National Party support for the the Arms Amendment Bill

National MPs worked with the Government on the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill and gave their full support and votes for the bill, which passed it’s third and final reading in parliament yesterday.

CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South):

I rise on behalf of the National Party to lend our support to the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill, and, in the start of my contribution, I want to, on behalf of the party, acknowledge the Prime Minister for her remarks in opening this third reading debate, and also acknowledge her leadership in the hours and days and weeks following the shooting. I have received many comments in the last few weeks around your leadership, Prime Minister, and I think all of New Zealand has been impressed by your steadfastness at a time of great trial for our country.

I also want to acknowledge the Minister Stuart Nash, who’s worked quite collaboratively with those of us in the Opposition on this regime that we’re about to pass into law, and I want to acknowledge Michael Wood, who chaired the committee, I think, in a very good fashion—a quick fashion, but a very good fashion.

Now we have the Labour Party in Government alongside New Zealand First, and I acknowledge the braveness of the position that they took, Mr Patterson and Ron Mark and the Rt Hon Winston Peters, as Deputy Prime Minister—quite a brave position, actually, for them to take alongside a Labour Cabinet to work alongside the National Party and the Green Party as well for Parliament to speak with as unanimous a voice as possible. Hopefully, the politicking around this will now, essentially, cease, because we are going to say once and for all that, with very rare exceptions, military-style weapons are not welcome in New Zealand.

IAN McKELVIE (National—Rangitīkei):

It gives me, well, I guess it’s a privilege, really, to have an opportunity to speak on what probably is a historic piece of legislation for this House. I too want to acknowledge the Prime Minister and the efforts of the leadership of this House and all parties—almost all parties—within it. I also wanted to acknowledge the chair of the Finance and Expenditure Committee and, above all, the officials.

I’d like to think that this piece of law might go down in history as a benchmark in legislation-making, but I accept that the short consultation time is probably not ideal for most of our law.

 I think it’s essential that we get that done and that we get it done urgently and make that publicity work. It’s going to be difficult to get to some people, because, as I’ve said earlier, there will be people in New Zealand who have got no idea they’ve got these weapons in their possession and who don’t have a licence to own them and have never needed to have a licence to own them because they didn’t know they were there.

I think that will be much more common than we believe, because some of what, effectively, could be 100-year-old pieces of equipment that are no longer legal have sat in houses for years and years. So it is essential that we get that publicity done and get it done very well.

It’s essential also that that buy-back scheme, when it is instigated, is—as I think I heard the Prime Minister say earlier—effective, that it’s fair, and that it gives people the incentive to get these guns out and in the police’s hands, or in hands of the buy-back scheme, as quickly as we possibly can, because for it to work effectively, we need to get them all.

That’s the next piece I want to turn to, because I think that as this Act is reviewed going forward—and it no doubt will be—and as the second tranche of legislation comes to the House, it’s essential that we find ways of extracting the weapons out of those people who have no reason to own them and have no licence to own them, because the underworld will have many of these guns. There will be many of them in unknown places in New Zealand.

ANDREW BAYLY (National—Hunua):

The values that we hold in this country around tolerance for one another, and the ability to get along with one another, are what make New Zealand so wonderful. I, like many of you here in this House, went to many of the Muslim communities, and I went there to give my support, as you did.

What I received back from my Muslim communities was much more. What they offered me was hope, a sense of resoluteness, and they had an unerring sense of purpose. They see themselves as New Zealanders, and they’re committed to being good citizens—playing their part to make a better New Zealand.

Prejudice is such a corrosive element in any society and is unwelcome here in New Zealand. So this is one of those moments—a moment of unity, a unity of intent, and an intent to act as one. So we’re about to pass the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill. I note it is our duty to protect New Zealand and New Zealanders from the unlawful use of these high-velocity weapons, but I think it’s also important that we respect the rights of New Zealanders to own and safely use guns here.

I want to finally just acknowledge the Prime Minister for the role that she has shown in leading this debate. I also want to acknowledge the Minister for bringing this legislation in in a very short period of time and working with the committee. I also want to acknowledge the members of the Finance and Expenditure Committee, who worked in a collegial and collaborative fashion.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the officials, many of whom are sitting up in the gallery here today. They worked tirelessly, and I say thank you from me personally, but certainly on behalf of the committee.

Hon MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney):

It’s a pleasure to take a call in this the third reading. Can I acknowledge the Prime Minister first of all. I was very grateful of the fact that she shared with us some insights around how it crystallised in her mind, the leadership that was required, and then, of course, the Parliament coming together to bring this bill to the House to make the changes that we needed.

I’d just like to say that this is an important piece of legislation. We are sending a very clear message as a Parliament and as a country that we don’t see the need for military-style, high-powered semi-automatic weapons in this country. We don’t. You can’t justify their use—other than in fact the exemptions that we’ve clearly stated.

BRETT HUDSON (National):

Parliament decided—it was a choice, and Parliament decided—to take the process we have with this bill to reach the point we have now and where, I would predict, we are about to get to. As adults in the room, we can fully support that—those decisions, those actions, and where we are—and still critique the process which underpins it. There is certainly simply no way a select committee can address a bill of substance in such a short period of time and give it the same scrutiny that it could do if it had an extended, normal, or longer period of time.

With all the will in the world, and with all the effort of members and officials—and I acknowledge the hard work of all the officials—there is simply not, in a shortened period of time, sufficient opportunity to hear all of the voices, to give all of the consideration to all matters raised, to debate every point, or to look at every possible alternative. Shortened time simply does not permit that.

I endorse the decision Parliament took, and it was Parliament’s decision. The Government put forth a proposition to do this bill under an extremely short period of time, but it was Parliament that agreed to do so.

We now find ourselves in the last few minutes of a decision to rid New Zealand of weapons, of firearms, that no normal citizen needs, but with enough careful consideration that where exemptions are warranted, they have been granted, with enough thought and consideration to help inform elements that might take part of the next phase of the firearms reform.

Hon JUDITH COLLINS (National—Papakura):

I am so proud of us. We have worked so hard over quite a short period of time, and we have worked in the Finance and Expenditure Committee to get the best bill that we could in the shortest amount of time. Even when we have not agreed, we have been able to be civil and adult, and that is something that I think we can pat ourselves on the back for.

In the National Party, we felt we could have done more for those people who are sports shooters and who engage in international competitions—our competitive shooting sports. We would like to hope that, in the second tranche of legislation, that could be addressed. I was personally, and I think we all were, very impressed with the quality of the submission from the pistol shooters’ association. They have a very good system, which I’ve heard of before, obviously, but to have them run through exactly how it worked gave me a lot of confidence in that system being able to be used for people engaged in sporting events where some of these higher calibre or higher-capacity weapons are used—that we could bring that in for them.

It’s not often that peace breaks out in Parliament, but to most intents and purposes—I won’t say “all” because not entirely—it has over this matter. We have all been deeply moved by what happened in Christchurch, by the murder of 50 people and the attempted murder of many more. We have all been deeply moved. It could have happened anywhere. It happened in two mosques. It could have happened in a kindergarten. It could have happened in a church. It could have happened in a school.

For any New Zealanders who think, well, it wasn’t some place that they would go, it could have been. It could have been anywhere. It’s the sort of thing that I think happens, and we could say a person who has done this has done this for particular reasons. It’s not only that person we need to be concerned about and worried about that they have access to firearms—people with those sorts of thoughts and those drivers—but there are other people as well.

This has been a good opportunity for the Government and the Opposition to work together for New Zealand, and I would hope that the Government will keep us informed and ask for our support on other matters pertaining to these firearms laws.

Apart from one dissenter (David Seymour, ACT) the Bill was strongly supported by a united Parliament, Obviously most MPs realised they had a responsibility to do something significant in the wake of the Christchurch mosque massacres.

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

David Seymour on Arms Amendment Bill – third reading speech

ACT MP David Seymour was the only one to vote against the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill. This is his third reading speech.


DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT): Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker. I rise on behalf of the ACT Party in opposition to this bill, but not in opposition to changing our gun laws. I want to pay tribute to those victims of our nation’s tragedy of 15 March; it is for them that our gun laws must change, because it is not sustainable to have a set of laws where such a deranged individual can get their hands on such lethal weapons with almost nobody knowing about it. That much is certain, and that much is consensus in this House of Parliament, and almost up and down the entire length of this country. However, this bill is not an attempt to improve public safety; it is an exercise in political theatre.

This bill was made redundant and unnecessary by an Order in Council passed down by the Prime Minister and the Government in the week after the tragedy of 15 March. That Order in Council made it clear that only those approximately 7,500 people with the most restricted level of licence—an E category licence that requires extreme vetting and registration of every single weapon—could have semi-automatic weapons. That was a great start. That was a good placeholder, which wouldn’t expire until 30 June. That Order in Council could have been the beginning of a careful, considered, thoughtful legislative process; the type of legislative process that the Government now promises will commence almost as soon as this bill has passed through this House and become a law.

People might ask themselves: “What was the rush and what was the hurry?” Other than the need to be seen to be doing something, there was none. The fact is that, unlike the Prime Minister, who asked, “Well, is it better to do nothing?”, I believe that this bill may end up being worse than nothing.

We could not find, in the select committee, what the officials’ estimates of the success of the gun buy-back might be. So what will members of this House say when we get to the end of the amnesty period this September, and we find that our gun buy-back has been no more successful than the Australian one? One that found that between 40 and 80 percent—just as our Prime Minister couldn’t say, today, how many guns there are in New Zealand, the Australians didn’t know either—of these dangerous weapons have been handed in, and they’ve been handed in by the people who are the law-abiding ones. We could find ourselves with a bigger black market in dangerous semi-automatic weapons than ever outside any regulatory cordon whatsoever. Why might that be? Well, one good reason is that today, in the eleventh hour—such is the rush of this process—the Government decided that they would reward people with compensation if their weapons were owned legally, but they wouldn’t offer compensation for people who hand in illegal weapons. That is how insane the outcomes of this process are.

That is to say nothing—maybe it’s a law that won’t work—about the way it has been gone about; to say nothing of the truncated select committee process, which gave no serious consideration to improving the law, didn’t consider any other options such as upgrading licensing, didn’t allow the committee to consider what the success of the buy-back might be. It simply said, “There is urgency, we must act, we’re going to do this anyway.” That is not good lawmaking, that is not the way to get the law-abiding gun community—whom we need as allies in creating a safer society—on board, and that is not the way to celebrate the institution of Parliament and our democracy at a time when exactly our democratic institutions of freedom have been challenged so violently.

So, for all of those reasons, I am in support of changing our gun laws, but it is impossible for anyone of good conscience to support this bill, the way it’s been brought about, and the problems with it that may well make our society more dangerous than we had on 15 March. Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker.


See Arms Amendment Bill passes third reading

Justice Committee undecided on End of Life Choice Bill – report

The Justice Committee report on the End of Life Choice Bill (the euthanasia bill) has been tabled in Parliament, with the committee undecided on whether the bill should be passed.

RNZ:  Euthanasia bill report tabled in Parliament

After 16 months’ worth of submissions, a report on euthanasia legislation has been tabled in the House and sponsor David Seymour says he’s quite confident he’ll have the numbers to pass it.

Parliament’s justice committee reported its findings this afternoon after nearly 39,000 submissions were heard by MPs on the bill that would allow assisted dying for those terminally ill, likely to die within six months and experiencing “unbearable suffering”.

The report said that 90 percent of the 36,700 written submissions opposed the bill.

“We note that the majority of written submissions discussed only whether assisted dying should be allowed in principle.”

The vote is one of conscience, so individual MPs can cast their vote according to their personal views.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be voting in favour.

“I understand those deeply held convictions that means they’ll be opposed to it, my view is the best way that I can allow people to make their own decisions is actually giving them access to that choice,” she said.

Probably more important than Ardern’s influence will be which way NZ First MPs decided to go, and more so how national MPs will decided. Simon Bridges, and Maggie Barry and Nick Smith who were on the committee, are all strongly opposed to the bill, but as it’s a conscience vote all MPs are free to support or oppose as they choose.

It is still not clear whether the bill will have enough support once it returns to Parliament.

National MP Maggie Barry sat on the committee and said she thought political opposition to the bill may have hardened after the lengthy, and often harrowing, consultation period.

Mr Seymour will put amendments forward in the House – probably in June – which will include restricting the bill to those who have a terminal prognosis only and introducing a referendum.

“There’s some [MPs] still to work on to get it across the line,” he said.

The first reading passed with a 76-44 margin and Mr Seymour said that gave him confidence that MPs would line up with the majority of New Zealanders and support the bill.

Asked whether Ms Barry was the right person to deputy chair the select committee given her active campaign against euthanasia, Mr Seymour said: “I’m the tinder paper to Maggie Barry’s inner volcano so I’m probably not a natural observer on her.”

Full report on the End of Life Choice Bill

Recommendation

The Justice Committee has examined the End of Life Choice Bill and the Report of the Attorney-General under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 on the End of Life Choice Bill. We recommend that the amendments set out below be passed.

We were unable to agree that the bill be passed.

Conscience vote

This bill is expected to result in conscience votes by members in the House. In previous situations where a bill was expected to result in conscience votes, committees have recommended amendments that left the policy content of the bill largely intact, while trying to ensure that the bill was a coherent and workable piece of legislation— particularly regarding consequential amendments and amendments to related legislation.

The eight members of this committee hold diverse views. We decided to report the bill back with minor, technical, and consequential amendments only. We leave it to the full membership of the House to resolve the broader policy matters

The End of Life Choice Bill (as it currently stands)

Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill

Submissions close on Thursday on the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill.


Public submissions are now being called for the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill

The closing date for submissions is Thursday, 11 April 2019

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill aims to:

  • classify two synthetic cannabinoids, AMB-FUBINACA and 5F-ADB, as Class A drugs​
  • affirm in legislation the discretion for Police to prosecute for possession and use of all drugs
  • specify that, when considering prosecuting for possession and use, consideration should be given to whether a health-centred or therapeutic approach would be more beneficial
  • enable temporary drug class orders to be issued for emerging and potentially harmful substances.

The bill intends to address the harm being caused by synthetic drugs, and others, by ensuring that legislation focusses on those who import, manufacture, and supply the drugs and not those who use them. The bill’s explanatory note states that “Addressing drug-related harm requires a health-based response, rather than a punitive one, so that people can access the health and social support services they need.”

The proposed temporary drug class orders would allow for substances to be immediately treated as though they are classified as Class C controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. These measures are intended to address the rapidly adapting synthetic drug market and to continue disrupting the supply of new synthetic drugs.

Read the bill on NZ Legislation website

Arms Amendment Act report presented to Parliament

The final report in the fast tracked Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill has been reported back to Parliament, seven days after first being introduced, and after two days of public submissions and one day of oral submissions.

The Finance and Expenditure Committee recommends that the bill be passed, but with minor amendments.

The amendments show that the committee has at least listened to some concerns expressed in submisssions.

Key parts of the report (some edits and omissions):


The bill’s proposed changes include:

  • defining the following items as prohibited:
    o all military-style semi-automatic firearms (MSSAs)
    o semi-automatic firearms, other than those capable of firing only 0.22 or lower calibre rimfire cartridges from a magazine that can hold no more than 10 cartridges or semi-automatic shotguns with a non-detachable tubular magazine that can hold no more than 5 cartridges
    o pump-action shotguns that can be used with a detachable magazine
    o pump-action shotguns with a non-detachable tubular magazine that can hold more than 5 cartridges
    o any magazines and parts that would enable a firearm to be converted into a prohibited firearm
  • exempting limited categories of licence holders who could apply to import, sell, supply, and possess these prohibited items
  • providing a strict regulatory regime for these prohibited items
  • introducing new offences and penalties relating to these prohibited items
  • providing for an amnesty period, until 30 September 2019, for people to surrender prohibited items
  • providing for the definition of prohibited firearm, prohibited magazine, and prohibited ammunition to be amended, replaced, or declared by Order in Council.

The amendments set out in the bill would be the first in a set of reforms to the Arms Act which have been signalled by the Government.

Prohibited items

The bill would prohibit most semi-automatic firearms (other than pistols), and some shotguns, from circulation and use in New Zealand’s general population. These firearms, whether they are currently classified as an A Category or E Category firearm, would no longer be generally available.

Some small-calibre rimfire semi-automatic firearms, such as those capable of firing only 0.22 or lower calibre rimfire cartridges from a magazine that can hold no more than 10 cartridges, and lesser-capacity shotguns that can hold no more than 5 cartridges, would be excluded from the prohibition. These firearms are commonly used for hunting and farming, and have a
limited magazine capacity.

The bill would also prohibit:

  • magazines used with shotguns that can hold more than 5 cartridges
  • magazines used with any other firearm (except a pistol) that can hold more than 10 cartridges
  • parts that can convert firearms into prohibited firearms.

Exemptions

The bill would provide some narrow exemptions so that certain categories of licensed gun owners could apply to import, supply, sell, or possess prohibited items. Exempt categories of people would include:

  • licensed dealers
  • bona fide collectors of firearms
  • bona fide museum curators or directors
  • approved broadcasters, bona fide theatre companies or societies, and film or television production companies
  • people engaged by the Department of Conservation, or by a management agency under the Biosecurity Act 1993, to kill or hunt wild animals or animal pests
  • a person authorised by the Minister of Conservation to undertake wild animal recovery
    operations.

Suggested amendments to the bill

Exemption for commercial wild animal or animal pest control businesses

We recommend adding a narrow exemption to allow commercial businesses specialising in the control of wild animals or animal pests to use a prohibited item for pest-control purposes on private land or non-conservation Crown land in accordance with a specified Act.

The bill as introduced would provide an exemption for persons carrying out pest control who are employed or engaged by the Department of Conservation or a management agency in accordance with the Biosecurity Act. However, these exemptions would not cover pest control on private land, such as farms, or non-conservation Crown land.

We consider that there would be some narrow circumstances where use of a prohibited firearm was absolutely necessary to carry out pest control on private land or non-conservation Crown land for conservation, environmental, or economic reasons. Our recommendation would allow a private landowner to engage a wild animal or animal pest control business to use such firearms while still removing most semi-automatic firearms from circulation.

We recommend that wild animals or animal pests, under the specified Acts referred to in clause 8 of the bill as introduced, include Canada Geese.

Airsoft and paintball guns

Airguns used in airsoft and paintball sports come under the definition of airgun, not firearm, in the Arms Act. This means that such airguns would not be affected by the prohibitions in the bill.

Under the Arms Act at present, a person must have a permit to import a restricted airgun. This is any airgun that looks like a restricted weapon, military-style semi-automatic firearm, or pistol. The bill would keep and extend this requirement to include any airgun that looks like a prohibited firearm as defined in clause 5, section 2A.

Exemption for firearms collectors

We wish to clarify that bona fide collectors of firearms would be permitted to possess prohibited semi-automatic firearms under clause 8 of the bill, which would insert new section 4A(1)(b) into the Act.

For a person to obtain an endorsement on their licence to possess a prohibited item as a bona fide collector, they would need to fulfil the requirements in clause 31, section 33A.

Conditions of endorsement for collectors of firearms

Clause 65(2), section 74(1)(ha) of the bill as introduced would allow regulations to be made to provide for the secure storage of a vital part of a prohibited firearm possessed by a bona fide collector, to render it inoperable. The regulations would also prescribe precautions to be taken to prevent the theft or misuse of a vital part.

We consider that provisions for the secure storage of a vital part should be included in the principal Act. Therefore, we recommend inserting an additional condition of endorsement for bona fide collectors of firearms into clause 31, to require the removed vital part of a prohibited firearm to be stored at a separate address, which would be regulated by the Police.

The Green Party and the NZ Police Association opposed this.

Exemption for people with heirloom or memento firearms

We recommend adding a narrow exemption that would allow people to possess a prohibited firearm or prohibited magazine that clearly has special significance as an heirloom or memento.

We recommend that our suggested exemption be subject to the same conditions ofendorsement that clause 31 of the bill as introduced would apply to bona fide collectors.

Proof of unlawful possession

Clause 49 of the bill would insert new sections 50A to 50C into the Act to introduce new offences for unlawful possession of prohibited firearms, magazines, or parts. These provisions would be covered by the “reverse onus of proof” provision in section 66 of the Arms Act. This means that the owner of any land, building, or vehicle where a prohibited item was found would be presumed to be in possession of it unless they could prove otherwise.

As introduced, it would create the possibility of an innocent person being wrongly convicted if they were in possession of a part that could be fitted to both a non-prohibited and prohibited firearm.

Therefore, we recommend amending clause 49, section 50C(a) to ensure that a person who had reasonable excuse to possess a prohibited part would not be criminalised for possessing it. For the same reason, we also recommend deleting “prohibited part” in clause 61, which would amend section 66 of the Act.

Order in Council powers

Power to amend definitions

The Order in Council powers in the bill as introduced (clause 66, sections 74A and 74B) would allow the Governor-General to “amend and replace the description” of prohibited items in new sections 2A and 2B. We consider this power to be broader than the existing Order in Council powers in section 74A of the Arms Act. The existing section provides for militarystyle semi-automatic firearms, and features of these firearms, to be defined, described, and declared by Order in Council.

We recommend amending clause 66, section 74A(a) and (b) to state “amend the description”, rather than “amend and replace the description”. Our amendment would constrain the Order in Council powers in the bill as introduced.

Transition period for future Orders in Council

We recommend inserting a provision into clause 65, section 74 to allow the GovernorGeneral to make regulations to declare a limited amnesty period for possession offences created by future Orders in Council.

Comments for clarification

Suppressors, silencers, and sights

Suppressors, silencers, and sights that are fitted to, designed for, or intended to be used on an A Category firearm by a person who lawfully holds an A Category licence would not be prohibited by the bill.

As an example, a suppressor, silencer, or sight fitted to, designed for, or intended to be used on a firearm prohibited under the bill would be considered a prohibited part. However, if the prohibited firearm was surrendered and the suppressor, silencer, or sight was then intended for use on a non-prohibited firearm, it would no longer be a prohibited part.

Competitive shooting sports

We do not recommend an exemption for sporting competitors or competitions.

We consider an exemption unnecessary because the bill would not prevent people from competing in shooting disciplines at the Olympic or Commonwealth Games. In addition, we believe that people who compete in the 3-gun discipline would be able to use a 0.22 or lower calibre semi-automatic firearm, rather than a 0.223 calibre semi-automatic firearm, to continue to participate in the discipline.

The purpose of the bill is to prohibit the use of most semi-automatic firearms in New Zealand in order to reduce the risk of death or injury resulting from their misuse. We believe that providing an exemption for sporting competitors would allow more semi-automatic firearms to remain in circulation than we consider desirable for public safety.

Buy-back scheme

The Government has announced that it will set up a buy-back scheme to encourage people to give up their firearms. The buy-back scheme is not part of this bill.

The New Zealand Police and the Treasury are working on the details of the buy-back. The Government has said that the underlying principle of the buy-back will be that fair and reasonable compensation will be paid to firearms owners. It has also signalled that the buyback will take into account the age and type of the firearm, and its market value.

The New Zealand National Party and ACT New Zealand registered some concerns.

Full report here.

The heat on the gun laws at Select Committee hearing

RNZ:  Select committee hears out feedback on gun law reform

Emotions ran high during a select committee seeking to change the country’s gun laws today, with opponents taking aim at the speed at which the bill is being rushed through Parliament and supporters saying it can’t come soon enough.

The Finance and Expenditure committee has received about 10,000 written submissions on the proposal to ban military-style semi-automatic guns, like those used by the man accused of murdering 50 people as they prayed in two Christchurch mosques last month.

However, only 20 or so oral submissions were heard by MPs – the subject of much consternation among some firearm enthusiasts.

Police Association president Chris Cahill…

…praised the government and the opposition for their decisiveness in getting the legislation through Parliament.

Mr Cahill raised some serious concerns, though, about possible exemptions to the law, including for specially licensed dealers, “bona fide collectors”, museum curators and people using firearms for dramatic productions.

He said they were only required to remove a part from a firearm in order to make it inoperable. But he said this still was not safe as it was possible to reattach it.

David Tipple…

…said that if they passed the law in its present form, “you would be helping him win”.

Gun City continued selling the firearms used in the attack even after the prime minister said they would be banned.

“Rushing this good-feel [sic] law is causing division. It is bad law and it will result in serious injustices. Worse, it ignores what went wrong. There are no loopholes in the existing law, this happened because he broke numerous laws.”

After his appearance, Mr Tipple told reporters what action he believed New Zealanders should take.

“Which one of us after this event doesn’t have a warm fuzzy when we see a hijab? We have all grown in empathy with that community because of that event. That is how we beat that mad Australian; when we get together and not divide. When you stop lynching me as a gun owner.”

There were submissions from people seeking exemptions…

…including Andrew Edgecombe from the Antique and Historical Arms Association, who said his members were feeling “victimised, marginalised and criminalised” because of their chosen interest.

Ben Allen from Airsoft NZ asked that plastic airsoft guns be exempt because, although they may look a bit like military-style semi-autos, they wouldn’t be able to to fire actual bullets.

Pistol New Zealand, too, asked that legitimate target shooters be exempted.

Martin Taylor from Fish and Game, which represents some 40,000 hunters, said while the organisation supported the bill, he was concerned about the six-month deadline.

“With the nature of the large number of weapons that have to be bought back we wondering whether six months is actually practical,” Mr Taylor said.

The most contentious submission was by gun rights blogger Mike Loder, who called Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern a “tyrant” for rushing the law through.

“I watched the prime minister literally laugh when she announced that new gun laws will be rushed through. A journalist said would people be able to make submissions? She literally laughed. That is a tyrant.”

Nuts like that will make it easier for MPs to justify a clampdown on semi-automatics weapons that are designed to kill people.

Stuff: Tipple spat with journalists

Gun City owner in heated exchange with media before making gun law reform submission at Parliament.

Stuff: Tears and tension over gun law

It’s now or never, or it’s knee-jerk “good-feel” lawmaking that lets the terrorist win, select committee hears.

Stuff opinion: How gun lobby may fight back

Tactics are likely to mirror those used by tobacco, alcohol and gambling industries.

It is not a singular ‘gun lobby’. There are a quarter of a million licensed firearm owners who have a variety of views on what legal restrictions should be put in place.

Newsroom:  The rollercoaster ride of firearms reform

Parliament has been pushed and pulled between emotion and detail, conspiracy and research in its bid to carry out gun law reform in hyperdrive. But some say there’s no other way, as Laura Walters writes.

There were moments of specificity throughout the marathon day of oral submissions on firearms reforms to Parliament’s finance and expenditure committee.

But by and large, the appearance of more than 20 submitters was a chance to give those most affected by the Christchurch terror attack, and the subsequent decision to ban a raft of dangerous weapons, a chance to say their piece.

The speed at which the Government has moved to change the country’s gun laws makes your head spin.

For those MPs involved, as well as the experts, public and media witnessing the democratic process in action on Thursday, it was a stark reminder why laws are not usually made this way, and shouldn’t be.

Politicians are clearly aware of the responsibility resting on their shoulders, and the tight timeframe in which they have to get this law right.

Law Society president Tiana Epati again emphasised the speed when she talked about the ability of the society’s criminal experts to consider Crown Law advice on the bill overnight on Wednesday.

While there was good reason for speed, Epati said the society had been unable to dig into the definitions and possible unintended consequences of the drafting; the legal experts wanted just a couple more days.

I personally think that tighter laws are overdue and should happen, but have concerns over the rushed process.

 

 

 

Shane Jones under further pressure over Ministerial responsibilities and influence

Shane Jones has been seen by some as a ticking political time bomb. He already must have tested the Prime Minister’s mettle in trying to keep Ministers in line, especially Ministers from other parties in the coalition.

Jones has, according to some, stepped more significantly over a ministerial line.

NZ Herald: Shane Jones wades in against NZTA over legal case against Northland trucking company

NZ First’s Shane Jones has stepped into the middle of legal action between the NZ Transport Agency and Northland’s biggest logging transport operator, even though he holds the portfolio of Associate Transport Minister.

Jones said he was speaking as the Regional Economic Development Minister when he expressed concern to the Herald about a case between the NZ Transport Agency and Semenoff Logging.

“I’m concerned about the economic implications flowing from issues between NZTA and Semenoff Logging,” Jones said, following a High Court decision last Monday where the transporter won temporary suspension of a ban on its licence.

On March 15, NZTA revoked Semenoff’s transport services licence over a range of safety issues, due to take effect on March 22.

But on March 20, the business of the ex-Whangarei mayor Stan Semenoff hit back and sought a temporary stay on that licence ban, although the case is yet to go to a full hearing.

Jones is related to Semenoff.

Justice Mark Woolford said in his March 25 decision in the High Court at Auckland that the Whangarei company is “the largest logging haulage company in Northland … responsible for 50 per cent of Northland’s wood flow and log haulage.”

Jones said his concern was over the agency’s court action last month.

That saw Semenoff’s licence revoked and followed two audits revealing 116 speed and traffic-related offences in four years, a high percentage of vehicles failing on brake system faults, driver fatigue and behaviour, breaches of work time and rest time rules and pervasive logbook issues.

Jones said: “Constitutionally, I must not comment on the High Court case. Both parties are entitled to state their views before the court. On the question of regional development, obviously, forestry is a key and jobs are incredibly important to our growth.

“I’m concerned about the future of 1000 jobs in Northland which could be on the line due to the High Court case. The High Court case doesn’t prohibit the first citizen of the provinces from advocating on behalf of economic development.

“As associate transport minister, obviously safety issues are incredibly important. Now you can understand why I am a great enthusiast of upgrading the railway line for Northport,” Jones said yesterday.

Paul Goldsmith, National’s transport spokesman…

…said Jones should not be commenting on the NZTA case at all.

“Given the issue is soon to be in front of the courts, it is inappropriate for him to be commenting. This is basic stuff. It shows, once again, a lack of discipline from the minister.

In Parliament today:

SPEAKER: Before I call question No. 8, I will indicate to the House that the member asking the question has written to me pursuant to Standing Order 115(2).

Standing Order 115(2):

115  Matters subject to judicial decision

(1)       Matters awaiting or under adjudication in, or suppressed by an order of, any New Zealand court may not be referred to in any motion, debate, or question, including a supplementary question, subject always to the discretion of the Speaker and to the right of the House to legislate on any matter or to consider delegated legislation.

(2)       To enable the exercise of the Speaker’s discretion under paragraph (1), a member who intends to refer to such a matter must give written notice to the Speaker of this intention.

Question No. 8—Regional Economic Development

8. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister for Regional Economic Development: Does he stand by all his statements and actions?

Hon SHANE JONES (Minister for Regional Economic Development): Yes.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: After he told the New Zealand Herald yesterday, “Constitutionally, I must not comment on the High Court case.”, referring to a case between the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and Semenoff Logging, why did he then proceed to comment on the case?

Hon SHANE JONES: Naturally, I won’t comment further on the case. The principles of comity and privilege are important constitutional privileges that define our system, but there is no stone that should be put upon the tongue of the champion of the regions to talk about the implications of decisions that our Government may, from time to time, be held accountable for.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Has he discussed the case with any officials or ministerial colleagues; if so, who?

Hon SHANE JONES: I have had absolutely nothing to do with the decision associated with the NZTA, and, indeed, that’s why the court case exists, as people are entitled to test whether or not statutory authority has been exceeded. I have not raised this matter with my fellow transport Ministers, and I have had one discussion—very brief—with the CEO of the NZTA. His name eludes me; he’s a short-term traveller.

SPEAKER: Order! Order! The member will withdraw that last reflection on a member outside of—

Hon SHANE JONES: I withdraw and apologise.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Is Stan Semenoff his mother’s cousin, as he told the Otago Daily Times in 2009 when explaining a $2,000 donation from him?

Hon SHANE JONES: During the 2008 election, I declared, in 2009, that I had received a $2,000 koha—contribution. Stan Semenoff’s great-great-grandmother is my mother’s great-great-great-grandmother.

Following that:  National say Shane Jones has waded into a matter before the courts – Jones says he hasn’t

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says he is entitled to talk about challenges in the regions, after criticisms that he was wading into a matter before the courts.

This follows National’s Paul Goldsmith saying Jones had “serious questions” he needed to answer about his recent comments.

Goldsmith said it was “constitutionally inappropriate for any minister to wade in on a matter before the courts”.

Act Leader David Seymour said Jones’ conduct falls short of the expectations for Ministers to behave in a way that upholds the “highest ethical standards”.

In the House today, Jones said he won’t “comment further” on the case.

Speaking to reporters after he left the House, he elaborated.

“Obviously, I’m entitled to continue to talk about challenges in the regions. I specifically said I was not commenting on that court case.”

He said his focus was on the issues – in this case, “the supply chain impact in the North in the Forestry and logging”.

“I have not commented on anything to do with the innards of that court case, although the judicial review is still to happen, this was an injunction or something like that.

“It’s important that we don’t embroil ourselves in court cases. There is no court case at this stage, because it hasn’t begun.”

He said his comments were not made with his Associate Minister of Transport hat on – “I made those remarks as the Minister of Regional Economic Development”.

Outside the House, he said the conversation was not about Semenoff.

“He knows that I did not discuss the innards of this court case. It had to do with another statement that Meredith Connell had made in the newspaper.”

The selective use of ministerial hats has been a contentious issue in the past.

Seymour grandstanding while Parliament sat and acted without him

David Seymour was busy talking the democratic high ground over the pending rush job on the Arms Amendment Bill, the Government (with the support of the National Opposition) outmanoeuvred him in the House.

NZ Herald: ACT Leader David Seymour misses chance to force Govt to use urgency for gun law’s first reading

Act leader David Seymour was so busy objecting to media about the speed of the Government’s gun law reform that he missed being in the House to block the process being streamlined.

The Government was planning on seeking leave to streamline the bill’s passage through Parliament, including having the first reading this afternoon.

Seymour had planned to block any such attempt, which would have forced the Government to use urgency, but Seymour was not in the House when a motion for an expedited process was moved.

He was outside the House at the time, telling media that the Government was too concerned with “being seen to do the right thing on the global stage”.

TUESDAY, 2 APRIL 2019

The Speaker took the Chair at 2 p.m.

Prayers.

ARMS (PROHIBITED FIREARMS, MAGAZINES, AND PARTS) AMENDMENT BILL

Procedure

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Leader of the House): I seek leave for the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill to be set down for first reading after general business today, despite Standing Order 285(1)(b); for there to be no debate on the instruction to the select committee to consider the bill despite Standing Order 290; for the bill to be available for second reading on Tuesday, 9 April, despite Standing Order 296; should the member in charge desire, for the bill to be set down for the committee of the whole House forthwith, following the second reading, despite Standing Order 299; and for the bill to be set down for third reading forthwith, following the committee stage, despite Standing Order 310.

SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that process being followed? There appears to be none.

Chuckling could be heard from Members, most of whom had made it into the House on time.

Claire Trevett: Act’s David Seymour hoist on tardy petard

Seymour had been strutting around proud as a peacock for being the only self-proclaimed true champion of democracy by refusing to give his leave for firearms legislation to be passed in a hurry.

He stood alone on his high horse. In the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks, all other parties had agreed to support hasty progression for at least the first tranche of changes – the banning of some guns, and tougher new penalties.

Seymour was so busy talking to the media about his plans to refuse leave for the reforms to be rushed that by the time he made it to his seat to carry out this superhuman feat it was already done.

Instead of delivering democracy he was outfoxed by Leader of the House Chris Hipkins.

Rather than wait until after Question Time as usual, Hipkins stood just before Question Time began to ask for the leave of Parliament to expedite the bill. Seymour was still outside, oblivious.

Members of Parliament did not quite manage to stay as deadpan as the Speaker. Audible laughter swept through Parliament. The Greens – usually most opposed to the hasty progression of legislation – were first to gloat on Twitter.

National MPs Maggie Barry, Paul Goldsmith and Paula Bennett could all be seen looking at Seymour’s desk and laughing. He wandered in a few minutes later.

Undaunted, Seymour sought to re-cast himself as the Superman of Democracy. Rather than berate himself for bad timekeeping, he claimed the fact Hipkins had taken advantage of his tardiness in such a fashion showed what little regard Hipkins had for democracy.

To succeed at democracy you have to be on top of democratic processes. Seymour should have saved hos crowing until after his democratic egg was laid, but he ended up with yolk on his face.

Whether it was good democracy or not, the quick thinking and speed reading of Hipkins meant that the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill is rushing through Parliament than Urgency would have allowed.

Two days for public submissions on the Arms Amendment Bill

The Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill passed it’s first reading in Parliament today by 119-1. David Seymour was the only vote against the bill, but he embarrassed himself by not being urgent enough getting to the House to force the bill into urgency – he put to much urgency into talking to media about how he was going to force urgency.

So now the bill is open for public submissions – for two days only.


Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill

ublic submissions are now being called for Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill

The closing date for submissions is Thursday, 04 April 2019

Make your submission on the bill by 6.00pm on Thursday 4 April 2019.

The bill seeks to extend the existing restrictions on military-style semi-automatic firearms (MSSAa) to ban most semi-automatic firearms and some shotguns, as well as magazines and parts that can be used to assemble semi-automatic firearms.

Some small-calibre rimfire semi-automatic firearms and lesser-capacity shotguns are excluded from the ban. The permitted firearms are ones commonly used in the farming, hunting, and recreational communities, and have a limited magazine capacity.

The Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill would:

  • prevent the general population of New Zealand from importing, selling, supplying, or possessing most semi-automatic firearms (other than pistols)
  • ban pump action shotguns with more than a five shot capacity
  • ban semi-automatic shotguns with a capacity to hold a detachable magazine, or with an internal magazine capable of holding more than five cartridges
  • exempt some semi-automatic firearms with limited ammunition capacity
  • provide exemptions for licensed dealers, authorised pest controllers, firearms collectors, museum curators, firearms used during dramatic productions, and police and defence force personnel
  • allow an amnesty for prohibited firearms, magazines, and parts that are surrendered to licensed dealers or the Police by 30 September 2019
  • introduce tougher penalties and some new offences.
  • This bill is available online from the ‘Related links’ panel.

What do you need to know?

  • Submissions are publicly released and published to the Parliament website. Only your name or organisation’s name is required on a submission. Please keep your contact details separate, as if they are included on the submission they will become publicly available when the submission is released.
  • If you wish to include information of a private or personal nature in your submission you should discuss this with the clerk of the committee before submitting.

Further guidance on making a submission can be found from the ‘How to make a submission’ link: