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Parliament fires up community protection

Published date: Wednesday, 21 November 2018

The NSW Parliament has today passed laws that put community safety first, introducing Australia’s toughest penalty for bushfire arsonists, strengthening sentences for concealing child abuse and reinforcing NSW’s counter terrorism framework.

Attorney General Mark Speakman said the passage of the Community Protection Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 demonstrates the Government’s commitment to improving the criminal justice system.

“We have listened to the community and made changes that send a clear message to would-be offenders, providing courts with the authority to impose stronger penalties for offences that put safety at risk,” Mr Speakman said.

“This fire season is expected to be one of the most challenging the State has experienced. The deliberate lighting of bushfires has the potential to cause catastrophic damage, even death. Arsonists are on notice the maximum penalty for this offence will rise from 14 years to 21 years imprisonment.”

The Government has also heard the voices of survivors of child sex abuse and has legislated for an increase in the sentence for concealing child sex abuse.

“The culture of cover-up exposed by the Royal Commission has to end. The two year maximum penalty for the offence of failing to report child sex abuse we enacted earlier this year is increasing to a maximum five years jail or seven years where done for a benefit,” Mr Speakman said.

An amendment to the Terrorism (High Risk Offenders) Act 2017 will ensure courts have the power to impose tough standard conditions on offenders who pose an unacceptable risk of committing a serious terrorism offence if they are not supervised beyond their sentences.

“Unless the Supreme Court orders otherwise, these dangerous offenders will be subject to eighteen standard conditions, including the wearing of electronic monitoring,” Mr Speakman said.

The Government has also responded to a key recommendation of an expert panel convened by Premier Gladys Berejiklian to advise on improving safety at festivals by enabling criminals who sell drugs that cause a person’s death to be jailed for up to 20 years.

The government anticipates that all these laws will come into effect upon Royal assent shortly.