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MORE MONEY TO FIGHT BUSHFIRES

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8 May 2007 018TRS/Budget

The Australian Government will spend an extra $61.2 million over the next four years, including $15 million in 2007-08, to fight bushfires, the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads, Jim Lloyd, said today.

"As the Prime Minister has announced, the 2007-08 Budget provides funding to extend two bushfire initiatives, aerial fire fighting and the Bushfire Mitigation Programme, which help the states, territories and local councils respond to the threat of bushfires," Mr Lloyd said.

"Recent studies show that the intensity, frequency and overall impact of bushfires will increase in the future, with more high-risk days, longer bushfire seasons, more affected areas and increased costs.

"These Budget measures will help ensure that our firefighters are in a better position to respond to bushfire emergencies when they occur.

"The Government will provide $41.2 million over the next four years ($10 million in 2007-08) to help the states and territories lease aerial firefighting equipment. On a yearly basis, our spending on aerial firefighting will increase by 25 per cent from its current level of $8 million in 2006-07.

"Aerial fire fighting is one of our key weapons in the fight against major bushfires, and the funding will enable the states and territories to lease more helicopters and fixed wing planes, above and beyond the 25 aircraft that we subsidised in 2006-07.

"The aircraft will continue to be leased and positioned through the National Aerial Firefighting Centre, which ensures that our aerial firefighting resources are available where they are needed, regardless of the state and territory boundaries," he said.

Extending the Bushfire Mitigation Programme

The Australian Government will spend $20 million over the next four years ($5 million in 2007-08) to extend the Bushfire Mitigation Programme, which helps fund fire trails and other measures to make it quicker and easier for firefighters to get bushfires under control.

The programme was originally due to end in 2006-07. It will now continue until June 2011.

"The extension of the programme will help fund more than 1,000 new bushfire mitigation projects around Australia," Mr Lloyd said.

"We introduced the programme in 2004-05, and it has already helped fund significant infrastructure works, including the construction or upgrade of 4,000 kilometres of fire trails, the maintenance of more than 9,000 kilometres of fire trails, the construction or repair of 58 bridges, the installation of 74 culverts, 39 water tanks, 11 other water supply projects and 88 signage projects.

"All local councils and the state and territory governments are eligible to apply for funding assistance under the programme. Fire trails on private land are also eligible for funding when the state or territory government has a written agreement with the landholder about liability, access and maintaining the trail," he said.

Further information about the Bushfire Mitigation Programme, including the projects approved so far, is accessible at www.dotars.gov.au. The state-by-state details of the new funding for the Bushfire Mitigation Programme are set out in the table below.

Media contact: James Larsson 02 6277 7060/0434 305 130

Bushfire Mitigation Programme
Yearly funding allocations, 2007-08 to 2010-11

State/territory Yearly
allocation
($000)
New South Wales 1,370
Victoria 965
Queensland 965
Western Australia 550
South Australia 425
Tasmania 275
Northern Territory 250
ACT 200
Total 5,000