Photography: Glenn Hunt/AAP
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has called for a national cabinet briefing on the challenges of implementing a national gun register following the fatal shooting last week of two Queensland police officers and a neighbor in Wieambilla .
The Premiers of Queensland and New South Wales this week backed a fresh push by the Queensland Police Union to set up a national gun register, first recommended following the massacres of Hoddle and Queen streets 35 years ago.
Similar recommendations were made after the Port Arthur shootings in 1996 and the Lindt Cafe siege in 2014, but reform was undermined by inconsistent and often incomplete or inaccurate data held by states and territories.
Albanese said on Tuesday that the national cabinet would discuss reforming the way information about gun ownership is collected and collated across state and territory borders next year.
Related: Far-right access to firearms is a ‘significant concern’ and a national registry is needed, Victorian inquiry warns
“I am certainly ready to engage with states and territories on how there can be better national consistency and national information that can serve the interests of police in the performance of their duties,” he said. he declares.
Albanese’s comments come ahead of a memorial service for Constables Rachel McCrow and Matthew Arnold on Wednesday after the couple were ambushed and shot dead at a remote Queensland property last week.
Four officers traveled to the property, around 300km west of Brisbane, to search for missing NSW school principal Nathaniel Train.
They were ambushed by Train, his brother Gareth, and Gareth’s wife, Stacey. Neighbor Alan Dare, 58, was also shot dead by the armed attackers.
It is understood that Nathaniel Train had a firearms license in New South Wales, but it is unclear whether police on the ground were aware of this when they approached the property.
The Australian Firearms Information Network project, run by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, would allow police and law enforcement to check if someone has an interstate firearms licence. However, he has so far proven elusive.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has pledged to elevate the reform to the national cabinet and has received support in principle from her NSW counterpart, Dominic Perrottet.
On Monday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he would push for the changes to be recommended by his state’s police.
Related: The need for vigilance over Australian gun laws – with Lenore Taylor
Victoria’s Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt said any change that provided officers in different states with more information to support operations could ‘only be viewed as a positive’.
A Victoria Police spokesman said he supported a discussion on “how we can effectively tackle serious and organized gun crime”.
The Australian Federal Police Association – which has requested the National Firearms Database since 2019 – said the policy required Commonwealth leadership and funding for its implementation and running costs permanent.
“It’s going to take people putting their egos aside and coming up with a system to decide which is the best system to use in Australia and then everyone will adopt it,” association chairman Alex Caruana said.
Related: Australian police renew calls for national gun database following US mass shootings
Dr Samara McPhedran, honorary associate professor at the University of Queensland, said the problem lay in data sharing rather than laws, which she said had been reformed several times and were largely consistent.
“The lack of information here is whether all states currently provide information to this national system and what the data sharing protocols are,” she said.
Rick Sarre, a retired criminologist, pointed to laws covering defamation, de facto relationships, corporations and insurance as examples of reform where the Commonwealth had no power to force a national system but achieved Australia-wide consistency due to “the virtue of political will”.