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Wasted opportunity on landfill levy spending

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The recent State Budget revealed that the government is draining landfill levy revenue to pay for projects unrelated to waste reduction or recycling.

MAV President Cr Mary Lalios said the original intent of collecting the landfill levy was to boost recycling rates and support waste reduction and sustainability initiatives.

But a recent Independent Inquiry into the Environment Protection Authority found over the past 10 years, the average amount of waste attributable to each Victorian every year increased by 29 per cent which “feeds into community concerns that the levy’s purpose is to raise revenue, rather than reduce waste”.

“Councils have been crying out for support with waste and resource recovery projects and the exorbitant cost of rehabilitating closed landfill sites, yet the State Government has chosen to spend landfill levy revenue on totally unrelated purposes,” Cr Lalios said.

“A 2014 Victorian Auditor-General’s Report suggested that landfill levy revenue should be used ‘to help fund the timely rehabilitation of high-risk landfills’.

“While we welcome the State Government’s long-overdue willingness to spend the levy revenue, it’s difficult to see how budget initiatives like a timber plantation, solar trams, a new website for a government agency, and remediating land at gun clubs will reduce waste to landfill.”

Cr Lalios said councils were concerned about the lack of transparency around the Sustainability Fund, which contains money paid by households and businesses through the landfill levy. Councils have previously called for the fund’s income and expenditure data to be publicly disclosed.

“We believe the government needs to end the mystery around this fund. Councils and communities have every right to expect that landfill levies are being used to reduce waste. The government needs to be held to account via reporting that is clear, timely and publicly available.

“The way the Sustainability Fund is currently being managed is obviously not working. Despite significant increases in the landfill levy in recent years, the amount of waste being generated by communities has risen significantly – and this is unacceptable.

“It is also unsustainable given the government’s own projection that the Victorian population will increase to 10.1 million by 2051. The way we manage waste in Victoria has to change.

“This issue will be raised again at the MAV’s upcoming State Council meeting, because councils feel increasingly disappointed and misled by past and present governments about the spending of landfill levy revenue.”

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Contact Cr Mary Lalios on 0447 189 409 or MAV Communications on 9667 5547.