Scott Morrison has defended the government's action on climate change after coming under heavy pressure as NSW burns and chokes through a bushfire crisis.
The prime minister said there was no direct link between any of the fires that have raged across Australia this year and his climate change policies.
He said the drought was the biggest underlying cause of the national disaster.
"We all know, as I acknowledged earlier this year in February, climate change along with many other factors contributes to what is occurring today," Mr Morrison told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.
"But let me be clear about this, climate change is a global challenge. Australia is playing our role as part of this global challenge."
Tens of thousands of protesters marched through thick smoke in Sydney on Wednesday evening to demand stronger climate action.
The prime minister said the haze enveloping his home city had been distressing and concerning, particularly for young people.
However, Australia was "meeting and beating our emissions reduction targets", he said.
"Our emissions are around 50 million tonnes lower on average over the term of our government from what we inherited."
Mr Morrison said linking the bushfires to climate policy was misconstruing the issue.
"We need to reduce emissions and that's what is being achieved," he said.
"Even that achievement cannot be directly linked to a reduction or an increase in the risk of bushfire in Australia, because climate change is a global phenomenon."
The ongoing blazes have also opened an uncomfortable wound within the Liberal Party, with NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean breaking ranks to blame climate change for the fires.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese welcomed Mr Kean's comments, saying the coalition and the Greens needed to meet Labor in the middle to address climate change.
"Matt Kean is saying some things that his federal colleagues won't," the Labor leader told reporters in Gladstone on Thursday: "that the world is round and that climate change is real and that governments need to respond."
Federal Liberal MP Jason Falinski also backed up Mr Kean.
"Matt Kean is right. Climate change is contributing to the fire situation. We need to take practical steps at home, and be ambitious abroad," he said.
The prime minister has for weeks insisted professional and volunteer firefighters have all the resources they need.
But on Thursday, he announced $11 million for the country's aerial firefighting capabilities.
The immediate cash injection will allow the National Aerial Firefighting Centre to buy more aircraft or extend current leases.
Mr Morrison said he was advised firefighters had all the equipment they needed, after reports emerged masks were being paid for through crowdfunding websites.
Mr Albanese said the prime minister needed to meet with fire chiefs and state leaders to discuss a range of resourcing issues as well as paid leave for fire volunteers from their usual workplaces.
Australian Associated Press
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