Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced this morning that aerial firefighting will get a further $11 million in federal funding.
The increase comes as parts of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria remain shrouded in smoke from bushfires.
"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," the Prime Minister said. "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.
“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.
“We saw how useful our extra support was last season which is why we’re boosting it again this year."
The announcement was welcomed by Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia (AAAA) CEO Phil Hurst, whose members provide a significant proportion of the aerial firefighting capability.
“In what is developing as a marathon fire season, aerial aggressive initial attack, aerial protection of assets, and aerial support of volunteers on the ground is a vital part of the firefighting toolbox," Hurst said.
“Our national policy on aerial firefighting outlines a partnership approach with government which is based on Australian aircraft and Australian pilots, maintenance crews and support staff.
"However, our focus in the short to medium term is to ensure our companies, pilots, maintainers and support staff can continue to back our volunteers in putting fires out.”
Australia's National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) has more than 140 aircraft at its disposal. These aircraft, contracted on behalf of state and territory governments, are supplemented by additional state-owned and state-contracted aircraft and other aircraft contracted to meet peak demand.
In total more than 500 aircraft, provided by over 150 operators, are available for firefighting across Australia.