Esperance calls for 'independence and hands off' following review of emergency services

Member for Roe Peter Rundle has weighed in on the Emergency Services Levy debate, saying it needed ‘independence and hands off’, following a report by the Economic Regulation Authority.

The Emergency Services Levy Report, which includes 27 recommendations for the state government, comes after an extensive public consultation process.

Among the recommendations, the report suggested the Department of Treasury undertake a review of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ ‘structure, resources and administration costs’ to determine whether services were being delivered efficiently. Mr Rundle said he was ‘uncomfortable’ with the fact the Department were managing the funds while also being a ‘major receiver’.

“It’s quite unhealthy, as far as I’m concerned, and I really think that is a recommendation that needs to be looked at,” he said.

Mr Rundle said he agreed with the recommendation that an ‘independent advisory body’ should be established to oversee and review how levy funds are spent.

“We’re talking a lot of money here, over $300 million in levy’s being used in 2015-2016, and only 10 per cent coming back. It’s very disturbing,” he said.

As well as recommending an independent advisory and oversight organisation be established, the report addressed the potential of a rural fire service. Cascade Scaddan Fire Review director Dan Sanderson said although a rural fire service could help in the future, its success would depend on its structure and efficiency.

“I don’t think we need to jump into a rural fire service right now,” he said.

“I think we need access to that Emergency Services Levy for first response, then we need a decent mitigation plan and then let a rural fire service evolve. A rural fire service could be something as simple as a coordinating body between the office of Emergency management, who receive the levy, and a coordinating body to make sure that the local government can handle their tasks and access the levy to do it.”

Mr Rundle said he believed giving local governments and the community the resources directly would assist.

“It requires a balance but now, to me, it seems the balance has gone too heavily to administration in Perth and there is just not enough out on the ground,” he said. The state government are yet to decide on what recommendations it will adopt.