Ratepayers are likely to fork out an extra $160 a year under an Emergency Service Levy to be bundled into council rates.
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Announcing the scheme last week Minister for Emergency Services David Elliott said the NSW government was prompted to introduce the levy due to people failing to take out insurance - labelling them as “shirkers”.
While Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian said home and contents insurance would fall by $200 on average, delivering a $40 saving to households with insurance, the Greens and community services say the real winners will be business.
Their share in the levy will drop to 13 per cent while the contribution of owners or occupiers of residential properties will jump from 45 per cent to 75 per cent, according to the Greens.
So who should pay? And should people in high risk areas, bushfire and flood prone, pay a higher rate?
Making a blanket statement that all people who fail to pay insurance are ‘shirkers’ is simply unfair and wrong. Insurance can be put on the back burner of low income families struggling to make ends meet.
The NSW Farmers’ Association has also weighed in on the debate. While it supports a contribution from all rate payers to the emergency services levy, it believes that a levy should reflect the level of service usage. “These rates need to be proportionate to the services drawn upon by each sector, and should not shift costs from metropolitan or commercial classifications onto rural landowners,” NSW Farmers’ rural affairs spokesperson Sonia O’Keefe said.
“The outcome for rural landowners must be a balanced and equitable levy contribution that is proportionate to the risks in their area,” Mrs O’Keefe said.
“In attempting to make the system ‘fairer’, government must make sure that the rates charged are directly related to the services used and risks that exist in each sector.
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