Following up on the article in The Age on 20th June titled "Fire Levy Abolition Delay", the newspaper has followed up with another piece by Tom Arup and Madeleine Heffernan under the banner: "Insurance bill fires up farmers". An electronic copy of this article can be found at http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/insurance-bill-fires-up-farmers-20120629-218ad.html
I congratulate both The Age and the two reporters for pushing this issue. It is extremely frustrating to all those that insure and the insurance industry at large that the politicians who have had since 27 August 2010 when the abolition of fire service levy was first announced by the Brumby Government have gone off on their winter break and left everyone up in the air with no direction until at least August when they return.
It is too easy for the Victorian Government which was elected on a campaign of looking after the farmers, small business and mums & dads to blame the insurance industry for what is their complete bungling of the transition. It is not like they had no model to follow. Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia all did it well.
Having farmers, builders and all business owners pay 95% tax on every dollar spent on property, business interruption and construction risk insurance and then double tax it with GST and then triple tax the premium, fire service levy and GST with a 10% State Government Stamp duty is nothing more than yet another grab for cash, something this government is perceived with far too often. I think this is a clear case of perception being reality.
Imposing a tax of $580 million on the insurance industry much of which is capital expenditure during a transition year, when insurance is paid annually in advance and property taxes will start to include a fire service levy component will end up being a double tax for the same thing (on top of the triple tax of GST and Stamp Duty).
This issue will not go away. It needs to be addressed by the Government who created the situation in the first place.
Despite this being the biggest debacle I have seen in my over 41 years in insurance, two good things will come of it or should. The first is that come this time next year insurance in Victoria will be up to 42.38% less expensive meaning it will be much more affordable. Secondly, it is hoped that the New South Wales Government who are looking at removing the Fire Service Levy on insurance in that state will see how not to action the transition year!
In the meantime, I pray for a low fire season in Victoria this coming summer as I know that under insurance and non-insurance remains a real issue in rural and regional Victoria due to the obscene level of levies and taxes on insurance.