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Tougher arson penalties to be introduced

Tougher arson penalties to be introduced

State and Territory attorneys-generals agreed to strengthen penalties for bushfire and arson offences on Friday.Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland presented a proposal that new offences…

State and Territory attorneys-generals agreed to strengthen penalties for bushfire and arson offences on Friday.

Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland presented a proposal that new offences introduced carry penalties of up to 25 years for bushfire arson causing death or serious harm.

A report has been commissioned for the next Standing Committee of Attorneys-General meeting on incorporating the offences into the Model Criminal Code.

McClelland said he was hopeful that the agreed program would make it easier to prosecute a person who lights a fire that results in death or serious harm to a person.

"Given the incredible damage to property and loss of life that can be caused by bushfires, it is critical that offences across Australia are consistent and effective, and those sentences reflect the seriousness of this crime," he said.

"People who deliberately light fires must face tougher penalties, particularly when those fires result in loss of life as occurred recently in the Victorian bushfires."

Jurisdictions which have not yet done so will also examine the implementation of existing models that attract up to 15 years imprisonment.

The attorneys-general also agreed to consider enabling courts to order a person convicted of arson to pay compensation for the damage caused by the offence.

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