The Queensland Government is reviewing waste regulations after a Queensland Treasury Corporation review highlighted anti-competition concerns and a lack of regulatory harmonisation.
The state government’s Local Government Waste Management Reforms Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) is now open for public comment.
“Local government stakeholders have raised concerns about their ability to administer waste management in the absence of a state level regulatory framework for the administration of waste management, and the need for all councils to develop local laws for waste administration,” the RIS reads.
“Some stakeholders expressed the view that some local governments are acting in an anticompetitive manner while implementing local government waste management provisions.”
The RIS examines two regulatory mechanisms, section seven of the Waste Reduction and Recycling Regulation 2011, and chapter 5A of the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008.
According to the RIS, both sections provide a regulatory framework for local governments to administer waste management activities within a local government area.
Section seven allows local governments to designate areas for general and green waste collection, and to determine the frequency of those collections. Chapter 5A gives local governments the ability to impose obligations and requirements on premises outside designated areas.
The RIS suggests that when paired with powers granted under the Local Government Act 2009, section seven and chapter 5A give local governments the ability to stifle competition.
“The Local Government Act 2009 provides for local governments to make local laws, including anti-competitive laws, where the benefit to the community is considered to outweigh the cost,” the RIS reads.
Alternatively, the RIS highlights local government concerns that without these powers, commercial operators will only collect from profitable segments of the market, thereby undermining the economies of scale that come from mandating all services.
The RIS proposes two options: no change to current regulations, and amendments that will retain local government’s ability to mandate domestic waste collection, but only allow local governments to designate areas for council commercial waste collection when strict criteria are met.
The Local Government Association Queensland is supporting the retention of present regulations, suggesting changes will lead to a clear cost shift to local communities for the sole benefit of the private sector.
Additionally, the association suggests changes could reduce service certainty, reduce the ability to control and regulate collection activities and impact contract arrangements and negotiations.
Submissions close 31 February.