The Queensland government admits households could end up being slugged with its unpopular waste tax if councils decide to double-dip.
In her first budget on Tuesday, Treasurer Jackie Trad announced rebates for councils to cover the costs of disposing of rubbish and recycling, to spare ratepayers being slapped with the fees.
But she admitted on Wednesday there was nothing stopping councils from taking the subsidies while still passing on costs to households.
“If they do, they will be judged harshly,” Ms Trad said.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington took aim at the government hours later during question time, accusing Labor of recasting its justification for the $70-per-tonne charge.
“When Labor first announced this tax they said it was to stop interstate dumping,” Ms Frecklington said.
“Then they said it was needed because the Chinese stopped recycling imports. Then last sitting week Labor said it was to create a recycling, circular economy.
“Does the Premier agree yesterday Queenslanders found out the truth of this $1.3 billion tax grab?”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk went on the defensive, saying it was a deterrent against interstate businesses crossing into Queensland to dump their rubbish and avoid fees in other states.
But property experts on Tuesday said it would have a broader impact on housing prices.
“We need supportive policies to help people into housing, not policies that are going to put up prices, and that’s what this is going to do,” said Warwick Temby, executive director of the Housing Industry Association (Queensland).
Budget papers show 70 per cent of revenue raised will fund council rebates, pay for the running of the program and support new rubbish disposal programs during that time.
Ms Trad denied she was price-gouging by allocating the remaining funds to government spending outside of the waste and environmental space.
“How are we overcharging?” she asked.
“I think it’s entirely responsible and reasonable that a small portion of the money that we raise goes into the work that government does each and every day.”
The government will open a $100 million fund to get Queensland’s waste and recycling sector up and running.
It will also pay an extra $32 million in advance subsidies to councils in the 2018/19 financial year to get the ball rolling.