Ratepayers to get $36 refund as carbon tax is axed

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has announced Brisbane ratepayers will receive a one-off carbon tax refund on their rates to return the estimated cost of the scrapped carbon tax from Council’s 2014/15 Budget as well as refunds from previous years related to landfill carbon emissions costs.

Cr Quirk said Council’s 2014/15 Budget was finalised based on the carbon tax legislation.

“With the abolition of the carbon tax by the Senate I am keen to provide ratepayers with a carbon tax refund as soon as possible,” he said.

The across the board carbon tax refund to be delivered in the October rates notice, will provide the average residential ratepayer with a $36 refund on their next quarterly rates bill.

Council will also reduce gate fees at Council’s waste transfer stations this year, which had been set in the 2014/15 Budget to reflect the increasing costs associated with the carbon tax liability.

“I have been against the carbon tax since its inception in 2012 and it has produced additional cost pressures that Council has needed to pass onto ratepayers,” he said.

“I strongly support the removal of the carbon tax and there will be a direct and ongoing saving to ratepayers following its abolition. Council is working to return those savings to ratepayers as soon and as practicably as possible.”

“The abolition of the carbon tax will apply negative pressure on inflation, which will be reflected in Council rates in future years. The more that cost pressures can be reduced on Council, the more we can keep rate increases down.

“We are committed to only seeking the money needed to provide the necessary services across the city, to continue building infrastructure in line with growth and providing our city with appropriate economic development to secure the future of Brisbane for our residents.

“Future rates will reflect the removal of the carbon tax and we know that the removal of carbon taxes will apply negative pressure on inflation, due to downward pressure on costs.

“Rather than waiting for the 2015/16 Budget, Council is taking action to provide ratepayers with a carbon tax refund now, on their October quarterly rates bill.

“This is the fairest and most efficient way of ensuring ratepayers are not out of pocket by the scrapping of the carbon tax. What we estimated to receive to pay for the carbon tax is what will be returned to ratepayers.”

Cr Quirk said Council rates increased by 1.9 per cent in July 2012 due to the anticipated increases in costs associated with the introduction of the carbon tax.

These costs, as at 1 July 2012, totalled $15.8 million comprised:
- $11 million due to the Federal Treasury forecast of a 0.7% CPI increase and applied to Council’s operating and capital costs’
- $3.5 million for indirect cost pass-through on waste disposal at landfill sites
- $1.3 million in internal carbon tax administration and reporting costs

For the 2014/15 Budget, the 2012 $15.8 million carbon tax was equivalent to $17.03 million in real terms.

Cr Quirk said that Council would offer a carbon tax refund based on the $17.03 million included in the 2014/15 Budget, as well as a further $7.1 million collected through rates in 2012/13 and 2013/14 for landfill carbon emission costs.

He said an additional $6.7 million was collected by Council through gate fees at waste transfer facilities to cover future liabilities of the carbon tax from customers in 2012/13 and 2013/14.

Cr Quirk said Council would return this carbon tax component of transfer station fees to those private companies and other organisations who could be identified as customers (approximately 80 per cent). The remaining portion would be put toward landfill remediation works.

He said Council still faced having to pay a significant cost in 2014/15 for reporting costs for the 2013/14 carbon tax bill.

“Brisbane City Council makes significant efforts to reduce its carbon emissions and leave the city in better shape for future generations,” he said.
“This administration has gone above and beyond in its efforts to reduce its environmental impact including offsetting all emissions from our vehicle fleets, buying 100 per cent green power and converting the emissions from our landfills into electricity for local homes.

“That’s why it’s so ridiculous that a local government like ours was labelled by the former Labor Federal Government as one of the country’s top polluters and slugged with the carbon tax.

“We were labelled one of the big polluters for no other reason than we collect more rubbish bins than any other council in Australia – because we are the largest council in Australia.”