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RFSA welcomes Emergency Service Tax delay

Sunday, 23 June 2013

The NSW Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) has welcomed a decision by the State government to delay a decision on the introduction of an emergency services levy.

Emergency Services Minister Michael Gallacher announced the delay at the RFSA Biennial Conference in Mudgee.RFSA President, Tim Arnott said the commitment to delay a decision while the state observes all the challenges with the introduction of an emergency services levy in Victoria will make sure the NSW Rural Fire Service is not disadvantaged.

“Minister Gallacher told delegates the State government has taken a decision as a result of the submissions that were made, both verbal and in writing, to look closely at what was happening in Victoria following the introduction of their changes to the emergency services levy," Mr Arnott said.
“We welcome the decision by the State government to wait up to two years before moving on the emergency services levy.
“Our position has always been to have the best funding model used which provides the best support for rural fire fighting across NSW.
“The flexibility of the current funding scheme for emergency services must be maintained if any new system is introduced in the future and we’re concerned an Emergency Services Levy will not do that.
“While the funding model is not perfect, with the majority funded through an insurance levy, we’ve found it’s the best funding model to provide support to both the volunteer and staff members of the Association.”
Emergency Services in NSW are funded 73.7 per cent through an insurance levy of, 11.7 per cent from local government and 14.6 per cent from the State government.
“We’ve seen from other states such as Queensland that when an emergency services levy is introduced, rural fire brigades lose out and are disadvantaged,” he said.
“There have also been concerns expressed about the introduction of the Victorian scheme, with many people having to pay more under the new levy than the previous insurance levy.
“Any funding model must fully fund all emergency services in NSW and we don’t believe a property based levy will achieve this without inflicting financial pain on the NSW Community.
“There are many organisations which are exempt from paying rates, including government bodies, churches and private schools. These organisations currently pay for emergency services through insurance premiums but would become exempt under a property based levy and we believe this is totally unfair.