Servicing emergencies: Who pays?

Clayton Mitchell
New Zealand First MP

I have been speaking in the House about the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bill – now passed, and coming into effect on July 1.

With calls for reform of our emergency services and their funding models for years, so they can get on with the great work they do, the question we, at New Zealand First are asking is, are all the other parties sleeping on the job?

We were the only party opposed to this clunky legislation, probably because we are the only party who understands the Bill and secondly because we are the only party who has investigated international examples that clearly show this model failing miserably. And finally, because we are the only ones who listened to 96 per cent of the submitters in Select Committee who opposed it.

A temporary levy from 1993 is still there 24 years and 17 reviews later, and now uncapped. We can do much better.

The Fire Service will also now be expected to collect its own money itself. This is completely ludicrous. All of the other parties seem to think it is good use of Fire Service personnel's time and resources to be out there, cap in hand, chasing money from people. Shouldn't they be doing something else like, I don't know, tending emergencies? Are we really saying that an important function of the Fire Service now includes collecting money? I thought that was the IRD's job.

Is there anywhere this blue government doesn't want to shove a cash register and Eftpos terminal? The police have them, the hospitals have them, schools have them, and now the Fire Service needs them too?

And what happens if they pay late, or not at all?

New Zealand First believes New Zealand's emergency services should be funded out of the general tax pool. A convoluted some-users-pay approach to something so vital makes absolutely no sense at all. And the 96 per cent of submissions strongly opposing this levy and its implementation is yet more evidence that there is only one party actively and consistently listening to New Zealanders.


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Silhouetted sunrise on July 14th. Photo: Janet Hetherington

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