Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes has called on the state government to implement a parliamentary committee report which would return millions of dollars of waste levy funds to Newcastle.
The Waste from Energy report made public this week recommends all funds levied for waste disposal be returned to councils for waste and recycling services.
The government levy has skyrocketed from $45 to $141 a tonne in the past 10 years, and rising tip fees have encouraged private operators to truck waste to Queensland or dump it illegally.
If implemented, the Upper House committee’s report would return tens of millions of dollars to councils throughout the Hunter.
In a lord mayoral minute to go before councillors next week, Cr Nelmes says Newcastle will contribute at least $23.5 million in waste levy contributions to the government this financial year.
She told the Newcastle Herald that the city receives $176,290 in return and an opportunity to apply for grants.
“The state government has gouged the City of Newcastle with the s88 waste levy to the tune of $178 million over the last 10 years, essentially quashing any opportunities for capital investment in waste avoidance and recycling infrastructure and cost shifting another burden onto local government,” she said.
“They need to immediately legislate the recommendations from their own parliamentary inquiry.”
The council plans to open a new $12.8 million organic waste recycling plant at Summerhill tip in about two years, partly to avoid paying the state levy.
The council charges ratepayers $284.50 a tonne, double the government levy, to dump general solid waste at Summerhill. It collects the $141.20-a-tonne levy and passes it on to the NSW Environment Protection Authority.
The Waste from Energy report urges the government to “hypothecate 100 per cent of the waste levy funds contributed by local councils back to these organisations to provide waste management services, including waste reduction, avoidance and re-use programs, and environmental programs to encourage innovative waste management technology”.