The NSW government is reneging on the small, high quality reform of funding emergency services with a land charge instead of the very bad levy on fire insurance.

Blue-rinse dragons of Mosman saw red – they will be paying $500 a year on median land values of $1.84 million while scumbag Fairfield holders with a median land value of $461,000 are up for only $200.96.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian immediately wilted in the heat, scrapping new laws already passed by parliament and set for enactment July 1.

Prosper Australia had welcomed the reform and deplores this retreat from common sense and sound economics.

The wealthy expect government charges to be arranged to confer advantage on them in all circumstances. The empty phrase ‘user pays’ is trotted out, while clear thinkers ask ‘who benefits?’ and prefer the more useful ‘beneficiary pays’.

No one actually wants to use the brigade, but we require skilled firefighters at the door before fire’s destructive forces turn misfortune into disaster. The science of response times is well understood, and is why we spend so much on standby costs.

Prosper observed:

“Fire services protect structures. They give citizens the confidence to build – and build bigger and better. But that is not where the tax base lives.

“Like all civic amenities, the benefit of the fire service is capitalized into land values. A quality fire service raises land prices, whether a building is put up or not.

“The natural tax base for this emergency service is land.

Opposition to this useful reform is foolish, selfish, misplaced and mistaken.

No, it isn’t Socialism when holders of valuable land pay more to protect their homes than poorer ones, it is merely progressive. There is subsidy in the new arrangements, but it is the Sydney Northern Beaches supporting poor rural fire brigades, not Fairfield strugglers.

If the cost of fire services stays as a levy on insurance, fewer households will protect their homes against the rare but devastating risk of fire. The dragons of Mosman will pay more than their fair share either way.