D-DAY FOR RURAL FIRE SERVICE RED FLEET BILL TOMORROW

D-DAY FOR RURAL FIRE SERVICE RED FLEET BILL TOMORROW

Photo caption: Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall’s Rural Fires Amendment (Red Fleet) Bill will be debated in State Parliament tomorrow.

Wednesday, 11 October 2023

A BILL introduced by Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, which transfers the ownership of NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) vehicles, fire trucks and buildings from local councils back to the State Government, is set down for debate and a potential vote tomorrow in State Parliament.

Dubbed as a D-Day moment for local councils across country NSW, Mr Marshall said tomorrow could finally bring an the long-running ‘red fleet dispute’ over the last 18 months between the State Government and local councils over who own and pays for RFS assets.

“This Bill remedies the situation, bringing the argy-bargy to an end, by making it clear that RFS assets belong to, and will be accounted for by, the State Government, via the NSW Rural Fire Service,” Mr Marshall said.

If passed through Parliament, Mr Marshall’s Rural Fires Amendment (Red Fleet) Bill 2023 will vest all firefighting equipment, including apparatus, buildings, water storage towers and lookout towers with the State Government.

“As it currently stands, local councils are legally and financially responsible for firefighting equipment even though they don’t have any control over the procurement of those assets, how they are operated, stored, maintained or disposed of,” he said.

“This legislative amendment will bring the treatment of all these items inline with how the vehicle and building assets of all other emergency services in NSW are accounted for and remove an enormous and ridiculous cost burden from our local councils and their ratepayers.

“Why should a local councils use ratepayer dollars to account for a depreciate an ‘asset’ which they do not purchase, manage or have the authority to dispose of?

“And why do councils legally own these vehicles but not police cars or Fire & Rescue NSW pumpers?”

“In the Northern Tablelands, more than $4 million annually would be saved by ratepayers if this Bill were to pass the Parliament.

“This is a significant cost burden to our communities and is money that could be better used to fix potholes, reseal roads and upgrade play equipment.

“In essence, this Bill reverses a huge and archaic cost-shifting anomaly buried deep within the Act and puts the full cost back on the level of government responsible for the RFS; the State Government.

“Tomorrow is D-Day, not just for the government, but for all MPs as we’ll see if they vote to support their local councils and local communities or vote to maintain the unfair and costly status quo.”

Mr Marshall’s Bill will be debated in the Legislative Assembly tomorrow morning, from 10.15am.

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