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(generated from captions) Before we go, a brief recap of our top story tonight. The ACT has passed Australia's first gay marriage laws but the Federal Government says it will seek to have them overturned in the High Court.That's the latest from the Canberra newsroom. Coming up on 7:30 with Annabel Crabb, the struggle to understand why people deliberately light fires. I'm Virginia Haussegger and I'll be back with a news update inch about one hour. Until then, goodnight. Captions by CSI Australia

This Program is Captioned Live.Welcome to 7:30. Tonight - playing with fire. What drives people to commit arson.

We know they have poor communication skills, poor social skills, they're not very assertive, they find it hard to say what they want and what they need so the fire can be - they can start using fire because it gets lots of attention very quickly.And the Government prepares to wield the budget knife.There will be some entitlements that the Government just can't keep affording to pay. So if you want to have new entitlements in relation to school funding, Gonski funding that will mean there will have to be adjustments elsewhere. You want new entitlements to disability care, that will require adjustments.Thousands of fire fighters across NSW are tonight gearing up for what may be a terrible day as authorities prepare for weather conditions they say will be as bad as it gets. All schools in the Blue Mountains and some in the Southern Highlands will be closed tomorrow and the Rural Fire Service is warning residents in affected areas who don't have a fire plan to pack up and leave their homes by lunchtime.59 fires are still burning, 17 of them are out of control.Temperatures are forecast to rise to the mid 30s with winds gusting at up to 100km/h. Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop has spent the last 2 days with fire crews around the Blue Mountains town of Blackheath.

Bob, Bob, Bob, leave the line on the road, mate.

It's day 6 of the bushfire emergency ravaging the Blue Mountains.When we get to this corner, it's going to want to blow it across the road.Oen a cliff top on the mountain's western edge, Jim Korras and his small team are trying to stop this fire from spreading to the historic villages below. What we've got to do is go in, have a look at how the land runs down, have a look at where the wind's blowing over there.This band of 4 have been on the job since the fires erupted last week.We're going to get it running and it's going to try to cross this road.They've been working at least 12 hours a day and they've had little rest.I'll leave you two here, keep an eye on what's going on here. Me and Susie will go up and have a look at what's going on over there, alright?OK.Jim Korras is a veteran. He's been fighting fires in the Blue Mountains for 30 years. Now a city dweller, he's come back to lead his team in this crucial and dangerous backburning operation. I love doing it, you know, I love doing it and I think it's important that I give my skills that I have and make sure I pass them on. That's important to me.No, no, I want you to come over see this stuff over here.Susie McDonald is second in charge today. She's a Potter by trade. She signed up for the company.I see what you're talking about. I originally thought I would just, because I'm not exactly a spring chickens, I would just do office work or catering or whatever but they kind of recognised a keen person.Her colleague, 19-year-old Alex Shapland, has been fire fighting since he was 14. 64-year-old retiree Bob Madden joined up 2 years ago.A bit of a novice. I joined the brigade 2011. I really haven't fought anything major except for this one. This is my sort of initiation so no-one could call me a virgin anymore.I feel good, actually, because you're out there doing stuff for the community and helping save lives and property and it maiblings you feel good inside. Jim's team are just 4 among 2,000 fire fighters battling the fires that have already destroyed more than 200 homes. This backburn is aimed at stopping the fire jumping the road and threatening houses further down the mountain.Alex, bring the hose back, bro.As the afternoon wears on, Jim's team is exhausted. With another long day ahead.Are you alright?Yeah.Yeah, I'm just hot. At nightfall more than 1,000 anxious residents gather nearby at a school hall in Blackheath for a briefing from the Rural Fire Service.We need the community to be onboard and be prepared to implement your own bushfire survival plans at a moment's notice and that means having a plan to either stay and defend or leave early.We're planning for the fire to make a run at the moment. It might not make the run and it might not run as hard as we expect, but we do the planning for the worst case scenario.

We're burning under the power lines where the boggy area is. We're probably going to need to put the line in on the road as well. We need to worry about the creep back, that's all.After a short night's sleep, Jim and his crew were back on duty, continuing the backburn around as the fire encroaches on the town. If we are able to secure this we will be able to secure a fair part of Blackheath area today.How vital is that backburning? Absolutely critical that we get this in and once we get that in we can then monitor it which hopefully will then stop the fire from jumping over the top of us.I want to get behind that house, get the visual on it.When 7:30 found them again they were preparing to protect a street on the edge of town. We've got that telephone line. It's going to smash it.Have you told him? I can't get him on mine. Trying to take the kids to school to keep them a bit safe and then takes a bit of time to work out what we need to do.It looks like it's getting pretty close? It looks like we might be on the way out.I'm looking after this show today.I just want to let you know...Fire fighters are worried the fire will turn on houses here and embers could start new fires.We're backburning, you probably have been briefed on this.We've been expecting you. Glad to see you.This is a bit tricky for us. We'll be here for some time doing this. Yeah, we talk to the residents, let them know there's a lot of units here, we know what we're doing and we'll keep them safe.It's a bit riskier thean he's letting on though, isn't it? Than I'm letting on, yes.By tonight these houses will be surrounded by a defensive line to protect them from tomorrow's forecast winds which are expected to push the fire this way. Today we've got good conditions all in our favour so it's good, but tomorrow could be a different story.Tonight is the night, now is the time you need to sit your bushfire survival plan, have a conversation with your family, know what it is that each and every one of you are going to do now, tonight, and tomorrow in preparation for fire movements throughout the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury region. If your plan is one to leave and leave early, then you should leave early. And what I mean by that is tomorrow morning, before lunch.For Jim Korras and his team, it could be a terrible day ahead. I don't try to think about it, actually, you know. I will go home tonight and have a shower, maybe play with the kids if they're still up. And go to bed. I won't have time to think.Yeah, no, I don't get scared but you get concerned for all your crew, the people around you and everybody is supporting everybody else. My own safety, no. I'm pretty not worried about that because, you know, you always have a good crew with you, they always know what they're doing. They always look out for each other. You've got to look out for yourself and them and, you know, it's pretty much like a family.You've got their lives in your hands.For sure, yes, that's right. The way I look at it is if I'm not prepared to be where they are I won't put them there. Simple.Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop with that report. The shock of the fire crisis has been combounded by news that some of the fires consuming NSW were deliberately lit according to police. Including by children as young as 11 and 15. Today an 11-year-old boy accused of lighting two fires that destroyed more than 5,000 hectares of bushland was placed under house arrest. A 15-year-old charged over the same fire will appear in court next month. Despite the frequency and the cost of arson, prevention and treatment programs are severely under resourced. Tracy Bowden reports.Every year as many as 60,000 bushfires rage across Australia. At least 10% are deliberately lit. Another 20 to 30% are suspicious.A man has been arrested for allegedly lighting a bushfire in the Blue Mountains.A man accused of lighting bushfires in Victoria's east last summer has been remanded in custody.10 people died when the deliberately lit fire raged across the La Trobe Valley. Today there has been 2 arrests with regards to a significant fire which caused about 5,000 hectares of damage.As dozens of fires blazed across NSW last week, people were stunned to learn that according to police a number had been deliberately lit. Two boys aged 11 and 15 have been charged over the fires near Newcastle, north of Sydney. The 11-year-old appeared in court today accused of using a cigarette lighter to set fire to an abandoned mattress and later lighting a grassfire. A 15-year-old is due in court next month over the same blaze.It's just concerning that in these conditions that children are lighting fires and these small fires can actually grow very quickly and become a very dangerous fire.With a child it might just be an accident, you know, it's fun to watch a fire. You light it and in the circumstances that we've got at the moment with climate change it gets away when it probably wasn't meant to get away. Researchers say there is no typical arsonist.There's some trends that we can discern. We believe about 90% are male, about 40% are adolescents, 15 to 17-year-olds, a small number are children and there's a group of men over 30 who tend to have continued to light fires.As to why people light fires psychologists say some arsonists have a grievance, others have a history of antisocial bhaip behaviour and some want to send a message.We know they have poor communication skills, poor social skills, they're not very assertive. They find it hard to say what they want and what they need and so the fire can be - they can start using fire because it gets lots of attention very quickly.Police have charged a man with arson over one of the deadly Victorian bushfires.The Churchill fire on Black Saturday in Victoria in 2009 in which 11 people died was the work of an arsonist. Brendan Sokaluk was sentenced to 17 years in prison. He's autistic and has a mild intellectual disability.Certainly people who have intellectual dis - disability and other kind of development disorders are overrepresented in examples of arsonists.It's very common for them to be disengaged from society, so they're unemployed, low skills, isolated perhaps, perhaps not integrated into the community so they're on the fringe of society a bit and often the lighting of fires is an attempt to get back into the community and be part of the community.A volunteer fire fighter who deliberately lit fires in the national park has been jailed for 5 years.It's hard to understand but a small number of the would be heros who fight fires are also arsonists. A former Sydney volunteer fire fighter, David Mills, was sentenced to 5 years jail for starting fires at Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in Sydney's north. When he appealed his sentence the court was told he suffers from depression and has been diagnosed with ADHD. Some of these fire fighter s have kind of a need for recognition. People probably understand the idea of a hero complex and wanting to go out and put the fire out. There's some interesting findings that these fire fighters kind of have a sense of - they can control the fire and so they set the fire in the belief that they can actually control it and have power over it which is often incorrect.As the bushfire emergency continues in NSW, police profilers have a list of serial arson suspects under surveillance.We've developed a database of a number of people who has either been convicted or there's enough intelligence for us to believe that they may be possible able to light a fire so we will look at strategies to ebb - ensure they don't light fires on those days and pretty much a proactive approach. If we can prevent a fire it can save a lot of grief. One tiny small grassfire on the side of the road can turn into something catastrophic.There are treatment and prevention programs for children and adults in Australia but they're severely under resourced as is long-term research.Funding ask is a big issue and big able to conduct long-term organised bodies of research is a big issue and we're really working 3 years to 3 years without any guarantees.We could do a great deal more than we do. The fire fight er s conduct education programs for children so they go to schools and if a child is identified as having a propensity to light fires they will go and conduct a program with them. And this is very important and very good. But it's only very small in scale. With forecasts of longer bushfire seasons in the years ahead, experts say it's vital Australia focuses on learning more about how to prevent the dangerous work of arsonists.Until we actually understand the behaviour a lot more you can't successfully target your resources to prevent it.Tracy Bowden reporting. In the months leading up to the federal election Tony Abbott's Coalition complained long and loud about what it called a budget emergency created by Labor. The situation was so dire we were told it would take years to get Australia back into the black. Today the Government unveiled the details of its much aweighted commission of audit which will reveal the true state of the Budget and review all Commonwealth spending with the aim of radically cutting costs. At the same time, in what may seem a contradiction, the Government has announced it's massively increasing the Commonwealth's debt ceiling to $500 billion.We'll hear from Treasurer Joe Hockey shortly. But first here's chief political correspondent Sabra Lane. The solution is not more government, it is less government.What government spending and what government programs are really required. For more than a year the Coalition's laid the groundwork for its commission of audit.There is now a budget emergency.So much of what Labor has spent over the last few years has been waste.Key figures have flagged here and abroad the current level of Commonwealth spending can't be sustained. Otherwise future generations will pay.Obviously the age of entitlement is coming to an end because governments are running out of money.Government has to live within its means as families and businesses do.We're going to cut the programs that do not work.It's one thing to talk hard decisions, it's another to make them.Peter Costello took delivery of an early Howard Government commitment.The last federal commission of audit was done in 1996 under John Howard and Peter Costello. And some of it was political dynamite and acknowledged so at the time.The Government doesn't automatically accept every recommendation that it makes. The Government decides its own policy. The Government reserves that right and the government always will.Tony Shepherd, the President of the Business Council of Australia will head the audit commission.It makes Christmas a bit tougher.A bit grim.But we will work through it.He will be helped by 4 other commissioners including the former Federal Liberal minister Amanda Vanstone who has experience in managing social welfare.The last one was done in 1996. It is time to do it again and we are doing it. It's going to be very thorough and very comprehensive.It's going to take a lot of political will.The man who ordered the last audit in '96 and who headed up Queensland's commission of audit says the Abbott Government must be prepared to put in place tough, unpopular decisions.There will be some entitlements that the Government just can't keep affording to pay, particularly if it wants to introduce new entitlements. So you want to have new entitlements in relation to school funding, Gonski funding, that will mean that there will have to be adjustments elsewhere. You want new entitlements in relation to disability care, that will require adjustments elsewhere. There's not that much discretionary spending in a budget and that means where there is discretionary expenditure you've got to be pretty hard in those areas.An interim report will be given to the Government by the end of January. The final report's due by the end of March, well in time to allow Joe Hockey to incorporate recommendations and cuts in his first Budget expected next May. Nothing's off limits. The commission's been asked to identify wasteful spending, unnecessary duplication, what Commonwealth assets can be privatised, whether departments should be closed or consolidated and the sustainability of the Budget over the long-term. And that last point is crucial. Spending on health, pensions, education, defence, disability care, and paid parental leave are all set to soar in the years ahead given recent election promises and the ageing population.And it's spending the Government will struggle to meet given the collapse in company tax receipts, the shrinking taxpayer base and the Coalition's commitment to return the budget to surplus. It could mean some measures introduced in the Howard/Costello years might be axed.Well to fix the budget they will need to put some unpopular measures in place. Now what worries me is that if you look at the forecasts you see the budget coming back and improving over the next 3 years but if you look further than that, you get this enormous spending beginning to hit with disability care and after that the impact of the ageing of the population.Bob Officer who headed the 1996 audit thinks with 5 months to investigate, hold public hearings and report back, the new Commission will be limited in what it can recommend.I would think it's a very tight time frame. There is, as you will appreciate, anyone who has read the terms of reference, they are quite ambitious and in many ways I think they will be pointing in directions rather than being able to tell the Government how they might go about executing some of their recommendations.Legacies from the '96 audit include the future fund to deal with the Commonwealth's unfunded superannuation liability and the charter of budget honesty.Could we have done more? I wish we'd put more into the future fund that we'd been able to lock away more because as you know, a lot of what we did has now been undone, but this process will have to start again. In revealing the audit Joe Hockey unveiled a surprise and it was a big one given for years he's railed against the Rudd and Gillard governments for increasing the nation's debt ceiling. The Treasurer announced plans to lift Australia's debt limit from its current level of $300 billion to $500 billion. The Treasury Department predicts Australia will reach the current limit this December. Mr Hockey says the $200 billion bifr is - buffer is to avoid events like the recent US shut down. The Opposition, not surprisingly, views it differently.The party that said they were all about turning around debt has now asked for permission for it to go to $500 billion. This is a very different Government to who Australians were being told they were electing.It's a 67% increase. As to the audit, the former treasurer says the new one needs to save his political capital for next year.This is do-able but it's only going to be do-able with long, sustained, hard effort and the sooner we start the earlier we'll finish.Sabra Lane with that report. A short while ago I spoke to the Treasurer Joe Hockey in our Parliament House studio.Treasurer, welcome back to 7:30.Good to be with you.Now if there were such a thing as a Joe Hockey mantra of late it would be that governments need to live within their means. So why are you extended the national credit card limit by two thirds to $500 billion? Well this is Labor's legacy. They were leaving us with a debt of $370 billion on their own projections. I've been advised that that will be significantly larger and we are not going to allow ourselves to get into the position that the US is in where there's tremendous uncertainty about the capacity of a country to live within its means. Now, this is a debt limit increase and it's the legacy of Labor. It is the fact that they said that debt would go to $370 billion but the debt limit is currently $300 billion.But the old Joe Hockey used to say if debt's the problem then more debt isn't the solution, what happened? Well, I can't stop the debt that has acrude because of Labor policy. I'm going to have to have remedial action and that's going to come in the form of a commission of audit. And the commission of audit is going to deal with these issues which is what we announced today.Three months ago you said that the Federal budget was in free fall. If there's as much of a crisis as you say there is, then why not get cracking straight away, have a mini budget and start chopping? Well, we need to be careful, prudent, we need to have a proper process, that's what we're going through. Today we announced the commission of audit, the first time in nearly two decades that you've had a proper look, an independent look at all the nuts and bolts of Commonwealth Government expenditure. We're focused on getting it right.The audit that you've announced today is incredibly broad. It seems to cover every dollar of government spending, kind of looks a bit like a licence to break election promises? It isn't. It isn't at all. We stick to our election promises. This is a way of making sure that we pay for our election promises.But the brief you've given to your auditors is that they should review government expenditure, keeping this in mind, that government should do for people what they cannot do or cannot do efficiently for themselves but no more and, of course, that government should live within its means. If those auditors come back to you and say Mr Hockey, your paid parental leave scheme doesn't really fulfil either of those criteria, are you tough enough to make that call and take away that policy? Well this is about paying for our policies and ensuring at the same time that there is a proper path to growth. We've got to grow the Australian economy but we've got to have a government that does not waste money, that's what we're focused on.So your election promises are insulated from changes arising from this audit commission? Yes, they are. We will deliver on our election promises.So when two days before the election you told this program that you wouldn't be cutting the health budget, the education budget, the defence budget and health and medical research, we've said that emphatically, those budget areas are quarantined also? Yes, but it didn't mean that you can't identify waste in those areas and reallocate it to other priorities in the same portfolio. The suggestion that there isn't waste in budgets of tens of billions of dollars is absurd. So what we've got to do is prioritise the expenditure in those areas but overall the envelope have committed expenditure in those areas will continue.So if you come up with - I mean past have
commissions of audit in the past have often Recommended quite radical savings, they certainly did in 1996, will you take any changes, any cuts you didn't flag before the last election to another election as a mandate issue? Well, we need to deal with the budget as it stands and quite frankly it has deteriorated since the election. This is the moment of truth for Labor. We are discovering all the things that they failed to reveal properly to the Australian people and over the next few weeks and months will explain that to the Australian people but most importantly we are going to have a road map to get the Budget back in good shape.I will take that as a no to my question, then Treasury. You have set a savagely tight deadline for this audit. First report by the end of January and the final by the end of March. Will you commit to releasing those reports, publicly and when? We will release those report and we will do so within the Budget context. These will feed into the Budget and that's the appropriate place to go.Government should live within its means is what you've been telling Labor for years. It's been repeated by you over your recent travels and it's at the core of this audit, but how is it living within your means to hand out billions in compensation for a carbon tax that you're getting rid of? How is it living within your to introduce a paid parental leave scheme to which Clive Palmer's wife would be entitled? How is any of that living within your means? Well, the key fact here is that we went to the election with those commitments, we are going to deliver on those commitments. We think it's important to continue to ensure that you have a growth pattern in the Australian economy, part of that growth package is going to be getting rid of the carbon tax on 1 July next year, that's hugely important, and Australians will get a wind fall benefit which will be good for the economy. Getting rid of the carbon tax but keeping the compensation.But didn't you explain in Europe last year that the age of entitlement was over, that wind fall benefits were something that is to do with the past and not the future? Well, these aren't wind fall benefits. These are prudent programs that have been properly paid for.You just called them wind fall benefits.No, no, I'm sorry because I'm saying that the compensation that we're providing from 1 July next year, which is the compensation that was originally for the carbon tax is about putting money in people's pockets which is helping to stimulate the Australian economy. That's why it is not an entitlement. Giving people back their tax is not an entitlement. It's about them having more control of their own money.In terms of government's own behaviour, how is it living within your means to claim as members of your government have, public funding to go to weddings and sporting events and to visit investment properties in Cairns to the tune of $5,000 to the taxpayer? How is that living within your means as members of a government? Wherever people have acted inappropriately or wrongly they should be properly dealt with and they should deal with the Department of Finance on that.The Queensland Government has just introduced new rules to subject members of Parliament to the bog standard Australian Taxation Office requirements about claimable work expenses. Is it time for federal politicians to be subject to the same? I will leave that to the Minister for State and I'm sure the Minister for State will consult with members of Parliament and others about that.Joe Hockey, we're right out of time but thanks for joining 7:30 tonight.Thank you very much. And that's the program for tonight. We'll be back at the same time tomorrow but for now. Goodnight.Captions by CSI Australia

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