‘Fairer’ fire services levy introduced

´╗┐Under the changes, the inequitable insurance-based fire services levy will be abolished from July 1, 2013 and Victoria will move to a fairer, more transparent property-based levy.

Premier Ted Baillieu said the government’s reform would save households and businesses across the state more than $100 million a year.”We have listened and acted on the concerns of the many Victorians who said the fire services levy was unfair and inequitable,” Mr Baillieu said.”

These changes will ensure everyone contributes a fair share to the fire services, not just those who adequately insure their properties.

“The reform will abolish the unfair ‘tax-on-tax’ which sees GST and stamp duty charged on the current fire services levy. The reform also introduces a $20 million concession scheme for pensioners and veterans.”

Deputy Premier and Gippsland South MLA Peter Ryan said the fire services levy would be abolished in line with a recommendation from the Bushfires Royal Commission.

“Under the current system only those who insure their properties make a contribution to funding the state’s fire services,” he said.

“The insurance-based model increases the cost of insurance and acts as a disincentive to insure, leaving people vulnerable in the event of natural disasters like Black Saturday.

“Primary producers disadvantaged by the insurance-based fire services levy will also be better off as a result of this reform.”

Under the new model, the property-based levy will be applied to all land and buildings including non-rateable property and property owned by local councils.

The levy will consist of a fixed component – $100 for residential properties and $200 for commercial, industrial, farming and vacant properties – and a variable component calculated as a percentage of the capital improved value of a property.A different percentage, set at budget time, will apply to the Country Fire Authority and Metropolitan Fire District areas according to the budgetary needs of each service.

Shadow treasurer Tim Holding said the government had refused to guarantee no insured Victorian property owners would be worse off as a consequence of the new levy.

“Mr Baillieu has refused to reveal what the variable component of the new property based levy will be. Until this is released no Victorian property owner will know how much they will have to pay as a consequence of these changes,” Mr Holding said.