Waste burden

The massive cost burden dumped on local councils by the State Government last week in the form of an increased waste levy has infuriated and alarmed many in local government.
The issue should infuriate and alarm ratepayers as well because it is they who will be paying it.
In the weeks leading up to setting their own budgets, councils now have to factor in another significant cost with the three Hills councils – Adelaide Hills, Mt Barker and Alexandrina – being forced to find a combined extra $600,000 per year.
It seems remarkable that when the levy was first set in 2003/04 it was $5 per tonne. It will now be $140 per tonne for metropolitan administrations.
The lateness of the recent announcement and the lack of consultation appear to have caught many by surprise.
There is no doubt the issue of our waste and what to do with it is slowly climbing the greasy pole of political awareness.
Australians are a wasteful lot and the old attitude of simply digging a hole and burying it has been ‘situation normal’ for too long.
It is clear we have not been smart about our waste – or our recycling – and the recent decision by many Asian countries to not take our plastic waste has sharpened our focus on a problem of our own making.
The lack of action on growing our recycling industry shows how the ball that has been dropped by successive Federal and State governments.
It is likely ratepayers would be more inclined to agree to an increase in their rubbish dumping charges if they knew the money raised was being used to tackle this growing issue.
However, according to the State Government budget papers, the $8.5m raised by the increases in the levy will be spent repairing West Beach and doing other coastal works.
I’m sure those along the coast might think it a grand idea, but it is galling to many ratepayers that the tax slug has almost no relationship to the problem to which it is attached.
It is a cash grab. Pure and simple.
And this from a government which refuses to allow metropolitan councils to even consider shifting to a fortnightly bin collection system which has proven hugely successful in cutting landfill waste from regional councils which have adopted it.