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

Arms Amendment Bill passes third reading

The Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines and Parts) Amendment Bill  passed it’s third and final reading tonight in Parliament, with all MPs apart from David Seymour voting in favour.

Jacinda Ardern’s third reading speech began:

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister) on behalf of the Minister of Police: I move, That the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill be now read a third time.

We are here just 26 days after the most devastating of terrorist attacks created the darkest of days in New Zealand’s history and we are here as an almost entirely united Parliament. There have been very few occasions, in my history, when I have seen Parliament come together in this way and I cannot imagine circumstances where that is more necessary than it is now.

I want to acknowledge therefore, as I begin my contribution here in this third reading debate, those parliamentarians who have worked so constructively in this discussion and debate. Of course, that goes for our coalition and confidence and supply partners as members of this Government—I acknowledge you—but I also pay particular tribute to the Opposition, who, from the moment this issue around the use of these particular weapons in this terror attack arose, I have found to be nothing but constructive. I acknowledge you sincerely for that.

Chris Bishop responded:

CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. 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.

Hansard transcript.

The Governor general will give it final approval tomorrow (Thursday).

RNZ:  Firearms Amendment Bill passes final reading in Parliament

The law change had near uanimous support, with ACT the only party to oppose it. The bill now only needs to be signed off by the Governor General before becoming law.

The move follows the announcement today of the finer details of the government’s proposed buyback scheme for firearms.

Independent advisors will come up with a price list for the buyback scheme and a separate expert panel will be set up to determine fair compensation for high-value firearms.

The government is also planning another phase of firearms reform, exploring possible restrictions and changes to the vetting process, a firearms register and more.

The prime minister said yesterday this second tranche would likely be this year, before a the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the attack – and whether more could have been done to prevent it – reports back.

Also announced by the Government today:  Legal framework for gun buyback scheme announced

Police Minister Stuart Nash has announced a legal framework for the gun buyback will be established as a first step towards determining the level of compensation. It will include compensation for high capacity magazines and parts.

Mr Nash has outlined changes to the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines and Parts) Amendment Bill which will be debated during the committee stages of the legislation.

The Supplementary Order Paper reflects changes arising from the Select Committee process. It sets out the framework for dealing with the legal ownership of weapons, magazines and parts and the broad approach for determining payments.

“The regulations will create a framework to set compensation based on make, model and condition of the items. They will provide for rights of review and appeal,” Mr Nash says.

“Independent advisors will develop the price list for approval by Cabinet. A separate expert panel of advisors will be established to determine fair compensation for high value firearms.

“Police have also consulted extensively with Australian officials to familiarise themselves with the pitfalls and legal risks encountered there. Australia has had almost thirty amnesties and buyback schemes since the 1990s.

“The new measures make it clear that surrendered firearms will be the property of the Crown. Owners will be compensated for them, if the guns were lawfully obtained and the person had the appropriate firearms licence. Price lists will be set out in regulations which are now being drafted.

“This framework provides certainty for all participants in this process and sets out a clear appeal process if the compensation is disputed.

“A number of transitional measures are also being put in place to handle one-off questions.  This includes weapons which were in transit from overseas when the ban took effect. Customs officials may deliver them to Police as part of the amnesty and buyback arrangement.

“Police are already collecting bank account details from people who are taking part in the gun amnesty. They are well placed to begin paying compensation once the scheme is confirmed. I can reassure firearms owners there will be plenty of time for them to hand over their weapons as part of the amnesty and to have their compensation processed under the buyback as well.

“The government has listened closely to official advice about the need to provide statutory authority for decisions and payments under the buyback scheme,” Mr Nash said.

The regulations are expected to be considered by Cabinet in May. If necessary, the amnesty can be extended by a month or so to run alongside the buyback.

The SoP is published here: http://legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2019/0125/latest/versions.aspx