MP welcomes proposal

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

As much of NSW contends with drought, Deniliquin’s State MP Austin Evans has welcomed a proposal to introduce harsher sentences for arsonists.

Mr Evans said under the NSW Government proposal, anyone caught deliberately starting a bush fire will face a maximum sentence of 21 years imprisonment, up from 14 years.

‘‘We are putting firebugs on notice, if you do the wrong thing, you will face the consequences,’’ Mr Evans said.

‘‘We must all work together to protect Murray from a bushfire disaster, making sure arsonists are held to account for their reckless and dangerous behaviour.’’

The higher sentence is set to apply to the offence, as set out in the Crimes Act, of intentionally causing a fire and being reckless about it spreading on public land or someone else’s property.

A statement from Mr Evans’ office said the cost of disaster relief and recovery following NSW bushfires had risen from $11.4 million in 2015-2016 to $23 million in 2016-17.

Attorney General Mark Speakman said there was no excuse for putting people’s homes, farms, stock and lives at risk, particularly when the drought and hot, dry spring and summer weather were already a deadly combination.

‘‘Under these conditions, bushfires spread quickly and are hard to stop, so it’s important there are harsher penalties in place to deter potential firebugs.’’