FIRE SERVICES LEVY: DOCUMENTS REVEAL IMPACT, CONFUSION

The Napthine Government needs to immediately review its botched Fire Services tax which has seen some property owners charged double and insurance companies wrongly charging past the July 1 introduction date, Member for Lyndhurst, Martin Pakula said today.

Mr Pakula said the Fire Services Levy Monitor needs to have his powers extended to be able to investigate problems with the Fire Services Property Levy (FSPL). Freedom of Information documents obtained by the Opposition show that Liberal and National Party MPs are also confused about the introduction of the new tax and have been flooded with complaints.

“The Napthine Government’s claims of a ‘fairer, simpler’ fire services property levy are false. It is neither fair, nor simple and even Liberal and National Party MPs who voted in favour of this tax are complaining about it behind closed doors,” Mr Pakula said.

“The Napthine Government needs to review the operation of this tax and provide new and substantial powers to the FSL Monitor beyond the transition stage of this tax’s introduction in order to stop insurance companies profiteering.

“My office has received numerous complaints about the Napthine Government’s FSPL. One local business owner Mark, who runs an automotive repair shop, has been told that his levy will increase from $378.27 to $1194.60,” Mr Pakula said.

Mark said, “I’ve spoken with everyone in our street and they all say their levy has doubled or tripled.”

“Local resident Divina, who owns units to fund her and her husband’s retirement, has been told that her levy will increase from $438.69 to $3110.85,” Mr Pakula said.

“These costs on business and investors will simply increase the costs of living and cause  rent increases,” Divina said.

“Treasurer Michael O’Brien claimed in May this year that households would save about 20 per cent on the introduction of the FSPL, the reality is some are paying more than double.

“Insurance premiums have increased by as much as 55 per cent in the past six months  despite the removal of the FSL and the Napthine Government needs to explain why.”

Mr Pakula said the FOI documents reveal the true impact of the Napthine Government’s Fire Services tax with many households and business being charged more and insurance companies still charging clients after the July 1 FSPL start date.

Mr Pakula said correspondence from Liberal Party members to Members of the Napthine Government warned ‘it will look bad for the Government if Mitchell et al get on to it’ and “the media will take great delight in expanding on this issue as the months go on as it will be an easy double header for the media…..bagging both Government and Insurance Companies…’

Mr Pakula said one Liberal MP’s email to the Treasurer admitted the Napthine Government’s FSPL was ‘double dipping’.

“The FSPL has been botched and the blame sits squarely at the feet of Denis Napthine and Michael O’Brien,” Mr Pakula said.

“Land owners are likely to be hit again as Councils look to recoup the tens of thousands of dollars it costs them to collect the Napthine Government tax.”