WAFarmers is encouraged by the Economic Regulation Authority’s final report into the Emergency Services Levy tabled in Parliament today.
Recommendation 48 of the Ferguson Report urges the State Government to undertake a review in order to find the most appropriate department to hold the Emergency Services Levy (ESL), and furthermore, how it should be fairly distributed amongst the community.
“In 2015-16 the ESL generated $323 million,” said WAFarmers General Policy Executive Officer Grady Powell.
“Disappointingly it seems easily identifiable that these funds were not being distributed across the entire state, with reportedly only $36 million having been allocated through grants to local government and volunteer marine rescue.”
It is hoped that the independent organisation being recommended in the report will restore confidence and equity within the ESL framework. By having an impartial third party oversee the ESL there is increased scope for the Department of Fire and Services, the State Emergency Services, Volunteer Marine Rescue and, if introduced, a Rural Fire Service to garner their fair share of the available funding.
“Having an independent body oversee the ESL will reinstate transparency and accountability with the fund,” Mr Powell said.
“This will minimise any wastage, while ensuring more funding is reaching the ground to improve mitigation activities, preparedness, response abilities and recovery efforts by all emergency service bodies.”
WAFarmers is encouraging the State Government to implement the ERA’s recommendations in as timely a manner as possible. Additionally, WAFarmers calls on the Government to outline how it plans to implement a Rural Fire Service.
“As we enter a new fire season only two years after the devastating Esperance and Waroona fires, the community needs to know that change is underway,” Mr Powell said.
“The system we have been working with is broken and to attract confidence and increase public safety, changes need to be made.
“We encourage the State Government to implement the ERA’s recommendations swiftly, and announce its plans to introduce a Rural Fire Service so the regional and rural community can move forward knowing that past constraints and fundamental flaws in the system are addressed and will not be revisited.”
WAFarmers is confident that with a motivated Fire and Emergency Services Minister, and a new Emergency Services Commissioner, transparency and accountability will ensure public confidence will grow significantly in the Department and in the use of the Emergency Services Levy.
All media requests must be directed to WAFarmers Media and Communications Officer Melanie Dunn on (08) 9486 2100 or [email protected].