Emergency levy critical to response
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.