Senate Estimates provide insight into NFA review

Further responses to questions regarding the review into the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) taken on notice by the bureaucrats involved at a Senate Estimates hearings in October have finally been released and obtained by SSAA National. The questions into the ongoing NFA review, spearheaded by Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, focused on the review process, timelines, responses received and who has been consulted to date.

According to the recently released documents, the NFA will be discussed at the first meeting of the Councils of Australian Governments (COAG) this year. However, the SSAA understands the issue will also be discussed at the National Justice and Policing Senior Officials Group meeting around the same time, as confirmed by Justice Minister Keenan late last year.

Senator McKenzie quizzed senior bureaucrat Katherine Jones on the NFA review process, with Ms Jones then requiring to provide further responses to certain questions. The responses provided outlines that although a consensus from all the state and territory governments is desirable regarding re-categoristion of lever-action shotguns more than five shots or any NFA changes, “the council will make decisions on the basis of a majority of members”. “In these circumstances, jurisdictions in the minority are not bound to implement the decisions that have been made. This is consistent with the COAG decision-making process,” the documents detail.

The documents also reveal that the National Firearms Interface (NFI) proposed by the previous Labor Government, and fast-tracked as part of recommendations following a review into the Martin Place siege, “is due to be delivered by CrimTrac in mid-2016” – two years earlier than originally planned. SSAA National has argued that the NFI, which will provide a single, shared record for every known firearm, including registered firearms, is a waste of taxpayers’ money, as it will not capture unknown firearms currently in the illicit market. The SSAA also points to evidence revealed in the Greens-led Senate Inquiry regarding concerns surrounding the accuracy of data in current state and territory police firearms databases, meaning the NFI may not even be entirely accurate from the outset.

SSAA National has been extensively involved in the NFA review, with National President Geoff Jones and CEO Tim Bannister exclusively invited to be part of Minister Keenan’s Firearms Industry Council, and we will continue to lobby for sensible changes as outlined in our preliminary NFA submission.

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