Thursday, 2 April 2020
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Govt funds Large Air Tanker for bushfires

The Queensland Government will fund a $15 million Queensland-based Large Air Tanker to help in future fire seasons.

The Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said after a refusal from the federal government to fund the aircraft, the government went about securing one with state funds.

More than $15 million and $3.1 million for ongoing costs will be spent to have a tanker for the exclusive use of Queensland.

The fire season in 2019 to 2020 saw massive fires rage across the East coast and the usual arrangement of borrowing the NSW tanker was not possible.

Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Craig Crawford said a Large Air Tanker was first used in the state in the 2018 fire season.

“Queensland previously had the option to source call-when-needed LATs from interstate based on point-in-time requirements and availability,” Mr Crawford said.

“But with New South Wales enduring its own bushfire emergency, it became increasingly difficult to secure the LAT last year.

“There were some instances where it was bound for Queensland only to be recalled to New South Wales.”

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner, Greg Leach, said a Queensland-based Large Air Tanker would be used through an arrangement with the National Aerial Firefighting Centre.

“QFES already has a long-term and successful working relationship with NAFC through our use of rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft,” Mr Leach said.

“With Queensland, as well as other states and territories, experiencing these longer and more intense bushfire seasons there is a strong potential for the 2020 bushfire season to be just as severe.

He said QFES used 72 aircraft in last year’s bushfire season, which was more than double the season in the previous year.