26 May 2024

Extra $35 million in Federal Budget funding to bolster emergency aircraft fleet

| Claire Sams
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rescue helicopter

The funding has been announced for aircraft used by emergency services in times of crisis, such as fires and floods. Photo: Supplied.

An additional $35 million in government funding has been allocated to aircraft used by emergency services.

The money will be provided to the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) over the next two years through the 2024/25 Federal Budget.

The NAFC supports the delivery of national, state and territory aircraft for use by fire and emergency services. These aircraft can be used for firefighting, and emergency rescue and evacuation efforts in response to fires, floods and other severe weather events across the country.

Federal Member for Gilmore Fiona Phillips acknowledged that since the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires, there had been calls for the government to do more.

“Our community has been calling for a greater capability to respond to disasters since the region was impacted so badly by fires, and again by flooding, so it’s really good to see the government continuing its commitment to keeping us safe,” she said.

“These assets will be invaluable in protecting lives and property, halting the spread of fires, allowing for rescues during floods and supporting efforts on the ground, especially in difficult-to-access areas of Gilmore.

“This is a fantastic step forward to ensure we are prepared for whatever comes our way in the future, and will be welcome news to disaster-prone communities across the region.”

The funding will deliver a broader range of aerial assets, moving from specific firefighting planes to a mix of fixed-wing and rotary multi-use types.

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Mrs Phillips said the funding announced in the 2024 budget was in addition to the considerable support the Albanese Government had provided for disaster recovery.

“This funding brings the Albanese Government’s contribution to national aerial capability to approximately $48 million a year,” she said.

“We are committed to ensuring communities are better prepared for and recover faster from natural disasters – so we can all be safer at home.

“This is yet another step we have taken to ensure our disaster response capabilities are strong.”

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As at 31 March, 2024, the fleet comprises 162 aircraft, including six large fixed-wing air tankers, 15 large rotary-wing aircraft, 70 medium and small rotary-wing aircraft, 56 fixed-wing firebombers and 15 light fixed-wing aircraft.

This fleet is supplemented by additional state-owned and state-contracted aircraft, which are hired as needed to meet peak demand across Australia.

In total, more than 500 aircraft, provided by 150-plus operators, are available for firefighting across Australia.

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