‘CARELESS’: Illegal island campfires need tougher penalties
A longtime Fraser Island conservationist believes those responsible for campfire that led to the wildfires that tore through half of the island last year should have received the maximum fine and been ordered to complete community service.
Mike West said he was part of small group of conservationists and natural historians who made a two-day visit after the fire and found no sign of life "in the great swathes of totally burned areas".
"Not even ants," he said.
It was Mr West who led the campaign to ban fires on Fraser Island during his time on the Advisory Committee.
"This ... was an illegal act that carelessly caused untold millions of dollars to put out to say nothing of the environmental cost which is unimaginable," he said
"The forests will recover but the fauna may never get over it, so wide spread was the blaze.
"For instance the ground parrots and the black-breasted button-quails have nowhere to go.
"They do not live in the forests that have not burned, and they only have the area to the south, which although did not burn this time, was badly burned in another big fire in 2019.
"There was a previous case where a campfire caused much less damage than these last two infernos where a fine of $20,000 (was imposed).
"These culprits should have received the maximum fine and it would not have hurt to give them community work orders too."
Last week Liam Gregory Cheshire, 24, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful lighting of a fire and leaving a fire unattended.
The Warwick man did not appear at Hervey Bay Magistrates Court in person but the charges were dealt with in his absence.
Cheshire was fined $1334 and no conviction was recorded.
Dominic Glynn Mcgahan, another member of the group, also pleaded guilty to lighting a fire and was fined $667 with no conviction recorded.
Two others charged in relation to the fire had their matters adjourned.