State cashes in on our junk

THE Tweed's trash is the State Government's treasure.

The Rees Government will introduce a $10-per-tonne Waste and Environment Levy to the Tweed Shire Council starting in the new year, with ratepayers certain to pick up the tab.

The levy will double to $20 per tonne in 2010 and triple to $30 in 2011, with an expected cost to the council of an estimated extra $3 million per annum by that time.

Tweed MP Geoff Provest slammed the New South Wales Government's mini-budget "cash grab" and said Tweed ratepayers should not have to deal with the new tax.

"This is a garbage Labor decision by a garbage Labor government," Mr Provest said.

"It is ridiculous. When will they start taxing the air we breathe?

"Tweed Shire Council obviously cannot absorb this tax which amounts to several millions of dollars, and that means further Tweed rate increases."

Mr Provest said it was another nail in the coffin for the Tweed following the mini-budget, which cut vital funding to the Northern NSW petrol subsidy and for the Sexton Hill upgrade.

"This is a double whammy because we will also pay more when we visit the local rubbish tip," he said.

"We paid for our tips and we maintain them -- the State Government has no business taxing Tweed rubbish.

"The Labor Government spin is that this is all -- it is nothing of the sort, it is just another Labor tax."

Mr Provest said rates will have to be raised to cope with the extra $3 million.

Tweed Mayor Joan van Lieshout said council would do its best to absorb the new tax in the first year.

"I am determined to ensure the ratepayers will not pay this tax," Cr van Lieshout said.

"It would be hard on people in these troubling times."

Cr van Lieshout said she could not make it definite.

"At the same time we have funding will have to come from somewhere," she said. NSW Climate Change and Environment Minister Carmel Tebbutt defended the levy as providing funding innovation in greener waste technology in the state.

"This scheme has delivered new marine parks, expanded council waste services, and a stronger Environmental Trust grant scheme and $105 million to buy back water for the environment," Ms Tebbutt said.

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