Changes to the region’s waste services have been controversial since they were introduced in 2017.
Changes to the region’s waste services have been controversial since they were introduced in 2017.

Q&A: Candidates grilled on region’s rubbish services

IN THE lead-up to the March 28 council election, The Gympie Times put a number of questions to the region’s candidates.

Today, the 30 men and women fighting for one of the nine seats on the next Gympie Regional Council reveal if they are happy with the state of the region’s rubbish services.

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All responses presented in divisional order, and in the sequence candidates’ names appear on the ballot papers.

Locals line up at the Bonnick Rd rubbish dump.
Locals line up at the Bonnick Rd rubbish dump.

Mayoral

Glen Hartwig

No. A number of suggestions have been made to improve these services during my term as a councillor. If elected Mayor, I will remove green waste charges. There are other options to expand the operational hours of regional transfer points, fence the stations and introduce keypad entry thus reducing the cost of staff. These are simple, common sense options used by other councils and should be implemented in the Gympie region.

Mick Curran

We have come a long way with how we manage our waste. When first elected we had unsupervised landfill sites and it is fair to say our practices were not compliant with industry standards or community expectations. Changes had to be made. We eliminated the $85 waste management levy. We closed a number of non cost effective landfills across the region. But more importantly we introduced sound business practices where we reduced kerb side collection costs for both the resident and commercial premises and introduced a user pay system to allow equity for our residents, so that those not utilising land fill or transfer stations were not subsidising those that do. Like any area of council, we have more work to do in how we deal with our waste and the cost to the ratepayer.

Tim Jerome

The waste services at the moment are not working. We need to do a review of how we can manage our waste better. Things like vouchers are a good thing. Dumping of green waste should always be free. Regular kerbside pick-ups would be a good initiative.

Some candidates want green waste dumping to be free.
Some candidates want green waste dumping to be free.

Division 1

Jess Milne

The Gympie Region has large sections of national park and state land coverage that is victim to dump fees. The ‘user pays system’ designed to encourage recycling and reuse also creates an illegal dumping problem and financial/environmental burden on Council also National Parks and forestry. Initiate innovative refuse reuse programs to stamp Gympie Region as ‘clean and green’ to boost tourism and product branding. Investigate dump voucher system and green waste shredding reuse opportunities.

Ash Little

No. Waste management fees, particularly fees for green waste encourage illegal dumping. Green waste disposal should be free. Education in order to minimise landfill will benefit the community and make us less reliant on landfill moving forward. Operating hours for landfill sites need to be reviewed with community engagement not by paying external consultants. A cost analysis on two free dumping vouchers per household (not ratepayer) in each rating period should be explored.

Mark McDonald

Transitioning to perfect our waste management will always be subject to review. I have always been opposed to charging for our Green waste at the tip.

Phil Feldman

There is always room for improvement. Beginning with competitive tenders for our waste. I believe that there is ample value in our “waste” that we can use to our advantage. Everything from how we recycle our green waste, our sewage waste and water waste. We should also consider our metal and plastic waste and how to either recycle or sell. Consideration could also be given to council owned Incineration which is the most obvious solution for total destruction of municipal waste, avoiding all the direct and indirect risks associated with other disposal methods. Incineration perfectly fits into a trend of treating waste in a safe way, and if possible, at the same place where it was generated to avoid cross-contamination risk and to keep waste treatment costs at an acceptable level.

Gympie Dump Photo Renee Pilcher
Gympie Dump Photo Renee Pilcher

Division 2

Dolly Jensen

Consider how you would feel if, to dump a mattress you have to drive a 70-90km round trip and then get charged again at the tip. You can see why there’s so many mattresses and couches sitting on the side of the road for the council to pick up. That’s a “no” from me.

Leonora Cox

Our environment is our life blood and our greatest asset and we must look after it. We need better and more education for all residents regarding Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We need to back that up with the facilities to do so. Advise all planning proponents of ways to make their development more sustainable, work with all community sectors to reduce their foot print.

Fire at an unsupervised Gympie region dump in March 2015; one of the reasons the changes were introduced.
Fire at an unsupervised Gympie region dump in March 2015; one of the reasons the changes were introduced.

Division 3

Mal Gear

Waste services is another contentious issue and I think we have improved these services in the last four years, But I would support free green waste if re-elected and I would also like to look at the Our Bin Collection Policy, I know some residents in Rural areas don’t want bin collection and I think this could be reviewed.

Terry McMullan

No, I personally believe that our waste services are lacking and not keeping up with community expectations. The need for green services that promote and support green waste is inadequate. I feel there should be kerbside collection and waste vouchers for ratepayers with an Ave for renters to access vouchers and green bin collections fortnightly. As with other Councils in the South East mulch should be available for sale to the public.

Shane Waldock

Recycling and waste management have now become global issues, but this Council seems to be stuck in the past. It would be fair to say that Council has failed in achieving the vision in its own Regional Waste Management Strategy 2013 – 2020. Services are not ‘cost effective’ with high charges a disincentive (especially green waste) and its definitely not ‘customer focused’ with closing hours of transfer stations preventing people from going before/after work.

Michiel Pratt

No. I believe that this is one of the fundamental services that Council must deliver. Under the current system, we have seen increased costs for disposing of waste with reduced services offered across all of our waste management facilities. Waste services need to be subject to an urgent review to ensure we are offering ratepayers value for money and an efficient service.

Colleen Miller

I think the actual service provided in the Gympie is adequate – dump hours are good, pick-up is consistent. Get out in the rural areas, though, and it’s another story though. Cost is an issue – in comparison to some other councils, our fees are quite high.

Wheelie bin.
Wheelie bin.

Division 4

Bruce Devereaux

Well, it’s okay for me. Everything is working fine and dandy where I am. That said, there are problems looming in our region which I’ve been made aware of. And if our region’s waste services fail us it’ll become a PROBLEM. So this needs to be addressed as a priority by the next sitting council.

Rae Gate

The two wheelie bins at my home are more than sufficient for my husband and I. I would like to encourage Council to consider the provision of two (2) Waste Disposal Vouchers per year to Owners of a residential property. Sometimes residents have items for a trailer or car boot to take to the waste management facility. A roadside pick-up for bigger items by Council

Daryl Dodt

Every cubic metre of landfill that we reduce saves your money. Simply filling a bucket with soft plastic and returning it to the supermarket rather than to landfill saves your money. We have substantially reduced the waste component of the rates over four years and vastly expanded roadside bin collections. I am all for improvements to services and would love to see green waste bins/council mulching etc. As soon as this is economically sustainable it will happen.

Wayne Sachs

Yes. I believe GRC are doing their best in this area and are looking well into the future in relation to sustainability of waste services – transfer stations and landfill short and long-term plans. This is an important concern for all levels of government, which are all working collaboratively together to determine the best way forward for many years to come.

Recycling.
Recycling.

Division 5

Rob Burns

No. We have had plans and promises for numerous terms of council. We now have charges that are way over the top and you still have to drive through SLOP, for the fees charged you would expect a modern Waste Management Facility not a 20th century tip. As an employer the opening at 8am on a hot and humid summer’s morning is a bit rough 7am opening would be much appreciated by many.

Dan Stewart

Currently the more waste a resident creates, the more they pay for managing that waste. Any changes to waste management, such as annual footpath collection or dump vouchers, will have to be paid for somehow. Should people who create little waste subsidise those who create more waste? I am happy to further discuss possible solutions. Meanwhile, we need to keep pushing for further efficiencies in waste management, including whether green waste can be sold and savings passed onto residents.

Chelle Dobson

Resident complaints indicate that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the current waste services. I would like to see general and green waste vouchers and where possible a kerb side pick up of large items. I would also like to explore options for waste recycling including power generation.

Rubbish dump.
Rubbish dump.

Division 6

Hilary Smerdon

As far as Gympie itself goes, the service is adequate. For the surrounding regions I think services could be improved. I am a firm believer that smaller transfer stations should be fenced with a security fence and gate and key pad entry for residents. This would not restrict operating hours and a flat fee would be charged to residents. In my opinion council should mulch the green waste and sell it to either the residents or farmers making it possible to charge nothing to dump it.

Brian Thomas

No, I believe we can make the system more user friendly and look for savings in our waste services, especially green waste.

Mikki Lawson

I would like to bring in vouchers and free green waste dumping.

Rubbish dump.
Rubbish dump.

Division 7

Donna Reardon

There are major issues in the current waste services; fees are overwhelming for the domestic user and are not user-specific. There has been suggests that general waste still have a minimal fee but green waste should be free. Also could the green waste be recycled for our parks and gardens. Maybe a voucher for a run to the dump for the householder. Street side rubbish collection maybe once every six months.

Bob Leitch

Our waste services are improving, we as residents need to take more responsibility for our waste. It should be remembered our facility at Bonnick Rd is nearing capacity. I do support further investigation into potential use of green waste as a fuel, which may provide a solution to green waste charges.

Warren Polley

I commit to explore the best possible outcomes for rate payers considering environmental sustainability and financial viability.

Rubbish truck.
Rubbish truck.

Division 8

Bob Fredman

Waste is a big ongoing issue. I believe that green waste should be able to be deposited at our facilities free, as it is not really “waste”. Plus, if handled correctly, it should have a saleable value. There is no doubt that we need to find a solution to the pending closure of our Bonnick Road facility, and therein lies some big decisions. More and more recycling by residents and industry will assist greatly.

Trent Mitchell

No. For a start green waste should be free shredded and mulched, metals and recyclables be put aside and recycled and unique and salvageable items be put aside and offered for sale to the general public via a dump shop. The fees at the gate should be negotiable depending on what your load is, moving house contents should not be treated the same as general waste

Lyndall Ensbey

No. We can do more – residents were rightly frustrated when charges were applied at waste management facilities, and the restricted operating hours of these facilities are inconvenient. Green waste is also an area where we can be more environmentally conscious; encourage residents to dump green waste at no cost, then provide a mulching and reuse facility.