THE NSW Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) has reacted cautiously to the NSW Government’s announcement to delay the introduction of the Fire and Emergency Services Levy (FESL), saying that any review must not trigger changes to the amount of money which has been guaranteed for rural fire-fighting services.
The RFSA is a supporter of the previous model of collecting the levy through insurance policies and insurers and was very vocal about the pitfalls of changing to a levy implemented on property holders by local councils.
However, with the government’s strong commitment to follow other states into a property-based model, the RFSA worked closely with the government to secure the best interests of its members.
“The Treasurer, the Hon. Dominic Perrottet MP, has provided us with a commitment that changes to the way the levy is collected and administered, will not impact on our 74,000 volunteer and salaried rural fire fighters, and that any unspent allocations can be rolled into the next financial year without penalty,” RFSA president Ken Middleton said.
“If the government wishes to review the means of collecting the FESL that is their prerogative, but we have been provided with guarantees and we would not want to see those undertakings compromised by model changes.”
The RFSA calls on the government to guarantee that all of the promises made over the last two years about the protection of rural fire-fighting services and funding, will not be compromised.
“We know this is a government that listens, and they heard our concerns and opposition, but we need to make sure our commitments still stand,” he said.