Australian Coat of Arms

Member for Blaxland

Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government

Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness 

Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB - 16 April 2012

Topic: Sydney Shootings

BEN FORDHAM: Let's get into the news of the day, and can you believe it, nineteen shootings in seventeen days? I suppose you can believe it because it seems like every morning we wake up to another incident. Forty-one per cent increase when it comes to shooting into premises, in the two years to last December. There are now calls for all semi-automatic handguns to be banned. These calls have come from the National Coalition for Gun Control.

Now Jason Clare is the Minister for Home Affairs, he's on the line.

Mr Clare, good afternoon.

JASON CLARE: Good afternoon Ben.

BEN FORDHAM: Thank you for talking to us, what's your solution?

JASON CLARE: Well nothing beats good police work and police need intelligence in order to arrest crooks and take guns off the street. I think the police have done a very good job over the last few weeks and they've arrested a lot of crooks and taken a lot of guns off the street. But the big problem we've got is there's still a lot out there.

The work that the Australian Crime Commission's done for me tells me that there's tens of thousands of illegal firearms out there, and the crooks have got ready access to them.

BEN FORDHAM: Okay, well I heard there the call from the Coalition for Gun Control saying look, even sporting shooters with licenses shouldn't have access to semi-automatic handguns. Have you got a thought on that?

JASON CLARE: Well I guess the problem with that argument Ben is that the crooks have got the guns. As I said, tens of thousands of guns already out there. You ban those guns you might create a problem for sporting shooters, but you're not creating a problem for the crooks in Western Sydney because they've already got them. And these are guns that are ten, twenty, thirty years old.

The police seized a gun last year that was more than a hundred years old. So they don't have a use-by date. They run out of bullets, but they don't have a use-by date. And when crooks have got them, they'll keep using them.

BEN FORDHAM: Okay, now you may be the Minister for Home Affairs based in the nation's capital, but this is close to home for you. You're a Cabramatta boy, you live in the western suburbs, you were born in - or raised in Cabramatta. What does it mean to you when you see this happening to your back yard?

JASON CLARE: Well you're right, I grew up in Cabramatta, I saw what heroin did to Cabramatta. I had kids that I went to school with that became heroin addicts. There were kids I went to school with that ended up going to jail. I saw people being stabbed. You will remember the stories, Ben, of ten years ago of people being shot...

BEN FORDHAM: For sure.

JASON CLARE: ...in Cabramatta. You've got different gangs but the same problem. Organised criminals that are fighting over drugs and over turf, and they're shooting up houses in my neighbourhood, in our neck of the woods, every night, or almost every night. And there's a lot of people that are legitimately worried. They might be trying to send a message to other criminals, but the real risk is that an innocent person is going to be hit.

One of the houses that got hit last night, the criminal they were targeting is in jail – and they know he's in jail. But they shot at his house anyway and his mum and dad are there. So there's a risk that an elderly couple could be killed. Another house that got hit last night had five kids in the house. Now can you imagine a bullet, a stray bullet, going through a house and killing a child? You know, that's what keeps me up at night.

BEN FORDHAM: Yeah, it's gutless. I appreciate your time. Thank you very much for coming on Minister.

JASON CLARE: Not at all Ben.

BEN FORDHAM: Jason Clare, Minister for Home Affairs. And as he said there, raised in Cabramatta, lives in Western Sydney. And it's happening in his backyard as well, and it is only a matter of time.

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