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Why WMMR thinks NSW government is hooked on levy not recovery

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet appeared to say all the right things – the budget will look beyond the present crisis to lay the foundations for a prosperous post-pandemic future?

That’s forward thinking! The NSW government will make it easier to do business? About time! The budget puts job creation front and centre, unleashing targeted, temporary stimulus to kick-start our jobs recovery? That’s exciting and welcome news!

And then, you realise it’s silent on the waste and resource recovery sector, despite the bold claim of the Treasurer that, “this budget is the NSW government’s commitment to leave nothing in the tank.”

It is terribly disappointing to hear the Treasurer talk about a budget that is all about economic recovery and prosperity and then to see that it is silent on our essential industry, save for a laughable one-year extension of Waste Less Recycle More, while the government appears to be banking on a 10 per cent increase in waste levy revenue by 2024.

How is it that NSW believes it will be increasing landfilling when the rest of Australia, led by the Commonwealth, is clearly on a path towards improving material management, reducing disposal, increasing recovery and recycling, and creating valuable Australian jobs?

This possibly confirms what industry has long feared, that NSW really is a one trick state, which relies on the waste levy rather than policy when working with our essential sector. The NSW government needs to move ahead quickly and catch up with the rest of Australia, recognising both the value and complexity of our industry, in order that we do not lose more jobs and investment in NSW; we cannot rely on the levy alone to create investment in a period of policy uncertainty and lack of strategic direction.

Australia – save for NSW it seems – sees clearly that not only does our essential sector play a vital role in protecting human and environmental health, it is an economic and job multiplier, which is much-needed right here and right now.

Why is this government and its EPA so out of step with all other Australian governments and the WARR industry? The federal and other state/territory governments have realised the importance of investing and supporting a strong domestic remanufacturing industry, given the ability to create four times more jobs than landfilling or exporting.”

It really is time that the NSW government sees the WARR sector as an economic opportunity to be realised, not just a landfill levy cash cow to be milked.The Budget is just one more kick for our essential sector in NSW, which for the past three years has been operating in a policy holding pattern coupled with tremendous regulatory uncertainty, continuously told to wait for a new plan that is on its third attempt in three years, while the rest of Australia marches on investing in recovery and jobs.

This budget is disappointing as it sends the message that NSW remains closed for WARR business, instead of seizing the opportunity for our sector to play a key role in the economic recovery.

Gayle Sloan is the CEO of The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia.