Levy report findings on the table
ESTABLISHING an independent regulator of the Emergency Services Levy was one of the key recommendations by the Economic Regulatory Authority’s report tabled in parliament.
On October 19, WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt tabled the final report, which was commissioned by the previous State Government, to review the arrangements for managing and distributing the levy money.
Mr Wyatt said the recommendations outlined in the report would be considered.
“The State Government has already indicated that there is room to improve the transparency of the oversight of the levy and the authority’s proposals are being considered,” he said.
Association of Volunteer Bushfire Brigades spokesman Darren Brown said the association had been calling for years to make the levy more transparent.
“We are absolutely happy to hear the Government sing that song,” he said.
“It is critical the public see where the levy is spent every year.”
A recommendation of the report was to publish an annual breakdown of the management and allocation of the levy.
Mr Brown said the association supported most of the recommendations, particularly the call for a department to control and distribute the levy independent of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and the proposed Rural Fire Service.
Mr Brown said there were negative perceptions surrounding the department being both the levy’s chief beneficiary and its regulator.
“We believe it is in the department’s best interest to relinquish authority and remove that perception,” he said.
The association also supported recommendations for recipients of levy funding to regularly report how the money was spent and the levy fund emergency management activities of the future Rural Fire Service, among others.
One of the recommendations with which the association disagreed, Mr Brown said, was that the levy should not fund the corporate service costs of local government.
Mr Brown said should local governments still administer the front line volunteer brigades under a Rural Fire Service, they should receive funding.
Mr Brown said he also took issue with the recommendation to table advice received by the Emergency Services Minister on total levy revenue and rates in parliament.
Mr Brown said any advice received from Government departments or outside organisations should not be politicised.