Sydney homeowners to suffer under NSW’s proposed Emergency Services Property Levy

Peter Terlato 29 March 2017

fire engine sydney australia

Costs could be double the previous government estimates.

New research has found the NSW Government's incoming Emergency Services Property Levy could burden Sydney residents and business owners with higher costs and increased risks.

The NSW Government is in the process of abolishing the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) from insurance premiums and replacing it with an Emergency Services Property Levy from 1 July 2017.

The Fire Brigade Employees' Union conducted a detailed analysis of the proposed new levy, revealing homeowners across areas of Sydney could be hundreds of dollars out of pocket each year.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian say the majority of fully-insured annual homeowner contributions should decline by around $48 per year from $233 to $185.

However, using data obtained from the NSW Valuer-General and implementing the new property levy's formulae, the analysis found the average cost to a Sydney family would be nearly double this figure.

Homeowners from the Inner-West, Parramatta, Canterbury-Bankstown, Burwood, Canada Bay, Hornsby, Ku-ring-gai, Ryde and Strathfield council areas would pay an average levy of $361 per year.

The highest costs would be incurred by residents of the Bayside, Sydney, Hunters Hill, Georges River, Lane Cove, Northern Beaches, Mosman, North Sydney, Randwick, Sutherland, Waverley, Willoughby and Woollahra councils, with average homeowners paying $471 per year.

Additionally, the state government's contributions to these emergency services will almost be halved, with around $70 million a year passed on to homeowners and businesses.

Although commercial and industrial premises are responsible for the majority (55%) of fire and rescue call outs in NSW, they are only required to pay 37% of the new levy.

The new levy also fails to factor in risks such as flooding homes, bushfire-prone areas or businesses working with high-risk chemicals, meaning low-risk property owners will be forced to subsidise homeowners in higher risk areas, according to the analysis.

The Union has called for a parliamentary examination of the proposed levy, requesting the government provide detailed figures of what landowners will be required to pay from 1 July.

The NSW government has promised to scrutinise any insurer significantly increasing base premiums following the removal of the ESL.

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