Australia — Anyone who loses their home to the bushfires raging around thecountry will receive an emergency payment from the federal government, PrimeMinister John Howard has promised.
The payment of $1,000 per adult and $400 per child will be on top of allother natural disaster relief assistance measures, Mr Howard said.
That means a family of four would receive $2,800 to help them get back ontheir feet.
“People that have lost their homes in Tasmania, and this will applyelsewhere in the country, if other people lose their homes they will over andabove any other arrangements through the natural disaster relief assistancemeasures, they will get $1,000 an adult and $400 a child,” Mr Howard toldABC radio.
The announcement comes a day after Mr Howard promised to establish a specialemergency fund with the Tasmanian government to rebuild Scamander, the Tasmaniancoastal community where 13 homes were lost in a terrifying firestorm on Mondaynight.
“If there are other communities around Australia that suffer a similarloss of property and damage to business, a similar approach will be taken incooperation with the relevant states,” he said.
“I want to assure the premiers of other states that their communitieswill be treated in exactly the same way.
“It’s just that in Tasmania there’s unfortunately been a loss ofproperty which thankfully has not occurred in Victoria or other parts of thecountry.
“But if it does occur, then obviously the same approach will be taken.”
Mr Howard also promised to facilitate any requests from the states to bringin overseas firefighters to battle the blazes raging in Tasmania, Victoria andNSW.
“I’m told at the moment that’s not needed but if there’s a change we’llobviously facilitate,” he said.
He warned that the crisis could continue for weeks with no major rainforecast.
“Unless there is a really big break in the weather, namely a hugedownpour of rain, the terrain and all the areas surrounding the bushfire are sotinder dry and that is the huge problem that we have,” he said.
“There is a real concern that in some parts of Australia this is asituation that could go on for weeks.”