PM says no to fund for Notre-Dame aid

The Australian government won't be setting up a local fund for people who want to contribute to rebuilding the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris after a fire.

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.

Flames and smoke rise as the spire on Notre Dame cathedral collapses in Paris on Monday, April 15, 2019. Photo: AP Photo/Diana Ayanna

Flames and smoke rise as the spire on Notre Dame cathedral collapses in Paris on Monday, April 15, 2019. Photo: AP Photo/Diana Ayanna

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 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.

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.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison

"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.

In the United Sates, the French Heritage Society, a non-profit group dedicated to preserving French architectural and cultural treasures, launched a web page to raise money for the cathedral's restoration.

At the website GoFundMe, more than 50 campaigns related to the cathedral fire had been launched globally on Monday, John Coventry, a spokesman for Go Fund Me, said.

Notre-Dame Cathedral has looked to international donors for past renovation efforts.

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.

AAP