Levy re­port find­ings on the ta­ble

Harvey-Waroona Reporter - - FRONT PAGE - David Charlesworth

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.

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