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Queensland: rethink needed on funding for waste sector

Levies and funding arrangements for the Queensland waste and resource recovery sector must be reviewed to ensure private investment has a role to play in driving confidence and growth in the sector.

This comes after Queensland’s flagship grant program for the waste and recycling sector, the $100 million Resource Recovery Industry Development Program (RRIDP), had funding significantly reduced, despite total project funding requested exceeding $811 million.

Waste Recycling Industry Association of Queensland (WRIQ) CEO Mark Smith says a broader discussion is needed on the future of levies and grants, including the implications for vital private investment.

“The Queensland Government should be congratulated on recently signing up and announcing the new Queensland Recycling Modernisation Fund (QRMF). However, it must be acknowledged that this comes about 12 months after the Federal Government’s announcement of the program.

“At the same time, it is disappointing to see funding reduced from the Government’s much-promoted RRIDP. This reallocation of what the sector understood to be committed funding eats away at business confidence,” Smith said.

As implications of the Federal Government’s waste export ban (COAG waste export ban) begin to impact local markets, Queensland will be increasingly competing with NSW and Victoria to attract private equity into the state.

“WRIQ is keen to work with the State Government to engage in constructive conversations about the policies and levers that will position Queensland ahead of our southern neighbours in attracting private investment,” said Smith.

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“It’s great that Queensland has signed up to the RMF and released the QRMF, but looking at the Federal Government’s website, Queensland is notably absent from a long list of projects that have already secured funding.

“The sector is already investing hundreds of millions of dollars annually into Queensland through infrastructure, vehicles, equipment and people. We need to rethink how funding for the sector is allocated and start to talk more about procurement potential and the role of market development in driving industry development in Queensland.”

Smith said it was telling that recent government reports indicated the Queensland recycling rate is far behind that of NSW and Victoria.

“We need to engage the Queensland community on the vital services delivered by the sector. No amount of infrastructure spending is going to address consumers who aren’t aware of how the sector works or how to recycle correctly.”

“The waste and recycling sector wants to partner with Government in working towards a more sustainable Queensland. It is time for more meaningful and consistent engagement with the organisations that build, finance and employ the thousands of Queenslanders delivering vital services every day to households and businesses across the country. It is essential that Governments understand the barriers to investment as this is critical to driving long term success for our State.

“We all want a thriving and sustainable Queensland. With the Olympics now secured, we shouldn’t just be talking about upgrading sports stadiums and transport. We should also be talking about making our communities sustainable and thriving into the next decade. How we generate waste and dispose of things we don’t want must be part of that conversation.”

WRIQ (on behalf of our state affiliates and national body) invite anyone who has expressed interest in state government grant programs for waste and recycling (and related areas) to email memberservices@wriq.com.au to register your interest and receive your copy of the survey link and fact sheet about this project. You do not need to be a member of WRIQ or our state affiliates to participate in this study.