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Fair and Reasonable Update: Royal Commission delivers report tomorrow

By Michael Dowling, COLFO

Tomorrow the Government is set to receive the report of the Royal Commission into the Christchurch terrorist attack. According to the Royal Commission, the Commissioners and secretariat conducted close to 400 meetings and interviews in the course of the inquiry since it was established on 8 April 2019.

 

The Royal Commission has said publicly that the report has been written so that it can be published in full without the need for redaction to protect national security or privacy or confidentiality matters.

 

Tomorrow the Government is set to receive the report of the Royal Commission into the Christchurch terrorist attack.  According to the Royal Commission, the Commissioners and secretariat conducted close to 400 meetings and interviews in the course of the inquiry since it was established on 8 April 2019. 

 

“The Royal Commission has said publicly that the report has been written so that it can be published in full without the need for redaction to protect national security or privacy or confidentiality matters.”

 

The Royal Commission has said publicly that the report has been written so that it can be published in full without the need for redaction to protect national security or privacy or confidentiality matters.

 

WHEN WILL WE GET TO READ THE REPORT?

The Inquiries Act directs that the report must be presented by the appropriate minister (in this instance the Minister of Internal Affairs) to Parliament as soon as “practicable”. 

 

Although Parliament opens today (indeed, our former spokeswomen, Nicole is being sworn in as an MP!), the media reports that the Government is saying the report will be released “before Christmas” because it is lengthy.

 

So if they don’t table it in Parliament tomorrow, it will be next week or the following week (when Parliament finishes for the year). It would be very poor form from the Minister to only table it next year. But according to our lawyers, there is no meaningful way of enforcing this provision other than getting the media to shine the spotlight on the delay.

 

WE’VE WAITED LONG ENOUGH FOR THESE ANSWERS

We are very concerned that the Government plans to bury the Commission’s report and release it just before Christmas - to minimise negative media attention.

 

COLFO has just issued this pre-emptive media release, so the journalists have the right questions in their mind when they receive the report.

 

We’re also calling for the Government to release the report immediately. We’ve all waited long enough.

 

VITAL FIREARM LICENSING ANSWERS EXPECTED 

Firearm owners targeted by last year’s law changes expect the Royal Commission’s report into the Christchurch Mosque shootings will deliver answers on a vital matter avoided by the Police and Government for nearly two years; how Tarrant got his licence despite signs that he could not meet the “fit and proper” test.

 

COLFO Chairman Michael Dowling says members were surprised that Tarrant had a firearm licence. “As soon as our members learned of Tarrant’s background, they asked how a recently arrived lone Australian could get a licence. They wanted to know how Tarrant’s application was handled, given that Police were supposed to interview character referees who had known him for at least three years.

 

“We are very concerned that the Government plans to bury the Commission’s report and release it just before Christmas - to minimise negative media attention.”

 

Dowling says COLFO members had objected over the past five years to undermining of the “fit and proper” licensing system by budget cuts and management changes.

 

Instead of admitting the management shortfalls, the Government and Police tried to pin responsibility for Tarrant’s murders on responsible firearm owners and the licensing system.

 

If the Royal Commission confirms that Police failures precipitated this tragedy, their extraordinary powers under the Arms Act should be removed immediately.

 

New Zealand needs a body whose sole job it is to make firearms licencing work. We must take away the temptation for Police to divert funding and resources from that vital task,” Dowling says.

 

QUESTIONS THE ROYAL COMMISSION SHOULD ANSWER:

  • How did an Australian without NZ connections get a licence?
  • To what extent did the process rely on on-line questions and miss face-to-face assessments?
  • Did Police enquire about Tarrant in Australia? If not, why not?
  • Who did Police contact as character referees? What judgment did they apply to their suitability?
  • Were the character referees required to have known Tarrant for at least three years? If not, why not?
  • Would Police have been better equipped to apply the fit and proper person test to Tarrant if they had not abandoned the previous system that closely involved local non-sworn people?
  • Did Tarrant’s character referees lie to Police; and if so, what has happened to them?
  • Did Tarrant have a licence endorsement that allowed him to purchase the firearm he used to murder his victims? If so, why?  If not, was the firearm illegally sourced, and if so, from where?
  • Would he have been able to get the large magazines or other features that facilitated his murders if previous firearms community warnings about gaps in the endorsement system had been acted on?
  • Was anyone found to have attempted to remove or change evidence about the collection of data on Tarrant’s fit and proper status?
  • Were the Minister and Prime Minister told about failures in vetting Tarrant, and if so, why did they subsequently continue with the firearms ban and Arms Act changes knowing they were not related to the murders?
  • If the government did know, why were Police not replaced with a special purpose authority in the law change last year?

 

As soon as we get the report, we’ll provide a link, and a summary of the findings. In the meantime, thank you for your support.  

 

Michael Dowling

Chairman

Council of Licenced Firearms Owners

(on behalf of the Fair and Reasonable Campaign)

 

Keep up with Fair and Reasonable on Facebook.

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