SSAA National President Geoff Jones was in upbeat mood after a consultation meeting to discuss firearms dealings with Assistant Minister for Home Affairs Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds and other interested parties in Canberra.
Though no binding reforms were ever likely to come out of the get-together, Geoff felt the Minister’s attitude towards firearms groups represented a refreshing change from previous regimes.
“I was impressed by the openness and commitment,” said Geoff. “It’s a shame she wasn’t involved when the last review of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) was discussed. It was a positive meeting and the Minister was like a breath of fresh air. As far as the Minister was concerned, she said she was committed to the possible.”
Senator Reynolds boasts a military background and served as a brigadier and adjutant general in the Australian Army Reserve. She was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in the 2011 Australia Day Honours for “outstanding achievement as the Director of Army Strategic Reform Program coordination”. She has been in her current role since August 2018.
Topics on the agenda at the Canberra summit included an update on the current status of the NFA, possible amendments to the Customs (Prohibited Imports) regulations 1956 and areas of commonality between the firearms industry and gun control advocates.
Geoff acknowledged the Federal Government was limited in what it could implement for firearms groups because of the legislative construction of the NFA. The Government is also constrained by the looming shadow of a Federal Election. “There’s only so much the Federal Government can do because of the say the states have in these matters,” said Geoff
“Under the terms of the system the states can ignore or implement what they want. We (the SSAA) are tasked with an awareness campaign to make the broader community know the facts in the face of misinformation by the media and anti-gun groups.”
Also in attendance was Luca Scribani Rossi of the National Firearms Dealers Association, Rod Drew, Executive Officer of Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia (SIFA), Catherine Fettell of Shooting Australia, Russell Bate of the Firearm Safety Foundation (Victoria) as well as officials from Border Force and the Office of Home Affairs.
At future meetings Geoff said the SSAA would like to see representatives from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Criminal Intelligence Commission (CIC) involved.
Such sounding-out sessions have been held spasmodically since 2014 but already the next meeting has been pencilled in for February, 2019.