Federal Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud says he will announce a bushfire support package for businesses in the coming days, that will include interest-free loans.
The head of the newly-established bushfire recovery agency Andrew Colvin and Mr Littleproud have stayed in Canberra to iron out the package.
The minister said they’d provide small businesses with interest-free loans up to $500,000 that would be repayment-free for two years.
“We’re not talking about months down the track that we’ll be putting announcements out. We’ll be talking in the next few days that there’ll be further announcements,” Mr Littleproud said.
“We’ve got to get the grant work right now, and then that’s the first phase and then obviously, the broader one is going out and listening and that’s where Andrew will be out there, sitting at kitchen tables, listening to people, understanding their story.”
Five firefighter unions and associations on Wednesday are expected to call for a federal royal commission into Australia’s bushfires – days after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he’d consider one.
The firefighters organisations say the number of stakeholders, issues and communities affected mean a federal inquiry could ensure Australia was better prepared to prevent, mitigate and respond to similar outcomes in the future.
Mr Morrison has signalled he’s willing to sacrifice a federal budget surplus after announcing a $2 billion relief package.
A coalition of 30 former fire and emergency chiefs from every state and territory welcomed the relief package but called on the government to act on climate change.
Former commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW Greg Mullins said it was responsible for the fires which have destroyed seven times more homes than NSW’s previous worst bushfire disaster in 1994.
“The unprecedented, horrific conditions of this bushfire season have been aggravated by climate change driven by the burning of coal, oil and gas,” Mr Mullins said.
“The government’s continued refusal to consider a credible climate policy that phases out fossil fuels and achieves deep cuts to emissions means that we and future generations will continue to face worsening extreme weather.
“It is pointless to help with one hand and cause harm with the other.
© AAP 2020