Friday, 23 August 2019
NORTHERN Tablelands MP Adam Marshall has today backed a zero tolerance crackdown on firebugs with the State Government proposing a considerable increase to the non-parole period for convicted arsonists.
This week the government introduced an amendment which reflects recommendations made by the Sentencing Council, to help ensure those who commit bushfire offences spend more time behind bars.
Mr Marshall said with so much dry matter on the ground, the region was already facing a horror bushfire season – without arsonists added to the mix.
“This amendment which sees the standard non-parole period for arsonists raised from five years to nine is about saying we won’t tolerate people endangering lives by lighting fires for their own enjoyment,” Mr Marshall said.
“Even though it wasn’t deliberately lit this year our region experienced first-hand the devastation a bush fire can cause with nearly 20 homes destroyed at Tingha and thousands of hectares of productive farm land burnt out.
“Nobody wants to live through that again and that’s why I support throwing the full weight of the law at anyone who recklessly starts a fire.”
Last year Attorney General Mark Speakman asked the Sentencing Council to review the standard non-parole period.
As a result of the review, the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 will be amended to increase the standard non-parole period for the bushfire offence under section 203E of the Crimes Act 1900.
Mr Marshall said the offence would apply to the charge of intentionally causing a fire and being reckless about it spreading on public land or someone else’s property.
“The tougher standard non-parole period builds on State Government’s introduction of a tougher penalty for the bushfire offence, which increased the maximum penalty from 14 to 21 years in November last year,” he said.
“My message to would-be firebugs is to stop and think about those whose livelihoods will be destroyed if a fire is lit and gets out of control.
“Our fire risk is already high because of the prolonged drought and I urge all property owners to be aware of the conditions when considering lighting a fire regardless of if the Bash Fire Danger period has started in their area or not.”
The Bush Fire Danger period has commenced for the following local government areas: Armidale Regional, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell and Uralla.
Currently there is a HIGH Fire Danger rating in place for the North Western, New England and Northern Slopes which means residents should review their bush fire survival plans, be aware of local conditions and be ready to act if necessary.