Emergency Services Funding (SACAT) Amendment Bill


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN ( Stuart ) ( 11:25 :25 ): It gives me great pleasure to speak on the Emergency Services Funding (SACAT) Amendment Bill. This is a very important bill, and there would be nobody in our state who is not aware of what the government is doing with emergency services at the moment. We had presented to the public today very damning information with regard to the budget situation and the true impact of the federal budget upon our state's finances, which undermines the state government's entire argument for wanting to remove the remissions on the emergency services levy.

The government said that they had no choice. The government said that they had absolutely no choice but to remove the remissions on the emergency services levy so that every single property owner, whose remissions were removed, would have a higher emergency services bill to pay. That meant in the real world that every single additional dollar would go back to Treasury. It is a complete fallacy for anybody to think that the extra money charged is going to the emergency services sector, because it is not. However, what we know today is that the government's argument for taking money through the emergency services levy into Treasury to fund its own expenditure, which was based upon the fact that the federal government had an insurmountable impact on its own state budget, is completely false.

It is completely false, because we now know that the impact of the federal budget at a net level was $4 million, yet the state government wants to pick up about $90 million through the extra emergency services levy. This information has come forth because of questioning by the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition, in estimates, asked the Treasurer time and time again, 'Yes, I understand the cuts, but what extra money has the federal government given to you?' What is the net impact when you weigh up the cuts and the extra contribution from the federal government towards the state government budget? What is the net?' The Treasurer, in this house in estimates, refused to answer; but good work by the Leader of the Opposition who has continued to pursue the issue. We now know that the truth is $4 million. The government's argument for its entire tax take through the emergency services levy has been blown out of the water. The reason it gave we now know is completely untrue.

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