Representing the interest of all professional miners, large or small
20th
FEB 2015

Emergency Fire and Rescue Levy

Emergency Fire and Rescue Levy – $1,409.20 EMFR will be applied to all Mining Leases in Queensland.

Statutory Declarations for ‘vacant land’. Not all Councils will not be accepting Statutory Declarations for vacant ML’s, so the EMFR will be applied to all ML’s regardless of whether they are being worked or not. Should you wish to appeal the Levy assessment, your appeal needs to be addressed to The Commissioner, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES).

QFES do not recognise that ML’s that are not being worked are vacant land and lawfully cannot except any appeal or Statutory Declaration requesting the ‘vacant land’ category. Give credit where credit is due! The QFES are attempting to find an avenue to recognise ‘vacant land’ and will undertake to submit a brief to the Minister, who will take it to the Governments, which will bring about a change in legislation.

I doubt whether QFES will have any success, as the application of the EMFR to ‘vacant land’ is too controversial. QFES advised me that it is at the discretion of the Councils to except Stat Dec’s or not and could not advise the Councils to do so one way or the other. However, “Councils have been instructed that the Statutory Declarations completed by ratepayers cannot be used by Council to determine a category or levy group of a property”. The Departments are ‘passing the buck’ and no-one wants to accept the responsibility of whether Stat Dec’s are submittable. Due to the controversial nature off submitting a Stat Dec, in that the Stat Dec may be fraudulent, the Councils will not be accepting Stat Dec’s.

As you would all be aware of by now the EMFR Levy replaced the ‘Urban Fire Levy’ and was applied to all properties within Queensland as of 1st January 2014. The levy was extended, to include Emergency Management, recognising that all Queenslanders are at risk from a wide range of emergencies. The NQMA’s stance in that we do not object to paying an EMFR Levy, what we do object to is the fact that the EMFR Levy is exorbitant, ambiguous and disproportionate to the other entire fee’s applied to ML’s and is also disproportionate to all other Level Groups and Classes in Schedule 2 of the Fire and Rescue Services Regulations 2011.

What has NQMA done so far?

To date the NQMA Committee Members have lobbied the various Government Departments to try and rectify this contentious and ambiguous Levy. We have spoken at length to the ‘Queensland Fire and Emergency Services’ to attain an unbiased and just Levy for ML’s, but to no avail. We have attended the Cabinet meeting in Mareeba (November 2014) with the then Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services, Mr Jack Dempsey, with moderate success. But the Election saw him ousted with the new Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services, Hon. Jo-ann Miller, now employed. The change of Government was fraught with issues, so after ‘letting the dust settle’ we again started to lobby various Government Departments, which finally brings us to this point in time.

NQMA Committee have secured a meeting with the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services, Hon. Jo-ann Miller, scheduled for early August to discuss the EMFR issue.

NQMA Committee have secured a meeting with Mr Shane Knuth, Mr Robert Katter, the Shadow Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services- Mr Jarrod Bleijie and their advisers, scheduled for 16th July 2015, to discuss the EMFR with the objective to attain their understanding and support in reaching an expedient solution to the EMFR issues.

I have also spoken at length to Mr Billy Gordon, who has been most generous with his time, making himself available to discuss the EMFR. Mr Gordon understands and supports the NQMA in addressing this issue and at the time off writing this article, Mr Gordon also stated that he would like to contribute an article himself in regards to the EMFR issue. Mr Gordon is also going to try and reshuffle his schedule so that he can attend the NQMA meeting on the 13th July at the Bothers League Club to answer any questions/ queries that Miners have.

The Council Rates are due to be issued at the end of July or in August. NQMA had previously advised Members not to pay the EMFR Levy on the Rates Notices in objection to the Levy. However, I was advised by the Cook Shire Council that the discount would be forfeited, interest will be charged on that Levy, that if the Miner did not engage in a repayment option a Debt collector may be employed and then it was at the Councils discretion to take further legal action, the result being the Miners credibility rating would be jeopardized. Given the magnitude of this issue I find it incredible that there is no leeway given to Miners until the issue has been resolved. As Council pointed out they are obliged to comply with the legislation.

Council advised that if a Miner has any objections they should submit those objections to the Commissioner of Queensland Fire & Emergency Services within 30 days of receiving Rates Notices.

Whilst communicating with the Independents I was requested to supply as much information as possible. I have submitted emails serval time, however I do believe that the independents would also like to hear individual cases. Contact details are: Robbie Katter- 07 4730 1100, Mount.Isa@parliment.qld.gov.au Billy Gordon- 074223 1100, cook@parliment.qld.gov.au .Shane Knuth- 07 4235 7100, dalrymple@parliment.qld.gov.au

NQMA will continue to lobby the Government until a satisfactory outcome has been achieved.

Author – Vicky Lake
NQMA Committee Member

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