THE new chair of the state’s Waste Authority is looking to shake up the sector, starting with a new waste strategy with measurable goals and vowing to challenge the government over how it uses the landfill levy.
Peter Fitzpatrick has also signalled firm support for increases in waste levies, to drive an improvement in recycling and re-use.
Mr Fitzpatrick is the fourth Waste Authority chair in 18 months, following the 2010 resignation of Barry Carbon and the appointment of two stand-in chairs.
He takes over at a time when Western Australia has the lowest recycling rate of any state, despite vows by successive governments to improve the situation.
Mr Fitzpatrick, whose past roles include running the Motor Trade Association and the Law Society, is already focused on preparing a new waste strategy, after an earlier draft was scrapped.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to thought it [the earlier draft] wasn’t going to do the job,” he said.
“There wasn’t an action plan that you could take and implement and measure.”
He wants the strategy to provide a real action plan.
“The strategy we release can’t be just a wish list; we need to provide clear direction for local councils and private industry,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
Having previously served on the Waste Advisory Board and the State Recycling Advisory Committee, Mr Fitzpatrick knows the waste field is littered with unmet goals.
In 2006, for instance, Environment Minister Mark McGowan promoted a “progressive, action-oriented business plan”.
And in 2008, then minister David Templeman said one of the key early tasks for the new waste authority was to develop a state-wide strategy.
Mr Fitzpatrick wants to back up the new strategy with strong price signals.
“We will need to use some blunt instruments like levies, and over time the levies will need to keep going up,” he said.
He is also keen to reverse a contentious policy decision that enabled the Barnett government to divert some of the proceeds from the landfill levy into consolidated revenue.
“It’s my strong belief that any waste levies that are collected should be used for waste management initiatives,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
He acknowledges it won’t be easy to sway Treasury, but is up for the fight.
“For the government to get credibility, they need to commit to that,” Mr Fitzpatrick told WA Business News.
He believes private industry has a big role to play.
“There is a need for a major shift in areas like construction and demolition waste, which is about 70 per cent of our waste to landfill,” he said.
• See the Peter Fitzpatrick profile: Fitzpatrick keeps on keeping on