Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday announced a compensation scheme for volunteer firefighters in New South Wales (NSW), who have been battling the catastrophic bushfires in the state.
PM Morrison announced in a statement that NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers who are self-employed or work for small or medium-sized companies will be able to apply for up to A$6,000 ($4,189) in compensation from the government, Xinhua news agency reported.
Morrison further said, “This is not about paying volunteers. It is about sustaining our volunteer efforts by protecting them from financial loss”.
Morrison said that Australia’s other states and territories can request a similar scheme based on their level of need.
Last week, Morrison rejected calls for “reckless” and “job-destroying” cuts to the country’s vast coal industry in the face of a deadly climate-fuelled bushfire crisis.
Earlier, the New South Wales (NSW) state had declared a state of emergency, with bushfire conditions expected to worsen over the coming days as a record-breaking heatwave sweeps across the country.
In November, New South Wales’ Rural Fire Service said Thursday morning there were about 60 fires active, with 30 of them uncontained in the state where some 1,200 firefighters tried to mitigate the flames in the face of worsening conditions, such as rising temperatures and wind.
Dozens of fires also burn in the neighbouring state of Queensland and authorities have ordered an evacuation in towns such as Noosa North Shore and Woodgate.
The fires have been fuelled by tinder-dry conditions after three years of drought that experts say has been exacerbated by climate change, a factor that has sparked a sharp political debate in recent days.
Several new fires broke out to scores of blazes that have been burning for several days across New South Wales (NSW) state.
Bushfires occur frequently in Australia, but scientists say several weather phenomena have come together to make this spring-summer bushfire season among the worst on record.