Former development secretary Penny Mordaunt says Britain 'must' help Australia's bushfire crisis 'if we can'

TWEETS from former development secretary Penny Mordaunt have prompted a debate over whether Britain should send aid to Australia amid the bushfire crisis.

Sunday, 5th January 2020, 2:01 pm
Updated Monday, 6th January 2020, 7:57 pm
Pictured: Portsmouth North MP, Penny Mordaunt, has sparked an online debate over the level of aid to support the Australian bush fires. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Rules on aid have focused on the principles of ‘tackling extreme poverty and supporting the economic aspirations of developing countries’.

Australia is ranked in the world’s top 20 wealthiest nations.

Portsmouth North MP, Penny Mordaunt, tweeted: Ms Mordaunt today tweeted: ‘Britain won some changes to (aid) rules meaning we can help once wealthy nations if they are devastated by natural disasters and count the spend as aid.

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‘But this probably won’t apply in Australia’s situation.’

The MP then added: ‘That aside, do they need help? Can we help? If so then we must.’

In a previous tweet she said: ‘I hope parliament will be given an update next week on what support we are giving and have offered to our Australian friends.

A firefighter helps to tackle the Australian bush fires. Photo: AP Rick Rycroft

‘Fighting sustained crisis is exhausting, even for wealthy and resilient nations.’

Since the fires began in September, at least 24 people are known to have been killed and nearly 15 million acres of bushland and forest destroyed.

Ms Mordaunt's tweets have led to an online debate over whether wealthy countries should receive financial help.

One person tweeted: ‘The money needs to go here first Penny’.

Another person said: ‘There are plenty of charities people can voluntarily donate to if they want to help.

‘Perhaps if people were allowed to keep more of their own money they would have the power to direct resources according to their own judgement rather than someone else's.’