Off the back of some of the worst bushfires Australia has ever seen, the Australian Government has announced it will commit $11 million to the country’s aerial firefighting services.
The government said this additional funding would see more specialised firefighting aircraft take to the skies to keep Australians safe this summer.
“In response to the request from our national fire chiefs we’re backing our firefighters and our water bombing fleet with an extra $11 million boost. That’s on top of the $15 million we already deliver each year for aerial firefighting to tackle what has already been a devastating fire season,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
“Each bushfire season we take the advice of the states and experts about what we can do to keep Australians safe. As we continue into this hot and dry bushfire season we want to ensure our fireys get the aerial support they need and have asked for.”
This comes after the Prime Minister rejected calls for greater bushfire assistance, claiming volunteer firefighters ‘want to be out there’ battling the blazes.
Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said the additional funding would enable annual lease periods of firefighting aircraft to be extended and ensures the right mix and type of aircraft are available to protect communities this summer.
“We recognise the vital role that aerial firefighting plays in protecting communities, essential infrastructure, and environmental values, as well as supporting firefighters on the ground,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Once again, we owe a debt of gratitude to our career and volunteer emergency services who are out there protecting our communities in the face of very difficult conditions.
“It is clear we are facing longer and more intense seasons, and as this summer has only just begun we have already seen devastating fires tear through communities right across the country.
“Sadly, bushfires are part of the Australian landscape and while we cannot always prevent them, we can prepare for them and ensure that we are responding in the most effective way.”
The National Aerial Firefighting Centre has more than 140 aircraft at its disposal to be directed to wherever they are needed. These aircraft, contracted on behalf of state and territory governments, are supplemented by additional state owned, and state contracted aircraft and other aircraft hired to meet peak demand across Australia. In total more than 500 aircraft, provided by over 150 operators, are available for firefighting across Australia.