War memorial vandals to be hit

OFFENDERS who vandalise war memorials will have to pay for the damage and perform community service work with the Returned Services League under new laws being drafted.

The Liberal government will table legislation in Parliament setting out the new penalties - on top of existing fines - before the end of June. 

The legislation will create a new specific crime of ``desecration of a war memorial'' within the Criminal Code, similar to legislation tabled by the previous state government late last year that created the same specific offence carrying a penalty of up to 12 months' jail or $1300 in fines.

However, the Liberals' plan takes it one step further by adding new penalties, requiring offenders to foot the bill for the damage on top of fines and spend time with the RSL ``to learn about the Anzac spirit and to repay the community''.

The RSL first called for vandals to be publicly named and shamed, and to have to pay for repairs and apologise to the community at a public meeting, after the wooden war memorial of Simpson and his donkey was beheaded at Scottsdale in 2011.

Since then a war memorial was damaged at Perth's Lions Park when vandals cut off the side of the soldier's slouch hat in December. 

Vandals also climbed the refurbished World War I statue at the Ulverstone Cenotaph before Christmas and forced cigarette butts up the soldier's nose and stole the bayonet.

Lyons Liberal MHA Guy Barnett said the government was moving swiftly to implement its election promise to crack down on war memorial vandals.

``The vandalism of war memorials is abhorrent and unacceptable,'' Mr Barnett said.


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