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The facts on the FESL.

Friday, 02 June 2017

 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The recent decision taken by the Government to defer the introduction of the Fire and Emergency Services Levy (FESL), pending a review to find a better and fairer path forward is supported because of the Association’s publicly stated position that any form of a property based levy would not be fair and equitable and could undermine the culture and independence of the “volunteer” emergency services that has evolved over many years.
 
In reaching this conclusion, the Association commissioned Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu to research a number of issues including the total cost of providing rural fire protection and minimising the threat to lives and property in NSW. These findings took into account information from stakeholders including local government councils.
 

RFSA Response to Funding Our Emergency Service Discussion Paper

Accordingly, in response to the discussion paper issued by the Government on 5 July 2012 “Funding our Emergency Services” the Association recommended that the current contributory system of funding through a combination of insurance levies, local Government rates and State Government was more equitable and should not be changed.  The Association did not support a property based levy and formed the opinion that a compelling case had not been made to suggest that the asserted benefits of a property based levy outweighed the risks posed.

 Supplementary response

Accordingly, in response to the discussion paper issued by the Government on 5 July 2012 “Funding our Emergency Services”, the Association recommended that the current contributory system of funding through a combination of insurance levies, local Government rates and State Government was more equitable and should not be changed.  The Association did not support a property based levy and formed the opinion that a compelling case had not been made to suggest that the asserted benefits of a property based levy outweighed the risks posed.

It needs to be noted that the catalyst for change as consistently quoted by the current Government and others is the extent of non-insurance in NSW.  Whilst the Association appreciates the reported extent of under insurance, the fact remains that 95% of home owners have building insurance which is a primary asset for protection by our emergency services.

Graphs detailing distribution of current and future contributions

The Association does recognise that as with any system there are potential improvements that could be made to the current contributory funding arrangements and is willing to work with Government to examine any reforms which meet community expectations and do not in any way jeopardise the independence and level of funding for the NSW Rural Fire Service. For example, given the number of motor vehicle accidents attended by our emergency services ,a levy on motor vehicle or third party comprehensive insurance policies could be explored thereby reducing the burden on homeowners.
 
With the Government's strong committmet to follow other States into a property-based model, the RFSA worked closely with the Government to secure the best interests of its members as was pleased to achieve sought after gurantees.
 
Whilst it is pleasing that the Government has now made the decision to review the means of collecting the FESL, the Association has been provided with guarantees and we would not want to see those undertakings compromised by model changes.