Emergency services levy 2018-19

Mr DULUK (Waite) (11:01): I move:
That the first report of the committee, entitled Emergency Services Levy 2018-19, be noted.
The Economic and Finance Committee has an annual statutory duty to inquire into, consider and report on the Treasurer's determination in relation to the emergency services levy. The committee has 21 days in which to report on the written determinations after it is referred to the committee.

This year, the committee received the Treasurer's statement on 31 May 2018. The Emergency Services Funding Act requires the statement to include determinations in respect of the amount that needs to be raised by means of the levy to fund emergency services, the amounts to be expended for various kinds of emergency services and the extent to which the various parts of the state will benefit from the application of that amount.

So that we are clear on the services funded by the emergency services levy, the definition of 'emergency service' in the act means a service provided by the South Australian Country Fire Service, the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service, the South Australian State Emergency Service, Surf Life Saving SA, a member of Volunteer Marine Rescue SA, or a service provided by the South Australian police department related to, assisting with, or incidental to those organisations I just listed.

On 8 June, the Economic and Finance Committee held a public hearing and invited representatives from the Department of Treasury and Finance, SAFECOM, the MFS, the CFS and the SES. The witnesses provided the committee with details on the proposed levy for 2018-19, and on 20 June the committee tabled its report to meet the 21-day requirement.

I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the tremendous work our volunteer and paid emergency services responders do, which the community relies upon and for which we are extremely grateful. In light of that, the committee notes that total expenditure on emergency services for the 2017-18 financial year is estimated to reach $302.9 million, which is $900,000 more than was originally projected. The committee notes that the total expenditure on emergency services is projected to be $318.4 million in the 2018-19 financial year. This will be funded by the emergency services levy component of $137.2 million.

This target expenditure is $15.6 million higher than the 2017-18 estimated income. The committee was told that this reflects growth in basic expenditure and funding provided for several new measures, including improved aerial fighting capabilities for the Country Fire Service and the cost of new enterprise bargaining agreements. This excludes the cost of election commitments that further increase emergency service expenditure. These costs will be funded outside the rate-setting process to remove any impact on emergency services levy bills.

The committee notes that remissions for general property will be introduced in 2018-19, reducing the effective ESL bills paid by property owners. These remissions will reduce 2018-19 ESL bills by some $90 million, consistent with the Marshall government's election commitment. The committee notes that the government will pay $130.3 million into the Community Emergency Services Fund in 2018-19, reflecting amounts equivalent to fixed property levy revenues forgone through remissions and pensioner concessions in addition to contributions on its own property. The committee also notes cash balances in the Community Emergency Services Fund are expected to be $21.9 million by 30 June 2018.

The committee has fulfilled its obligations under the Emergency Services Funding Act 1998. I take this opportunity to thank the current members of the Economic and Finance Committee, the departmental representatives from Treasury and Finance, the chief executive of SAFECOM, and chief officers of the MFS, CFS and SES, who assisted the committee in reporting on the Treasurer's determinations for the 2018-19 emergency services levy. Therefore, pursuant to section 6 of the Parliamentary Committees Act 1991, the Economic and Finance Committee recommends to parliament that it note this report.