Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here’s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.


 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

Subscribe!
Subscribe





On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.
___________

Syndicate
RSS/XML


RSS 2.0

It's all about trust

By David Leyonhjelm - posted Monday, 12 December 2016


In July 2015 the Abbott government introduced a customs regulation to prohibit imports of seven shot lever action shotguns. The announcement by the Prime Minister made clear it was part of the government's one-announcement-per-week terrorism strategy. It was also said to be temporary, pending a review of the National Firearms Agreement involving the states and territories.

Around two weeks later the government was seeking my support to oppose an amendment to a bill relating to migration. Labor's amendment raised no questions of rights or freedoms (it was to increase from one to two the number of independent people present when biometric data was collected from minors), and I was indifferent as to its fate.

That led to the now famous (or infamous) agreement in which the government agreed in writing to apply a sunset clause to the import ban, in exchange for my vote on the amendment.

Advertisement

We both acted on the deal. I voted with the government, and the government introduced a new regulation placing a limit of 12 months on the import ban. The ban was to be lifted on August 7 this year.

A week before the import ban was due to be lifted, it was reimposed. The Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan, told me that he never had any intention of allowing the shotguns to be imported. In other words, there had never been any intention of keeping to the bargain. When Tony Abbott chimed in, once it had been linked in the media to my vote on the reinstatement of the ABCC, it was clear that whether he knew about the deal of not, he would also have failed to honour it.

This places the government in a tricky position. Following the election, the government now requires the support of nine of the 11 crossbench senators for its legislation to pass. Securing that support is obviously more difficult if it cannot be trusted to negotiate in good faith. It sets the tone of negotiations before they have even begun.

Some in the media see this as part of the cut and thrust of politics. I do not, and nor do most (but not all) of my parliamentary colleagues. There was cut and thrust in negotiating the agreement, from which the government could have chosen to withdraw at any time. Instead it gave its word, which it then broke.

As for the merits of the import ban itself, it only applies to seven shot lever action shotguns. The five shot version can be imported and legally owned by sporting shooters. It is also possible to convert a five shot Adler into seven or more, simply by fitting a longer magazine tube under the barrel. It is not illegal and plenty of people are doing it.

The import ban achieves nothing and is not preventing the ownership and use of seven shot lever action shotguns.

Advertisement

Not that there is anything to fear from seven shot lever action shotguns. The presence of two extra rounds in the magazine does not transform it from a safe to a dangerous firearm. Neither a mass murder, nor a terrorist attack, is more likely because of those two extra rounds.

Relatively few firearm owners want to own a lever action shotgun, and even fewer care whether it holds five rounds or seven. However, every one of them knows the implications of creeping regulation on their sport. They know if it's lever action shotguns today, it will be something else tomorrow. The Firearms Section in the Attorney Generals Department has had an agenda of incremental restrictions on firearms for over a decade. Semi-automatic pistols, pump action rifles, lever action shotguns and lever action rifles are on their list.

The government's behaviour in relation to its deal with me is not only about trust, but about what's being done to sporting shooters. It is yet another step in the process of disarming law-abiding Australians, of preventing them from enjoying their sporting, hunting and collecting activities, and towards the end envisaged by John Howard in 1996 in which only the police, military and security guards have guns.

And if the government can't be trusted to keep to a deal with me, how can it be trusted if it owns all the guns?

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. All

This article was first published in the Australian Financial Review.



Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

13 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with del.icio.us Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

David Leyonhjelm is the Liberal Democrat Senator for NSW.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by David Leyonhjelm

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of David Leyonhjelm
Article Tools
Comment 13 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend
Advertisement

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy