Justice Minister Michael Keenan has come out swinging against Labor in the wake of this week’s Four Corners episode about the illegal importation of more than 100 Glock pistols. Minister Keenan has called on Labor to support mandatory minimum sentencing for trafficking illegal firearms. “Mandatory minimum sentences would act as the strongest possible deterrent to gun-related crime and violence, ensuring that the punishment matches the crime - removing any chance that a court could hand down a short sentence,” said Minister Keenan.
Mandatory sentencing remains a point of controversy in Parliament though, with the bill to introduce the Coalition’s plan currently in the Senate.
However, in a surprise twist, Labor and the Nick Xenophon Team have increased the potential maximum sentence for basic gun smuggling offences from 20 years to 30 years on the bill. At the same time, they also removed the minimum mandatory sentencing and are calling on the Coalition to pass the bill without it.
In response, Minister Keenan and the Coalition say they are going to keep pushing the Senate to put mandatory minimum sentencing back on the bill. Minister Keenan believes the increased maximum sentence is pointless without a mandatory minimum. “Labor can talk all they like about increasing sentences - and the Government has supported this in Senate - but unless there is a mandatory minimum sentence, there will be no deterrent to the criminals that peddle in this illicit trade,” he said.
To provide some perspective, Khoder El Ali was recently sentenced to between 13 and 17 years in jail for being the ringleader in importing more than 130 Glocks to Australia. Another man involved in the same importing ring served almost four years in jail, while another spent less than two years in custody before being placed in a good behaviour bond.
On a slightly sour note, Minister Keenan praised his government for ‘strengthening’ the NFA during the NFA review earlier this year. The SSAA sincerely hopes he is not taking too much pride in the severely botched review his department released earlier this year, which included completely forgetting about our handgun disciplines, among other shockers.