Port Macquarie-Hastings Council welcomes state government decision to fund emergency services levy for 2019/20

Welcome decision: Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has welcomed a state government decision to fund the emergency services levy for this financial year.
Welcome decision: Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has welcomed a state government decision to fund the emergency services levy for this financial year.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has welcomed a state government decision to fund the emergency services levy for the current financial year.

The levy increase was to be spread across insurers, councils and the government and was designed to fund new measures to provide better workers' compensation coverage for volunteer and career firefighters diagnosed with any of 12 specific work-related cancers.

The state government will fund that increase for this year, said Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams.

Mrs Williams said council would receive $125,477 to assist them to pay the increase in the emergency services levy this financial year to help support firefighters with cancer.

"The government acknowledges that this additional cost presented some challenges for our local council," Mrs Williams said.

"We also acknowledge that council had already set its 2019-20 budget before the invoices for the increased emergency services levy were issued and this has caused some angst.

"That's why the government will provide the funding to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council this financial year to alleviate the immediate pressure on our local councils," Mrs Williams said.

General manager Craig Swift-McNair said council was awaiting advice from the office of local government on the impacts on the local community.

"Council welcomes the proposed change to the emergency services levy, and any change that reduces the cost shifting burden on council and ratepayers," he said.

Council welcomes the proposed change to the emergency services levy, and any change that reduces the cost shifting burden on council and ratepayers.

Craig Swift-McNair

"The office of local government will be providing further advice shortly in relation to payment arrangements, and once this occurs we will provide information on how this will impact our local community."

Insurers will meet 73.7 per cent of the cost, government will provide 14.6 per cent and councils 11.7 per cent.

The NSW parliament passed the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment (Firefighters) Bill 2018 with support from across major and minor parties.

This enables eligible firefighters diagnosed with any of 12 specified primary cancers, and who meet the corresponding minimum qualifying periods of service, to automatically be presumed to have developed the cancer because of their firefighting work or volunteer service.

Minister for local government Shelley Hancock said the government would provide $13.6 million to the state's 128 councils to assist pay the increase in the emergency services levy to help fund workers' compensation for firefighters.

"Our emergency services have long been funded through a cost sharing arrangement between insurers, councils and the government and it's important that this continues to ensure we look after the health and well being of our front line firefighters," Mrs Hancock said.

"We have listened to the concerns of local councils and will continue to consult with them to better manage the impacts of the emergency services levy especially on their annual budgeting cycles.

"It is clear that both state and local governments acknowledge the importance of providing support for those emergency services workers who have given so much to protect communities and I look forward to continuing to work with local councils to ensure this is the case."

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