The NSW Treasurer flew a kite in Saturday’s AFR (Baird flags insurance levy reform in budget). We should all come to attention and salute a positive change.

We pay for fire fighters through a charge on insurances – in NSW, the Fire Services Levy – which grossly inflates fire insurance premiums and deters many from taking out this essential protection. Mike Baird wants to know how changing the fire brigades’ revenue base from the insurance levy to a charge on land would be received.

With open arms, Treasurer! Prosper called for Victoria to adopt this reform last year.

As always, the devil is in the detail. If the charge is on Capital Improved Value – on land and buildings – we see no progress and Baird is wasting our time. If the charge is on Site Value, Hurrah!

As Prosper pointed out last year: “(CIV) is not where the tax base lives. Like all amenities, the benefits of the fire service are capitalized into land values. Put another way, a quality fire service raises land prices regardless of whether a building is put up or not.”