A new waste levy could have costly repercussions for primary producers and small businesses in rural areas.
Set to commence on March 4, 2019, the $1.3 billion levy is part of a new waste management strategy looking to improve overall waste management performance and sustain Queensland’s natural environment.
Including 38 local government areas and covering 90 per cent of Queensland’s population, the levy will see the cost of disposing of general waste be $70 per tonne, while regulated waste like tyres, plastic mulch, and food processing waste will incur a cost of $100 or $150 per tonne for disposal, depending on their categorisation.
Shadow Minister for Environment, Science, and the Great Barrier Reef, David Crisafulli, said questions remained about the true purpose of the waste levy.
“It's not about the environment, it's not about improving production, it's not about anything other than a big fat tax grab,” he said.
“There was no regulatory impact statement done at all for any industry, and from the beginning, it's never been about the environment, it's never been about how can they limit the impact on businesses and producers.
“It's not a junk and trash tax, it's a Jackie Trad tax.”
Minister Crisafulli said the repercussions for primary producers and small businesses would be widespread.
“In a community where you have farmers, who have land holdings on the outskirts of town, there's a real risk that illegal dumping will take place there and there's no money that's been set aside to help a landholder clean up a mess that does not belong to him or her, so the repercussions are real and they are widespread,” he said.
Minister for Environment, Science, and the Great Barrier Reef, Leeanne Enoch, said the LNP were continuing its scaremongering in the community because they don’t have their own waste policy.
“They still haven’t said whether they would again repeal the waste levy, sending Queensland back behind other states, and robbing our industries of investment opportunities like they did in 2012,” she said.
Ms Enoch said the government’s waste management strategy would not have an impact on primary producers, and schemes like drumMUSTER would not be affected by the levy.
“As drumMUSTER containers are collected and transported to materials recovery centres where they are recycled into items such as wheelie bins, fence posts and garden stakes, the scheme does not attract waste levy payments,” Ms Enoch said.
“For many farm wastes, there are much better uses than dumping them in landfill. For example, agricultural plastic films can be recycled into other products.”
Queensland Farmers’ Federation has raised concerns over the likelihood of increased illegal dumping which farmers will be forced to pay for the disposal of, and the increased operational costs that farmers are unable to pass along like other businesses.
QFF policy advisor, Dr Georgina Davis, said despite the main driver of the levy being to encourage recovery and dissuade disposal in landfill, government had not done enough to make people aware of the March 4 commencement date.
Despite Ms Enoch saying the waste levy would not impact the drumMUSTER scheme, Dr Davis said the program was currently under review and that Agstewardship Australia had asked the ACCC for a two cent increase to the levy due to the rising cost of collection and consolidation of containers.