The Baillieu government achieved an important milestone last week, in announcing a new model to fund Victoria’s fire service. It is significant on a number of fronts.
It is one example of the Baillieu government’s commitment to reform the state tax agenda but, more importantly, it is the honouring of an election commitment.
In my previous role as president of the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) I made a similar commitment to the membership that I would fight tooth and nail to lobby for reforms to the fire services levy (FSL) that provided a fairer, more transparent property-based model that removed the triple-tax effect.
I congratulate both the Premier and the Treasurer Kim Wells on having the courage and guts to do what the Labor government could not, would not and did not do — reform the FSL.
No more will those who insure property have to bear the financial burden of funding the fire service alone. No more will those who do not insure not contribute. No more will we see stamp duty and GST charged on the levy and no more will farmers be unfairly discriminated against. Best of all, we will see a reduction in the cost of insurance and significant savings to households and businesses.
Former premier John Brumby and former treasurer John Lenders displayed stubborn resistance, despite other states implementing property-based funding models with success. It has taken a Coalition treasurer with the fortitude to do the hard work to come to a position where a newer, fairer and more equitable model will be delivered to the people of Victoria, as promised, in 2013.
Simon Ramsay, Member for Western Victoria