09 November 2023
Peak body representatives from across Tasmania on Thursday, 9 November 2023, met with the Tasmanian Minister for Police and Emergency Management after widespread rejection of proposed new funding models for Tasmanian Fire and Emergency Services.
The meeting was convened by Minister Felix Ellis, in response to public criticism from industry, local governments, and business groups, prompting the need for collaborative discussion.
The round table discussion included 19 participants representing several of Tasmania’s peak bodies, such as the Property Council, the Small Business Council, the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Tasmania State Emergency Service Volunteer Association, and the Local Government Association.
Ian Sauer, the President of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, said that this is the first time in his memory that many of the peak bodies from across Tasmania have united to address a common issue, with a shared thought process.
“Nobody in the room agrees with the models for the fire levy. The TFGA’s stance is that there needs to be a fundamental change to the fire levy model because the rural community already pay so much.
“What farmers are being asked to pay under the new models is disproportionate and inequitable, and we’ve made it very clear we’ll pay the same or less,” he said.
The minister has agreed to consult individually with participants and extended the consultation period to the first of December, committing to holding another roundtable in January to reach a long-term, sustainable, and equitable funding solution for the new Fire and Emergency Service.
Mr Sauer said, “We’re pleased the minister has agreed to extend the consultation period to talk directly with stakeholders, and that the process will be run out of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Wool Farmer John Atkison from Campbell Town who attended the roundtable commented, that it was a productive meeting and pleasing that the minister was positive and proactive in holding discussions.
Mr Atkinson said, “Farmers would be paying exorbitant fire services taxes under the two models. Many farmers I talk to say that they don’t want to be involved as a volunteer if this goes through.”