New Zealand/Australia — Prime Minister John Key oversaw a $2 million donation from New Zealanders to the Australian bushfire appeal fund today.
After meeting Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at his Sydney offices, Mr Key and the New Zealand Red Cross communications and marketing manager Denise Mackay handed over a cheque to Mr Rudd and the Australian Red Cross director of services and international operations, Michael Raper.
“There’s been an enormous outpouring of support from the people of New Zealand for the good people of Victoria, and we wanted to show that with some financial support,” Mr Key said.
The Government began the financial support with a pledge of $500,000, which was topped up by donations from New Zealanders, Mr Key said.
Last month’s devastating bushfires killed more than 200 people in Victoria, and the danger was not over as extreme weather warnings continued for parts of the state in coming days.
“We recognise the enormity of the tragedy that’s taken place,” Mr Key said.
“We’ve been delighted to help where we can, sending firefighters over, making available police if that’s required, and if there was any further demand for New Zealand to offer personnel or other support we’d be more than willing to do so.”
Mr Rudd said New Zealand’s support epitomised the reaction from around the world after one of Australia’s worst natural disasters.
“I thank the New Zealand people and the New Zealand Government for their extraordinary expression of friendship, support and solidarity with Australia and the people of Victoria during the tragic bushfires,” Mr Rudd said.
“This money helps in terms of the bushfire appeal, in rebuilding these communities, the businesses and supporting the families. It’ll take a long time so this practical support is much appreciated. Your Kiwi firefighters have been fantastic and we thank you for that.”