No arson rethink planned for ACT
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell. Photo: James Brickwood
The ACT government says it has no plans to change arson laws, after the NSW Premier threw his support behind a tough new proposal to punish the state's fire bugs.
Arsonists in the ACT potentially face a raft of charges under current laws, including indictable and summary offences. The most severe attract a 15-year sentence and 1500 penalty points, or both.
In NSW, the maximum penalty is 25 years, and in Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia, arsonists can be handed a life sentence.
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell voiced support for a tough new plan to make arsonists put down animals injured in bushfires, as a way of forcing them to confront the consequences of their actions.
He said new laws were needed to stop arsonists.
Two young boys were caught in the ACT earlier this week, after they lit a grassfire while playing with sparklers in Lawson. The boys, who are not thought to have started the fire maliciously, are likely to be put through a restorative justice program to educate them about the dangers of their behaviour.
Attorney-General Simon Corbell said on Sunday he was comfortable with restorative justice and it should not be seen as a ''soft option''.
He said there were no plans to review the ACT's arson laws.
''I'm not aware of any proposed changes in NSW, we're not proposing any changes at this point in time,'' Mr Corbell said. ''The existing offences are strong, there are strong penalties in place, and in relation to juveniles, the use of restorative justice can be an appropriate response, depending on the circumstances involved.''
ACT Rural Fire Service Chief Officer Andrew Stark said he was comfortable with arson laws and programs to target arsonists when serious offenders were identified.
He said arson was not a major problem in the ACT, as it was in some areas of NSW.