Solid Waste Levy - Earthquakes

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation questions about the solid waste levy.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The minister was on the wireless, as was I, the other morning in relation to this outrageous hike and he was asked by the FIVEaa interviewer, Mr Matthew Pantelas:

Why haven’t we spent that $90 million sitting in the fund?

That being the solid waste fund, and the minister then replied:

That is a bit of a sinking fund for us and we are doing some work at the moment in terms of disaster waste management.

He went on to talk about earthquakes in New Zealand and moving broken-down buildings off the streets and so forth. My questions for the minister are:

1.Why aren’t these matters covered already by the state government’s insurance company?

2.How can the matter of a landfill levy be applied to the removing down buildings in the instance of an earthquake?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 14:30 ): I am very pleased that the honourable member has asked me this question again today around the issues of waste management. I am pleased to note that I already have the support of the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Marshall, for our government’s reforms in the waste sector and our levy increase. I think I gave the chamber that information yesterday. I certainly welcomed his submission, as I outlined, which he provided—

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! The honourable minister has the floor.

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: I welcomed his submission, as I outlined in this place yesterday, when he was chairman of Compost SA. However, I do wonder where the Leader of the Opposition has been since his on-air media performance yesterday—in his bunker I suspect. He was out there yesterday, of course, full of bluster, but that did not last very long. He is a bit of a fizzer today. It is because we know that he still backs, secretly of course, an increase to the waste levy, and the Leader of the Opposition supports it, because he knows it will create jobs and help grow the $1 billion industry. Of course, the best arguments for the levy increase come from him.

Today, another Liberal backer for our proposal has come forward, I am pleased to inform the chamber, and that person is none other than the New South Wales environment and heritage minister, Mr Mark Speakman, who has come out in support of our reforms. He utilised some social media platform that involves, I think it is called, a tweet. He says:

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. SA budget copies much of New South Wales Waste Less Recycle More@NSW_EPA

So there we have another Liberal supporter, other than the Hon. Stephen Marshall, the Leader of the Opposition in another place, who has come out and supported the South Australian state government’s budget measures and waste management. I welcome that, of course. I think it is a very smart move. There is a ringing endorsement from Liberals everywhere, Mr President. How embarrassing for those opposite who have not had the message yet up from Stephen Marshall in the other chamber, have not seen the tweet from New South Wales.

Members interjecting:

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: How embarrassing for them to be out of step with their leader in the other house. They really do need to pick up on their communications.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Minister, I just want you to answer the question, if you could please.

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Of course, Mr President. So this position being presented by Mr Marshall, back before he entered this place, outlines his personally lodged submission with Zero Waste SA. The Leader of the Opposition in that submission said: 'Compost SA believes that the levy should be higher than the proposed $55.'

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY: Point of order, Mr President: we had a disgraceful display yesterday and it is going on again today. Will you please direct the minister to answer the question. We have heard all about Mr Marshall. We want to know about earthquakes and buildings in New Zealand.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! Everyone just desist. The minister will answer the question in the way he sees fit. But I will just say to the minister that we do need to get a little bit more directly to the answer. We really do not want 15 minute answers, because there are a lot of people who want to ask questions. So, minister, go ahead.

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Indeed, Mr President, but it is fitting, I think, that the opposition, in asking this second question today, do get chapter and verse on this and I intend, with your indulgence Mr President, to give them a bit more information. The submission has also called for greater funding for the EPA and for investment back into the industry, which of course is what we are doing. South Australia‘s waste levy is being brought in line with that of New South Wales. New South Wales are so proud of their waste levy and their policy that they are out there broadcasting it today on social media, about how impressed they are with our state government’s policy, which will be unveiled in the budget tomorrow, and how it links very closely with their own policy.

Members interjecting:


The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Mr Marshall has advocated for the levy to be extended to other forms of waste as well, I understand. This is something he hasn't told South Australians; he hasn't told South Australians about that plan. If appropriate at some time, we might dig that document out of the files as well, out of the archives, to show what his big plans are for applying a levy across all waste streams.

I believe Mr Marshall has 'fessed up by going quiet. He is not out there in the media today. He has stopped being everything to everyone today, because he knows that he has been caught out, caught out saying one thing to one part of the community and saying or doing another thing when he was talking to another part of the community. He should listen to his colleagues in New South Wales, who have said of their levy, 'the Waste Levy is the NSW Government's key market‑based instrument for driving waste avoidance and resource recovery to meet the State's recycling targets.'

Those are the wise words of New South Wales then Liberal minister for the environment, Ms Robyn Parker. Wise words, because they know as we do that extra investment in industry means extra jobs and extra protections for the environment. We have committed, as I outlined yesterday, that every extra dollar raised by this increase will be reinvested into our community, into the environment protection sector, into industry, into local government and into climate change actions.

The Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins: After five minutes, are you going to have a look at the answer?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Well, I have plenty more, but if you want to go to another question, I am quite happy, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT: I think we've got the drift. The Hon. Mr Lucas.