NSW has a framework of plans, guidelines and committees for emergency Planning, Preparation, Response, and Recovery (PPRR) activities at state, district, and local levels that prescribe the role, responsibilities and arrangements for each agency involved in emergency management, including councils. Information on the framework is available at www.mpes.nsw.gov.au.
LGNSW actively represents council interests in dealing with the NSW and Australian Governments on the range of issues concerning emergency management. This includes funding, PPRR activities, Local Government engagement and natural disaster relief.
Emergency Services Levy
Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW), NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), and NSW State Emergency Service (SES) are funded through the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) on the insurance policies (73.7%), Local Government (11.7%), with the NSW Government contributing (14.6%).
LGNSW annually reviews and monitors councils' actual contributions to the ESL to identify and address potential concerns and significant increases. The NSW Government commenced a review of the emergency services funding arrangements in July 2012. LGNSW lodged a submission to the review and made representations to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. In June 2013 the Minister for Police and Emergency Services announced that the review would be postponed until NSW conducts an analysis of the implementation of the ESL system in Victoria.
Local Government NSW Policy Position for Emergency Services Levy
- The Emergency Services Levy (ESL) should be replaced by a broad-based property levy (BBPL) which would provide a more equitable, transparent and accountable system.
- In the interim of a BBPL being implemented, councils should be allowed to automatically increase their rates to cover the full cost of the ESL, separate from the rate pegging process.
Local Government Future Engagement with the Rural Fire Service (RFS)
In 2012 the Discussion Paper: Review of Local Government Engagement with the RFS (PDF, 151KB) was distributed to councils for the development of a Local Government policy position. From the feedback received from councils, the following policy position was developed and adopted at the 2012 Local Government and Shires Associations conferences.
LGNSW continues to advocate to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and the RFS to progress the LGNSW policy position calling for progressive disengagement with the RFS.
On 1 August 2014 the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice (the 10/50 Code) commenced. The 10/50 Code allows eligible residences to clear trees 10 metres from a home, as well as underlying vegetation such as shrubs within 50 metres of a home without seeking approval. Further information is available at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au.
LGNSW made a submission to the public exhibition of the Draft 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice. In the submission LGNSW stated that the Draft 10/50 Code required further definition and clarification. LGNSW warned of unintended consequences and requested that the RFS take account of council feedback. LGNSW recommended the RFS extend the consultation period with additional information to allow stakeholders to provide fully-informed feedback.
LGNSW strongly objected to the 10/50 Code being implemented barely two weeks after consultation closed.
On 1 October 2014 the RFS Commissioner announced immediate amendments to the 10/50 Code by reducing the eligibility area for category two vegetation from 350 meters to 100 metres; and commenced a review of the 10/50 Code. During October, the RFS held workshops for councils on the amendments to the 10/50 Code and to canvass opinions on the broad issues.
LGNSW provided a submission (PDF, 202KB) to the review that called for immediate suspension of the 10/50 Code and recommended that a thorough scientific review be undertaken to inform any further amendments before the Code is re-introduced.
On 26 November 2014 the RFS further reduced the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Entitlement area to 100 metres for category one vegetation and 30 metres for category two vegetation (originally 350 metres for category one and two).
The RFS advises that the 10/50 Code review is expected to be completed sometime in the first half of 2015.
Natural Disaster Funding Inquiry
The Australian Productivity Commission is conducting a public inquiry into the efficacy of current national natural disaster funding arrangements. In June 2012 LGNSW made a submission to the Natural Disaster Funding Issues Paper.
On the 25 September 2014 the Productivity Commission released the draft report Natural Disaster Funding Arrangements. The draft report proposes several options to reform the funding arrangements and includes a range of recommendations; many will impact on Local Government.
LGNSW provided a submission to the draft report urging the Productivity Commission to take into account the vulnerability of Local Government when finalising its recommendations.
The Productivity Commission has now provided its final report to the Australia Government for its consideration and is expected to be publicly available in the near future.
Further information is available from http://www.pc.gov.au/projects/inquiry/disaster-funding
LGNSW comments on Draft 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice - July 2014 (PDF, 47KB)
Submission to Natural Disaster Funding Inquiry - June 2014 (PDF, 55KB)
Submission to NSW Government Review of Emergency Services Funding - October 2012 (PDF, 128KB)
Submission to Enhancing Hazard Reduction in New South Wales Discussion Paper - October 2012 (PDF, 119KB)