Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has been forced to defend his government against claims that a cross-bench senator was seeking to trade off support for the reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) – the PM’s justification for holding the July double dissolution election – in return for a relaxation of Australia’s gun laws.
NSW Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm wants a ban on the Adler shotgun dropped in return for support for the ABCC. Former PM Tony Abbott introduced the ban last year and it was extended in July over concerns about how quickly it can be reloaded.
Leyonhjelm told Sky News he was cross trading support for with ABCC with “non-bill related issues”, adding the government’s industrial relations bill was “pretty much a 50/50 situation on its merits”.
The former Coalition leader made his feelings known on Twitter.
Disturbing to see reports of horse-trading on gun laws. ABCC should be supported on its merits.
— Tony Abbott (@TonyAbbottMHR) October 18, 2016
As political pressure on Turnbull grew throughout the day, the PM said in parliament that the ban on the Adler was “set in stone”.
“That ban will remain in place until such time as there is a satisfactory reclassification of these guns by the COAG committee,” he said.
Leyonhjelm has accused the Coalition of reneging on a deal to repeal the ban, claiming in a media conference that he had been “deceived” by ministers Michael Keenan and Peter Dutton.
“We had a deal, they didn’t stick to the deal,” he said.
“So how can I do a deal with them in future, that is the question.”
Leyonhjelm’s comments come a day after a key government supporter, Family First senator Bob Day, announced he was resigning after his building business went into liquidation, add to the challenge the Turnbull government faces as it attempts to get its legislation approved by the senate.
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