The Federal Government rejected repeated requests to fund extra air support for fighting bushfires ahead of the last deadly season, arguing resources within the Home Affairs budget were too stretched.

Documents released under Freedom of Information show the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC), supported by the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council (AFAC), had been trying to secure a permanent increase in funding for water bombers and other large firefighting aircraft for more than a year.

NAFC, which co-ordinates national water-bombing and air-support resources, had secured a one-off $11 million boost in December 2018, but the Commonwealth rejected a 2018 business case calling for an ongoing increase “due to other priorities within Government”.

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