Fire services property levy
I raise a matter for the Treasurer. I ask him to take action to review the fire services property levy as it relates to residential flats with a view to reducing the levy imposed through the council rating system. This has come about because I have been contacted by a number of constituents since the new fire services property levy came into play.
One constituent in particular wrote to me recently to advise that the fire services levy charged against his five flats, which are used for private residential purposes, has risen by over 500 per cent in the change from having the fire services levy attached to his insurance policy. His first name is John. I am happy to provide his full name to the minister, but in the house I will just refer to him as John.
John advised me that he paid $320 last year when the fire services levy was attached to his insurance premium, but on receiving his last rate notice he found that the fire services property levy attached to his properties is now $1636, an increase of over 500 per cent. In following up with the council, John was advised that although these are standard residential flats they attracted a commercial classification, a position supported by the State Revenue Office when he followed the matter up further.
I note that I have a unit in Melbourne as my parliamentary second residence. This year through my rates I was charged a fire services property levy of $135.80. There are 143 units in the complex, hence the total fire services property levy revenue from those units would be over $19 000. On checking with the body corporate manager, she advised me that the total fire services levy paid on the units last year as part of the insurance premium was $4391.
The total going from $4391 to $19 430 shows that the government is clearly making a significant gain, in this case an increase of 442 per cent. The body corporate manager also advised that she was very frustrated in having to pay a fire services property levy of $300 for her two parking spaces outside her office in South Melbourne. It appears to be another significant windfall to this government through the fire services property levy.
These are just some examples of the enormous increases in levies for fire services charged to property owners who were fully insured and thus paying the full fire services levy under the old system. I ask the Treasurer to review these escalated charges, with a view to providing a fairer system.