The Palaszczuk Government has failed to explain why Mount Isa will have to cough up millions of dollars each year for a waste levy and Goondiwindi will not.
Mayor Joyce McCulloch was told Mount Isa would be included in the waste levy zone because the city’s population level exceeded 10,000 people.
But Goondiwindi Regional Council, with more than 10,000 people has been exempt.
When asked why the government told the North West Star it was “not appropriate to compare councils with each other”.
“In relation to Mount Isa, with around 19,000 residents, it is well above the population cut-off of 10,000 used for defining the levy zone boundary,” Environment minister Leanne Enoch said.
“Mount Isa was also included when a levy zone was last in place and is a local government area that is large enough to make local recycling possible if appropriate financial incentives – such as a levy – are in place.”
The new $70 per tonne waste levy, aimed at curbing rubbish dumping from New South Wales, is slated for 38 Queensland councils but Mount Isa is the only one not on the east coast.
Queensland is the only mainland state without a waste levy.
It was tossed out under the Newman government in 2012, when it was $35 a tonne.
Shadow environment minister David Crisafulli said the government’s decision to include Mount Isa in the new waste levy zone was “a bit fishy”.
“I don’t know why Mount Isa would randomly be included. We were told this was all about stopping interstate waste but I don’t know how many trucks are going to drive from northern NSW to the Isa to save a few bucks on dumping,” Mr Crisafulli said.
“It is wrong, the whole thing is an almighty con job really.
“Regional areas more than anywhere will hurt, and in a place like Mount Isa, you just don’t have the opportunity to offset those costs. It is a great big fat tax,” he said.
“The government needs to explain why they would include Mount Isa.”
Mount Isa City Council says the levy will cost $2.5m each year – which spread across 7800 ratepayers would amount to $320 a head annually.
Cr McCulloch told a public hearing the cost of the levy would “most definitely” have to be passed onto ratepayers.
“Our city is widely known to be disadvantaged in a number of areas due to our remote location and lack of services, and our population simply cannot be put at further risk of being disadvantaged by way of a levy to dispose of waste,” Mayor Joyce McCulloch said.
“All we can see is an extra rate going out to our community, and as it is our community is already doing it very, very tough.”
Environment minister Leanne Enoch says the levy would create more jobs and promised councils a 105 per cent rebate on costs in the first year.
“Councils will have no reason to increase rates because of the waste levy – we are giving them more than enough funding to cover this,” Ms Enoch said.
“A waste disposal levy will create a much-needed source of funding for regional waste infrastructure programs that can assist in providing new or enhanced facilities to improve waste management practices.”
But the rebate for council will only last for three years and will be lessened over that time.
Traegar MP Robbie Katter said Mount Isa ratepayers will be forking out for something that is of no tangible benefit to them whatsoever.
“The state government has argued that, even despite the cost to the councils, there would be no impact passed onto ratepayers thanks to a 105 per cent rebate that is being offered,” Mr Katter said.
“The trick there is that this rebate will be lessened over a period of time – by how much and when, we don’t know.
“This means the levy will eventually operate exactly as a tax, and one I am sure will add nicely to the state government’s coffers.”
The North West Star has asked the government why they have not committed to rebates past 2022, but they did not respond directly to that question.