Scott Morrison has scotched the idea of having a government-backed Australian fund for people who want to help rebuild the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, saying the French can pay for it themselves.
As news of the destructive fire at the Parisian landmark broke on Tuesday morning, the prime minister reminisced about visiting it with 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."
Later, Mr Morrison dismissed a suggestion by his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull that the government should establish a charitable fund for people who wanted to donate to Notre Dame restoration efforts.
"I'm sure that President Macron is able to deal with this as is the Catholic Church and, if individual Australians want to do something, well, it's a free country - they can do whatever they like," he told reporters in the Victorian seaside town of Torquay.
"We're not making a government fund."
Mr Turnbull said there was precedent for establishing a charitable fund, along with a possible direct government contribution.
Earlier, 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.
Labor leader Bill 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.
"I think Australia should contribute to a restoration fund," he 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."
French President Emmanuel Macron said an international campaign would be launched to raise funds for the cathedral's rebuilding.
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.
Australian Associated Press
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