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PM commits $2b to bushfire recovery fund

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference on the governments' bushfire response at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, January 6, 2020. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) 

At least $2 billion will be pumped into a national bushfire recovery fund over the next two years.

The fund will support local governments, farmers and primary producers, and deliver mental health supports to first responders.

"The fires are still burning and they will be burning for months to come," Scott Morrison told reporters on Monday.

"If more is needed and the cost is higher, then more will be provided."

The prime minister says he is unfazed by the impact of the bushfire recovery fund on the federal budget.

"The surplus is no focus for me," Mr Morrison said.

"What matters to me is the human cost and meeting whatever cost we need to meet."

The bushfire recovery fund will operate alongside three levels of existing disaster relief payments available through the Commonwealth.

Twenty Service Australia pop-ups will open in fire-affected communities to help people access disaster payments.

"We have taken a number of decisions to streamline those payments to make sure cash gets into people's hands as soon as possible," Mr Morrison said.

Welfare debt recovery and mutual obligation requirements in bushfire-affected regions are also being suspended for at least two months.

The consumer watchdog will set up a hotline for people to report any bogus charities using the bushfire crisis to rip people off.

The tax office will not chase up returns in bushfire-affected areas for two years, giving people in those areas some breathing space.

So far, 497 Army reservists have been called to help in the bushfire response.

New Zealand has committed three helicopters and an engineering team, while Singapore is sending two Chinooks to East Sale in Victoria.

France has offered firefighting assistance as well as engineering and environmental support.

© AAP 2020