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Thursday, 20 September 2012

REGIONAL VICTORIANS RIPPED OFF BY BAILLIEU/RYAN FAILURE ON FIRE SERVICE LEVY

Member for Bendigo West, Maree Edwards said today that Regional Victorian families are being ripped off millions of dollars by insurance companies overcharging for the Fire Services Levy for periods after its abolition.

Legislation introduced by the Baillieu Ryan Government to replace the Fire Services Levy with a property based tax will take effect from 1 July 2013.

“Households are being ripped off because the Baillieu Ryan Government has not introduced any protections for Victorian consumers”.

“It is unbelievable that the Baillieu Ryan Government has introduced laws to impose a new tax on Victorians but they have failed to introduce any laws that guarantee that insurers remove the existing levy from Victorian households and businesses”.

“The Office of the Fire Services Levy Monitor has not even been created, and the Monitor still does not have any legal powers to protect Victorians”.

“Many people are telling me that their premiums have risen substantially in recent years, and now households are incurring these additional and unnecessary costs”.

All property owners will be required to pay the new levy as part of their council rates.

Key insurers have admitted that they will be charging their Victorian customers for the full 12 months for the existing Fire Services Levy even after the replacement property tax kicks in.

“The Baillieu Ryan Government must guarantee that every Victorian who has been overcharged is immediately fully repaid.

In Parliament last week Ms Edwards called on the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Michael O’Brien, to urgently intervene on behalf of Maldon pensioner Mr Reg Nicholson over the whopping 400% increase in his Fire Services Levy (FSL) by his insurance company.

“Mr Nicholson lives alone in a very modest home in Maldon, and has done so for decades. He recently received his home and contents renewal from his insurer this month and is required to finalise payment by the 26th September.”

“Last year the fire services levy component of his home and contents insurance was $125.98 – this year the fire service levy component is $511.90. This represents a 400% increase and payment for three months beyond the ending of the fire insurance levy”.

“There is no doubt that this increased financial pressure being imposed by insurance companies will be a massive burden on thousands of regional families and individuals if the government doesn’t do something to stop this happening.”

“This will be a significant hardship for many people on low incomes”.

“It is imperative that the Government guarantees that pensioners like Mr Nicholson will not be worse off, and that all Victorians know just how much they will have to pay as a result of the new property tax.”

“The Liberal National Government must act now to protect pensioners and struggling families in regional Victoria from these savage price hikes.”

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