Proposed changes by the O’Farrell government to the way Emergency Services are funded will see inequitable cost-shifting from insurance companies to home owners, says Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge.

FBEU Secretary Jim Casey delivers submissions to NSW parliament

At a press conference this morning, FBEU Secretary Jim Casey presented David with a duffel bag full of submissions to the Emergency Services Minister, as well as a mock cheque for $700 million from the NSW government to insurance companies. More pictures online here.

As reported by The Australian Online | Weekly Times Now | NineMSN | Channel 10 | Newcastle Herald | Cowra Community News

“Barry O’Farrell’s first instinct is to always deliver for big business and this proposal could see business getting a $250 million a year tax break paid for by long-suffering householders,” Mr Shoebridge said.

“Replacing the insurance levy with an inequitable and poorly-targeted property tax is not a step forward. It will significantly shift the cost burden from businesses on to home owners.

“Such a model is not applied to the NSW Police, and it should not be applied to Fire and Rescue, the State Emergency Service or the Rural Fire Service.

“Under the government’s proposal, the average home-owner could be paying a new tax of $267 a year, to deliver increased profits to insurers and businesses.

“If the O’Farrell government is intending on levying a Tony Abbott style “great big new tax”, they should at least have the courage to collect it themselves and not force local government to do their dirty work.

“The current system reflects the reality that insurance companies directly benefit from Emergency Services, who prevent or minimise damage to insured properties and therefore reduce payouts by insurers.

“The Greens NSW do not support an inequitable broad-based property tax as a funding model for Emergency Services,” Mr Shoebridge said.

Read the Greens NSW response to the government’s discussion paper here.

As reported by AAP in The Australian Online

NSW firies want tax plan to be scrapped

AAP October 31, 2012 2:47PM

ALMOST 800 letters opposing a new fire brigade tax have been dumped outside Parliament House in Sydney.

Fire Brigade Employees’ Union (FBEU) secretary Jim Casey and Greens MP David Shoebridge on Wednesday emptied the sack of letters, said to be from ordinary mums and dads across Sydney, under the gaze of several police.

The letters, addressed to Emergency Services Minister Mike Gallacher, call on the government to scrap its plans for a new tax on households to fund Fire and Rescue NSW.

Under the plans, which are yet to pass into law, insurance companies would no longer have to pay a levy providing almost 74 per cent of the fire brigade’s funding.

Instead, householders will pay a new property-based tax, calculated on land value to a maximum value of $267 for land worth $250,000.

The government argues it’s a fairer way of funding Fire and Rescue NSW that will lead to a reduction in insurance premiums.

But Mr Casey described the new tax as “wealth shifting”, with big insurance firms the only beneficiary.

“Rather than the insurance companies paying, ordinary punters will be paying,” he said.

“It’s basically wealth shifting.”

Mr Shoebridge said he would deliver the letters to Mr Gallacher’s office.

“This is a strong message to this government that ordinary householders should not be picking up the bill to give insurance companies and businesses a tax break,” he added.

Mr Casey said the government is also about to begin closing fire stations in Sydney, the Illawarra and the Hunter Valley as part of cost savings.

“It’s going to affect community safety, no doubt,” he added.

“You close a fire station, you blow out response times.”

NSW Treasurer Mike Baird said the government was “trying to find a fairer way” to collect the levy.

“At the moment, not everybody pays insurance,” Mr Baird said.

“The experience from other states is that for those currently paying full insurance, they could expect a reduction in relation to it.”