The Vic Govt should scrap its review of the state’s fire services levy (FSL) on insurance premiums and leave it to the bushfires royal cmn (BRC) investigating Feb’s fatal fires to design a replacement funding scheme, says a Melb-based loss adjuster. LMI Grp CEO Dr Allan Manning told CN an FSL discussion paper released by the cmn last week should supersede an earlier green paper published by the state govt. The govt’s green paper has been criticised as favouring a continuation of the current FSL-based funding system for fire services (CN 1657). The govt’s paper is part of a review of funding arrangements due to run until at least Aug 2010 and possibly Feb 2011. Manning said the govt should scrap its review. It had a vested interest in maintaining the existing FSL system but the BRC could provide a truly independent assessment of alternative funding models. "I think the cmn’s [discussion paper] is a very balanced and well-researched document." It had pointed out that previous similar official inquiries had urged FSL funding models be abandoned because they were disincentives to insure. "If you double the cost of any product people are not going to buy it," Manning said. The BRC called for public feedback by Dec 21 and proposed three options for funding fire services, a property-based model, widening the existing FSL by levying non-insureds and mandating property insurance. The govt’s green paper outlined seven options, including maintaining the existing FSL on premiums, imposing compulsory "fire services insurance", a property-based levy and mandatory collection of fire-fighting costs from non-insureds. Vic Treasurer John Lenders’ spokesperson told CN the BRC was an independent body that had decided to conduct its own FSL inquiry. The govt welcomed the cmn’s move and would incorporate the outcomes in its own review. He said the apparently lengthy duration of the govt’s review was partly because of a deliberate plan not to seek public submissions until June 2010. "The govt decided it would not ask fire services and others to spend time writing submissions over the summer bushfire period."