WRIQ slams SE QLD plan for ignoring waste’s role

WRIQ CEO Rick Ralph
Waste Recycling Industry Association Queensland’s (WRIQ) CEO has called the state’s politicians “out of touch” on the of the waste and recycling industry after it was ignored in a new plan for South East Queenland’s infrastructure.

The comments from industry stalwart, Rick Ralph, follow the publication of its ShapingSEQ: Draft South East Queensland Regional Plan earlier this month.

The strategy was led by the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, but devised by South East Queensland Regional Planning Committee members, which include the state environment minister and mayors from the cities involved.

The plan was drafted to guide the future of the South East Queensland (SEQ) region, and was devised in conjunction with its 12 local governments and in consultation with stakeholders and the public. The document’s introduction says: “It aims to accommodate future growth sustainably and in a way that responds to change positively, and enhances the social, economic and environmental systems that support the region’s liveability.”

The report sets the scene for infrastructure planning for 50 years, forecasting that jobs in the wider waste and utility services sector will triple by 2041. However, it does not mention the role of the waste and recycling industry in economy growth, supporting the growing population, or in any of the initiatives set out in the Plan.

A statement from WRIQ said: “The release of the Palaszczuk Government’s draft statutory regional plan Shaping SEQ demonstrates just how out of touch the State’s most senior elected representatives are in recognising the essential community, environmental and economic role of Queensland’s waste and recycling industry.”

WRIQ CEO Rick Ralph said the failure of the plan “to acknowledge, discuss or plan for any future waste and recycling issues is beyond belief” when considering how to manage the impacts of an expanding region in terms of population, business and urban growth.

“Queensland’s waste and recycling industry future is clearly compromised when under the guidance of seven state ministers and twelve council mayors, they oversee a 160-page regional plan setting out the strategic planning and growth issues associated with an expected 2.0 million more individuals and the impacts these will bring, but they ignore all reference to how any form of the communities’ wastes are to be managed, planned for and of the future infrastructure needs as a part of that growth,” commented Mr Ralph.

Government commitment
As a result, WRIQ said it is looking to secure an “urgent meeting” with Queensland’s Environment Minister, Dr Steven Miles, and even include Premier Palaszczuk, to obtain a government commitment out of Government to resolve the matter.

Expressing frustration with the current value placed on the contribution of waste management and recycling in the state’s economic output and essential service delivery, Mr Ralph added: “Queensland remains a state with no strategic policy setting for addressing waste management and secondary resource recovery.

“It is therefore no surprise the industry finds itself in the position where current and potential investments, the jobs we create, economic opportunities we can deliver as well as the industry challenges we face are being totally ignored or even acknowledged in such an important strategic policy document.”

In order to address the current position, WRIQ’s CEO is urging the Queensland Government to commit some of the 2016-17 Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) budget and to resource finalising a strategy to be approved by all stakeholders.

The launch of Shaping SEQ follows the online publication of the State of the Environment (SoE) Report by the DEHP on 12 October, which does comprise a dedicated chapter to waste management issues.

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