The NSW Nationals in Government have cracked down on dangerous bushfire bugs, with the standard non-parole period for convicted arsonists increasing from five years to nine years to help protect lives and property across the State.

Member for Dubbo Dugald Saunders said the Government has passed legislation to implement the recommendation of the Sentencing Council to help ensure those who commit bushfire offences spend more time behind bars.

“With another hot and dry summer around the corner, it is important there are strong laws in place to protect farmers and communities who are already battling drought,” Mr Saunders said.

“My message to would-be firebugs is to stop and think about the children and families who could be killed or injured and the huge economic and emotional toll of being homeless and having to rebuild homes and farms from scratch.”

In 2018, Attorney General Mark Speakman asked the Sentencing Council to review the standard non-parole period.

As a result of the review, the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 was amended to increase the standard non-parole period for the bushfire offence under section 203E of the Crimes Act 1900. The offence applies to the charge of intentionally causing a fire and being reckless about it spreading on public land or someone else’s property.

“The tougher standard non-parole period builds on the Government’s introduction of a tougher penalty for the bushfire offence, which increased the maximum penalty from 14 to 21 years in November last year,” Mr Speakman said.

As part of its review, the Sentencing Council received submissions from stakeholders including the Law Society of NSW, Legal Aid NSW, NSW Police Force, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Rural Fire Service Association, the majority of which agreed the bushfire offence’s standard non-parole period should be increased.