Poor reception for mobile phone fire levy idea

A SUGGESTION by Hamilton district political candidate Katrina Rainsford that fire levy revenue  be used to fix mobile phone black spots has ignited an angry response from state volunteer firefighters’  delegate Owen O’Keefe.

“That’s an outrageous suggestion,” the Winslow farmer told The Standard yesterday.

“The levy is specifically for emergency response services and nothing else. Politicians and candidates should not see it as a pool of money for their pet projects.

“Already the CFA volunteers are upset that the Department of Environment and Primary Industry and the Department of Justice are both hooking into the levy.”

Mr O’Keefe, a long-time delegate with Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria, said Ms Rainsford’s suggestion was ill-founded.

The  Cavendish candidate is running as an independent for the state seat of  Lowan. In a media release last week she called for fire services levy funds to be used “immediately”  to support a federal and state government funding shortfall for fixing phone black spots.

Mr O’Keefe said the levy should not be touched for any other purpose other than to support emergency response services.

“Fire services don’t depend on mobile phone networks,” he said.

“We use the dedicated rate network and mobile phone black spots do not impinge on our response capabilities. Mobile phones are only used  for administrative purposes.

“A new $50 million internal communications network is being rolled out which enables every brigade in Victoria to use the same system.

“It will also have distress buttons on handsets and eventually GPS tracking.”

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