Mark Patterson (NZ First MP) supporting the Arms Amendment Bill

It is significant that Mark Patterson, a farmer, spoke on behalf of NZ First in the third reading of the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill.

I would also like to talk too on behalf of farmers. For farmers, this stuff’s not “nice to have”; it’s actually a tool of the trade in some cases, and they will be feeling a little bit as if they have been restricted unfairly in the sense of the need that they have: things like wallabies, geese, goats, tahr, deer—of course, which not only damage pasture and crops but carry TB—and pigs that can do so much harm.

There is some need for cullers to have access to these semi-automatic weapons over and above the criteria that we have set and we have carved out an exemption for cullers on private land. It wasn’t in the first draft of the bill but we have added that within the select committee process. But we will have to look at that in the second tranche because there are 5 million hectares of private land—hill country—out there under some pressure from these pests and wild animals, and we will have to assess that.

But New Zealand First fully supports in the first tranche being tight, because the tighter we make it at the start it’s easier to make exemptions as required rather than try to do it in an ad hoc manner at the start.


MARK PATTERSON (NZ First): It is an honour for me to stand and add New Zealand First’s support for this significant piece of legislation. In doing so, we stand behind and beside our Prime Minister and I would like to acknowledge her in the leadership she has shown and it has been comforting to us all. Her response has been noted not only nationally of course but internationally.

In a dark time of international politics she has stood out and New Zealand First, right from the get-go, had absolutely no trouble falling behind what was, in one word, “leadership” in this time of national crisis. In fact, our own leader, the Rt Hon Winston Peters, his initial reaction was that at 1.30 on 15 March our world changed forever. And so will our gun laws.

I will acknowledge too the National Party. I know that the politics for them, as Chris Bishop alluded to earlier, is not easy either as it is not for us, but their response and their leader, Simon Bridges, falling in behind and getting alongside—this effort has been incredibly important. I acknowledge you on that side of the House—well, the National Party in particular on that side of the House—for taking the principled stand and you have done that for the same reason that New Zealand First and the rest of the House has: because it is the right thing to do.

The gunman, it has been referenced, was operating legally on an A category licence—the garden variety licence that any one of us with a reasonably limited background can qualify for. He had a legal firearm purchased over the counter at a retail outlet. He did modify that firearm but he did expose the gaping holes in our firearms law.

These changes are long overdue and the genesis of this is actually not Christchurch. The genesis was Aramoana, and, as has been referenced earlier, we did fail to act there. John Banks has admitted recently it’s his greatest regret. Mayor Dalziel in the select committee process, in her presentation to us she referenced the fact that she sat where we sat in 1992. She heard the same arguments that we heard and they were unable to get it across the line, and today we have the ability to right that wrong.

The Thorp report of 1995—it came out and recommended restricting handguns, banning these military-style semi-automatic rifles, limiting magazine capacity, having a full firearm registry. We had Port Arthur and we saw the exemplar of John Howard. We had Matt Robson’s attempts to get bills before the House and one successfully in 1999 and then again in 2005. The 2017 select committee recommended 20 changes off the back of a full investigation; only seven were implemented. This is not the time to point fingers but certainly, for anyone that questions the process, how much process do you need? We have been too timid. We have paid the price.

It is important though, as Ian McKelvie referenced in his previous speech, to acknowledge the lawful firearms owners of this country. New Zealand is amongst those with the lowest rate of firearms-related incidents in the world. There are 250,000 or thereabouts firearms licence holders and there are estimated between 1.5 million and 2 million guns. There is a lot of firepower out there and the vast majority of these New Zealanders use their weapons, as described, legally and safely and comply.

For those New Zealanders, some of whom are hurting and feeling somewhat victimised, we do understand that hurt but we hope that you will see the greater good in what we are doing. There is no alternative for us. We cannot and will not suffer a repeat of this tragedy.

In terms of the exemptions, I would commend the Minister actually in his pragmatic approach to this with the collectors’ items, vintage firearms. These are history and, as one of these collectors said to me, they touched history—they lived and touched history. And to be able to keep these with very strict controls and having this amendment where you have to have a vital part stored at another address, we are making sure that that is a safe provision but an important provision nonetheless.

I would also like to talk too on behalf of farmers. For farmers, this stuff’s not “nice to have”; it’s actually a tool of the trade in some cases, and they will be feeling a little bit as if they have been restricted unfairly in the sense of the need that they have: things like wallabies, geese, goats, tahr, deer—of course, which not only damage pasture and crops but carry TB—and pigs that can do so much harm.

There is some need for cullers to have access to these semi-automatic weapons over and above the criteria that we have set and we have carved out an exemption for cullers on private land. It wasn’t in the first draft of the bill but we have added that within the select committee process. But we will have to look at that in the second tranche because there are 5 million hectares of private land—hill country—out there under some pressure from these pests and wild animals, and we will have to assess that.

But New Zealand First fully supports in the first tranche being tight, because the tighter we make it at the start it’s easier to make exemptions as required rather than try to do it in an ad hoc manner at the start.

So this is just the first tranche of legislation and we note the royal commission that’s coming—Sir William Young, a wise head to lead that effort. We will look at things like the licencing regime. We will look at things like registry. We will look at sentencing. Just looking at the bill as it is, I think there is room for toughening some of the sentencing. Prohibition orders have been mentioned by the Opposition, once again, where those exemptions may be able to be increased for our farmers, if indeed they are demonstrated to really need these weapons.

Of course, there will be these wider social issues such as hate speech that will be looked at, and the wider social context of how this tragedy has been able to come about. But these are questions for another day. This is a very, actually, narrow bill around hardware—where the line is drawn in terms of what weapons New Zealanders will be able to have access to and those that we won’t.

Could I commend the Minister Stuart Nash on the way that he has shepherded this through the select committee. I’ve previously acknowledged the chair, Michael Wood, who did an outstanding job in this, and all members of the select committee contributed constructively. Our public service: I understand that there were members from 10 departments seconded on to this bill. There were 13,000 submissions in 48 hours.

We, of course, did not get to read them all individually ourselves, but I’m sure—with other members of the select committee—we did all read a select few, and it has also been referenced that we did get a very broad selection, and wisely picked selection of oral contributors that contributed so much to the drafting of this bill.

To the Police Assistant Commissioner Penny, who I see here, and your team, Mike McIlraith, I might reference, who found out he’s a long lost cousin of mine through this process, but everyone who contributed through that select committee.

Could I quote, finally, from Lianne Dalziel, who quoted a contributor to the ’99 select committee: “If the Aramoana experience has failed to teach our legislators that these and similar weapons must be banned, regardless of the power of the lobby opposing such action, one can only speculate at the extent of the tragedy needed to spur our politicians into position action to protect our lives.” Today we know the answer to that question.


See Arms Amendment Bill passes third reading

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4 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  11th April 2019

    ”But New Zealand First fully supports in the first tranche being tight, because the tighter we make it at the start it’s easier to make exemptions as required rather than try to do it in an ad hoc manner at the start.”

    Idiocy of the first water. In fact it’s funny and very frightening at the same time. It identifies. poorly drafted legalisation for a start. Legislation that had little public submission input.

    Culler: Hey, boss. The law says I can’t shoot brown rabbits. We have lot’s of brown rabbits in front of me at the moment. Can I have an exemption?

    Patterson: Yeah, but not yet. I’ll have to go through due process. No guarantees..OK.

    Patterson: Good news. I have that exemption for shooting brown rabbits. Don’t forget though, that doesn’t apply to black rabbits.

    Culler: Boss, I have moved on. I went out of business.🤔✔✔

    Reply
    • Patzcuaro

       /  11th April 2019

      As a farmer I fully agree with his sentiments, start tight and relax if the need can be proved.

      Reply
  2. Corky

     /  11th April 2019

    Farmers are a busy lot. They don’t have a much time to post on a blog. Anyone who says they are framers, should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Reply
  3. Patzcuaro

     /  11th April 2019

    Whose framing who?

    Reply

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