Tuesday 16 October 2007



Mr FINCH (Rosevears - Motion) - Mr President, I move -
That this House considers and notes the report of the Joint Standing Committee on Community Development on the Firearms Act 1996, Part 3, divisions 1 and 2, Minors' Permits and Granting of Permits to Acquire Firearms.
Mr President, I can say with confidence that this is a good report. I believe that if these recommendations are followed, public safety as far as firearms use in Tasmania is concerned will be enhanced, especially in the longer term. We will see firearm users with greater training and knowledge gained at a stage of development where many believe that it sticks for life. The submissions and arguments were of a high standard and they covered a wide range of views. Reservations, I believe, can be addressed by, in a lot of ways, the commonsense of those supervising young firearm users.
But, Mr President, my overriding view of this report is that if it is followed by the minister, firearms use in Tasmania in the future will be safer because users will have a better grounding in safety and commonsense. At the moment, anecdotal evidence suggests that many under-age people are using firearms on farms now. They may have not had adequate instruction on safety and they may lack continuous supervision by someone who has completed a TAFE firearm safety course. If the committee's recommendations become law, young people using firearms in the field will have to be better trained and supervised after completing two years on an approved shooting range. However, there will be young people on farms whose parents judge them to be too young to be instructed in firearms use. Parents know their children better than anybody else and they are usually good judges of their personalities.
But, Mr President, at whatever age firearms instruction and supervision starts, the committee's recommendations mean that firearms use by young people will be safer and young people growing up will become safer adult users. Young people will see the gun as a tool, not a toy. What we want, Mr President, is an outcome where public safety is paramount and firearms are only used by sensible and trained people and this report points us in that direction.
Mr President, I want to commend members of the committee on their fine work. But I must also mention the breach of standing order 364, after voting took place on the recommendations. It is for very good and obvious reasons that publicity about a committee's deliberations and recommendations is banned until a report is tabled. In this case, the breach put false information into the public arena and misled the community over the recommendations.
Mr President, all members of the Community Development Committee were alerted to their obligations, under standing order 364, not to go public on the details of their deliberations. However, it seems obvious that someone on the committee took it upon themselves to initiate an early public debate based on an inaccurate newspaper report. This undermined the best efforts of committee members who, in good faith, had worked hard through these controversial issues to present to the minister recommendations for his consideration. It shows a lack of regard, Mr President, for all those who spent countless hours building their evidence to the committee with the understanding that the report would be available to everyone at the time of presentation to Parliament.
Mr President, I am not at all disappointed the report is not unanimous. Committees like this one should reflect the views of all sections of our community. One of the main points of the process is to initiate a public debate so the minister can evaluate all the views that are put forward, not just those of the committee, when deciding how to legislate. I look forward to hearing in this House and in another place the expanded views of the committee members and other parliamentary members and those who disagree with at least one of the recommendations.