Australian cash could help rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral burns. Photo: Getty
Notre Dame Cathedral burns. Photo: Getty

AUSTRALIANS are likely to be given an opportunity to contribute to rebuilding the Notre Dame cathedral with both sides of politics lamenting the destructive fire that has devastated the Parisian landmark.

Both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have expressed their sadness over the damaging blaze, which has destroyed the spire and the roof of the historic church.

Mr Morrison recalled visiting Notre Dame with his wife Jenny nearly 30 years ago.

“It’s a pretty special place and to see it in flames today was just really sad,” he told Adelaide’s 5AA radio on Tuesday.

“Paris is an eternal city and it will rebuild and it will restore.”

Mr Shorten noted the “brooding, gothic cathedral” had been an important landmark in the days before GPS when he visited Paris as a young backpacker, and again during early morning runs on a more recent visit.

There is bipartisan support to allow Australians to contribute to the building’s restoration.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull suggested the idea on Twitter, saying there was precedent for a charitable fund that individuals and foundations could contribute to, along with a possible direct government contribution.

People watch as smoke and flames rise from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral. Picture: Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images

Both Mr Shorten and Mr Morrison believed Australians would want to contribute in some way.

“I think Australia should contribute to a restoration fund,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne.

“Notre Dame doesn’t just belong to Paris or France, it belongs to the world. I think we, all of us who’ve enjoyed that architecture, that history, we too should perhaps rally around and help Paris and Notre Dame.”

Flames and smoke rise as the spire of Notre Dame cathedral collapses in Paris. Picture: Dominique Bichon/AP

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he had no doubt many Australians would want to chip in.

“Absolutely, if money is going towards the restoration and Australians who want to contribute can, that is to be supported,” he told ABC TV.

“Every Parisian will dig deep as well, no doubt. I don’t think there will be a shortage of funds for this to happen.”

The massive fire gutted and destroyed the roof of Notre Dame, but firefighters say they have saved the shell of the stone structure from collapse.

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said some artworks in the cathedral had been taken out and were being put in safe storage.