Mayor calls on Premier to dump waste levies
AMIDST all the discussion of illegal and cross-state waste dumping in the region, one Northern Rivers council is calling on the Premier to dump waste levies.
Kyogle mayor and president of the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils, Cr Danielle Mulholland, has called on the NSW Government to immediately axe the waste levy.
Cr Mulholland said Kyogle Council does not transport any waste across the border, yet paid $224,802 in waste levies last financial year.
She said NOROC and its constituent councils (Ballina, Byron, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Tweed local government areas) had been lobbying the State Government for years to get rid of the levy which taxes local government $79.60 for every tonne of waste that goes to landfill.
The waste levy introduced in 2008 has been blamed for a massive increase in illegal dumping, corrupt activity, and the cross-border black market trade in rubbish exposed in Monday night's Four Corners report.
"I urge the Premier to remove the levy and the accompanying legislation as soon as possible," Cr Mulholland said.
"This will almost halve the cost of landfilling, reducing rates and landfill fees, and eliminating the financial incentive that has led to the current black market trade."
Cr Mulholland said the waste levy was $10 a tonne when first introduced by the State Government in 2008 and it now stands at $79.60 a tonne.
"As the levy got higher in NSW, unscrupulous operators realised it was cheaper to truck the waste to Queensland or establish illegal landfilling operations," she said.
"The NSW Government has incentivised these activities through its waste levy".
Kyogle Council operates its own licensed landfill in Kyogle and is currently in the process of closing its Woodenbong landfill, Cr Mulholland said.
"All our waste that goes to landfill, is disposed of in our own landfills and all our recyclables diverted from landfill are processed through registered recycling companies," she said.
"Each year we recycle around 2000 tonnes of material (and) if we landfilled this material instead of recycling it, we would have to pay around $160,000 in additional waste levy each year."
Cr Mulholland said from the day it was brought into play, the EPAs waste levy has been criticised as a tax on local communities rather than a solution to the management of waste and its impact on the environment.
"The Four Corners report provided shocking evidence to validate these claims and I call on the Premier to take action immediately," she said.