Labor hides fire services property levy spending
17 June 2020
Member for Euroa and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan has demanded the Andrews Government detail how the millions of dollars it is collecting from property owners to fund the state’s fire services is being spent.
Each year, property owners pay the Fire Services Property Levy (FSPL) through their council rates notices to help fund the state’s fire services, including the MFB and the CFA.
With drastic changes to the structure of the state’s fire services set to take effect from July 1, Ms Ryan said Victorians had a right to know how this money was being used.
“To date the Andrews Government has flatly refused to detail how and where this money is being spent,” Ms Ryan said.
“I most recently asked the government for a breakdown in February. Lisa Neville as the state’s Emergency Services Minister would not provide the information. Nor will she say how much Labor’s restructure of the fire services is costing.”
Ms Ryan said Labor’s new fire services structure gave the United Firefighters Union a much greater say in how funding would be spent.
“I have very grave concerns that volunteer brigades in our region will not get what the funding they need as a consequence of Labor’s decision to hand control of the CFA over to the union,” Ms Ryan said.
“Brigades like Strathbogie, Molka, Heathcote and Pyalong are fighting for basic station upgrades but the government has done nothing to meet their needs.
“These brigades are deeply concerned about their future firefighting capabilities if the Andrews Government doesn’t upgrade their stations and equipment.”
Ms Ryan said as of July 1 the union, which only represents paid staff, would have unprecedented control over how resources are allocated, not just to stations staffed by career firefighters, but also to volunteer-based CFA brigades.
“Every property owner is paying these taxes and the funding collected should be allocated on the basis of greatest need, not on where the union tells the Labor Party where it should be spent,” Ms Ryan said.
“The Minister’s refusal to provide a detailed breakdown of the funding only leaves me asking what the government is so desperate to hide.
“When The Nationals were in government, the fire services levy was used to deliver station upgrades and new tankers, slip-ons and equipment for local brigades.
“Now, property owners are being forced to pay for Labor’s efforts to win the favour of the United Firefighters Union while it simultaneously trashes volunteers,” Ms Ryan said.