Hi folks, your Association met with Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon and her senior departmental and ministerial staff this week as we continue our advocacy to protect the State’s advance waste levy payments to councils to ensure households continue to be exempt from a new tax.
These payments were promised by the State Government in order to keep Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s promise that Queensland households would not be hit with a tax on their wheelie bins.
On March 20, 2018, after announcing the waste levy would be reintroduced, the Premier told State Parliament:
“Today I give this guarantee: Queensland families will not face the cost of this levy”.
Last month’s State Budget revealed, however, that those payments are only budgeted for another 12 months meaning Queensland households will indeed face a State Government wheelie bin tax from July 1 next year unless this subsidy continues to be funded, at least until a real circular waste economy is established to ensure families have the options they need to recycle more.
Up until this point, Queensland councils had been working with the State Government in good faith to develop strategies to reduce the amount of waste going into landfill.
This work was never going to be completed after just two years. Interstate comparisons show that journey takes between seven and eight years.
In fact, the State itself is yet to produce its promised waste infrastructure strategy to support the work of councils and industry in establishing the alternatives households need to increase recycling.
Industry needs that certainty. Councils need that certainty.
The reality is that right now Queensland’s waste industry does not yet have the new industries and enterprises that councils need to reduce the quantum of rubbish being directed to landfill.
Expecting Queensland to achieve a significant transition from landfill to resource recovery and recycling activities within a three-year period, when adequate facilities do not exist to enable this transition is simply not practical or even feasible.
As we have said repeatedly since the State Budget was handed down last month, removing the household subsidy – which is what the advance waste levy payments provide - before ensuring Queenslanders have the options they need to better recycle and avoid the levy, is both premature and counterproductive.
This affects more than five million Queenslanders across 39 council areas.
I would like to thank the Mayors of those 39 councils for supporting a joint letter to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this week, reminding the Premier of her commitment, outlining their concerns, and calling for a genuine partnership on the critical issue of waste.
Going forward, we have asked the government to release its State Waste Infrastructure Plan as a matter of urgency and councils to be given an indication of their plans for the waste levy advance payments by October so our sector can begin our own Budget processes with certainty.
We have also asked for a seat at the table on the whole of government steering group to progress the Waste Levy Review.
We had a seat on the initial steering committee set up to oversee the creation of the levy. It would make no sense to exclude us from the process now. If the review is to be genuine then local government must be involved.
The LGAQ is standing firm on the need for the advance payments to continue so municipal waste continues to be exempt.
Policy Executive last week gave the green light to a concerted campaign to take the fight to the State Government should we need to, to ensure councils and their local communities have their voices heard on this issue.
We will keep you updated as this continues to progress.