Disaster assistance has been made available to reimburse firefighting costs on K'gari (Fraser Island), as operations continue to combat the impacts of the ongoing bushfires, Federal Member for Wide Bay and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Llew O'Brien announced today.
The funding is available to reimburse funding for activities such as water bombing and clean-up operations within the Fraser Coast Regional Council area and is being provided through the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).
Mr O'Brien said while the fire threat is still ongoing, the financial assistance in the Fraser Coast Regional Council area would come as a great relief to those on the frontline.
"This funding will provide vital assistance to our first responders who continue to work tirelessly to battle the K'gari (Fraser Island) bushfires and protect the World Heritage-listed Island, island residents and visitors, and the unique flora and fauna," Mr O'Brien said.
"The unrelenting bushfires started in mid-November and have now burnt approximately 80,000 hectares of the island, which is greatly concerning.
"The location, the environmental conditions and sheer scale of this fire are alarming, and I would again urge all residents and guests on Fraser Island need to follow the instructions of the emergency services.
"Fraser Island is one of the most pristine natural tourism gems in Australia, and as well as being concerned for the flora and fauna, I acknowledge the significant impact this will have on Kingfisher Bay Resort and the local tourism industry.
"This assistance recognises the extraordinary efforts of first responders and the costs associated with firefighting operations that are vital to protecting the general public and ensuring public health and safety.
"The Australian Government will continue to work closely with the Queensland Government to ensure the community receives the recovery support it needs."
Queensland Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Mark Ryan said the funding was available to reimburse funding for activities such as water bombing and clean-up operations.
"The Fraser Island bushfires are in a challenging environment that has required a multi-agency and community response, which has involved the evacuation of multiple camping grounds while Kingfisher Bay Resort has closed," Mr Ryan said.
"Access is currently restricted on Fraser Island as a safety precaution and the fire crews are working to strengthen containment lines and protect critical infrastructure and assets as required," Mr Ryan said.
"We are pleased to make DRFA assistance available to alleviate the costs associated with fighting these bushfires."
Information on disaster assistance can be found on the Australian Government's Disaster Assist website at www.disasterassist.gov.au and the Queensland Government's Disaster Management website at www.disaster.qld.gov.au.