Australia declines all but Kiwi aid

Last updated 05:00 14/01/2011

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New Zealand is the only country Australia has accepted help from for the Queensland floods so far.

The federal government says it hasn't accepted search and rescue assistance from other countries for the floods because it's a world leader in disaster management.

Offers of operational assistance have come in from around the globe including Britain, the United States, Spain, Japan and Singapore but so far the Gillard government has accepted help only from New Zealand.

A 15-member civilian emergency response team has travelled across the Tasman and is now on the ground in Queensland. A team of 60 Kiwi fire service specialists will be heading there within days.

Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd says one of the worst things Australia could have done was accept "a whole lot of uncoordinated delivery of stuff from around the globe plonked on your doorstep".

"It's far better to work within the systems that we've got."

"Here in Australia we do have one of the best systems for natural disaster management that you'll find anywhere in the world, and that's because we are a sunburnt country full of drought and flooding rains and we're used to it."

Many of Australia's own defence force personnel have returned from leave to help in the devastated regions of Queensland.

More than 400 Australian troops are on the ground.

There are 120 soldiers searching for bodies in the devastated Lockyer Valley, aided by 19 army helicopters and 17 Bushmaster vehicles.

Troops in Brisbane and Ipswich are filling sandbags and coordinating evacuations.

Air force planes have been flying much-needed supplies to Townsville and Bundaberg.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the government had been overwhelmed by international offers to send people to help.

"We very much appreciate the solidarity and the offers of assistance," he said. "[But] ... we have more than enough of our own [troops] to do the task which the Queensland government has currently requested of us."

Aid donations have come in from countries including regional neighbours Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

The Queen has made a private contribution to the Queensland premier's flood relief appeal, the Chinese Red Cross has given A$50,000 (NZ$65,000), and Sri Lanka has offered tea.

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- AAP

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