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Rudd Government to address bushfire arson with States and Territories.



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1 February 2009

Rudd Government to Address Bushfire Arson with States and Territories Attorney-General Robert McClelland today welcomed the release of a report by the Australian Institute of Criminology on prevention of deliberate bushfires in Australia.

The report, which provides recommendations on how to reduce the estimated $1.6 billion in damage caused by arson each year, will now be taken up by the ministerial council of Emergency Management Ministers for further consideration.

“Arson is a major threat to the Australian community, with about 50 percent of all bushfires being deliberately lit or starting in suspicious circumstances,” Mr McClelland said.

“The tragic consequences of bushfires are well known, both in terms of lives lost and the tremendous damage to property. Considerable damage can also be done to the environment, including our water catchments.”

Some of the report’s recommendations are already being acted upon. For example, the Rudd Government is ensuring that new performance and testing standards for cigarettes are put in place to reduce the risk they pose when they are discarded. This initiative came out of the ministerial council of Emergency Management Ministers, following a proposal by the New South Wales Government.

“There are a number of further issues to explore, including increased public education and whether improvements in cooperation between local governments, local communities, fire and police agencies can be achieved,” said Mr McClelland.

“I look forward to initiating a discussion on the findings of the report with my State and Territory colleagues.”

The Using crime prevention to reduce deliberate bushfires in Australia report is available at www.aic.gov.au

Media Contacts: Adam Sims, Mr McClelland’s Office, 0419 480 224 Scott Kelleher , Australian Institute of Criminology, 0418 159 525