Interview with ABC AM – 18 April 2012

Topics: Firearms, anti-gang laws.

COMPERE: The Federal Home Affairs Minister says he’s made an offer to state governments to create national laws to help tackle the upsurge in gun violence. In Sydney there have been dozens of drive-by shootings this year, many of which are linked to bikie gangs. A former senior police officer says he thinks the situation is likely to get worse. Barbara Miller reports.

BARBARA MILLER: Jason Clare says the wave of gun crime hitting the city is taking its toll.

JASON CLARE: People in western Sydney are scared and rightfully so. I live there, I talk to a lot of people. People tell me: “There’s shootings going on in my neighbourhood, I’m worried that a stray bullet or someone shooting at the wrong house could end in disaster.”

BARBARA MILLER: The Federal Home Affairs Minister says police are facing an uphill battle.

JASON CLARE: The police are doing a good job. They’ve arrested a lot of crooks in the last few weeks and seized a lot of guns. There’s a lot more that are still out there.

BARBARA MILLER: Attempts by state governments to introduce anti-bikie legislation have been dogged by legal challenges. The New South Wales parliament has now passed an Amended Criminal Organisation’s Control bill but the federal Home Affairs Minister says state should consider whether national laws would be better.

JASON CLARE: I’ve made the offer that if you want national anti-gang laws then refer the power to do that to the Commonwealth and we’ll legislate, we’ll create powerful national anti-gang laws. States and territories didn’t support that but it’s a standing offer.

BARBARA MILLER: Do you think that would be more effective?

JASON CLARE: Well look this is early days. The new laws that New South Wales have introduced have got to be tested and see whether they’re effective in issuing declarations against bikie gangs and controlling the behaviour of their members. But I’m open to suggestions. If they want to go down the approach of powerful national laws, refer the power to the Commonwealth and we’ll go down that path.

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