Emer­gency levy crit­i­cal to re­sponse

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - Chloe Fraser

Fire­fight­ers have wel­comed a re­port tout­ing the im­por­tance of the emer­gency ser­vices levy, stress­ing the fund is “crit­i­cal” to fire and emer­gency re­sponse in the Capes.

The Eco­nomic Reg­u­la­tion Au­thor­ity’s draft re­view of the ESL was re­leased to the public this month and was largely pos­i­tive on the ben­e­fits of the fund­ing scheme, but called for more trans­parency on how money was spent.

It ex­am­ined the cost im­pact of a ru­ral fire ser­vice, orig­i­nally raised in the Fer­gu­son re­port into the Wa­roona bush­fires but which many vol­un­teer fire bri­gades across the re­gion are strongly against. ERA chair­woman Nicky Cus­worth said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was not asked to give a view on whether the State should es­tab­lish a ru­ral fire ser­vice, but did de­ter­mine a cost­ing if the Gov­ern­ment were to in­tro­duce one. “There are many ways a ru­ral fire ser­vice could be con­fig­ured and costs of each pos­si­ble model vary greatly de­pend­ing mainly on whether it is staffed by ca­reer fire­fight­ers or vol­un­teers,” she said.

The re­port put the cost to WA res­i­dents at be­tween $4.2 mil­lion and $560 mil­lion ex­tra, or an ex­tra $2.41 on av­er­age ELS charges for a vol­un­teer-based model, up to $362.74 for a ca­reer fire­fighter ser­vice.

Mar­garet River Vol­un­teer Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice cap­tain Jeff Bushby told the Times the ESL was crit­i­cal to fire and emer­gency re­sponse and man­age­ment, and said re­sponse had been dra­mat­i­cally im­proved since it was ini­ti­ated.

“It’s es­sen­tially what funds emer­gency ser­vices and with­out that a lot would strug­gle,” he said.

Feed­back sub­mis­sions are open at er­awa.com.au/con­sul­ta­tion un­til 4pm on Au­gust 11.

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