Opinion, WMRR

Queensland budget is missed opportunity

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) said the Queensland Budget while big spending, presented a missed opportunity for the waste and resource recovery (WARR) industry in the state.

“The WARR sector appreciates there is significant future funding in the budget, however, it is not until 2027/28,” WMRR Chief Executive Officer Gayle Sloan said. “The challenge is getting the policy and economic settings right now to be able to invest well in Queensland in future years.

“It’s also of concern that the Government has agreed to top up some regional councils in levy repayments – back to 100% in the next two years – which may mean these funds in these outer years are no more than subsidies and not investment dollars. How can we drive resource recovery and investment in Queensland when subsidies like this are re-instated?

“The fact that Queensland is behind on seven of its own nine WARR targets and that the budget provides no urgent action to address this is deeply disappointing. The ongoing lack of attention and investment by this Government in the broader WARR industry continues.”

The WARR sector should be a green job creator for Queensland and when harnessed to its fullest ensures that all resources are used to their maximum – leading to better environmental outcomes. And what better than that in the resource-rich state of Queensland, according to Sloan.

She also said that when Victoria had taken the lead and looked to harmonise levies down the east coast, it was disappointing to see no adjustment to the waste levy beyond forecasts in the budget. The current Queensland levy is about $55 lower than neighbouring NSW. Levy harmonisation across the eastern seaboard is a vital step to move the WARR industry forward by not only putting a clear price on valuable material that should be recovered where it is generated, but also to stop material moving between states.

“The other concerning aspect missing from the Budget was the lack of obvious funding to address the current battery fire crisis engulfing our industry,” said Sloan. “Queensland is leading the national work on this issue after the meeting of environment ministers last November, but whilst a national strategy is important, what is equally, if not more important, is funding now.”

“With battery fires occurring daily across the country, this crisis is placing our workers, trucks and infrastructure at risk. Items with embedded batteries, such as vapes, toys and electric toothbrushes, currently have no safe disposal method.

“The WARR sector was hoping Queensland would use the budget to lead the nation by funding drop off points for items with embedded batteries to get them out of bins where they pose a huge fire risk. The government has failed to act on this urgent need.”

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