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DFES call to charge more for fire levy

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services said additional funding would be “highly beneficial”.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services said additional funding would be “highly beneficial”.

Emergency services are calling for West Australians to pay more to be protected from threats such as bushfires amid claims the risks of natural hazards are sure to increase.

As part of a review of the emergency services levy by WA’s economic watchdog, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services said additional funding would be “highly beneficial”.

The levy was introduced in 2003 to help pay for the provision of services ranging from firefighting to emergency rescues.

It is forecast to raise $323 million this year, compared with $305 million last financial year.

A progressive tax that increases in line with the gross rental value of a property and the availability of emergency services nearby, the levy is paid by landholders through their rates and typically amounts to between $200 and $300 a year.

In a submission to the Economic Regulation Authority, DFES said extra funding was needed to help conduct burn-offs and prepare communities for the risks of emergencies.

Its reasons were the growth in urban and rural development, increasing community expectations for the safety of firefighters and the growing frequency of severe weather events.

DFES also noted that changing farming practices meant higher yielding crops were now a bigger fire risk than before.

And it warned that “demographic changes” within the volunteer workforce would affect the capacity of services to respond to emergency incidents.

DFES is primarily a response agency and has argued it should receive funding if it is expected to carry out mitigation efforts.

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