Maybe, just maybe the Victorian Government has found some votes in changing the state’s burdensome fire services levy.
The government has released a Green Paper titled “Fire services and the non-insured”.
State Treasurer John Lenders said “this Green Paper has been designed to help Victorians establish the best way to fund Victoria’s fire services and to determine whether an alternative model would deliver adequate funding in a more equitable way.”
Well, it ought to be. There is a far more equitable way. The state government has been told over and over again in its decade in power its system of burdening the prudent who insure property is inequitable.
This column has mentioned it time and again. Very prominent names in Australia’s general insurance industry include Dr Allan Manning, Walter Spratt and Alistair Mitchell and companies have spent hours and hours to produce undeniable figures to point out the inequities.
Nevertheless, like his state Treasurers before him, Mr Lenders makes no commitment for change. He has declared there are a range of estimates making it difficult to assess whether it is a significant issue and whether the options presented correctly address the problem.
Further, a Green Paper in Australia might be a government-inspired document but it is never binding. A Green Paper has been defined as a “tentative government report of a proposal without any commitment to action – the first step in changing the law”. Perhaps.
Indeed, Mr Lenders draws on a review of the state’s Fire Services Levy conducted by the Department of Treasury and Finance in 2003 to line his paper. This most unpopular review found that “…the current model was the best way to fund Victoria’s fire services.”
He says it’s now “appropriate” to review the model. This is not surprising given that the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission is not going all the government’s way.
Mr Lenders says “to help determine the viability of the different options”, there has to be analysis to “develop a reliable estimate of the levels of non–insurance and under–insurance”. There are 7 options.
Surely, it is time to acknowledge people who have proven the inequities, the consumers who stood in front of TV in the aftermath of the bushfires and condemned the insurance taxes that prevented, yes prevented, many people from insuring?
He says the “Insurance Council of Australia or insurers” will be asked to supply information about properties they have insured in the sample geographic regions. When will they be asked?
The Insurance Council has welcomed the Green Paper, as we are sure many others would.
Now let’s get the White Paper (Government legislative intention) as soon as possible, throw out the FSL and spread the cost of funding like the 4 other sensible states and territory.