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.