This week, the Innovation, Tourism Development and Environment Committee tabled its report into the proposed Waste Reduction and Recycling (Waste Levy) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018. The Bill introduces a waste levy that will commence on 4 March 2019 and be set at $70 per tonne of general waste sent to landfill, increasing to $150 per tonne for Category 1 regulated wastes. It will include 38 local government areas and cover 90% of Queensland’s population. Disappointingly, despite valuable input from stakeholders including industry participants and councils about genuine concerns with aspects of the new Waste Levy design, the Committee recommended that the Bill be passed unchanged.
This new tax will make waste disposal more expensive for all businesses including Queensland’s agricultural sector. QFF has repeatedly raised concerns about the lack of awareness of the impacts this new tax will have on waste generators and businesses, particularly farmers who are unable to pass on the increased operating costs.
QFF has also raised concerns about the likelihood of increased illegal dumping – on both public and private land. Farmland provides opportunities for unscrupulous operators to avoid landfill fees and the levy by illegally dumping waste, leaving the landowner to not only to pay for the clean-up costs but the levy as well in the prescribed local government areas. Yet these impacts have not been properly addressed or costed by decision-makers.
While the Department of Environment and Science and the Committee supported QFF’s position on higher penalties for illegal dumping offences, the provisions in the Bill do not go far enough and are meaningless where the polluter cannot be identified. The Bill still falls short in some critical areas for farmers, and QFF calls on government to implement a strengthened policy and an enforced regulatory framework to ensure that landowners are not the victims of illegally dumped waste; and where illegal dumping does occur, they do not bear the levy costs.