Parliament: Questions Kelly's Asked

Police Investigation into the Marksman Firing Range Death

The Hon. S.G. WADE: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Police a question in relation to the Marksman firing range.

Leave granted.

The Hon. S.G. WADE: In December 2015, Mr McConnal shot himself whilst at the Marksman indoor firing range on Franklin Street in the city. Recently, the state Coroner handed down his finding that Mr McConnal’s death could have been prevented had South Australian police approved the installation of tethering devices that the firing range have developed as far back as 2012. My question to the minister is: what action will SAPOL be taking in response to the Coroner’s report?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety): I thank the honourable member for his question. The Coroner handed down on 28 June this year his findings into the inquest of the death of Mr McConnal at the Marksman firing range. One of the first requests that I made upon becoming Minister for Police was that the issue of tethering be included in the firearms regulations, those regulations I think I referred to yesterday.

With respect to the Coroner’s comments on the delays in amending the Firearms Act and regulations to enshrine tethering, as members of this council would appreciate, an enormous amount of work has been undertaken to reform the state’s firearms legislation and also regulatory regime. My predecessor, the Hon. Tony Piccolo, the member for Light, and I had an exhaustive consultative effort to ensure that they could be put in place in a way that best encompassed the bipartisan approach that I referred to in my remarks yesterday, and that in turn has delivered the change that many were seeking in respect of tethering.

The new regime came into effect on 1 July this year and places a regulatory requirement that tethering be installed at commercial ranges. This appears at regulation 75, which in summary requires that an approved range must have tethering devices of a type and in a manner approved by the firearms registrar and that the unlicensed persons may only use or shoot a firearm at the approved commercial range when the firearm is tethered in a manner approved by the firearms registrar.

The police commissioner has received the Coroner’s findings, and SAPOL are currently reviewing that document and considering the published report. I would note that the Coroner has not made any recommendations in respect to this specific incident. On radio earlier this week the police commissioner stated that ‘the Coroner’s findings and recommendations in past inquests have been significant in terms of improving practices within policing and other government agencies’, and it is my expectation that this will be no different in this situation and that SAPOL would consider any learnings that are to be concluded from this particular incident.

In light of the Coroner’s comments and findings naturally when I have my regular catch-up with the police commissioner this will be something that we will discuss. Any death of this nature of course is tragic, and suicide is tragic generally, but I am satisfied that the regulatory changes I have referred to will see the installation of tethering forthwith.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: On a supplementary: will the Attorney-General be appealing the findings of the Coroner, and are senior police compromised in investigating something they were involved with?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety): I am more than happy to take that question on notice for the appropriate minister, being the Attorney-General.