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ESL reforms: NSW Government holds first-round meeting

The NSW Government held meetings last week with representatives from the insurance industry, and also with the property and retail sectors, to follow up on last month’s announcement to reform the state’s Emergency Services Levy (ESL) funding arrangements.  

Treasurer Daniel Mookhey held the first-round meetings and the Government is expected to release early next year a public consultation paper seeking views from industry stakeholders and the broader community on how best to proceed with the ESL reforms. 

A spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says the industry looks forward to working “constructively with the Government while they undergo this process”. 

NSW is the last mainland state in the country to rely on a levy on insurance to fund emergency services and under the present model policyholders contribute 73.7%, local councils 11.7% and the state government 14.6%. 

The ICA has long pushed for a change to the arrangement, which it says is unfair and deters insurance take-up. 

ESL accounts for about 18% of the cost of insurance for households in NSW and about 30% for businesses, making affordability issues particularly acute in a state that has experienced several severe floods in recent years. 

Premier Chris Minns announced last month his government will ditch the current ESL funding model and replace it with a property-funded mechanism. 

In 2017 the Berejiklian Government aborted plans to scrap the ESL insurance levy just before new arrangements were due to take effect, after a backlash to the alternative proposals by some businesses and other property owners.