25 June, 2012

100 Days

100 Days

On the 19 March 2012, prior to the election, Campbell Newman released his 100 Day Action Plan which was to be a blueprint for the first 100 days of Government. Initially the Newman Government began machinery of Government changes such as disassembling the Department of Environment and Resource Management.

Last week, Premier confirmed his commitment to commence action to implement recommendations of the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry.

On the 10 April 2012, the Premier committed to act to repeal Labor’s $372 million Industry Waste Levy with the intention of cutting costs for businesses (to take effect from 1 July 2012).  However, ASBG is concerned the Government is cutting it fine.  No waste levy amending legislation has been seen on the Queensland Parliament’s bills list .  ASBG believes that the proposed ‘cost of living Bill’ which may be out this week.  However, due parliamentary process would mean such a bill cannot be enacted before 1 July 2012, hence levy may not be reduced on 1 July.

The Queensland Government has confirmed the levy will be ended on 1 July 2012 with many of the Waste reduction programs suspended due to no levy revenue to support them.  One can still currently find information about the waste levy, how to pay it  Some content such as those programs that the former Government put in place are disappearing off the website.

In correspondence from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, noted ASBG’s concerns about interstate waste being transported into Qld.  Waste receivers on the Gold Coast are particularly vulnerable.  Opposition Environment spokesperson: Jackie Trad was quoted in the Gold Coast Bulletin: “the axing of the levy would turn Queensland into a dump for NSW”.
“The LNP Government's axing of the levy will only encourage interstate businesses to dump their rubbish in Queensland, the only mainland state without a levy on non-domestic waste.”

Minister Andrew Powell intends to explore these policy options more fully and develop suitable approaches in consultation with stakeholders. Provisions of the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 allow for the introduction of disposal bans, which is also referred to in Mr Roberts response. Under the existing legislation, the Minister may regulate waste for the purposes of a disposal ban, but only after considering all of the following:

· Prohibition on the disposal of the waste is the most effective point of intervention in the life cycle of the waste;
· Whether there are viable existing or potential collection systems & markets for any benefit that may be obtained from not disposing of the waste;
·      Whether the costs of monitoring, enforcement & market development are proportional to the benefits;
·      Whether voluntary or other measures for the avoidance of disposal have been shown not to be effective;
·      Whether a prohibition on disposal is required to support an accredited product stewardship scheme, a regulated product stewardship scheme or an approved program.

The Minister may also recommend regulation that identifies waste for the preparation of a priority product statement and the use of product stewardship arrangements, to shift the obligation onto waste generators to reduce waste.

However, a ban will not stop wastes crossing the border.  Free trade between states and territories is a cornerstone of the Australia Constitution.  As such a ban must only cover a specific waste type, but cannot discriminate from where that waste came from within Australia, otherwise it would be unconstitutional.
Under s152-153 reporting entities includes landfills and recycling activities as defined under the Waste Reduction and Recycling Regulation 2011.  Such entities must provide an annual report on among other things, waste types and amounts collected and as described under the regulations. Failure to provide a report is $10,000 maximum fine.

There appears no penalty for false or misleading data or reporting. ASBG has considerable issues with the ability of the EHP to police and be able to demonstrate miss-representation of the origin of waste arriving at landfills.  Such monitoring appears to rely on the honesty of the waste deliverers.  If there is commercial interest, the reliability of such information will be questionable

There were been a number of other commitments that are relevant to Environmental Practitioner’s such as:

·  The promised Gasfields Land and Water Commission has been established with John Cotter as its chairman. The Commission’s mission is to rebuild community confidence in and have influence over government processes and decisions on Coal Seam Gas development.
·  On Tuesday 19 June the State Government indicated its intention to terminate the South East Queensland Distribution and Retail Water Reform Workforce Framework 2009 as at 30 June, 2012.

On the 24 June, Premier Newman used a $45k sixty second spot, to urge one to read former Treasurer Peter Costello's interim commission of audit report on the Qld economy. So what happens if the levy is not repealed on 1 July 2012?  It would make for considerable confusion in the waste industry with many customers of landfill wondering why they are still paying the $35/t levy

ASBG are running:
·         Contaminated Land Conference on 18 July 2012
·         Environmental Management Workshop on the 19 July 2012 to bring Managers up to speed on changes to Environmental Law.

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