David Leyonhjelm guest post. It’s all about trust

In July 2015 the Abbott government introduced a customs regulation to prohibit imports of seven shot lever action shotguns. The announcement by the Prime Minister made clear it was part of the government’s one-announcement-per-week terrorism strategy. It was also said to be temporary, pending a review of the National Firearms Agreement involving the states and territories.

Around two weeks later the government was seeking my support to oppose an amendment to a bill relating to migration. Labor’s amendment raised no questions of rights or freedoms (it was to increase from one to two the number of independent people present when biometric data was collected from minors), and I was indifferent as to its fate.
That led to the now famous (or infamous) agreement in which the government agreed in writing to apply a sunset clause to the import ban, in exchange for my vote on the amendment.

We both acted on the deal. I voted with the government, and the government introduced a new regulation placing a limit of 12 months on the import ban. The ban was to be lifted on August 7 this year.

A week before the import ban was due to be lifted, it was reimposed. The Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan, told me that he never had any intention of allowing the shotguns to be imported. In other words, there had never been any intention of keeping to the bargain. When Tony Abbott chimed in, once it had been linked in the media to my vote on the reinstatement of the ABCC, it was clear that whether he knew about the deal of not, he would also have failed to honour it.

This places the government in a tricky position. Following the election, the government now requires the support of nine of the 11 crossbench senators for its legislation to pass. Securing that support is obviously more difficult if it cannot be trusted to negotiate in good faith. It sets the tone of negotiations before they have even begun.
Some in the media see this as part of the cut and thrust of politics. I do not, and nor do most (but not all) of my parliamentary colleagues. There was cut and thrust in negotiating the agreement, from which the government could have chosen to withdraw at any time. Instead it gave its word, which it then broke.

As for the merits of the import ban itself, it only applies to seven shot lever action shotguns. The five shot version can be imported and legally owned by sporting shooters. It is also possible to convert a five shot Adler into seven or more, simply by fitting a longer magazine tube under the barrel. It is not illegal and plenty of people are doing it.
The import ban achieves nothing and is not preventing the ownership and use of seven shot lever action shotguns.

Not that there is anything to fear from seven shot lever action shotguns. The presence of two extra rounds in the magazine does not transform it from a safe to a dangerous firearm. Neither a mass murder, nor a terrorist attack, is more likely because of those two extra rounds.

Relatively few firearm owners want to own a lever action shotgun, and even fewer care whether it holds five rounds or seven. However, every one of them knows the implications of creeping regulation on their sport. They know if it’s lever action shotguns today, it will be something else tomorrow. The Firearms Section in the Attorney Generals Department has had an agenda of incremental restrictions on firearms for over a decade. Semi-automatic pistols, pump action rifles, lever action shotguns and lever action rifles are on their list.

The government’s behaviour in relation to its deal with me is not only about trust, but about what’s being done to sporting shooters. It is yet another step in the process of disarming law-abiding Australians, of preventing them from enjoying their sporting, hunting and collecting activities, and towards the end envisaged by John Howard in 1996 in which only the police, military and security guards have guns.

And if the government can’t be trusted to keep to a deal with me, how can it be trusted if it owns all the guns?

David Leyonhjelm is a Senator for the Liberal Democrats

This entry was posted in Ethics and morality, Federal Politics, Guest Post. Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to David Leyonhjelm guest post. It’s all about trust

  1. Nov

    Hmm. Trust. Is that kinda like how, if a party promises to take action on 18C, then they will?
    Perhaps the LNP simply felt that keeping the sunset clause was not likely to pass a vote (intra-party vote for those who’d rather nitpick than get the point) at the time and therefore not worth pursuing.

  2. Mundi

    So David got played.

    Next time don’t agree to anything unless it’s all in the one bill itself.

    I doubt Tony even knew about this it seems so trivial.

  3. Roger

    Politician’s lie like bird’s sing.

    Gore Vidal

  4. a happy little debunker

    As you rightly point out – Abbott offered no deals.

    In fact, the sunset clause you ‘agreed’ too would have happened anyways, as it was a temporary measure until the review of the National Firearms Agreement – which would have banned the adler.

    The idea that these guns would have gotten the tick of approval from the States and Territories is somewhat laughable, as you have identified here – in that they seek to further limit access & restrict gun ownership.

    You bought a pig in a poke – and you knew it was a pig in a poke, before you paid up.

    I could say caveat emptor – but that would be incorrect. What I would say is beware of Trojans, their complete smegheads.

  5. Leo G

    In other words, there had never been any intention of keeping to the bargain.

    What assurances were included in the agreement that the sunset clause in the import ban would not be altered before the ban was lifted?
    It looks to me that the parties involved in the agreement had different views and expectations about the terms of the bargain at the time it was made, in which case it is not now simply a matter of breach of trust.

  6. teddy bear

    Either Leyonhjelm is more politically inept than Turnbull or he knew it was a dud deal all along and simply wanted it so he could make a fuss over it when the inevitable happened.

    Based on this post I am assuming the later.

  7. struth

    I don’t think this story is about trust as much as it is about naivety.

  8. I am a bit more worried about things like the loss of freedom of speech than I am about my non-constitutional right to bear arms.

    A bit more from the good Senator about 18C and issues of that ilk would be welcome.

    Leave this one to the representatives of the Shooters and Fishers.

  9. memoryvault

    So, the LDP Senator who happily sold the rest of down the creek with the reintroduction of an Emissions Trading Scheme, now lectures us politicians’ lack of trust.

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

  10. H B Bear

    Looks like the Senate is more dysfunctional than I thought. Passage of a migrational bill depends on the fate of a shotgun? And that is before you get to PHON, Lambie, Hunch and the Xylophone Medicants Party.

    Yep the States house of review is working perfectly. Honestly if this is the best that Australia’s bicameral system can do just get rid of the upper house and let the government rip. At least we have the option to throw them out every three years.

  11. mizaris

    When could any government ever be trusted?

  12. Anthony Park

    Whilst I agree with David that logically, an extra two rounds doesn’t raise the risk of a mass shooting.

    However, I think politically, pointing this out isn’t particularly shrewd. The Adler has now such a raised profile, I argue it does increase the chance that someone will get an Adler due to brand recognition and murder some folks. In the unlikely event that happens, David is on the record saying the threat is negligible, the media will have a field day and relegate him to the loony bin with Katter et al.

  13. Roger

    Ahem…Politicians lie like birds sing.

    What was I thinking!

  14. .

    memoryvault
    #2234030, posted on December 13, 2016 at 12:45 pm
    So, the LDP Senator who happily sold the rest of down the creek with the reintroduction of an Emissions Trading Scheme, now lectures us politicians’ lack of trust.

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

    Um, what?

  15. Empire GTHO Phase III

    So, the LDP Senator who happily sold the rest of down the creek with the reintroduction of an Emissions Trading Scheme, now lectures us politicians’ lack of trust.

    MV

    What’s the background on this?

  16. Slayer of Memes

    if the government can’t be trusted to keep to a deal with me

    You mean like the deal you and Senator Day had with Malcontent Termite where he would back your co-sponsored bill to repeal 18C?

    How is that one coming along Dave?

  17. closeapproximation

    Good one.

    Keep banging on about cigarettes and guns, that’ll help bring classical liberalism to the political mainstream.

  18. memoryvault

    What’s the background on this?

    The politicians and the bureaucracy have been trying to foist an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) onto us for over ten years. It started with John Howard, and has survived and progressed through seven changes of government. They finally achieved their aim with the “Safeguard Mechanism Regulation”, which came into effect as of July 1, 2016.

    Currently it only applies to fossil fuel power generating companies, however it was always intended to extend it to apply to all 292 companies currently on the Register originally set up under the Howard government, sponsored by Turnbull as then Minister for the Environment. Extending it is what last week’s kerfuffle regarding “energy intensity” was all about.

    The “Safeguard Mechanism” to enable all this, was sneaked through parliament in September/October 2015 without a vote. This happens when a proposed Regulation is tabled, and nobody objects to it. An objection is raised by proposing a motion that the Regulation be voted upon. Nobody proposed such a motion.

    Bob Day, Cory Bernardi, and David Leyonhjelm were all sitting Senators while the Regulation was tabled. None of them raised an objection by way of proposing a motion. None of them even had the good grace to publicly warn us we were being conned – again.

    Ergo, there are no “good guys”, only lying, cheating, conniving politicians.

  19. Fat Tony

    Philippa Martyr:I am a bit more worried about things like the loss of freedom of speech than I am about my non-constitutional right to bear arms. ”

    When the former is gone, it’s the latter that you will need.

  20. A Lurker

    I am a bit more worried about things like the loss of freedom of speech than I am about my non-constitutional right to bear arms.

    Agreed, without Freedom of Speech you simply won’t have the freedom to complain about any number of things – including types of firearms allowed.

    All other freedoms stem from Freedom of Speech.

    p.s. yay for tags.

  21. Mother Lode

    Ahem…Politicians lie like birds sing.

    Sleeping dogs lie.

    Some kind of canine somniloquy, I assume.

  22. teddy bear

    MV who was the genius who thought up that abomination? I can’t envision Abbott doing something like that I would imagine he would be more inclined to let it slip into the abyss, but I can’t put it past him I guess. Was this done by turnbull and would this be another reason that Abbott had to be knifed when he was?

  23. Myrddin Seren

    It is yet another step in the process of disarming law-abiding Australians, …….. and towards the end envisaged by John Howard in 1996 in which only the police, military and security guards have guns.

    Of course this assumes the criminal class will somehow not obtain access to guns – which is a foolish assumption. However, the criminal class is the criminal class and the political and legal classes expect no more of them.

    What really keeps the political, bureaucratic, judicial, academic, media and legal classes awake at night is the idea of regular folk armed. When someone otherwise ‘regular’ goes troppo with a gun, that is the cue for the media class to pounce and the other protected classes to spring in to action to disarm the proles.

  24. Rossini

    If you can’t blow your brains out with the first shot why do you need extra six………oh I forgot one toe at a time

  25. Mique

    Not that there is anything to fear from seven shot lever action shotguns. The presence of two extra rounds in the magazine does not transform it from a safe to a dangerous firearm. Neither a mass murder, nor a terrorist attack, is more likely because of those two extra rounds

    Bit of an own goal here. People who handle firearms for a living know only too well that there is plenty to fear from any shotgun from single-shot north to the maximum load available. In the wrong hands, seven shots are significantly more dangerous than five. In the right hands, the difference is insignificant. But it surprises me that a politician actually willing to do deals on these sorts of things would still be surprised when other politicians fail to honour them. One needs actual principles oneself if one plans to stand on points of principle.

  26. memoryvault

    teddy bear
    #2234152, posted on December 13, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Teddy Bear, the draft “Safeguard Mechanism Regulation” was circulated amongst Cabinet members on September 2, 2015, and adopted by them on 14 September 2015. Abbott was still the PM. The Regulation relied on three things. The continued existence of the Carbon Register initially established by Howard’s 2007 legislation, and Gillard’s “Australian Carbon Credit Units” (ACCU’s), plus a loophole in the May 2014 legislation that repealed the original Carbon Tax legislation. The loophole provided for the reintroduction of an ETS in the future.

    Abbott was the PM throughout.

    Who dreamed it all up?
    The bureaucrats back prior to 2007, of course.

  27. Empire GTHO Phase III

    MV

    Thanks for the background.

    When the regulation is tabled, is it a requirement that all members be present? What is the time limit for raising a motion to vote on it?

  28. teddy bear

    Thanks for that MV, a very sad state of affairs.

  29. jupes

    In the wrong hands, seven shots is significantly more dangerous than five. In the right hands, the difference is insignificant.

    What a load of crap.

    So if Monis had a seven round Adler you reckon he would be able to get off those last two extra shots (to make him significantly more dangerous than if he had a five round Adler) while receiving return fire from police with semi automatic weapons.

    Meanwhile a bloke “who handles firearms for a living” can supposedly fire at the same rate regardless whether he has a five or seven round magazine.

    Lol!

  30. memoryvault

    When the regulation is tabled, is it a requirement that all members be present? What is the time limit for raising a motion to vote on it?

    I haven’t as yet been able to pin that down GTHO. There is no requirement that any Member be present at any given time. However “tabled” means for a period of time – it has been suggested fifteen days, and I read elsewhere suggesting a month. regardless, when documents are “tabled” the individual politicians all get their own hard copy.

    In this case the Regulation was endorsed by Cabinet on 14 September, 2016, and obtained Assent on October 15, 2016. Presumably it was “tabled” for most, if not all of the intervening time.

  31. teddy bear

    MV you sure of that date as Abbott was booted out on 14 September 2015. True the vote was late but pretty much all the talk of the day was about Turnbull vs Abbott. Can’t imagine anything much productive was done that day.

  32. Combine Dave

    if the government can’t be trusted to keep to a deal with me

    You mean like the deal you and Senator Day had with Malcontent Termite where he would back your co-sponsored bill to repeal 18C?

    How is that one coming along Dave?

    Sure, but Turnbull is different.

    He’s more overtly cool with open borders and a “free market” ETS.

  33. memoryvault

    teddy bear
    #2234199, posted on December 13, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    It’s simply the date recorded as it having been adopted by the Cabinet, Teddy Bear. In practice, it may occurred any day after it was circulated – ie – September 3, 2015. As far as I know, there is no way to confirm when it actually happened, short of having access to the minutes of Cabinet meetings. Regrettably, I’m not on the distribution list.

  34. teddy bear

    Thanks again MV, sucks that they are able to do that.

  35. Cannibal

    So if Monis had a seven round Adler…

    Irrelevant. Monis had an illegally obtained firearm and was therefore breaking the law. Whether he illegally obtained a 7 round or 5 round lever action firearm is a moot point given that he was breaking law anyway. As DL points out, lack of importation of the 7 round Adler will simply result in legally registered shooters obtaining the 5 round version and modifying to how ever many rounds they might desire. So the import ban has no effect ultimately on public safety. Politicians take our money and then spend it doing precisely nothing. Good “work” if you can get it I guess.

  36. Gary

    I am mostly sympathetic to LDP but this horse trading for nickel n dime stuff is pissing me off.
    Don’t look for trust in your opponents, earn trust and integrity from your supporters by looking at each issue on its merits.
    To raped up in the process and to needy for friends.

  37. .

    National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (Safeguard Mechanism) Rule 2015
    Registered: 08/10/2015

    Tabled on 12/10/15 in the Senate.

    Check the Legislation Act. Until 2 Dec to disallow it.

    They were debating the Fair Work Amendments and Superannuation”reforms” at the time.

    A stuff up maybe, but nothing malicious.

  38. Pedro the Ignorant

    In the wrong hands, seven shots is significantly more dangerous than five. In the right hands, the difference is insignificant.

    Bullshit. Pants wetting bullshit. Hysterical pants wetting bullshit.

    Worthy of John Howard c. 1996.

  39. Art Vandelay

    MV who was the genius who thought up that abomination? I can’t envision Abbott doing something like that I would imagine he would be more inclined to let it slip into the abyss, but I can’t put it past him I guess. Was this done by turnbull and would this be another reason that Abbott had to be knifed when he was?

    According to the reports I’ve seen, it was cooked up by Hunt with Abbott’s express approval. Abbott is just as bad as the rest of them.

  40. memoryvault

    A stuff up maybe, but nothing malicious.

    Of course not. Legislation adding around 5% to the nation’s power bills slip through parliament all the time, without being noticed, let alone challenged. Especially ones that have been ten years in making and allegedly killed off at least three times. Just a very loooong stuff-up.

    Move along folks. Nothing to see here.

    Oh lookie, over there. A seven shot shotgun. Oooh.

  41. .

    MV stop being such a dick.

    The government can push through regulation because they can simply increase the volume and the Senate and House could do jackshit.

    This is a flaw of the system. If delegated legislation had to be passed in the ordinary fashion, this would not happen.

  42. memoryvault

    According to the reports I’ve seen, it was cooked up by Hunt with Abbott’s express approval. Abbott is just as bad as the rest of them.

    True, Art. It’s just an amalgamation of Howard’s 2007 legislation, with Gillard’s 2011 Carbon Tax legislation, raised via a loophole in Abbott’s 2014 Carbon Tax repeal legislation, with a new start date for the ETS July 1, 2016, instead of the original July 1, 2015.

  43. Tel

    This is the one:

    https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2015L01637

    Personally, I don’t see anything in that to create a new property right. I agree that delegated legislation (especially of this level of complexity) blows, but there’s no trading system, no carbon certificates, nothing up for sale that can later be claimed as property.

  44. memoryvault

    The government can push through regulation because they can simply increase the volume and the Senate and House could do jackshit.

    From Parliament of Australia Infosheet #7 – Making Laws:

    Delegated legislation must be authorised by an Act, must be presented to both Houses of the Parliament and can be disallowed (vetoed) by a motion agreed to by either House.

    http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/House_of_Representatives/Powers_practice_and_procedure/00_-_Infosheets/Infosheet_7_-_Making_Laws

    Nobody claimed Day, Bernardi or Leyonhjelm could have stopped it, Dot. Only that they could have made its existence public by proposing a vote. They didn’t. Instead they chose to cooperate with the government and keep its passage basically a secret, as did Labor and the Greens. Perhaps I hold my “good guys” to a higher standard than you.

  45. Tel

    The government can push through regulation because they can simply increase the volume and the Senate and House could do jackshit.

    Interesting question whether the Senate could hammer it down with a sweeping disallowance motion. Anyhow, they aren’t going to try. For reference there’s a link to the current contents of the “table” so pull finger, check it regularly and write your critter.

    http://www.rssfeeds.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/leginstruments/Senate_Disallowable_Instruments_List

    Also says how many days each item has left on the whack-a-mole board.

  46. Tel

    Nobody claimed Day, Bernardi or Leyonhjelm could have stopped it, Dot. Only that they could have made its existence public by proposing a vote. They didn’t.

    The existence is always public, it’s right there on the APH website.

    May not be well publicised but you don’t need Leyonhjelm to do that job for you.

  47. memoryvault

    May not be well publicised but you don’t need Leyonhjelm to do that job for you.

    Fair enough Tel.
    But the same could be said about the seven shot Adler shotgun.
    Yet on one of these issues we have very public outrageous outrage.
    And on the other we have crickets chirping.
    Apparently there are more people buying shotguns than paying power bills.

  48. iampeter

    According to the reports I’ve seen, it was cooked up by Hunt with Abbott’s express approval. Abbott is just as bad as the rest of them.

    And before that it all started with the Howard government which I often argue is one of, if not the most, left wing governments in Australia’s history. Howard gov created the climate office in 1998 and it all went downhill from there.

    It would be more accurate to say that mainstream Conservatives are as bad as any lefties.

  49. rickw

    I am a bit more worried about things like the loss of freedom of speech than I am about my non-constitutional right to bear arms.

    Which one underwrites the other?

    Australian Governments are giving a serious lesson to all of the potential dangers of an elected government and a public with no ability to counter in a tangible way. Neither side in politics gives a shit about anything but their own agenda, least of all what the public thinks. How dangerous are they? A bunch of poor old codgers is about to find out, I guarantee you that the hunchback of spring streets euthanasia program will kill more innocents than Rudds pink batts fiasco.

  50. Combine Dave

    Politicians take our money and then spend it doing precisely nothing. Good “work” if you can get it I guess

    The fault also lays with a lazy and disinterested general public who refuse to hold politicians to account (not to mention an ideologically compliant media).

  51. Eddystone

    I am a bit more worried about things like the loss of freedom of speech than I am about my non-constitutional right to bear arms.

    Every Communist must grasp the truth; “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

    “Problems of War and Strategy” (November 6, 1938), Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 224.

  52. Smufti

    Any Australian politician advocating the liberalisation of our gun laws is living in cloud cuckoo land.
    If more firearms were the solution to increased gun violence, the USA would be the safest country in the world.
    Statistically, it is the most dangerous.

  53. Smufti

    Bullshit. Pants wetting bullshit. Hysterical pants wetting bullshit.

    “The Ignorant” – indeed.

    The last thing we need in this country is fact deniers like Leyonhjelm talking up the liberalization of our effective gun legislation.
    The hysterics are the 2nd Amendment lunatics, who, for now at least, are on the other side of the Pacific. There is, however, a hard core of gun wankers who deny history and fact, and would have the transpacific paranoia in this country.
    It’s very simple proposition, the safest developed countries are those with the lowest gun ownership rates.
    Some research –
    The US has an enormous firearm problem compared to other high-income countries with much higher rates of homicide and firearm-related suicide. Compared to 2003 estimates, the US firearm death rate remains unchanged while firearm death rates in other countries fell. Thus, the already high relative rates of firearm homicide, firearm suicide and unintentional firearm death in the US compared to the other high-income countries rose between 2003 and 2010.

    Violent Death Rates: The United States Compared to Other High-Income OECD Countries, 2010
    Article in The American journal of medicine 129(3) · November 2015 

    And –

    The US homicide rates were 6.9 times higher than rates in the other high-income countries, driven by firearm homicide rates that were 19.5 times higher. For 15-year olds to 24-year olds, firearm homicide rates in the United States were 42.7 times higher than in the other countries. For US males, firearm homicide rates were 22.0 times higher, and for US females, firearm homicide rates were 11.4 times higher. The US firearm suicide rates were 5.8 times higher than in the other countries, though overall suicide rates were 30% lower. The US unintentional firearm deaths were 5.2 times higher than in the other countries. Among these 23 countries, 80% of all firearm deaths occurred in the United States, 86% of women killed by firearms were US women, and 87% of all children aged 0 to 14 killed by firearms were US children.

    Homicide, suicide, and unintentional firearm fatality: comparing the United States with other high-income countries, 2003.
    Richardson EG1, Hemenway D.


    The high firearm ownership rate in the USA (born of paranoia) is the single greatest contributor to their firearm fatality rates. If more guns made people safer, the USA would be the safest country in the world. In fact, it is the most dangerous of high income OECD member countries.

    It’s public health problem. It has nothing to do with “rights”.

  54. Jackie

    It’s about time that the Senate started to do the job for which it was created…. REVIEW legislation not horse trade narrow interests of their party rather than do what is best for Australia.

  55. Petros

    Sorry to break it to you, Smufti, but the reason the US statistics are so bad is that young black and Hispanic men keep shooting each other in high numbers. Have a look at the FBI data and start reading AWR Hawkins at Breitbart.

  56. Diogenes

    Smufti,
    You also seem to forget that the highest number of shootings occur in states with the toughest anti gun laws

  57. Gab

    And there was a deal made with Turnbull who agreed to support Bob Day’s bill on amendments to 18C. You trusted Turnbull then and a few days later he announced he wouldn’t be supporting the bill.

    Only a fool trusts politicians.

  58. Gab

    Also, Abbott is not the PM. Hasn’t been for a few years now so I’m not sure why you’re rehashing and lamenting what he did/didn’t do back then.

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