Citation(s) from the literature library

Australia. 2003 ‘National Small Arms Report.’ National Report of Australia on its Implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (UNPoA). New York, NY: Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations. 5 May

Relevant contents

National Small Arms Report

Australia also has in place strict and comprehensive controls and licence procedures to regulate the import and export of small arms. These controls regulate the legal trade in small arms, which in turn helps to prevent illicit trafficking.

All proposed exports from Australia of defence and related goods, including small arms, are subject to comprehensive, case-by-case government review and licence procedures. Licence approvals are issued only where export is consistent with Australia's international obligations and broader interests, including security and human rights considerations.

Australia's strict policy on illegal arms transfers is illustrated by the various conditions under which exports of military small arms and military goods are expressly prohibited, including:

- To countries against which the United Nations Security Council has imposed a mandatory arms embargo

- To governments that seriously violate their citizens' rights, unless there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against those citizens

- Where foreign and strategic policy interests outweigh export benefits.

Australia has also decided that in certain circumstances it may be necessary to prevent the export of non-military lethal goods (including certain types of small arms, such as hunting or sporting weapons) to particular destinations on foreign policy, defence or other national interest grounds. As with military goods, the export of non-military lethal goods also requires an export licence or permit.

Australia fully complies with third party transfer undertakings and obligations provided to the original exporting State. The discharge of these obligations includes notification of the original exporting State of the intention to retransfer. Australia also requires end-use and end-user certification for small arms and light weapons from designated recipient states. Military firearms are only exported to a foreign government or its authorised representative.

Customs inspections are thorough and include use of sophisticated technologies and targetted inspections based on intelligence information.

In March 2000, Australia increased penalties for illegal firearms trafficking, including some types of small arms. Through amendments to the Customs Act 1901, criminal offences relating to smuggling or importing firearms were made punishable on conviction by a penalty of up to $250,000 and/or 10 years imprisonment.

On 20 December 2002, the Australian Government banned the import of all prohibited handguns by sporting shooters (that is, all handguns other than those which meet the prescribed physical characteristics, including barrel length, calibre and shot capacity) by amendment to its Customs legislation. States and Territories will have their own legislation in place by July 2003.

Tight controls are applied to all other firearms imports. For lawful handguns (such as for the private security industry), importers now require permission from State and Territory police prior to the importation and sale occurring, and limits are placed on the stocks of newly imported handguns that importers/dealers can hold (handguns stocks over and above the set limits must be held by the Australian Customs Service). The amendments will also extend controls to handgun frames/receivers in the same fashion as complete handguns. This is to prevent the possibility of handgun frames/receivers being legally imported as parts and subsequently assembled as an operative firearm or used to convert a permitted handgun into a prohibited handgun.

ID: Q3225

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