SAVE VMR: President Graham Kingston issued a plea to the State Government earlier this week, for more sustainable funding. Picture: Mike Knott.
SAVE VMR: President Graham Kingston issued a plea to the State Government earlier this week, for more sustainable funding. Picture: Mike Knott.

No govt levy funds for marine rescuers

A LOCAL MP has come out swinging after it was revealed that the Volunteer Marine Rescue is struggling to survive and do not receive funding from the Emergency Management Levy.

Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett has come to VMR’s defence, demanding the State Government provide more sustainable funding to the marine rescue organisation.

“Bundaberg and Burnett volunteers put their lives on the line to save the lives of others and they’re being treated with utter contempt by Annastacia Palaszczuk,” Mr Bennett said.

“Labor should be grateful to our volunteers for the dangerous work they do, not forcing them to close their squadrons down … our volunteers deserve answers and a lot more respect.”

Fire and Emergency Services minister Craig Crawford confirmed that the EML does not provide funding to the VMR or the Australia Volunteer Coast Guard Association.

“VMR and AVCGA are not currently funded through revenue raised by the EML,” Mr Crawford said.

“Both VMR and AVCGA receive contributions from QFES which are funded by state appropriations provided to QFES and the EML does not fund these contributions.”

Mr Bennett said he questioned where the funding was going after a 28 per cent increase occurred from 2013-2014 to 2018-2019, from $391 million to $560 million.

“This admission from the Labor Government that the EML does not fund VMR and AVCGA is an absolute disgrace,” Mr Bennett said.

“The levy was introduced in 2014 to ensure a more sustainable funding base for emergency services, however we have now heard that this money is not reaching our hardworking emergency service volunteer organisations, so where is the money going?”

The Minister said the Palaszczuk Government is committed to continuing to support the important work these volunteers do, but their main priority has been responding to COVID-19.

“VMR and AVCGA are important voluntary organisations and needed certainty for 2020 while the Queensland Government considered the recommendations of the Blue Water Review working group. Their 2020 funding arrangements included an increase in funds to cover insurance,” Mr Crawford said.

“The Queensland Government will consider the recommendations in due course … in the meantime funding for VMR and AVCGA will continue to be provided.

“Funding raised through the Emergency Management Levy is protected by legislation and it is simply not possible to redirect this money for other purposes.”

The Minister said the State Government had invested in frontline services and was focused on creating jobs and working with Queenslanders to recover from the pandemic.



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