Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten pressure Malcolm Turnbull over gun laws

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Former Defence Minister Kevin Andrews during Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday 17 October 2016. fedpol Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Opposition Leader Bill Shorten moves to suspend standing orders in the House of Representatives. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen


Former prime minister Tony Abbott in Parliament on Tuesday during the debate on gun laws. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on his feet in Parliament after Mr Shorten moved to suspend standing orders. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

A Turkish shotgun called the ADLER A110

Tony Abbott has publicly criticised Malcolm Turnbull’s failure to rule out trading away elements of Australia’s gun laws in exchange for crossbench support for its key industrial relations legislation.

Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm said on Tuesday the government had reneged on a deal to end the ban on importing the controversial Adler lever-action shotgun into Australia.

Senator Leyonhjelm warned he wouldn’t vote to reinstate the government’s construction industry watchdog unless Mr Turnbull agreed to allow the gun to be imported into Australia.

Labor moved to suspend standing orders in the House of Representatives, emboldened by comments from Mr Abbott over the Australian Building and Construction Commission legislation.

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

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten accused the Liberal Party of entertaining “grubby deals” on gun laws and said reforms championed by former Liberal prime minister John Howard in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre shouldn’t be watered down.

The Abbott government had previously agreed to allow the importation of the gun later in 2016, in exchange for Senator Leyonhjelm’s support on migration issues.

A deal to introduce a sunset clause came as a review of technical elements of the National Firearms Agreement was under way.

But a temporary ban on the gun was extended before expiring in July.

In August 2015, Senator Leyonhjelm bragged to the Senate about blackmailing the government into adding the 12-month sunset clause to the Adler ban, claiming bureaucrats advising Justice Minister Michael Keenan were incompetent and too closely aligned to an anti-guns agenda.

The man behind plans to import the Turkish-made gun is Robert Nioa, the son-in-law of Queensland independent MP Bob Katter.

The Adler uses a lever action mechanism to load cartridges.

On Tuesday, Mr Shorten said the Coalition would sell out on gun laws because it was “so obsessed about destroying unions”.

“My message is to the people of Australia: tell the Prime Minister you do not want the gun laws changed,” he said.

“We have a government where the Prime Minister is so wounded, so weak, that he will do any deal to try and harm and destroy the representatives of working people.

“This is not the party of John Howard anymore. They claim the mantle, they’re not fit to clean his shoes on this issue.” Disturbing to see reports of horse-trading on gun laws. ABCC should be supported on its merits.— Tony Abbott (@TonyAbbottMHR) October 18, 2016

Mr Turnbull said the government was working through the Council of Australian Governments process on gun laws, but the ban would remain in place.

“We stand by the fire arms agreement. We want to see it stronger,” Mr Turnbull told Parliament.

“We are proud of the achievements of John Howard and the actions of the opposition in trying to use this as a distraction is a disgrace.”

“That ban will remain in place.”

Earlier he refused to rule out allowing the gun to be imported and said he would be “working hard” to ensure that Senator Leyonhjelm’s concerns or disappointment were addressed.

Senator Leyonhjelm said he would continue to discuss the ABCC legislation with the government but hadn’t decided how he would vote.

“I’m not a dummy spitter … but it will be more awkward,” he said.

“I have been dudded on a deal.

“Irrespective of the merits of the deal, I’ve been dudded on it, they did a deal with me and then they welshed on it. They have known about it…. I have been unhappy about it, and only now when it comes to the crunch point on the ABCC that they suddenly go, ‘oh, crap’, we have a problem.”

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