The ongoing review into the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) came under scrutiny in the Senate Estimates on October 20, with Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie raising questions about exactly who has been consulted, the issues raised in the consultation process, and what to expect going forward.
The Attorney-General’s Department, represented by three senior bureaucrats, was asked to reveal how many submissions were received. The department confirmed 31 specific stakeholder groups were invited to provide submissions. This included SSAA National, which was invited to provide a submission on behalf of its 175,000 members.
Senator McKenzie queried the lack of “public avenue for comment around the review of the NFA”, and the department confirmed it had received hundreds of emails from the community despite only requesting feedback from the 31 groups. Senator McKenzie further asked if the department was “bothering to actually consider those views”. The department representatives confirmed they had “looked at the emails to see what sort of views” were expressed, before promising to make a list of the top five issues raised in those emails.
During the proceedings it was confirmed that feedback from the NFA consultation process, including the issues raised at the numerous meetings SSAA National has attended over the past few months, will be raised at the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council (LCCSC) meeting next month. The recommendations will then be presented at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in the first half of next year.
In the meantime, SSAA National CEO Tim Bannister has attended the final meeting of the Firearms Industry Reference Group before the recommendations will be raised at the LCCSC meeting. In the meeting, which was chaired by Justice Minister Michael Keenan, the Minister said he would test the recommendations with us and the other representatives to gauge our opinions.
While many of the recommendations discussed are not harmful to the licensed shooter, we believe that some suggestions are based on emotion and fear, rather than reason and reality. We have reiterated this throughout the consultation process. We have pointed out that our information is based on fact and evidence, not fear mongering as propagated by the likes of Gun Control Australia chairperson Samantha Lee, whose half-truths and barefaced lies included suggesting that the Adler A110 lever-action shotgun is almost a semi-automatic; that licensed firearm owners no longer require criminal checks; and that “anyone can access a firearm without a licence”.
We will respond to the recommendations when they are finalised and made public, and will keep our members informed of any developments as they come to hand.