Manufacturing News

Waste levy fine print needs work: Ai Group

The Government should commit to environmental issues by redirecting the revenue raised by its proposed waste levy to support businesses to recycle, Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) Queensland director, Chris Rodwell, has said.

According to Rodwell, the proposed industrial waste levy in Queensland needs to be better thought-out.

“While there is no doubt that action needs to be taken to improve Queensland industry’s recycling effort, the Queensland Government needs to demonstrate that a waste levy won’t simply be a new tax on business,” Rodwell said.

“Queensland industry is enduring a sustained period of increased costs of doing business in the State, including most recently an extra $150 million in increased workers compensation premiums.

“If the Government is set on introducing a waste levy it could demonstrate that it is a genuine environmental measure by making a commitment to redirect the revenue raised to support business to recycle more and also to support the development and commercialisation of new recycling technologies. In this way we would see positive structural change and potential for job creation in the waste management and recycling sector realised.”

According to Rodwell, industry views the potential introduction of a waste levy with some trepidation given that some states, in particular New South Wales, treat the levy as a general revenue tax. That is, the revenue raised is simply redirected back into the budget coffers rather than being used to improve industry practice.

“The price at which a levy is set is all important. If the price is set too high it may be so prohibitive that we see increasing amounts of waste disposed of illegally. This would be counter to the effort to reduce waste,” he said.

“For business it is also critical that a phased approach is taken to the implementation of the waste levy to ensure cash flow, especially in small businesses, is not impacted too greatly. Definitions as to what constitutes waste also need to be closely scrutinised.

“The Queensland Government should take its time to get its approach to waste management right. It needs to involve industry in the design of not only the levy but the development of the broader plan for dealing with waste in Queensland. A comprehensive strategy for waste could, for instance, result in a decreased regulatory compliance burden for industry. As much as is practicable, it should also be consistent with best practice in other states.

“Importantly, the Government and the community need to recognise that this levy will increase the cost of construction in this State, especially for major capital works.

“More broadly, industry believes the Queensland Government needs to do more to contain the cost of doing business in Queensland. We are now aware of two significant areas where the Government intends to further increase costs for business over the coming years. The Government needs to do more to reign in its recurring expenditure in order to deliver tax cuts for business as well as reduce the overall regulatory burden for business.”

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