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More Resources For Aerial Firefighting

Australian Coat of Arms


Senator The Hon Ian Campbell
Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads
Manager of Government Business in the Senate

TRS16/Budget 11 May 2004

The Australian Government will spend $16.5 million over the next three years to help the states and territories lease firefighting aircraft, the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads, Senator Ian Campbell, said today.

"The funding will be a vital contribution to the cost of leasing medium and heavy firefighting aircraft, such as the giant Aircrane helicopters that operated here over the last two summers," he said.

"A similar level of funding in 2003-04 helped cover the cost of an extra 10 medium and heavy aircraft, but the three-year funding commitment means that taxpayers can expect to get even more value for money.

"The states and territories are responsible for firefighting, but the Government is working with them to develop a national approach to aerial firefighting. We were willing to make the extra funding available because the state and ACT governments have now established joint funding arrangements and protocols for managing and sharing their aerial firefighting equipment.

"The protocols were used for the first time in February this year when two New South Wales based aircraft were flown to Adelaide and Mildura during an extreme fire danger period in South Australia.

"The funding is contingent on the state and ACT governments maintaining their joint arrangements."

Senator Campbell said the Government's three-year commitment meant that the National Aerial Firefighting Centre, established by the states and the ACT, would be able to negotiate more favourable leasing terms with equipment suppliers.

"This has the potential to save taxpayers up to 20 percent of the current cost of leasing aerial firefighting equipment," he said.

The centre will be required to report to the Government on the deployment of aircraft, the effectiveness and suitability of in meeting normal and crisis demand and their value for money. The Northern Territory is not taking part in the joint arrangements.

Media contacts:

Wayne Grant (Senator Campbell's Office) 02 6277 7060 / 0407 845 280