Council takes aim at State Government waste levy
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.