Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the revelations that gun components were imported, allegedly by criminal gangs, through the Sylvania Waters post office, thereby avoiding detection by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. Can the Prime Minister confirm that these components were used in a firearm that was involved in a drive-by shooting in Sydney just weeks later?
The member raises a serious question. Many people in New South Wales, and indeed around the country, are concerned about illegal firearms. I understand that community members feel like all too often they see reported on their TV screens drive-by shootings or other violent incidents involving a firearm or bikie related crime. That does worry people about community safety, so this is an important issue. I am not in a position to confirm details about a specific firearm, but what I can say to the member is that this is a question we are taking seriously. When it comes to the illegal firearms market in Australia, how we have illegal weapons in our community, there are a few issues that need to be addressed. One is referred to by the Federal Police as the grey market.
Mr Speaker, a point of order on direct relevance: my question was very specific as to whether the Prime Minister knew whether that component of that firearm had been involved in a drive-by shooting. If she does not know, she should simply say she that and offer to come back to the House with an answer after consulting with her colleagues. I did not ask for any other commentary.
On the specifics of the question, I have indicated to the member I am not in a position to verify facts about an individual component, but I assume that the member was motivated to ask this question because he is seriously interested in the issue of illegal firearms in the community, so I will take the opportunity to talk about that serious issue. If I am shouted down by the opposition when talking about illegal firearms and community safety, then so be it.
On the question of illegal firearms and community safety, the problems in the community have more than one source. One source of them is what is referred to as the grey market, which arose from the failure to return all appropriate categories of firearms under the gun buyback scheme. We have received advice from the Federal Police about the nature of the grey market and it is something that law enforcement officers obviously are concerned about and work on to deal with firearms that have gone into illegal use in the community from that market. Then, as a federal government, we must do everything we can to make sure that we protect the community from importation of firearms and, as a federal government, we are very focused on that. The relevant minister has been dealing with this issue. It was raised by Premier O'Farrell with me some time ago. I referred him to the appropriate intergovernmental committee to deal with this issue and we are very keen to work in a genuine and cooperative partnership with our state colleagues on this question, which is of clear community concern.