Liberal Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock has declared that councils are to blame for the waste levy crumbs they receive each year, despite her government banking more than two-thirds of the levy revenue each year.
“We are not going to just give it holus-bolus back, it’s not the way. We have to have councils actually indicate to us what their innovation is in terms of reducing waste and recycling.” – Liberal Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock on ABC Sydney, 22/10/2019
“I encourage councils to actually apply for money from that fund if they have an innovation which reduces waste to landfill, that’s what this money is all about.” – Liberal Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock in Question Time, 23/10/2019
Labor Shadow Minister for Local Government, Greg Warren said it was ludicrous for the Liberal Minister to lay blame at the feet of local councils who have been crying out for years for a greater share of the levy in order to fund waste management improvements and efficiencies across the state.
During budget estimates recently, the Liberal-National Government was asked a series of questions by Labor regarding the waste levy including: how much money had been raised; what the money had been spent on; and whether the Government would give councils a greater share of the funds.
The state government collects close to $800 million from councils as part of the waste levy each year – however, less than a third of that money is spent on programs to reduce waste, with more than two-thirds being pocketed by the Treasurer.
However, the NSW Environment Protection Authority says the aim of the levy is to ‘reduce the amount of waste being landfilled and promote recycling and resource recovery’.
“It’s hypocritical for the Liberal Minister to blame councils and pretend they haven’t justified where the money would be spent, when the Minister and her government are the only ones without a waste plan,” Mr Warren said.
“Councils are continually being used as debt collectors for this greedy state government and when those councils make a simple request for a greater share of the waste levy pie, they are ridiculed and told they haven’t justified their requests. The numbers speak for themselves, this is not a levy, it’s a smelly tax by a toxic government.”
“With only a small piece of the waste levy pie being fed to councils, they can’t support the development of local recycling facilities that we need. The result is, a lot of waste that could be recycled is going to landfill and plastics are being off-shored.”
Labor Shadow Minister for Environment and Heritage, Kate Washington added: “Every local mayor will be furious to hear they’ve been labelled the problem by the Liberal Local Government Minister.”
“Ratepayers are paying for their waste to be managed responsibly – but this Liberal-National Government is pocketing the tax and leaving councils to do a lot with very little.”
“Councils are crying out for a bigger piece of the pie so local waste can be managed locally. This greedy Minister is standing in the way of better environmental outcomes while she counts the cash for the Treasurer,” Ms Washington concluded .