The peak body for Western Australia’s largest emergency service has welcomed today’s publication of the ERA’s Review of the Emergency Services Levy: Final Report, supporting many of its recommendations.
AVBFB President Dave Gossage said the oversight and transparency of the ESL have been major points of contention within and between the various emergency services for some time and the publication of the report will generate important dialogue that could improve the situation.
“Operating on the tiny budget we have, we haven’t yet had the resources to analyse all the detail of the 316-page report,” Mr Gossage said.
“There are many recommendations that we fully support, some we will reserve judgement on until we have had the ability to thoroughly interpret the detail and others that we clearly won’t back.”
“The Association will publish a full response to the final report in due course. However, to give the government guidance while it formulates its response, we have included some of the Key Recommendations that we are most likely to support and not support at the end of this statement.”
“After being attacked and undermined by the last government for taking the role of canary-in-the-coal-mine on many issues that have since come to bear, we have been working very hard to re-establish an open, trusting relationship with the McGowan government.”
“It is therefore very refreshing to see Treasurer Ben Wyatt’s statement this morning reasserting Minister Logan’s commitment to work collaboratively with the AVBFB to improve the transparency and oversight of the very important ESL.”
“There are a number of serious and complex legacy issues of the previous leadership that need to be addressed – and some of them need to happen quickly.”
“However, it is critical the government understands that while it remains open, inclusive and consultative with us, it has our 100% support for taking all the time it needs to fix all the challenges we now face, including the structure of the ESL and Rural Fire Service,” Mr Gossage concluded.
See below: List of Key Recommendations likely to be supported and not supported by the AVBFB after preliminary reading of Final Report
Key Recommendations from the ERA’s Review of Emergency Services Levy Final Report that are likely to be supported and not supported by the AVBFB in its full response
After its initial reading, some of the key recommendations likely to be fully supported by the AVBFB in its final response include:
- An organisation independent of DFES (and the future RFS) should manage the ESL (2)
- All recipients of ESL funding should regularly report on how they have spent the money (3)
- The FES Commissioner’s appeal role should be transferred to an independent organisation (4)
- The Department of Treasury should undertake a review of the DFES structure, resources and administration costs to determine whether services are efficiently delivered (6)
- The State Government should undertake a review of governments’ prevention responsibilities (including for local government), and whether they are being met (7)
- A proportion of both DFES and RFS corporate services costs should be funded by general government revenues, rather than the ESL (10 & 15)
- The ESL should continue to fund Volunteer Marine Rescue and road crash rescue services (13)
- The ESL should fund emergency management activities of the future rural fire service (14)
- ESL grants should be provided to projects that deliver the greatest net benefits (19)
- If a manual prescribing eligibility for ESL is required, there should only be one that applies to all services and it should be regularly reviewed with input from all stakeholders (20)
- An annual report on the management and allocation of ESL should be published (24)
After its initial reading, some of the key recommendations likely to not be fully supported by the AVBFB in its final response include:
- The ESL should not fund the corporate services costs of local governments [assuming Local Governments still provide front-line services after the creation of the RFS] (11)
- The ESL should not fund the costs of recovery (12)
- A separate set of criteria be developed for allocation of ESL to Local Governments (21)
- The Minister should table the advice they receive recommending total ESL revenue and rates (23)
Note: Each bullet point paraphrases the Key Recommendation in (brackets) it refers to. For the full recommendations, see the ERA’s final report: