Half of all bushfires deliberately lit: report

Half of all bushfires deliberately lit: report

1 February 2009

published by www.abc.net.au

Australia — A report from the Australian Institute of Criminology has found that half of all bushfires are deliberately lit.

The report says that the damage bill from arson is about $1.6 billion per year.

It says there are inconsistencies in the ways fire agencies throughout Australia record data and that getting a consistent figure about deliberately lit bushfires is difficult.

It makes a number of recommendations including better education campaigns in the community and schools.

It also recommends areas vulnerable to bushfires be protected by restricted access and other means.

The recommendations will be looked at by the country’s emergency management ministers.

Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland says he will address concerns raised in the report.

Penalties imposed by the states can be up to 15 years jail for arson, but the report says there is a wide disparity of sentences and culprits are rarely caught and convicted.

Mr McClelland says he will push for consistency between jurisdictions.

“We need to look at a greater coherence in the sentencing strategy,” he said.

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