Former prime minister Tony Abbott has ramped up his commentary on gun legislation, saying no “serious Coalition government” would allow the importation of rapid-fire weapons.
Mr Abbott dismissed reports that he negotiated with crossbench Senator David Leyonhjelm on a ban on the high-capacity, lever-action Adler shotgun – a ban which has been in place since 2015.
“With a heightened terror threat, the last thing we should have is a flood of rapid-fire guns coming into our country,” he said.
“As far as I was concerned, we were never going to allow these guns into our country.”
His comments follow confirmation that NSW Police Minister Troy Grant is pushing to move the Adler into to a category which would allow gun users to import the firearm.
Mr Abbott said the federal government should do “whatever it needs to do” to avoid the importation of the weapon.
“There is just no way that any serious Coalition government, any government in the tradition of John Howard, should be allowing rapid-fire weapons on a very large scale into our country,” he said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten cited the comments in question time, asking Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull whether Friday’s meeting would see a change in position on gun legislation.
Mr Turnbull cited his “distinguished predecessor” in his response, adding that the Coalition would not water down the gun laws put in place by former prime minister John Howard.
“To this date, despite our best efforts, the states and territories haven’t agreed on the way in which the [Adler] guns should be reclassified,” he said.
“Until they do, they will not be imported, full stop. That is our position.”
Turnbull pushing mandatory sentencing for gun smugglers
Mr Turnbull also used question time to shift the debate to illegal firearms, calling on Labor to support mandatory sentencing for gun smugglers.
“We ask them to strengthen our laws, to stop these illegal weapons coming into Australia, and what have they done?” he said.
“They have rebuffed it. They have no interest in keeping Australia safer. We will not be given lectures on national security from this reckless opposition.”
Labor has previously questioned whether such sentencing is effective.
Mr Shorten attempted to suspend standing orders twice on Tuesday over the Adler debate, which his deputy Tanya Plibersek described as “guns for votes”, claiming the PM was open to lifting the ban if it meant it could gain the support of key crossbench senators.