October 16, 2013  |  Adjournment

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.