AUSTRALIA – The Queensland government has denied tougher laws are needed for juveniles who start fires which endanger properties, after revelations more than 100 have been charged with doing so in the past two years.
With no end in sight for the state’s bushfire disaster, which has been exacerbated by deliberately lit blazes, emergency services minister Craig Crawford said current laws are strong enough to deal with fire-starting youths.
The Courier Mailreports 136 Queensland children have been charged with endangering property by lighting fires in the past two years, 18 of whom received a conviction.
Crawford dismissed calls by the state opposition for youths to be confronted by victims and firefighters about the impacts of their arsonist behaviour, because that already happens through a program known as youth conferencing.
“I’m very happy with the way (the laws) are now,” he said.
“It’s about making sure children accept what they’ve done is wrong.”
He said around 80 per cent of young people who go through such programs do not re-offend.
It comes as Queensland authorities are informed five more structures have been lost to a large bushfire west of Brisbane.
While it remains too dangerous for ground crews to reach the area, aerial footage has revealed some structural damage from the large Pechey blaze, which forced evacuations from the town of Crows Nest, north of Toowoomba, on Monday.
There are 71 fires still burning across the state and authorities are already planning for the bushfire emergency to stretch into next year.
Heatwave conditions expected to hit on Wednesday, pushing the mercury near major fire grounds into the mid-30s.
Some parts of the state’s interior are expected to hit 40C.