Letter to the editor

February 21, 2018

Fire permit fee process deserves scrutiny

I AM compelled to comment on the Campaspe Shire’s arbitrary introduction of a $70 fee for a fire permit.

I recognise the shire’s right to introduce a permit fee; my comments concern the process of introducing the fee.

There was no consultation with the community, the Municipal Fire Prevention Planning Committee or the CFA.

This seems very strange as the council has recently appointed a community engagement manager. Is this a token appointment with no power?

One of the reasons given for the fee was that there has been a change in CFA requirements for issuing fire permits and there now needed to be a physical inspection of the permit site.

On enquiry with the CFA I found that there has been no change to the permit requirements in the past two years; also that council has the same indemnity as CFA personnel under the CFA act.

I also discovered that a review of the fire permit system has been with the Municipal Association of Victoria and the CFA for the past two years, however no action has eventuated.

It seems unusual to introduce a fee for a service in the middle of the fire season.

Normal practice would be to discuss this at budget time and introduce any result and fee at the start of the fire season.

When the council introduces something that the community disagrees with the immediate reaction is to blame the councillors for the lack of insight, ability or whatever comes to mind.

We should remember that much of the councillors’ decision making is dependant on research and recommendations of the staff.

Therefore, more scrutiny of their advice along with increased consultation with the public would ensure a more acceptable outcome.

Murray McDonald,

Former Campaspe Shire councillor

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