Queensland budget: WARR firmly on the agenda

16 June 2021

Queensland’s 2021-22 budget, released yesterday, was a show of continued support for our essential waste and resource recovery (WARR) industry, with clear funding allocated to drive sustainable outcomes across the state.

Among the highlights was a $93.6 million commitment over four (4) years and $24.2 million each year ongoing to implement the state’s Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy.

“WMRR welcomes the Queensland government’s focus on implementing the strategy. While there remain levy implementation issues to be ironed out, it is encouraging to see that the government also has its sights on broader, long-term policies to secure and grow Queensland’s WARR sector,” Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan, said.

“WMRR looks forward to working with the Department of Environment and Science as it considers how to direct this funding towards the variety of programs, including infrastructure planning, and policy initiatives that will enable the objectives and outcomes within the strategy to be realised.

“It is also notable that the government is maintaining its significant public infrastructure grants program in the budget, with a commitment to a four (4)-year program of $52.2 billion from 2021-20 to 2024-25, alongside $61 million in additional funding allocated to environmental markets and investment initiatives. While the details remain to be seen, there is a significant opportunity for the government to maximise the use of Australian recycled material in all their public civil works projects.”

The budget also unveiled that in 2020-21, revenue from the waste levy was estimated to be $291 million, with this forecasted to grow by 8.9% in 2021-22 and 5.3% in 2022-23. As part of levy reinvestment, the government announced that $160 million would be allocated to local governments as part of the levy rebate.

“While WMRR congratulates the government for keeping WARR on the agenda, the funding allocated in the budget appears to have fallen short of the government’s 70% commitment to reinvest waste levy monies to the WARR sector and we’d encourage the government to consider how it can meet this target in the subsequent years,” Ms Sloan said.

“Further, WMRR has highlighted and will reiterate that the levy rebate local government receives is a significant disincentive for councils to contract and/or invest in resource recovery as doing so will potentially reduce their financial return. These funds can be used reduce the impact on the household budget by being directly invested into infrastructure that enables diversion of material from landfill. At present, there is no such requirement, which is holding back investment and jobs in Queensland. WMRR hopes that the review of the levy this year will include a timetable for the discontinuation of the annual advance payment to councils in the levy zones, as well as accelerated investment in resource recovery.

“All in all, WMRR congratulates Queensland for its sustained funding commitment to the WARR sector, which is a trend we are seeing nationally as all governments understand the significant economic and environmental benefits that our industry brings to all Australians,” Ms Sloan concluded.