Written by Teagan Matthews, prepared for online by Holly Parkinson.
Home affairs minister Peter Dutton has suggested giving gun lobbies a seat at the table to advise the government on firearms policy.
However, Greens gun control spokeswoman Senator Lee Rhiannon calls the suggestion dangerous, saying it will encourage weaker gun laws.
“The interest of firearms industries is to increase the profits of companies that import guns and sell guns,” she says.
“Now that’s what they’re on the planet to do but what goes arm in arm with that is an interest in weakening the gun laws so more people have guns, more people are shooting guns.”
According to Senator Rhiannon, the proposal could lead to a US-style system where the gun lobby has seemingly unlimited influence on policy.
“We don’t want a repeat of that in Australia and what Minister Dutton is proposing about his advisory body that is dominated or completely controlled by gun lobby people, we’re then heading in the US direction and that’s wrong,” Senator Rhiannon says.
Public Health Association of Australia CEO Michael Moore says, if anything, gun laws in Australia need bolstering.
“Australia has very sensible gun laws but those gun laws need to be strengthened, rather than weakened,” says Mr Moore.
“The only thing that the [firearm] industry can consider doing is trying to sell more of their product and that’s something that’ll undermine Australian gun laws and the safety of ordinary people.”
However, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party representative Robert Borsak says an advisory board would be a welcome change.
Mr Borsak says he agrees with Mr Dutton’s suggestion and while this approach isn’t new it might at least give stakeholders a voice.
“The previous labour government had [an] advisory board that they worked with, not that they took much notice of what that board said or did, but at least they were listening.”
Mr Borsak says claims public safety would be endangered by an industry-led advisory council were not only unfounded but unreasonable and unfair to gun owners and enthusiasts.
“The fact that we have people actually advocating it as a public health problem indicates the sort of politics that’s being played.
“As if to say a person like me is potentially insane, and I’m a public health risk, that’s a disgrace.”
The Queensland Greens and Public Health Association of Australia have asked the Prime Minister to reject the proposed advisory board immediately.