Prime Minister Scott Morrison has handed $1 million to each of 42 councils in bushfire-hit areas, declaring it is for mayors to spend on urgent projects.
"If you're a mayor in one of those areas today, if you are out in your community, seeing needs that you know need to be met right now and people are asking you to meet them, I want to give them the confidence and support by providing this cash assistance right now so they can say, 'Yes, we can do that'," Mr Morrison said.
Evidently determined not to be accused of bureaucratic delay, Mr Morrison is getting the relatively small payments out, albeit so far without criteria for how it must be spent.
He said it could go to "local infrastructure, it can be on local roads, it can be on restoration of facilities, it can be providing staff and services support in their local areas to assist with whatever the need may be".
It is part of the $2 billion Mr Morrison announced for his new National Bushfire Recovery Agency, but government programs of that size take time to roll out, especially with the requirements for competitive processes and detailed assessments.
It is unclear what rules will apply to the mayors' spending.
Snowy-Monaro mayor Peter Beer said he had a call from the Commonwealth on Thursday saying he would get $1 million "to spend on what we think is most useful with some criteria which would come with it".
Mr Beer said he had no idea what the money would be spent on and no clue what the criteria would be, but it was welcome.
"This is completely new money which we're most grateful for, but as I say we'll have to wait and see," he said.
"We have no idea what we want to do with the million dollars yet. We've got fires on all fronts at the moment."
His area had been hit with significant property losses, from historic buildings in the Snowy Mountains, to houses and fences, the Selwyn snowfield, and current threats from the out-of-control fires still burning, including around Adaminaby and Anglers Reach.
"Of course our tourists have been emptied out as well, so we don't know what effect that will have on our summer tourism which is as big or bigger than our winter tourism," he said.
Queanbeyan-Palerang mayor Tim Overall said the money was welcome and the council would meet in the coming days to set priorities. He did not know what project might come first, but said other money was flowing from the NSW government and the council itself. The council had lost a waste transfer station at Nerriga, which needed to be rebuilt as people started cleaning up their properties, roads had been churned up from the fire-fighting effort, and a bridge had been destroyed. On private properties, 23 homes in the council's area had been destroyed and many others seriously damaged.
Mr Morrison said the money would be in state government bank accounts on Friday for immediate distribution.
"I also want to stress this is initial and urgent. There will be more and that will be assessed but we are going to be disciplined and careful and consultative in the way we make sure that additional support is rendered into these communities," he said, in a hint of the bureaucratic processes that must follow.
Details have been unclear, but Mr Morrison's national agency appears to be spending money according to the category A, B and C disaster relief funding, through what Mr Morrison described as a "D-plus" category. The normal funding, though, is distributed by states, which must match it. By setting up a national agency, Mr Morrison will bypass at least part of that process.
In another hint the government might be running up against reality in its bushfire fund, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said the government was developing "a whole of government plan in making sure that we not just support the individuals and the communities but we support the industries that underpin them".
"That is why we can't rush in with huge announcements straight away," he said.
The NSW government pledged another $1 billion for bushfire management and recovery on Thursday on top of the 231 million it has already announced.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she had told NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons to "just do what you need to do and we'll pay the bill later", AAP reported.