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LEWMAC Bill

Please click here to read my speech on the Statues Amendment (Firearms Offences) Bill. 

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Mr WINGARD ( Mitchell ) ( 15:40 :07 ): I am pleased to be speaking first today but note that I am not the lead speaker on this bill. I start by saying I am pleased to support this bill. Lewis McPherson should be about to celebrate his 21st birthday with his family and a horde of friends. Instead his mum is planning a party for his mates, but Lewis will not be there. She is planning a lot of food, music and a few drinks and there is sure to be loads of yellow which was Lewis' favourite colour.

Lewis was in the volleyball program at Brighton Secondary School and was highly regarded. He was a popular young man and liked by everyone and affectionately known as LewMac. Lewis was shot dead on New Year's Eve 2012 in the suburban streets of Warradale while on his way to a party. He was shot by another young man who was drunk and high on drugs, a young man who was carrying an illegal gun. The shooter's name is Liam Humbles. Humbles opened fire with a .22 calibre pistol aiming at Lewis McPherson and his two friends, Liam Trewartha and James Lamont. The trio crossed paths with Humbles on Sixth Avenue at Warradale at about 7.40pm, a moment in time that ended Lewis' life and impacted so many people in my community who knew the young man or his family and friends.

Humbles was found guilty of murder and sentenced to a 23-year nonparole period which was reduced to 17 years on appeal. At the time the sentence was reduced, Mark McPherson, Lewis' dad, said he believed that if tougher gun laws had already been in place there was a chance his son would still be alive. He said:

If Humbles did not have a gun that night, what was the worst that could have happened? He could have picked a fight with the boys, he might have got a smack in the mouth at worst and that would have been the end of it. But instead everyone is left dealing with what happened.

Which turns the attention to Charles Alexander Cullen, the man who supplied the gun to Humbles, an illegal and unregistered firearm. Cullen was given an eight-year gaol term with a non-parole period of three years and nine months for supplying the gun and for drug offences, and he is appealing.

On the technical side, the bill proposes to reclassify offences against section 10C(10) and section 14 of the Firearms Act as serious firearm offences by adding them to the definition of serious firearm offences under the Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act. These sections relate to offences of supplying a firearm to a person to whom a firearms prohibition order applies (section 10C(10)) or trafficking in firearms (section 14) which includes the offence of acquiring a firearm without a licence or supplying a firearm to someone without a licence.

In addition to the reclassification of these offences as 'serious firearm offences', the bill also creates a 'derivative liability' for certain offences. Many legal experts have suggested to me that on a technical level this is poor legislation being put forward. It has been described as sloppy from a legal standpoint. Be that as it may, I will support this legislation because it will get illegal gun dealers off our streets and keep our community safe. This 'derivative liability' form of legislative arrangement creates a stand-alone criminal offence so that, as quoted from the second reading speech:

…if a person commits a firearm trafficking or supply offence, and the commission of that offence results …directly or indirectly , in a firearm coming into the possession of an unlicensed person, the first person is liable for any offence committed by the second person with that firearm.

The derivative offence has been designed to be a stand - alone offence , with a maximum penalty of a term of imprisonment no longer than the maximum term of the subsequent offence, being the offence committee used by the person who has receive d the gun from the supplier.

So in the case of Mr Cullen who supplied the gun to Mr Humbles who shot Lewis McPherson, it would mean that upon Mr Cullen's conviction of the trafficking offence by supplying the gun illegally to Mr Humbles who then committed the murder, the derivative liability would also have Mr Cullen convicted of murder and liable to a sentence of up to the duration given to Mr Humbles. It may sound messy, perhaps, but, as it was described in the second reading:

The policy of the law should be that, if you put a gun in the hands of an irresponsible person, and you do so il legally, then you wear the consequences of that action. Cullen should be guilty, not just of the weapons offences , but of murder or manslaughter. Firearms are uniquely and directly dangerous to life and limb and should be a special case.

Putting aside the varying opinions on the framework and formation of this bill, I support this in a stand to prevent anything like what happened to Lewis McPherson from happening again, to stop people being shot on our streets. I live in a community scarred by the fatal actions of New Year’s Eve 2012. I see young people growing up in our community with an innocence lost from their lives forever through having experienced what happened on that fateful evening or from knowing Lewis or the other young men who were shot in a suburban street.

I see a mum walk on the beach, always wearing yellow, often a LewMac jumper or T-shirt. Every time I see her or have a chat, my heart breaks and fills with admiration at the same time. Kim is a very strong woman. So if you ever make it to my electorate of Mitchell and drive around the suburbs in my community, around Warradale or the neighbouring streets that cross over into Bright, Elder and Davenport, you will see the black and gold LewMac sticker on every second car. It is another beautiful reminder of a lovely young man who was taken too soon, but it is also a reminder of how guns in the wrong hands can be devastating.

The LewMac logo is also seen on the Brighton Secondary School’s end of year celebration jumper, and the students have started a yearly volleyball game in Lewis’ honour. Much has been done to remember Lewis and support his family, but as a father myself, the words of Mark McPherson ring in my ears. He said:

My personal interest in trying to get unregistered firearms out of the community will be my focus…we are making good progress with that in Lewis’s honour.

If Lewis were my child I would want the same, and I truly hope this bill helps.

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