Last week I returned to a rather icy cold Canberra for the first week of Federal Parliament sitting since the winter break.
As anticipated, it was a very busy week with the appointment of a new Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Hon Tony Smith MP and a special joint Coalition party room meeting in which the issue of a free vote on same sex marriage was discussed and resolved.
In addition to this, I spent last week attending multiple meetings and inquiring about the temporary ban on the importation of certain lever action shotguns and the impending review of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA).
These issues have arisen as a result of the Martin Place Siege Review. In January, the review recommended that the Commonwealth, States and Territories simplify the regulation of the legal firearms market through an update of the technical elements of the NFA.
After speaking with a number of licensed shooters and gun shop owners across the Parkes electorate, I have been working very hard to resolve the problems that the temporary ban and review could inflict upon the shooters of Western NSW.
Many people in my electorate have legitimate reasons to own and use firearms for a range of reasons including pest and vermin control and recreational sporting activities. As a farmer myself, I very much understand the concerns raised with me that the temporary ban and review of the NFA could see good, honest, law-abiding citizens being treated like criminals.
In an effort to address these concerns, I was very pleased that on Wednesday last week, the Minister for Justice and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Counter Terrorism, the Hon Michael Keenan MP announced that the Government will establish an Industry Reference Group (IRG) as part of its consultation under the review of the NFA.
The purpose of the IRG is to provide advice to Government and the Firearms and Weapons Policy Working Group, which is comprised of representatives of all Australian Governments, on the technical elements of the NFA.
Minister Keenan has indicated that the IRG will operate in addition to other stakeholder consultations that will be conducted by him and the working group.
I believe that Mr Keenan’s announcement is a step in the right direction and I am confident that I can now see a way through to addressing the concerns of all shooters and gun shop owners in Western NSW.
National Science Week 2015 will run from 15-23 August 2015 and is an opportunity for everyone in Western NSW and right around Australia to participate in community events, meet scientists and explore numerous science topics.
Now in its eighteenth year, National Science Week is one of Australia’s largest festivals and is expected to reach an audience of more than one million people. The week aims to bring science to the community and get everyone involved in science.
National Science Week is proudly supported by the Australian Government through the Inspiring Australia initiative and government science agencies such as CSIRO.
This year the Government is investing around $9.7 billion in science, research and innovation.
I encourage everyone across the Parkes electorate to get involved in local activities, a list of which can be found at www.scienceweek.net.au.