Tasmanian Premier Tony Rundle could be pivotal to today's push by Prime Minister John Howard to force all states to adopt uniform national firearms legislation.
Mr Rundle will be the only State leader at today's Police Ministers Conference in Canberra.
His presence recognises the impact on the nation of the killing of 35 people at Port Arthur, and could be vital to convincing some of the other states to adopt Mr Howard's tough firearm curbs.
Mr Howard wants all the States to ban all semi-automatic rifles, including all .22 calibre semi-automatic rifles, and adopt a national gun register. Tasmanian Police Minster John Beswick, who flew to Canberra yesterday to officially represent the State at the conference, is committed to adopting Mr Howard's reforms.
This includes compensation for gun owners.
In State Parliament yesterday, Mr Rundle said he had received a letter from Mr Howard on Wednesday indicating the Prime Minister was determined to come away from today's discussions with uniform legislation in train.
"And if this is not achieved it will mean that Port Arthur to some extent was in vain," he said.
Mr Howard later said that ministers at today's conference would not be "playing games," or in "some kind of bargaining exercise."
Mr Howard said he was confident an agreement would be reached.
This followed signs yesterday that Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett had backed down on the issue of banning all semi-automatic weapons and now supported the proposal.
Other States also appear to be falling into line despite intense pressure by the gun lobby for them to oppose Mr Howard.
If negotiations stall today it is unclear whether Tasmanians will press ahead with a ban on all semi-automatic weapons. Mr Rundle prefers to await the outcome of the conference before he moves with further planned firearm laws.
[images: head-and-shoulders photos of "Tough: Mr Howard" and "Pivotal: Mr Rundle" (4.5x6 each) ]