Morrison knocks back compo request for fireys
PRIME Scott Morrison has knocked back a request from Chief Minister Michael Gunner to extend the compensation scheme for volunteer firefighters to take in what is expected to be one of the worst Top End fire seasons on record.
Under a scheme put in place by the Morrison Government, volunteer fireys battling blazes down south are eligible to receive $300 a day, up to a maximum of $6000, if they are called to serve for more than 10 days.
However, the scheme is scheduled to expire on June 30, well before the fire season reaches its peak in the Top End.
Mr Gunner last week sent a letter to Mr Morrison asking for an extension to the scheme.
But that request was swiftly rebuffed, with Mr Morrison confirming the scheme would end at the end of June.
Environment Minister Eva Lawler said she was disappointed the Prime Minister had rejected a "reasonable request" for NT volunteers.
"He doesn't seem to understand that the bushfire season in the Territory is different to down south," Ms Lawler said.
"While he's rugging up for winter in Canberra, our brave volunteers in the north will be protecting us from fires."
A spokesman from Mr Morrison's office said there was still "plenty of time" to discuss how the payment scheme could work in the Territory past June at the March COAG meeting.
Persistently dry and hot conditions across the NT saw Bushfire NT crews respond to 597 blazes in 2019.
Elizabeth Valley Brigade captain Di Tynan said volunteering took a financial toll on fireys.
"We don't do this for money, we do it to help people but it can get tough," Ms Tynan said.
"A lot of our volunteers are self-employed, so you can feel the pinch if being away for days at a time fighting fires.
"But at the end of the day, we do what we have to do."
Ms Tynan said last year's bushfire season was one of the worst she had seen after more than 40 years on the job.
A similar season is expected this year.
"Our volunteers were pushed to their absolute limits," she said.
"We could be doing it all again soon, depending on what the weather does."