issue, but the one consistent theme—was no consultation; a lack of consultation with us. It is interesting to contrast our government's approach on this issue to the New South Wales government's approach. All state governments are grappling with this issue at the moment. It is a tough issue and one that cannot be avoided; it needs to be addressed. I read from an extract of an email that was sent to me with regard to New South Wales:

The P olice M inister officially announced on Tuesday last week that Deloitte was conducting a review of firearms registry, and that stakeholders would have an opportunity to have an input into the review. There is now a way for individuals to have their say on the registry by way of the government's 'Have Your Say' website. There is a questionnaire here that you can complete and/or you can make a more detailed submission by email. The Police Minister presumably passes these submissions on to Deloitte. Deloitte are contacting the major associations directly to interview them.

That is a very, very different approach to what we are having here at the moment. I understand that what is being consulted upon in New South Wales is not exactly the same material that is in this bill here, but it is part of the same general bucket of firearms concerns: registry, licensing, operation, manufacture, adjustments—all of those sorts of things.

I am not trying to say that the government and SAPOL have never consulted, because that is not true; they have not consulted on this bill. The last significant area of consultation that I am aware of with regard to firearms from this government was the Firearms Legislation Advisory Group (FLAG). That was a group of, I think (I stand to be corrected) 16 interest groups or thereabouts that was put together to represent, ideally, the entire community of legal and responsible firearms owners and users.

That group had SAPOL as a member, which I think is entirely appropriate; it is a difficult thing for SAPOL, because you want to participate in the group but you are also the key agency receiving recommendations from the group. Nonetheless, I think SAPOL would have had a very positive, constructive contribution to make to that group. That group put forward its recommendations I think in the middle of 2012 (June or July), and those recommendations, I am told, have never been addressed. I am told that no feedback—no feedback whatsoever—has been given to those recommendations from FLAG.

It might well be that the government's sees its involvement and interaction with FLAG, even though it seems to have been suspended for approaching a year and a half, as ongoing consultation. But, in the midst of the suspension of that ongoing consultation, it does not seem appropriate to be slipping in the Firearms (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill without going back to that group, which really worked very hard to try and put forward some responsible recommendations.

I am not suggesting that the government need accept every one of those recommendations. I am not suggesting for a second that you go out, you consult, you receive your feedback and, by virtue of that process, you are obliged to go along with what you get back. Certainly, that is not the case, but I think you are obliged to respond to it before you put legislation forward on exactly that topic.

So, I find that process of consultation or lack of consultation extremely concerning, given that really everybody who could possibly have an interest in this was included in FLAG and is represented by the Combined Firearms Council, all the way from antique collectors, who may perhaps never have fired a firearm or had a shot but for their own reasons love collecting, storing, displaying and viewing that sort of equipment, through to active hunters, who for their own reasons like to go out as often as possible and use firearms for hunting.

While I am talking about the range of people involved, let me also say that I think it is very remiss of the government not to have consulted with disabled sporting bodies, because one of the very important parts of this legislation deals with the accessories and/or modifications of firearms. It is quite understandable and quite a natural thing to think that disabled people would require modification to firearms so that they can pursue whatever legal activities they would like.

That is most typically competition shooting, from the grassroots—from outer metropolitan clubs, as the member for Taylor said, all the way through to far-flung parts of our states—ideally all the way up to the Paralympics. It appears that people who would advocate for and represent disabled competitive legal, responsible shooters have not been consulted at all about a bill that directly deals with the modification and accessorising (for appropriate reasons) of firearms.

As I said before, the police quite rightly focus on their priorities. I know they would give consideration to the broader issues, but it is their job to ask for legislation that helps them perform better in preventing (ideally) and, if not preventing, pursuing criminals and criminal activity. It is not necessarily their job to think about all of the unintended consequences, but it is the government's job and it is the opposition's job to consider and deal with the unintended consequences from this sort of legislation. Let me tell you, Mr Deputy Speaker, there are a lot of unintended consequences to do with this legislation and there is a great deal of concern among the legal firearms fraternity about those unintended consequences and what they might lead to.

So, as strong as the opposition's support is for the police to do their job, it would be irresponsible of us and it would be irresponsible of me not to deal with those unintended consequences. I have had a brief discussion with the minister and also the minister's advisers during the briefing this morning and said, 'Look, if as many of these unintended consequences as possible can be clearly ruled out in a way that gives everybody confidence that what is actually in the bill and could apply to them will not, then I would be quite happy to support in those areas.' I have made an offer to the minister and shared some information with him about the types of assurances I will be looking for, and I hope that he is able to provide those assurances.

Just so that the house and all members are clear, I will just give a very brief summary of the key aspects of this bill. One is possession of a prohibited accessory, as in clauses 4(1), amending section 5, and clause 14, inserting new section 29B. The bill creates a new definition for a prohibited firearm accessory, which means 'an item, or an item of a class, prescribed by the regulations that may be fitted to or used in conjunction with a firearm'.

Straight away you can understand that sets alarm bells off, because what is going to be in the regulations? The government has that information but the public does not know and the opposition does not know. Quite understandably, that sets alarm bells off. A person found in possession of prohibited firearm accessory would be guilty of an offence with a maximum penalty of $10,000 or imprisonment of two years, which is pretty serious, yet we do not even know what those accessories might be.

It is hard to ask us to agree to that sort of a fine if we do not actually know what the fine might apply to. If the offender has physical control of the prohibited accessory in a firearm it would be considered an aggravated offence, which incurs a maximum penalty of $75,000 or imprisonment of up to 15 years—yet we still do not know what is on the list.

Clauses 4 and 13: possession of a silencer or other mechanism. Under section 29A of the Firearms Act 1977 it is already an offence to possess a silencer or a mechanism that can be fitted to a firearm to convert it to an automatic firearm or enable it to fire grenades or explosive projectiles. None of us would be suggesting that anybody in their right mind in today's world outside of some sort of military conflict needs to be firing grenades or explosive projectiles.

Clause 11: manufacturing of a silencer. This is a new offence making it illegal to manufacture a silencer. Penalties range from $35,000 or seven years' imprisonment to $75,000 or 15 years' imprisonment, depending on the class of firearm. As the member for Chaffey mentioned, there are many accessible household items which could be used as a silencer, and it is probably worth pointing out that I guess there is really no such thing technically as a silencer, there are certainly noise inhibitors or noise reducers, but, as it reads, potentially a towel is a silencer. As the member for Chaffey mentioned, potentially a fruit juice container is a silencer.

Clause 9: trafficking of firearms. The Firearms Act currently contains no provisions relating to the trafficking of firearms. While it is an offence to possess an illegal or unregistered firearm, there is no specific offence for supply or acquisition of the firearm. This bill introduces a traffic offence for a person acquiring or supplying an illegal firearm and that is pretty straightforward. We would not oppose that.

I do not oppose the intended desire of that, but the unintended consequences are certainly very concerning, particularly when for a first offence that involves one firearm the maximum penalties are as follows: for a prescribed firearm, a fine of $75,000 or imprisonment for 15 years; if the firearm is a class C, D or H firearm, a fine of $50,000 or imprisonment for 10 years; and for any other kind of firearm, there is a fine of $35,000 or imprisonment for seven years. It is all serious stuff and applied to a criminal, go your hardest—absolutely go your hardest. But unintendedly applied to a responsible person—no, that is not appropriate.

Clause 7: possession of a loaded firearm. Section 7 of the Firearms Act 1977 makes an aggravated offence if an offender is in possession of an illegal loaded firearm or had an illegal firearm concealed about the person. This amendment seeks to include the term 'loaded' or 'in the immediate vicinity of a loaded magazine that could be used in conjunction with that firearm', and I will come back to that again, because, quite genuinely, the intent of somebody illegally, irresponsibly walking around with a loaded firearm, we don't want that, but what could this bill actually mean in its current form?

Clause 14: possesses detachable magazines with the capacity of more than 10 rounds. As SAPOL and the minister's advisers and the minister know, this is an area that has caused a great deal of concern out in the community. There is a new clause prohibiting a person from acquiring, owning or possessing a detachable magazine with a capacity of more than 10 rounds without written approval of the registrar. The proposed amendment has caused much angst, as I mentioned before, and I will come back to some of the details associated with that.

Clause 12: alterations to firearms and reactivating a deactivated firearm. This clause makes it an offence for a person without authorisation from the registrar to alter a firearm that has been rendered unusable to make the firearm capable of being used, and to alter a firearm making it a different class.

Penalties range from $35,000 or seven years imprisonment as a maximum, to $75,000 or 15 years depending on the class of the firearm.

This clause also makes it an indictable offence to attempt to reactivate a firearm or change the class of this firearm; maximum penalty $15,000 or four years. The common thread here is people trying to reactivate or change classes of firearms, for the wrong reasons, and I have no concern about trying to prevent them from doing that and catch them if they still do it, but there are unintended consequences that need to be deal with.

Clause 15: power to search and detain a vessel or an aircraft. The Firearms Act currently provides police with the authority to stop, detain and search a vehicle within which police suspect on reasonable grounds the person has possession of a firearm or firearm part. This clause extends this provision to include a marine vessel or an aircraft, in addition to road vehicles. I think that is pretty straight forward. It does not really change much at all other than the type of vehicle or vessel than can be searched. There are concerns out there about how police may choose to suspect on reasonable grounds, but that is a different area for debate.

Clause 5: police authority to stop and detain a person to serve a firearms prohibition order. This clause provides a police officer with the authority to require a person to remain in a particular place for up to two hours if the police officer has reason to believe that a firearms prohibition order applies to that person and, if the person refuses to comply, police can arrest or detain the person for up to two hours. I think that makes good sense. I would be very concerned if police had good reason to believe that an individual was the subject of a firearms prohibition order and they were wrong. It might happen but I guess they would not be wrong too often on that, and I would certainly support them in their desire to implement that prohibition order.

Clause 12: seizure and forfeiture of equipment. This clause provides police with the authority to seize any equipment, device, object or document reasonably suspected of being used or intended for use to alter and manufacture firearms, firearms parts, or silencers. The registrar may institute proceedings for the forfeiture of equipment before a court. The registrar may sell or dispose of the equipment forfeited to the crown. The term 'intended for use' is really what causes a lot of concern here. Again, certainly, if it is intended for use, then so be it, but how that is determined is a very difficult issue.

That is a very quick summary of the issues in this bill, broadly speaking. Let me turn to some of the concerns that have been provided to the opposition, and I would like to think that most of these would have also been provided to SAPOL and to government members as well, because the people who I have been in contact with, and who have contacted me, are all doing it for the right reasons. These are not criminals trying to thwart parliamentary process so that they can escape justice. These are people doing this for the right reasons so that they can do everything they can as responsible and legal firearms owners and users.

I do not want to be unfair to anybody but, of the feedback I have received, I have considered most seriously the 19 submissions that really had some meat to them and that appeared to be very well thought out and considered. I am not including in any of the information I am about to share the person who says, 'Bloody police, bloody government cracking down on me. I don't want that stuff.' I have left all of that out. These are the 19 people and/or organisations that I think have shared very responsibly their concerns on behalf of themselves and/or the people they represent.

As I said before, every single one of these people and organisations has said that the lack of or no consultation is one of their significant concerns. I have already gone into that, so I will not delve into it too deeply again, but that is a worry. You do not have to be Einstein to know that if you do not consult you will end up with unintended consequences that affect the people you did not consult with. There is a range of useful general comments I will share with the house. I will not share exactly who made each comment, but these are some general comments:

Four year process with Firearm Legislative Advisory Group (FLAG) all recommendations ignored/n o response from G overnment.


Another one is:

The wording of the B ill is vague and unclear in its intent. A clear indication of rushed drafting, which is likely to result in bad law.

The possible effect of unintended consequences ' on legitimate shooters and our sport.

Proposed legislation left in P olice hands through regulations. 

I think what that is really trying to say is that the greatest area of concern for this particular person is, 'What is in the regulations? Give us the detail. How can we possibly be expected to be comfortable with what parliament is considering at the moment if we don't know really exactly where and when it's applied?' Another one states:

The unfortunate consequences are that the law-abiding firearm owners are not di fferentiated from the criminals while having to face ever more complex restrictions ...


As I said before, I will be very grateful if the minister can rule out some of these unintended consequences that exist at the moment. That would be terrific. Another comment is:

It has become increasingly clear that this is a pre-election attempt at political grandstanding on the perceived law and order issue , rather than any serious attempt at controlling or curbing real criminal activity.

Another one states:

They have not taken the opportunity to fix the interstate dealer problem as ' promised ?'

The bill will make certain items of currently legal sporting equipment illegal , and contains no provision for compensation. This is not acceptable and is but one of the issues that I have with it.

I copy the tourism minister—

this submission went to the tourism minister as well—

because I thought he 'd like to know that, as a result of how hard it is to legitimately pursue my hunting hobby in Australia, my wife and I are choosing to take our big break in New Zealand , where it is easier and more socially acceptable. Th at's approximately $US10,000 that I won't be spending in South Australia.

Another comment is:

Th ere are a number of items in this B ill that will affect law-abiding fi rearm owners like myself as both a collector of historic firearms and as a sporting shooter.

This is the last one that I will share with the house:

Broad and at times vague nature of the B ill which will impact on law-abiding firearms owners even if that isn't the intention of the proposed legislation.

That last comment really does give us the summary in a nutshell, Mr Deputy Speaker, and, as you know, that is where the majority of my concerns lie. I am going to go through some specific concerns, as opposed to the general concerns I have just shared with the house. These come primarily from the Combined Firearms Council which you, Mr Deputy Speaker, as a former police minister may know is a group that does its very best to represent every single sporting club and sporting organisation in our state on these matters.

They put an enormous amount of work into this and have done so for many years. These are not people who have just come lately to this topic and been riled up or inflamed in some way. These are people who have put an enormous amount of time and effort into firearms legislation. They are not the only people I listen to: I will be very clear on that.

They are not the only people I think have a good voice to offer on this issue, but they are the single largest representative body. Let me step through some of their concerns. They have concerns in regard to possession of a prohibited accessory. I will not tell members everything, just the key and pertinent bits. They say:

The definition is meaningless without access to the proposed regulations. Shooters add one or more accessories to their firearms to enhance accurate shooting and the ergonomics commensurate with their own capabilities and the tasks they undertake. The definition and section 29B and all reference to prohibited firearm accessories should be removed from the bill until a satisfactory definition has been drafted.

I believe what they mean is that it should be drafted within the legislation as opposed to being contained in the regulations. In regard to accessories, I advised previously that I have had the chance to have a brief chat with the minister, his chief of staff and adviser on this matter, and I have been given a list of typical firearms accessories that are used by responsible, law-abiding firearms users for perfectly responsible, law-abiding purposes.

I would be very grateful if the minister, when he has the opportunity, could confirm that none of these accessories would be deemed to be caught by this legislation if it were successful, subject, of course, to them being used responsibly and legally. I am not suggesting that I am after a list of accessories that for any purpose are okay, but a list of accessories that are used for positive reasons.


alternative foresights. including hooded, coloured, luminous and adjustable;

alternative backsights, including open, aperture, adjustable, folding, multi-leaf, luminous;

telescopic sights, including fixed power, variable power, illuminated, red/green dot, range adjustable, range finding, image intensifying;


laser sights;

fibre optic;

sight mounts and rings, including dovetail, quick detachable, multiple, adjustable, Picatinny, tip-off and see through.


adjustable and match grade, typically for weight, travel, over-travel, length and position adjustments;

upgrade to manufacturer's trigger for adjustments, single or dual stage;

set triggers, single or dual;

Let me share with the house that I have an accessory on a stock of a shotgun that I own, which I purchased at a clay target shooting competition, and I consider myself to be a very law-abiding, responsible person. All it does is make an adjustment to the end of the stock, which helps me because I have a fair distance between the crook of my shoulder and my cheek and eye, which are the two places where you mount your stock on your shotgun when you are shooting clay targets. This is a very real-world situation.


custom stocks to fit the user;

adjustable, being timber with butt plate and/or cheek piece adjustment, or synthetic with multiple adjustments, or aluminium with multiple adjustments and supplementary ergonomic grips;

synthetic: timber replacement, including timber laminate, fibreglass, carbon fibre, plastics, aluminium;

coloured: having colour and texture such as to minimise visibility to animals when hunting and reduce shine;

 textured or rubber/plastics coated so as to provide for enhanced grip;

special inletting and internal fixtures so as to provide superior action bedding and fully floating barrel;

special inletting and external fixtures, providing mounting points and/or rails for fitting slings, lights, palm rests and bipods.

Tube stocks:

metal stock systems providing adjustments, fully floating barrel and surrounding for end/hand guard;

recoil pads, butt hooks, ammunition holders, built-in or attached.

Barrel options and accessories:

different lengths and diameters to suit different types of competition and hunting;

muzzle attachments including weights, brakes, still air tubes, false muzzles (muzzle loaders), adjustable and interchangeable chokes;

other attachments including light mounts, sling swivels, colours and textures including non-reflective finishes and coatings, corrosion resistant.

The last category is bipods and rests:

bipod attached, fixed, removable, adjustable for height

rests, not attached.

They are things that I hope the minister will confirm for the house that, so long as they are all used legally and responsibly, will be specifically excluded from being caught by this legislation because, as it has been proposed to the house, they could actually all be captured by this legislation.

The next area of broad concern is possession of silencer and/or certain parts of firearms and manufacturing of silencer—this is clause 4 and clause 13. I am not suggesting for a second that anybody should be allowed to use a silencer for any nefarious, illegal or inappropriate activities, but I will share some responsible feedback that comes to me:

There are a number of times when an un usable , damaged part of a firearm need s to be remade or repaired. If people have the ability or the machines to do this, there should not be a law preventing the manufacture of parts for the purpose by a licensed owner o r on registered firearm s .


But that would not be allowed by this legislation. In addition:

A .17 HMR calibre firearm is classed as class B, yet a .22 magnum is classed as A class. There are types of firearms where these calibres are sold as interchangeable barrels used on the one firearm. This law will make this practice illegal and parts ownership an offence. If parts are not the main operating component, (e.g., receiver ) of a firearm they do not present a threat to the community, therefore should not be subject to an offence.

Let me be very clear there: there are certainly some attachments to a legal firearm which I would not ever support legal or illegal firearms users having, but there are also a lot of very reasonable, responsible times where attachments and interchangeable parts that could change something from one class to another should be acceptable and, under this legislation, they would not be. Another piece of feedback on this issue states:

As a Gazetted collector organisation, our emphasis is on all facets of historic firearms. This includes many and varied accessories. This proposed legislation is [ too ] vague in what accessories will be covered.

Just moving on to trafficking of firearms, some pertinent feedback states:

How will dealers be handled in relation to visiting South Austr alia for Arms and Militia Shows...

Presumably that would apply to people visiting shows in other states as well, because they would still have to travel through South Australia. The feedback continues:

No licences are required for ownership of deactivated firearms in South Australia. South Australia has different deactivation criteria to other states. If I buy a New South Wales or Queensland deactivated firearm, it is illegal in South Australia until I get a deactivation certificate from SAPOL (after physical inspection by SAPOL armoury ) . The transport, deactivation and possession by a South Australian purchaser could be deemed as ' trafficking ' .

Another piece of feedback on this particular issue:

Trafficking of firearms as proposed can also affect members as there might be firearms in another state that members wish to purchase , as licensed firearm owner s there is the ability to borrow the item for up to 10 days , without the need of a purchase permit , t his would allow the firearm to be transported to the purchasers home state and deposited with a dealer until paperwork can be processed. Transport of this firearm could be seen as ' trafficking ' under this legislation even though both the firearm is registered and the possessor is licensed.

Moving on to possession of a loaded firearm, let me be very clear that I do not support at all the need for a person to possess a loaded firearm for any irresponsible purpose or, as this legislation proposes, to have a firearm in the vicinity of a loaded magazine for any inappropriate or irresponsible purpose. What is the 'immediate vicinity'? I will read this bit of feedback:

Does this mean within reach, in the same house, same street or what ?

It is a difficult issue because I can very well understand from a police perspective that a certain set of circumstances may not be a concern under legal responsible use, but under another set of circumstances quite remote proximity could be a very genuine concern for SAPOL. The problem is that the general responsible legal public out there does not know how they are going to get caught up in this part of the proposed legislation.

Moving now to clause 14 regarding possession of detachable magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds. Significant numbers of licensed firearm owners with class B firearms presently legally possess and use magazines of larger than 10 rounds.

In the case above for C lass A and B firearms, many have been altered lawfully to accept removable magazines of larger capacity and some of these alterations are irreversible. If these new measures were applied, then the se firearms would be unusable. Licensed firearm collectors presently legally collect historic al military firearm magazines with larger than 10 rounds capacity. They are of real significance to their collections , are rare and of great value , like snail drum magazines for WW I V intage Luger pistols.

As a constraint measure against serious and organised crime, the proposal w ill have no appreciable effect as pers ons illegally in possession of C lass C and D firearms already have the large capacity magazines. In summary, possibly some thousands of presently law-abiding citizens will either face being liable for prosecution and horrendous penalty or face loss of hundreds to thousands of dollars through surrender of magazines.

Regarding the immediate concerns impacting on members:

The restriction of certain magazines will affect our members, especially those with collectible firearms designed to have a magazine ( greater than 10 rounds where applicable ) missing . O ur members are also concerned that there is no compensation proposed for items declared illegal under this new proposed legislation , t his seems to be an unconstitutional proposal as these items were legally owned before the proposed legislation.

I chose to leave that one until last because it is a really important issue. The compensation that could quite understandably be sought by legal firearms owners who have magazines which can carry rounds in excess of 10 is potentially enormous and it is also unknown. I was very concerned to hear in the briefing that we had this morning that SAPOL do not actually know how many magazines there are out there in the public that are legally and responsibly owned and used in connection with firearms activities.

They just do not know how many are there, so it presents a few problems. How on earth would you ever know when you had got them all back? You cannot possibly try to estimate the unintended consequences and how many people would genuinely be affected by this, if you do not actually even know how many are out there. As I said before, you do not know what the cost either to the person who stands to lose that magazine and/or to the state is if the government were to enter into some sort of compensation scheme, which it has not suggested but, as I just read out from the last contribution that I shared with the house, these are all pieces of equipment that are currently legally owned, and to make them, all of a sudden, illegally owned is very likely to bring on calls for compensation.

Regarding clause 12: alterations to firearms and reactivating and deactivated firearms, here is a piece of feedback from a president of a club:

I have three metal turning la thes plus a wide selection of hand and power tools that I use in my day-to-day activities as a plumber. All could be construed as firearm part manufacturing and alteration equipment.


Another piece of feedback:

Many collect a ble firearms are bought in a poor condition with parts either broken or missing. Some parts are no longer procurable and therefore need to be made. A person with the skill and the machinery should be able to make parts or carry out alterations to firearms that are legally owned without the fear of loss of their legally owned equipment.

One of the really key components of this section is how it applies to firearms that are changed so that the firearm would actually fit in one class instead of another class. I understand very clearly from the briefing from SAPOL and the minister's office this morning that the intention of this part of the bill is clearly that it will only be used when a legal, responsible firearms owner changes a firearm so that it moves from one class description to another class description.

There is still the issue of interchangeable barrels and how the same firearm may potentially fit into two classes at the same time quite legally and responsibly. So, if we just put that aside for the moment, I wholeheartedly support police in their desire to stop anyone—legal or illegal owner and user of a firearm—deliberately, deceitfully changing a firearm so that it changes from one class to another.

I would be very grateful if the minister could make it really clear, when the time is right, that that is the only way in which this part of the legislation would be used, because it is causing an enormous amount of concern out there. I support it, if it is applied in the way that I am told it is intended, but what needs to be made clear is it will not be used in other ways—the unintended consequences that people are concerned about—and I would be grateful if the minister is able to do that.

On seizure and forfeiture of equipment, under clause 12, a concern here is it is so vague it gives the police unfettered powers of search and seizure with the only apparent requirement on the part of the police being reasonable cause to suspect a future intent to maybe commit an offence. I am sure that police do not go out of their way to dream up a belief or a suspicion of future intent, but it is a very difficult area for people to get their heads around, that they could potentially be the subject of a police officer coming to that conclusion, potentially incorrectly. So, that is a very understandable concern here. Another bit of feedback—another concern:

As a firearm owner , and happ en to be a qualified machinist who owns his own metalwork machinery, this legislation makes it too easy for a police officer to suspect an offence has, was or is being committed using these machines, as I carry out my own deactivations and repairs to my own firearms. The machines and equipment should not be subject to forfeiture.

I think people would really understand those sorts of concerns very well. I know I have taken a fair bit of the house's time, but I have deliberately condensed the information that I have been provided, and I have also condensed my own concerns. I have deliberately left time for my colleagues to make contributions on behalf of their electorates and constituents, but let me say that I really do appreciate that people have gone to great lengths to provide responsible feedback.

As I said to you before, Mr Deputy Speaker, I have excluded any feedback that I received which I though was a bit marginal or a bit unreasonable. The only information that I have shared with the house is a small portion of what I believe was brought to me responsibly, and I thank the people who have done that. Lack of consultation is the real concern—lack of consultation leading to unintended consequences.

I do not suspect that the police want to do anything other than get out there and catch crooks, and make our community safer by removing illegal and irresponsible firearms and their owners, users, traffickers, accessorisers, modifiers, etc., from our streets, and that is fantastic. But, the government having received nearly a year and a half ago feedback from the advisory group that was established to give it feedback on all of these matters, not having even responded to that feedback, and in the interim coming forward with this bill, really does leave a bad taste in the mouths of the responsible legal firearms owners.

I am particularly concerned about that lack of consideration and consultation, all the way through, as I said, from the historical collectors who may never have ever fired a firearm in their lives, through to active hunters and disabled sportspeople. But, it is that lack of consultation that has actually caused the great concern about unintended consequences.

I would also like to ask the minister to respond, if he is able to, in his address, with regard to exactly where the sources of illegal firearms are. Where are the illegal firearms that this legislation seeks to take off our streets coming from? I think that is a really grey area, and I think it is difficult for police, it is difficult for a minister, and it is difficult for anybody to know where all these illegal firearms are coming from. Of course, given that difficulty, it makes it very, very hard for legislation that attacks that problem appropriately without creating unintended consequences.

I will leave it there; I know there are others who want to contribute. I thank the house for their time. I thank my staff member, Mr Chris Hanna, who is a very thorough and capable person, and who supports me in all of my shadow ministerial responsibilities, for his support. I also thank the minister for the genuine discussion that we have had brief opportunities to enter into, and I thank SAPOL for their sharing everything that they possibly could with us, but there are a lot of concerns about this legislation.

The opposition is not going to oppose the legislation in this house because, essentially, that would be a fruitless activity anyway. I certainly would have loved to have brought forward suggested amendments to this house but, in light of the fact that I was only able to have the briefing this morning between 10 and 11 o'clock, it was impractical even to consider trying to bring amendments to this house. I think it is very likely that we will bring amendments to the other place. The opposition is not supportive of the legislation in its current form, but it will not oppose its passage through this house. We will deal with it in greater detail in the Legislative Council.


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