Greens propose $1 Levy on Coal and Gas Corporations to fund $890 million investment in the Queensland Fire Service

Greens MP Michael Berkman has proposed a levy on all coal and gas corporations via a $1 royalty premium, to increase the number of full time paid firefighters by 1400, create a permanent aerial firefighting fleet, better resource the Rural Fire Service and create 200 new Indigenous Ranger positions.

Greens MP Michael Berkman said: 

“Big fossil fuel corporations are making billions of dollars pumping out dangerous carbon pollution, driving global warming and making our fire seasons longer and more destructive, so it’s only right they pay their fair share to deal with the consequences.

“We’ll impose a ‘Protecting Queensland Levy’ through a $1 royalty premium on all coal and gas production in Queensland, raising $345 million annualy to invest in our fire service.” 

“This will fund an extra 1,400 paid firefighters, a permanent aerial firefighting fleet, and more resources and funding for our brilliant volunteer firefighters in the Rural Fire Service.” 

Earlier this month, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) assistant commissioner Tony Johnstone told the ABC that fatigue for firefighters was a problem, noting “We're having a problem with resources. We need to admit that.” 

Mr Berkman continued: 

“We will also fund 200 new Indigenous Ranger positions to work with QFES and the RFS to support crucial hazard reduction burns based on traditional land management techniques. For over 60,000 years Indigenous people protected and managed this country, and we still have a lot to learn.”

“Because of global warming our fire seasons are becoming longer and more destructive, and the window for hazard reduction burns is narrowing. Unless we provide more resources our brave firefighters will be overworked. 

“Ultimately we need to phase out thermal coal and gas, and in the meantime those corporations should pay their fair share.” 

“Right now we only have 2,200 paid firefighters and Labor only plan to hire 100 more. We’re in danger of putting firefighters and communities at risk if we continue to under-resource the QFES and RFS.” 

“Ordinary Queenslanders already contribute over $500 million a year via the Emergency Management levy, so it’s only fair that massive coal and gas corporations stump up as well.” 

Details

The Greens would: 

  • Hire 1,400 new full time equivalent paid firefighters to bring Queensland up to NSW levels of 3,500 firefighters and increase funding for equipment, at a cost of $390 million over three years.
  • Invest an extra $75 million over three years in the Rural Fire Service. This would include increasing capital grants funding for RFS brigades from $185,000 to $5 million every year. 
  • Create a permanent aerial firefighting fleet in Queensland by investing $200 million to purchase and operate firefighting aircraft, including large air tankers.
  • Invest an extra $50 million a year in capital funding for fire and emergency services facilities (including more permanent fire stations), fire appliances, communications systems and equipment for the QFES and RFSQ. This would increase the yearly total to $147 million. 
  • Invest $24 million over three years to create 200 new Indigenous Ranger positions to work with the QFES and RFSQ to better support and inform hazard reduction burns and landscape management 
  • Fund this plan by establishing a “Protecting Queenslanders Levy” of $1 per tonne royalty premium on coal and $1 per gigajoule on gas to raise $345 million per year or $1 billion over three years.

More details are available here. 

The total cost of this package is $890 million over three years.

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