State budget papers reveal that the Government has only extended waste levy payments to councils for next financial year despite a promise from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk that her waste strategy “will incorporate measures to avoid costs for households”.
Any scrapping of that promise would force councils and their communities to shoulder the burden of waste reform themselves, according to Local Government Association of Queensland President, Sunshine Cost Mayor Mark Jamieson.
Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has already warned that the move would cost his council $37 million a year, equivalent to an extra $88 on every rates bill.
Treasurer Cameron Dick hit back, accusing Schrinner of being dishonest and insisting that he had committed to protecting households in his Budget speech.
However, while the speech mentioned a commitment to $160 million “to ensure the success of the waste levy does not increase costs for household domestic waste”, the Budget papers revealed that money allocated to the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy would drop from $176.8 million next financial year to just $23 million in subsequent years.
Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon later announced the government would review the strategy but “remained committed” to working with councils to reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfill.
“The Palaszczuk Government is investing a record $1.4 billion in this budget to protect our environment, reduce waste and create jobs,” she said.
“That includes continuing our arrangement with councils to provide a 105 per cent rebate – or $160 million – through to 2021-22.”
However, she indicated the review would include “negotiations” with councils on future approaches to the strategy.
Mayor Jamieson called on the Government not to renege on its promise that households would not have to pay more as a result of the introduction of the waste levy.
“Queensland’s waste levy arrangements only came into effect in 2019 and the Premier and her Government promised councils and their communities that households would not have to pay more as a result,” Jamieson said.
“The Palaszczuk Government cannot retreat from these advance payment arrangements without ensuring adequate funding to create the circular economy needed to help Queenslanders ultimately place less waste in their bins,” he said.
“Unfairly penalising households without helping foster the industries and technologies needed to divert more waste away from landfill is unacceptable.
“I said at the time this levy was introduced that we would never accept a system that leaves households worse off.”
The $75 a tonne levy on municipal waste was introduced on July 1, 2019, in 39 mostly urban councils in Queensland.
To ensure that the levy had no direct impact on households, the government has provided councils that dispose of household waste in the levy zone an annual advance payment.
However, councils now fear they will have to foot the levy bill themselves from net financial year, adding an extra burden on ratepayers.
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