BUSHFIRE CRISIS: Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan has called for better leadership and prioritisation of taxpayer funds.
BUSHFIRE CRISIS: Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan has called for better leadership and prioritisation of taxpayer funds.

Costigan says world ‘laughing at us’ over bushfire readiness

WHITSUNDAY MP Jason Costigan is angered by Australia's lack of preparedness for the bushfire crisis, saying "the world must be laughing at us".

Mr Costigan boycotted Melbourne's New Year's Eve fireworks while on holiday in Victoria this week.

He said the country had splashed millions on fireworks displays, yet state and federal governments could not pool resources to fund waterbombing aircraft.

"We've got all these volunteers fighting fires on the ground, but the aircraft support isn't where it should be," he said.

"(Not having) the very best in terms of equipment available for a first world economy is downright embarrassing.

"We're not a poverty-stricken nation. The world must be laughing at us."

Last week, former Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said Australian governments had not engaged powerful firefighting aircraft sitting dormant overseas to battle blazes raging in NSW and other states. 

The Federal Government allocated $11 million to boost aerial firefighting capabilities in December.

Natural Disaster and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said the government took its advice on aerial firefighting equipment from the peak body for public sector fire, land management and emergency service organisations - AFAC.

"If further assets are required then obviously we will take that advice and work with those individual agencies to make sure they are available," he said.

"You just don't turn up on a Monday and lease an aircraft to fight fires.

"This is something that has to be strategically planned for many, many months and that is what our current fire commissioners have done and we should take great comfort and pride in the professionalism of our fire commissioners who have planned meticulously for this."

Mr Costigan said while it was too late to ban future fireworks to fund more firefighting aircraft, better leadership and prioritisation of taxpayer funds were needed.

"People are seeing fireworks in the sky while parts of the country are burning and that is uncomfortable for some people," he said.

Mr Costigan also praised the actions of volunteer firefighters on the ground.

He said the work of volunteers and waterbombing aircraft had saved his own home from bushfire in the NSW Southern Highlands in 2002.