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REPORT: Fire and Emergency levy increase unjustified, performance review needed

Tuesday 9 April 2024, 12:29AM

By New Zealand Taxpayers' Union

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The Taxpayers’ Union is today releasing a report highlighting the significant failure of Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) to realise the expected efficiency gains following the 2017 mega-merger of fire services.

The report concludes that the Minister of Internal Affairs should stop the 1 July levy increase and perform an independent examination into the operation, management and governance of FENZ.

The full report: Up in Smoke: Is There a Failure of Governance by the Board of Fire & Emergency New Zealand and the Department of Internal Affairs?

Key findings of the report include:

  • The efficiency gains, expected by the 2016 Cabinet, have not materialised;
  • Expenses have continued to increase very significantly; and
  • Spending on consultants and professional fees have grown substantially.

The report’s author, Ray Deacon, said:

“It has become clear across multiple Taxpayers’ Union reports that Fire and Emergency has failed to deliver on its promises and extracting an additional $85 million in levies from the domestic and commercial sectors of the economy across each of the next two years is simply unjustified, as this report explains.

“A demand for a further 5.2% increase lacks credibility.  Minister van Velden is right to question the need for this.  But the Minister needs to go much further.

The 12.8% levy increase from 1 July 2024 needs to be stopped.
A full and comprehensive independent post-implementation review of the actual costs and benefits of the merger needs to be undertaken.

“It is difficult to believe that Cabinet would have approved the merger if the actual expenditure was known.”