Press release from the Hon Michael Kennan MP, Minister for Justice
The Senate, The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia
In the lead up to the 2013 election, the Coalition Government undertook to introduce tougher penalties for firearm-related crime.
This week we followed through on that promise, when the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Psychoactive Substances and Other Measures) Bill 2014 that we introduced passed in Parliament’s Lower House.
The Bill introduces mandatory minimum sentences of five years’ imprisonment for new and existing firearms trafficking offences.
The new mandatory minimum sentence is in keeping with the Australian Government’s commitment to pursue a strong and nationally consistent approach to firearm crime.
The entry of even a small number of illegal firearms into Australia can have a significant impact on the community.
These firearms are being accessed by criminals, including those involved with organised crime groups, and are being used in the commission of serious and violent crimes.
The firearms amendments in the Bill will lead to the creation of a more comprehensive set of offences and penalties in the Criminal Code Act 1995,which better reflect the gravity of firearms trafficking.
In addition to the mandatory minimum sentences, the Bill establishes new international trafficking offences to complement the importation offences already in the Customs Act 1901, and extends current trafficking offences to include firearm parts as well as whole firearms.
Historically, criminals could evade trafficking offences and penalties by dismantling firearms and trafficking their individual parts. The Bill will close this gap, and ensure that criminals cannot avoid prosecution by dismantling firearms and trafficking their parts into or out of Australia, or across state and territory borders.
This consolidated set of firearms offences and penalties will hold traffickers responsible for the grave consequences of supplying firearms into the local illicit market, and demonstrate Australia’s commitment to our international obligations regarding the illegal trade of firearms.
The Bill is now subject to debate in the Senate.