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Consultation opens on new fire levy rate

Hon Peter Dunne

Minister of Internal Affairs
27 October 2016

Consultation opens on new fire levy rate

Public consultation opens today on a new rate of levy on fire insurance contracts, to help fund the future of New Zealand’s fire services.

The New Zealand Fire Service Commission is currently funded from a levy on fire and motor vehicle insurance contracts, which hasn’t increased since 2008.

Under the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) Bill currently before Parliament, the New Zealand Fire Service (NZFS), National Rural Fire Authority, and 38 other rural fire authorities will merge to become one organisation known as FENZ from 1 July 2017.

Board Chair of the New Zealand Fire Service Commission Paul Swain said that to successfully transition to the new organisation, while maintaining the high standard of service delivery by urban and rural firefighters, the Board expects the levy will need to increase by about $36.00 per year for the average homeowner, or 70 cents per week.

“We know that every dollar counts for New Zealanders. However, this proposed increase would ensure firefighters are properly funded to provide services to communities, which include firefighting, and responding to medical emergencies, motor vehicle accidents, hazardous materials incidents, and natural disasters.

“Bringing 626 operational units and over 14,000 firefighters and support staff together is not a simple or quick task, so we need to invest the right amount of time and money to ensure we get it right. The end result will be a unified fire service that can adapt as the risks and needs across our communities change,” he said.

Peter Dunne said the Government is committed to building a 21st century fire service that is fairly and adequately funded to support its career and volunteer workforce, and its rural and urban communities.

“The result of this consultation would be implemented around mid-2017, and from 2018-19 Cabinet has agreed to an updated levy arrangement collected on insurance for all property damage, and extending the levy on motor vehicles to include third-party insurance.

“We have listened to submitters during the recent Select Committee process, and from 2018-19 the new legislation will allow for measures such as waivers or exemptions for some property types or policyholders, to address any affordability or fairness concerns.

“Kiwi’s rightly place an extraordinary level of trust in our firefighters, and I think everyone would agree they do an outstanding job. This proposed increase would make sure that our hardworking firefighters are receiving the most complete support from a properly funded, fit-for-purpose organisation into the future,” he said.

The New Zealand Fire Service Commission is taking public submissions on this proposed levy increase until 5pm, Wednesday 30 November.

Submissions can be made online at www.firelevy.co.nz.

ends

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