Turnbull Promises Our Gun Laws Are Safe From Senate Games

David Leyonhjelm tells the government it's now more difficult to get his support.

18/10/2016 2:10 PM AEDT | Updated 18/10/2016 7:07 PM AEDT
Andrew Meares, Fairfax
Senator David Leyonhjelm says "I feel as if I have been deceived"

CANBERRA – John Howard's legacy on gun control, post the Port Arthur massacre, is a strong one and the Labor Party know it.

It is, according to the Prime Minister Tuesday, "one of the great prides of the Coalition."

That's why the Federal Opposition has jumped on a fresh sniff that the Turnbull Government may allow a watering down of gun laws in exchange for crossbench support to pass industrial relations laws to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission and establish a Registered Organisations Commission.

And they have an unlikely ally, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

"Disturbing to see reports of horse-trading on gun laws. ABCC should be supported on its merits," Mr Abbott tweeted.

But is the horse trading actually happening? Gun fan, libertarian and Democrat Liberal Senator David Leyonhjelm wants a lift to the ban on the importation of the seven shot, rapid fire Adler shotgun.

It's a ban introduced by the Abbott Government in 2015 and Senator Leyonhjelm is now accusing the Turnbull Government of reneging on a deal to lift the ban.

"I feel as if I have been deceived," Senator Leyonhjelm told reporters in Canberra. "I've been dudded ... they did a deal with me and then they welshed on it."

But Senator Leyonhjelm has conceded he is not trading the gun ban "in isolation," but "they've made it more difficult to get my support on the ABCC bill now. So we will see where it leads."

"This is a matter of trust. (The Government) will be seeking my support for the next three years at various times. This is an issue."

Emboldened by Abbott's social media diplomacy and the stance of Senator Leyonhjelm, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten tried Tuesday to get Turnbull to rule out watering down John Howard's legacy. He moved, but failed on the numbers, to suspend standing orders in the House.

"The Prime Minister has on at least five occasions just this morning refused to rule out trading away John Howard's gun laws to pass the Abbott Government's industrial relations bills," he said.

If you listen to the Prime Minister, no, it is not happening. The import ban on the Adler shotgun is "set in stone."

But Turnbull's language on the actual negotiations has not been clear. He's implied it is an issue for the states and territories.

"That ban will remain in place until such time as there is a satisfactory reclassification of these guns by the COAG committee," the Prime Minister told parliament.

"The national firearms agreement is our achievement. It is John Howard's achievement."

"The 1996 agreement is set. That's our platform, we stand by it."

While Turnbull has shut the gun debate down for now, it's become a case of wait an see for the Government's IR bills.

The bills passed the Lower House on Tuesday evening and are due to be put to the Senate after it resumes on November 7.

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