Farmers welcome new fire services funding model
Farmers have welcomed a major policy reform from the Victorian Government which will create a more equitable fire services funding model for regional Victorians.
The new funding model will replace the current Fire Services Levy (FSL) and will be based on a flat charge of $100 per residential property and $200 per farming enterprise.
The model will also include a variable charge on capital improvement value. In calculating this percentage, farmland will receive a farm differential that will be set annually in the state budget.
GST and stamp duty will not be collected on top of the new tax.
“It is a major improvement on the old funding model,” Victorian Farmers Federation President Peter Tuohey said.
“The broken FSL system of a ‘tax on a tax on a tax’ has ended. The removal of stamp duty and GST on fire service funding is a win for Victorians.”
The FSL was stinging farmers with up to 95 per cent of the cost of their insurance premiums, plus GST and stamp duty.
“It meant those who didn’t insure or underinsured got a free ride, while others were paying more than their fair share,” Mr Tuohey said.
“For every $1000 of their insurance premium, farmers have been handing over an FSL of $850 to $950 to fund the state’s fire services, plus GST and State Government stamp duty on the combined amount.
“The VFF has been calling for years for the FSL to be dumped and replaced with a fairer property-based tax.
“I congratulate the Coalition Government in this significant policy reform,” Mr Tuohey said.
“The new funding system will have a much broader collection base and will help fix the inequity that’s plagued regional Victorians for years.
“The changes announced today have fundamentally improved how Victoria funds its fire services. It means everyone who benefits from fire services contributes.”
Mr Tuohey also welcomed the government’s decision to appoint a Fire Services Levy Monitor.
“The transition to a new model will be challenging and the appointment of Professor Allan Fels as Monitor is the right step needed to oversee the transition,” Mr Tuohey said.