Mr KATTER: That’s an order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The government which I belonged to in Queensland was much maligned as being a right-wing extremist government—the Bjelke-Petersen government. In my 20 years in that parliament, when we were ruling, I can’t remember one single case of a reverse onus of proof or any mandatory sentencing. We might have been a bunch of extremist rednecks, but even extremist rednecks can realise that you don’t have mandatory sentencing. Like the shadow Attorney-General, who I applaud for his speech, Minister Keenan, as I understand it, is a lawyer. There is no excuse if you are a lawyer. He knows the implications of what they’re doing here.
Let me give you a case, Mr Deputy Speaker. This actually occurred in the Kennedy electorate. They’re not allowing me to give their name out, so I must respect my constituent in that area. He had been away and he hadn’t seen all his accounts. One of his accounts was for his licence fee, which was due. He went over time, so his gun licence was automatically suspended, abolished—done away with. Then six armed police in flak jackets—bulletproof jackets!—surrounded a prominent businessman in the town. He was the president of the local Rotary Club, as I understand it, and president of the local golf club. They surrounded his house and were carrying automatic weapons. Now, if this legislation goes through, this person, who has done absolutely nothing wrong, is going to be put in jail for five years!
The people in government complain: ‘Oh, the cost of government. We can’t afford to make welfare payments.’ Well, we’ve had three proposals cutting welfare payments in the last week. When the much-maligned Bjelke-Petersen government fell, we had 2,000 people in jail. There are now 8,000 people in jail in Queensland, so who are the rednecks? Who are the extremists—us, who only had 2,000 people in jail, or those who have 8,000 people in jail?
The implications for the public purse here are quite profound. I had to do a cost analysis of the cost of putting a juvenile in prison, and it turned out that it was $580,000 a year. These prisoners are costing us half a million dollars a year! If he wants to go away and throw decent law-abiding citizens into jail and turn them into criminals, and impose upon the taxpayers half a million dollars a year in cost structures, then this would be the bludgerigar of all bludgerigar ministers, this one!
There is no intelligent person that could agree with him on this issue. Having finished that, this minister consulted with virtually nobody on his proposals. He knows everything about everything, so he didn’t have to consult with anyone that knew anything about the issue.
As to the police: well, you know, it suits the police—and I’m not knocking the police for it—to have nobody with guns except the police. Well, we know what sorts of states they are where the only people with guns are police in uniforms. We know what sorts of states they are.
Now I turn to the general issue of guns. The strongest people to assail the improper use of guns are we gun owners. I mean, every time there is a death with guns, we get flogged to death. So we are the people that desperately want no deaths with guns. We are the people most at risk.
The fair dinkumness of this place! The three huge massacres in Australia—Hoddle Street, Surry Hills and Port Arthur—were all committed by people that were illegally in possession of a firearm. So much for the usefulness of your laws! But why did not the police apprehend these people? In those cases, it was not a matter of the Tarasoff rule. But the ruling in the Tarasoff case in the United States says that a psychologist or a psychiatrist cannot divulge that a person is dangerous, unless the person specifies that he’s going to shoot Joe Bloggs. That’s the ruling from the Tarasoff case. The rule should be reversed so that, once they think that he’s dangerous, they have an onus to disclose that. But the rule works the other way—and there’s good reason for that: to protect your patients and all that sort of thing—so that you cannot divulge it, when you know the patient is dangerous, unless he actually specifies who he’s going to shoot. Well, in the cases of Surry Hills, Hoddle Street, Port Arthur, and, if you like, Wickham Terrace in Brisbane, going back a fair bit, they weren’t specifying anyone. They were just going to go down there and spray lead everywhere. They were nut cases. Their psychologists and psychiatrists knew them to be nut cases and knew they were dangerous. And the rule says they can’t divulge that. Well, that rule needs to be reversed.
As to the effectiveness of gun laws: there is a very naive belief in this place that the more you ban guns, the fewer murders you have with guns. In the three years before Port Arthur and the ban on guns, there were 107 deaths with guns in Australia. In the three years after the ban, there were 129 deaths with guns. In other words, if you ask, ‘What was the effect of the bans?’ the effect of the bans was to put the number of gun deaths up, not down.
In Europe, guns were banned in East Germany, as they are in all totalitarian countries. They ban guns and only the people in uniforms are allowed to have guns; that’s characteristic of totalitarian regimes, of course. But in Switzerland—one of the more civilised countries on earth; a central European country—every single home has a gun by law and has nine rounds of ammunition for the gun. So we have two countries side by side: one bans guns; in the other, every single household has a gun. I might add: Switzerland has never been invaded. There’s a good reason why you don’t invade a country where there are two million people that can shoot you, and know how to shoot you. The highest death rate with guns in Europe is in East Germany. The lowest death rate with guns in Europe is in Switzerland. You say, ‘This is a bit weird.’ Well, quite frankly, I think it is a bit weird. In every interview I do, the interviewer always steps on the dingo trap; if you leave it out there then, sure enough, he will step on it, every time. He says, ‘What about America?’—like, you know, he’s got me. ‘What about America? You left America out. There are deaths with guns all the time in America.’ Well, where are the deaths coming with guns in America?
Oh, look at this: the worst case is District of Columbia—Washington, DC—with 11 deaths for every 100,000 people, easily the highest in the United States. In fact, no other state gets to double figures. Guess where the most stringent, restrictive gun laws exist in America? Need I tell you, it’s under federal legislation; it is Washington, DC. The politicians there also want to protect themselves a bit. But there it is: the state with highest death rate from guns in the United States is District of Columbia—Washington, DC.
The states with the lowest death rate from guns—in fact, one of them doesn’t even have a death rate at all—are North Dakota and South Dakota, the hunting states. When I went to South Dakota I went to the biggest gun shop in the world; it was really exciting for me! North Dakota and South Dakota are hunting states and they have the highest ownership of firearms of any state on earth yet they have the lowest rates of death from guns. I don’t purport to understand why this phenomenon occurs, but it does occur. If you go down to your local clay pigeon shoot, you will see your local doctors, your local Lions Club members and your local diesel fitter in charge of the council workshops. You will see all the most prominent people in the town down there enjoying having a bit of a shoot, a bit of fun and a good social outing.
I represent the Barrier Reef, and we have terrible turbidity problems. It was thought the sugar cane farms were the problem. Sugarcane now is not burned. Do you remember Fields of Fire? There are no fields of fire now; we don’t burn. We put the trash, which is the leaves and cane tops, on the ground. There is an eight-inch layer of cover, so there can’t be any run-off from the cane fields. Cane farms also have salination traps. I won’t go into that, but there is no run-off from the cane fields. There is no mining taking place. The cost of electricity has closed down most of the mining. I don’t know of any mines offhand—there will be some—that are on the Barrier Reef, so it’s not coming from mining.
It seems to me quite obvious that the turbidity is coming from pigs. In one morning, two blokes with SLR rifles took out 800 pigs from a helicopter in the bush. It is very hard to hit anything from a helicopter The place is alive with pigs. They have pig shoots and might get a thousand pigs on the weekend, just blokes just going around shooting. They have a competition to see who can get the most pigs. They are enormously destructive animals because they don’t attack the leaves; they attack the root systems. I had 10 acres on my property which was a little weaner irrigation paddock I was setting up. We had a flood and the whole paddock went straight down into the ocean. The pigs had taken all of the root system out and there was no underlying protection. Should we bait them? Maybe a quarter of our birds are carnivores, most certainly a tenth are carnivores, so we don’t want to bait; that’s not good. Should we trap them? We can use traps. We caught a cassowary and four little chicks in the trap last year. The only thing that works here is a gun; that’s the only weapon you’ve got against pigs.
The government wants to do something about firearms coming into this country illegally. This is the most fascinating figure of all: in 2012-13, Customs screened 25 per cent of mail and seized 60,000 prohibited imports. That was with just 25 per cent inspection. If they did 100 per cent inspection, which I know would cost a whole lot of money, how many prohibited imports would they get? To put it the other way, 75 per cent of the prohibited imports are coming into the country without ever being inspected. If you want to bring an illegal firearm into the country, you’ve got a 75 per cent chance that you won’t get caught.
They’re usually sent in containers because that’s how they are sending in tractors and all of our motor vehicles coming in from overseas. There are a thousand pipes on a tractor—there are pipes everywhere on a tractor for hydraulics and everything else delivering fuel to the engine. A thousand pipes. A gun is only a pipe. An X-ray will only tell you that it’s a pipe. In any event, only 0.2 per cent of these containers are inspected. So the guns are coming in, in the containers, and there is only a 0.2 per cent inspection rate. And here we are throwing decent human beings into jail compulsorily for five years. They go into the clink, but is it fair dinkum? No, because they are inspecting 0.2 per cent of containers, and they are inspecting 25 per cent of mail.
This is the worst minister— (Time expired)
Chamber House of Representatives on 10/2017 Item BILLS – Criminal Code Amendment (Firearms Trafficking) Bill 2017 – Second Reading Speaker : Katter, Bob, MP/ Parliment Transcript used for reporting News