Coun­cil takes aim at State Gov­ern­ment waste levy

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - CLARE ARM­STRONG

THE Townsville City Coun­cil has trashed the State Gov­ern­ment’s con­tro­ver­sial waste levy, in­sist­ing a rate rise will be un­avoid­able un­less the tax is halved in re­gional ar­eas.

In a pub­lic sub­mis­sion to the In­no­va­tion, Tourism De­vel­op­ment and En­vi­ron­ment Com­mit­tee, the coun­cil’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Adele Young said mod­el­ling showed Townsville resi- dents would be hit with an an­nual rate rise of $ 15 per prop­erty un­der the cur­rent Gov­ern­ment pro­posal.

Al­though mu­nic­i­pal solid waste such as kerb­side bins, street sweep­ing and park clean ups are el­i­gi­ble for a 105 per cent Gov­ern­ment re­bate, Ms Young said the ex­clu­sion of road­works and coun­cil ad­min­is­tra­tion waste would neg­a­tively im­pact ratepay­ers.

The coun­cil’s sub­mis­sion rec­om­mended the $ 70 a tonne waste levy be halved to $ 35 for re­gional Queens­lan­ders.

“Queens­land’s levy will com­mence at a rel­a­tively high level, with lit­tle in­fras­truc­ture to sup­port al­ter­na­tives to land­fill,” Ms Young said.

“Many other ju­ris­dic­tions … have a con­sid­ered ap­proach to the dis­tance to re­cy­cling mar­kets and in­fras­truc­ture through the ap­pli­ca­tion of dif­fer­en­tial levy rates.”

The sub­mis­sion also rec­om­mended the start date for the levy, due to com­mence on March 4, 2019, be de­ferred to July 1 in line with bud­get cy­cles.

The coun­cil crit­i­cised the Gov­ern­ment for be­ing “un­clear” about how it will al­lo­cate funds gen­er­ated by the levy.

“Coun­cil is con­cerned that the ma­jor­ity of the funds raised by the waste levy will not be used for the im­prove­ment of re­cov­ery rates within the Queens­land waste in­dus­try,” Ms Young said.

“It has been stated in sev­eral fo­rums that 70 per cent of these funds will be ( pledged) to lo­cal gov­ern­ment and in­dus­try, with the re­main­ing funds to be spent on schools, hos­pi­tals, trans­port and front­line in­fras­truc­ture.”

LNP en­vi­ron­ment spokesman David Crisa­fulli said the Gov­ern­ment was us­ing the levy as a “tax grab”.

“The tax raises $ 1.3 bil­lion over the next four years … a big chunk of that goes to off­set costs to run the scheme, about a third goes to con­sol­i­dated rev­enue,” he said. “That’s not a levy, that’s a tax.”

Mr Crisa­fulli said re­gional coun­cils were un­likely to re­ceive fund­ing for en­vi­ron­men­tal ini­tia­tives be­cause they didn’t have the in­fras­truc­ture or pop­u­la­tion base.

“Less than 10c in the dol­lar goes back to­wards an en­vi­ron­men­tal ini­tia­tive. Of that, Townsville will get next to noth­ing,” he said.

Mr Crisa­fulli said Townsville was be­ing pun­ished for a prob­lem that wasn’t its to be­gin with.

“No one is driv­ing trucks full of rub­bish from Lis­more to dump at Stu­art,” he said.

“Lo­cal gov­ern­ments, de­spite be­ing com­pen­sated for wheelie bins, are still go­ing to have mas­sive costs that aren’t cov­ered and they will be passed on.”

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Leeanne Enoch pre­vi­ously said the Gov­ern­ment had spent $ 5 mil­lion to help coun­cils get “levy ready”.

“The only way this will cost house­holds more is if coun­cils don’t use the ad­vanced pay­ment as it is in­tended,” she said. “Ratepay­ers will be ex­pect­ing their lo­cal coun­cils to have the in­tegrity to do the right thing.

“In this year’s Bud­get we al­lo­cated $ 32 mil­lion for ad­vance payments to coun­cils, which will cover 105 per cent of the cost of their mu­nic­i­pal waste.”

CON­CERNS: Townsville City Coun­cil CEO Adele Young says the levy will mean a rate rise.


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