Feedback on fire service funding
The review into the Emergency Services Levy and to what extent it could fund a Rural Fire Service moved to the regions this week as feedback was sought from stakeholders in the Great Southern.
The Economic Regulation Authority released a draft report in July identifying a need for greater transparency about how the ESL is spent on emergency services and to what extent it could fund a Rural Fire Service.
Establishing a Rural Fire Service was a key recommendation of the review into last year's Yarloop bushfire, which destroyed almost 200 properties and killed two people.
The review process concluded in the south of the State this week with a regional visit by the ERA hosted by the Shire of Plantagenet on Monday afternoon before a tour of the Narrikup Bushfire Brigade.
The regional visits then moved to the South West on Tuesday.
ERA chairwoman Nicky Cusworth said speaking with regional stakeholders was an important aspect of the review.
“It’s always really helpful when we do these inquiries and talk to stakeholders and talk to the people who are delivering services on the ground,” she said.
“Given the nature of the issues we are dealing with, this part of the country seemed a particularly good place to visit.”
Ms Cusworth said some recommendations were challenged and accepted during the meeting with makeup and cost of a rural fire service dominating discussion.
The ERA has found a rural fire service would cost West Australians between $4.2 million to $560 million extra and would vary depending if volunteer firefighters or career firefighters were used.
“We looked at some of the costings of that and we talked about governance as well and how the ESL money is allocated,” she said.
“So we understood in the meeting that actually any realistic outcome is likely to be between those and also discussed the fact having done the work on what the various cost components are, whatever model the Government might want to come up with we are now in a position to see roughly what that might cost.”
Ms Cusworth acknowledged the recommendation of bushfire prevention resting primarily with the property owners, including local and State Government agencies, had “disappointed” some stakeholders.
The deadline for stakeholder feedback on the ERA draft report and recommendations is today.
The ERA is set to prepare a report for the Treasurer by late September.
Narrikup Bushfire Brigade’s Warren Forbes, Erika Henderson, Economic Regulation Authority chairwoman Nicky Cusworth and brigade’s Kevin Forbes at the Narrikup Bushfire Brigade headquarters.