JOURNALIST: Minister, there have been National MPs that have come out and spoken for the Adler shotgun saying that it should be less restricted access to it. Do you think there should be less restricted access to an import?
JULIE BISHOP: There will be no weakening of Australia’s national gun laws that were introduced by the Coalition in aftermath of the Port Arthur Massacre back in 1996. We imposed a ban on the importation of the Adler shotgun. That will remain in place until such time as the state and territory governments have concluded their review overall of the national gun laws. Now that was a recommendation of the inquiry into the Martin Place siege, and of course these gun laws are 20 years old now and with new technology and new methodologies it is appropriate that they be reviewed. So the ban will remain in place until such time as the state and territory governments conclude the review because they are responsible for the regulation of firearms in this country.
JOURNALIST: But it still can’t be helpful that these Nationals MPs agitating for different stance?
JULIE BISHOP: The fact is the ban will remain in place until such time as the state and territory governments have completed their review.
JOURNALIST: Will you be talking to them?
JULIE BISHOP: To whom?
JOURNALIST: The Nationals MPs.
JULIE BISHOP: We talk to the National Party all the time, we’re in Coalition with them, they are partners of ours.
JOURNALIST: About the Adler shotgun?
JULIE BISHOP: If they wish to raise the matter, but I understand the Prime Minister has confirmed that the ban will remain in place until such time as the state and territory governments, who are responsible for the regulation of firearms in this country, have completed their review.
JOURNALIST: Just on another matter, ASIO has confirmed 68 Australians have been killed while fighting overseas. What details can you tell us about that and how many more are still alive over there fighting?
JULIE BISHOP: We have known for some time that there are significant numbers of Australians who have sought to go overseas and some have actually taken up arms with terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq, most notably ISIL. That is why we have provided more resources, greater legislative power to our security and intelligence and law enforcement agencies, so that we can prevent Australians from travelling overseas or indeed ensure that they don’t return to Australia with the intent of carrying out terrorist attacks here. Our message to any Australian thinking of travelling overseas to Syria and Iraq and taking up arms with ISIL is don’t do it. It’s a criminal offence in Australia but it also adds to the suffering and misery of the people of Syria and Iraq who have been subjected to appalling violence in these conflicts.
JOURNALIST: Minister, how concerned are you for the Crown employees being detained in China? Has consular officials spoken to all three men?
JULIE BISHOP: We have been in contact with Mr O’Connor and one of his colleagues. There are three Australians detained, so there was a consular visit yesterday that was over some time and we were able to confirm that the two Australians to whom we spoke are in good health, their wellbeing is being looked after. The third Australian, I understand, there is still some clarification needed as to whether it was an Australian or Chinese passport that he entered upon, so that is still to be determined. But we will seek consular access as and when we can under the consular agreement we have with China.
JOURNALIST: If he entered on a Chinese passport, would he still have access to Australian consular assistance?
JULIE BISHOP: We would seek to have access to him if he’s a dual citizen but these details are still being determined.
JOURNALIST: Is it you understanding that charges are on the way?
JULIE BISHOP: I have no details about charges. I do know that under Chinese law the authorities can have 30 days to investigate allegations and then make a decision whether or not to charge, and that period of 30 days can in fact be extended by another 7 days I understand. So in the meantime our focus is on their health and wellbeing and continuing to keep their families informed, as we have been doing, and also to carry out consular visits as and when we can.
JOURNALIST: Could the Government’s stance on the Adler shotgun jeopardise the success of the ABCC bill, if it risks David Leyonhjelm’s vote?
JULIE BISHOP: I don’t believe there’s a connection. We will continue with the ban on the Adler shotgun. We imposed it last August. This whole discussion is a distraction by Labor to take the media’s attention away from the union thuggery and the intimidation that we are seeing on the building and construction sites, and this is all coming to the fore because we are seeking to pass a law that will reinstate the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner to bring back the rule of law onto construction sites across Australia.
JOURNALIST: But if it’s really a distraction by Labor, is it helpful that the Nationals are also pushing this discussion about the Adler shotgun?
JULIE BISHOP: Well people have concerns about our gun laws. The Coalition is determined not to weaken our gun laws. They have served us well in the 20 years since they were established by the Howard Government and we want to ensure that we will keep our people safe in this country. But there is more to, for example, preventing a terrorist attack than just national gun laws. We also have to focus on a whole range of methods and behaviours that may well give rise to a terrorist attack. That’s the focus of the Australian Government, keeping our people as safe as possible.
JOURNALIST: The Federal government imposed this ban while COAG considered it, now that the New South Wales Police Commissioner says that he wants to relax those laws, would it be possible, would the Government consider imposing a permanent ban at a federal level as opposed to putting it to COAG?
JULIE BISHOP: These are all hypothetical situations. The state and territory governments have to finalise their review of the national gun laws because they are responsible for the regulation of firearms in this country.
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