Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (21:29): As someone who had a farm for many years, I know that firearms are widespread around our properties throughout the community. I was just trying to reflect on whether in all those years I can recall an incident where someone behaved irresponsibly with a firearm, and I can say with my hand on my heart that that has not been the case. But there are muppets out there, and that is why we have to have regulations and rules.
I am pleased to see this bill creates a higher standard for gun safes. Previously our legislation has been a lot more lenient than that in other states and gun owners could get away with storing their guns in wooden containers. This brings us more in line with the national standards by creating a standard of 1.6 millimetres for storage containers. For perspective, this is a relatively easy standard to meet given the cheapest safe at Bunnings is 2 millimetres. This is a sensible provision and provides firearm owners throughout Victoria with long-awaited clarity. My understanding is that many firearm owners have felt that up until now enforcement agencies have applied the current wording in the Firearms Act 1996 subjectively. By setting a standard, firearm owners can be sure they are now acting within the law.
This bill also introduces requirements to be placed on dealers sending firearms through the mail, especially regarding an individual proving their identity when firearms are being purchased. It will tighten regulatory standards for when licensed dealers hire, loan and dispose of firearms. The bill reduces the time that a registrable offender has to notify police of their return to Victoria from interstate from 14 days down to seven days after their return, another provision that strengthens our safety standards. There is the grandfathering provision for a reclassified firearm, a provision that has a lot of support among the industry. This means that if a certain firearm is reclassified, those with an existing licence for the firearm can still use it.
There has been some speculation from particular groups about changes to firearm prohibition orders. These amendments make no change to the thresholds and the criteria by which FPOs are issued. The existing FPO framework has many character tests, and there already exist a range of actions authorities can take to restrict firearm use when necessary. The FPO changes in this bill specifically target illegal firearm use. These are criminal networks we are talking about. The only change is that inspectors can now authorise FPOs. There have been some groups that have provided a view that this bill will have your local copper knocking on your door to take your firearms away for a minor traffic offence. This is not the case. Only senior police officers can issue FPOs, not your local cop. There are no changes to the issuing of FPOs for those firearm owners who are licensed and working within the law. I have been advised that there have been a thousand of these FPOs issued and only four to firearm owners. The rest have been to those conducting serious criminal activities.
This bill is measured and considered. I commend this bill to the house.