Warning on new firearm laws

Originally published in the Toowoomba Chronicle

New five-year mandatory jail sentences for illegal firearm importers should only be a guide for judges, a parliamentary committee said.

While the Joint Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights has largely approved of the government’s new mandatory sentences for illegal gun importers, it did want one change.

The committee’s report, which urged the law change to ensure mandatory sentences not be used by judges as a strict rule, was released on Tuesday.

But the law had already passed.

While Attorney-General George Brandis did include the warning in the explanatory memorandum attached to the bills, it was not included in the laws.

The committee wrote the change would “ensure the scope of discretion available to judges would be clear on the face of the provision itself” and would minimise the chance of “disproportionate sentences”.

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