Labor’s Waste Tax

Waste Reduction and Recycling (Waste Levy) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018

I rise today to make a contribution to the Waste Reduction and Recycling (Waste Levy) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018. The Minister for Environment introduced this bill to parliament after Labor announced that they were developing a resource recovery and waste strategy which would be reinforced by a waste disposal levy to, and I quote, “Increase recycling and recovery and create jobs”. If that really was the case and the Levy collected did all go 100% to Recycling and Recovery initiatives – this would be a whole different ball game – but it doesn’t.

My electorate of Bundaberg knows too well the burdens of living in Queensland under this Labor Government. Our state is struggling with the nation’s highest unemployment, increasing government debt and skyrocketing cost of living pressures. Yet, despite these daily burdens, Labor continues to threaten the livelihoods of every day Queenslanders by implementing extra taxes and this waste levy is a perfect example of that. Labor treats Queenslanders as cash cows from which they can withdraw any sum of money, for whatever political agenda they choose.

From the outset, this Government have been selling Queenslanders out. On the exact day of this announcement, 20 March 2018, the Premier guaranteed that “Queensland families will not face the cost of this levy”. Not only has the Government misled Queenslanders, who will be the ones paying for this tax, they have also increased the rate of disposal per tonne from $70 to $75 and delayed the commencement date of the levy in hopes to soften the blow.

Not only has Labor been secretive about the levy, they continue to change their reasoning as to why this additional tax is necessary. Initially, when the bill was first proposed, it was said to be due to an interstate waste problem then it was a recycling issue, then it was because of an international trade development in China, now it’s to supposedly develop Queensland’s recycling industry. This Palaszczuk Government has tried to spin every excuse in the book to convince the people of Queensland they have a justifiable reason to reach into the hip pockets of residents, yet again.

While it may be all fun and games in the Premier’s Office with the political spinners assuring each other that they’ve hoodwinked the public, the reality is that if this Bill is passed it will hurt all Queensland families. I can tell you, the people in my electorate cannot afford any further expenses than what they are already being faced with. It is beyond unreasonable.

There are many Queensland families, including many in Bundaberg, that already struggle with job security, weekly bills and putting food on the table. This bill is out of touch and simply shows this Labor Government’s arrogance. This Bill takes too much and provides next to nothing in return.

Bundaberg is the home to hundreds of small businesses. People like Michael and Tracey who I met with last week on how this levy is going to negatively affect them and their business.

Mums and dads taking a gamble to start and run a business to make a go of it. With continued struggles just to keep the family going the last thing our small business owners need is another tax on their livelihoods to make it even harder to break even. They are already dealing with electricity prices they can’t afford and now they will have this Waste Levy to deal with.

But these people aren’t silly – they know a tax grab when they see one and I am already being approached by small business owners in Bundaberg trying to work out how they can absorb another cost to their business without putting up their prices to the customers. They can’t see any way around it and they shouldn’t have to.

This waste levy is a $1.3 billion tax grab that Queenslander’s are expected to just cop. It’s a mammoth amount of money, paid for by the residents of this state. This government continues to struggle with real solutions for problems. Their go-to answer is Tax, Tax and more Tax. The Premier has slugged Queenslanders with five new Labor taxes this 2018/19 budget. On the contrary, the LNP has ruled out any new taxes because we believe Queenslanders are already paying too much.

Regional Queenslanders, including Bundaberg residents, will be hit the hardest, yet again. Many regional areas will not be able to develop the economies of scale to support the necessary infrastructure investment to increase resource recovery rates which will inevitably lead to either the status quo continuing or substantial increases in illegal dumping. Families and businesses located outside of the South East Corner will be slugged more, simply because Labor can’t manage a waste issue in Ipswich.

Queenslanders can see through this governments spin tactics. They are aware that the Premier’s guarantee that “Queensland families will not face the cost of this levy”, is impossible to fulfil. They are aware that Labor’s promises are rubbish. The more details that arise about this bill, the clearer it becomes to every day Queenslanders that they are going to be hit with yet another increase in their bills.

Both the Waste Recycling Industry Association Queensland (WRIAQ) and the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) directly refuted the Premier’s guarantee that Queensland families would not face the cost. WRIAQ stated that “Governments claims that Queensland householders will not be impacted by its introduction are incorrect…” The waste industry, the building industry, the housing industry and even councils have all publicly stated the Premier Palaszczuk’s claims don’t stack up. Master Builders Queensland has said Labor’s new $70 a tonne waste tax will add five figures to the cost of building a new home or undertaking major renovations. Now, even more as Labor has hiked the price up by another $5 per tonne.

Our councils will be forced to increase rates as more and more money flows into the Government’s coffers. Whether it’s a growing family doing a major reno, or a young family trying to buy their first new home, they will be slugged by Labor. Every customer of every business will be slugged, as they are forced to cover these extra disposal costs. Not even retirees in age care are spared the price hike. In fact, retirees will be hit the hardest with Labor providing no household waste rebate to aged care homes or retirement villages in this bill.

The Minister will claim that the levy is for the benefit of the environment. Yet, only about ten cents in the dollar of the $1.3 billion raised will go towards environmental programs. With barely 10% going back to the industry that this Bill is supposed to support, it is nothing but insulting to call it a levy and not what it really is – a blatant Labor money grabbing tax.

The fact that Labor are saying this measure will grow Queensland’s recycling industry is shameful. Taking $1.3 billion and only providing a bit over $150 million will not help develop Queensland’s recycling industries or improve our environment.

The reality is that this tax will shovel hundreds of millions of dollars into the Labor Government’s coffers, but provide about 10% of the revenue raised to the resource recovery program. Whether or not you support a waste tax, for it to have any environmental benefit more has to go to environmental initiatives and not to the State Government’s coffers.

In the Government’s own report undertaken by Peter Lyons it was identified that interstate dumping had dramatically increased under Labor and had decreased under an LNP Government. The LNP Government implemented an array of effective compliance mechanisms that controlled and limited interstate waste, whereas Labor allowed an open slather of dumping fuelled by the Labor Ipswich City Council’s revenue collection from the establishment of super-dumps.

If this is the real issue then why didn’t the Government levy Interstate waste only? Because it is just another smokescreen!

If the Premier wants to stop New South Wales’ waste coming across the border then she should police the current laws, not impose a state-wide tax. The only thing Labor recycles is excuses. That’s why, I stand here today to oppose this bill and all that it contains.

14 February 2019

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