Her city has been dumped on by the rest of Queensland for too long. Now the newly elected Ipswich Mayor is on a crusade, writes Des Houghton.
Her city has been dumped on by the rest of Queensland for too long. Now the newly elected Ipswich Mayor is on a crusade, writes Des Houghton.

'Ipswich won’t be a dump much longer'

OPINION

Queensland has dumped on Ipswich for long enough.

So says livewire new Mayor Teresa Harding, who has launched a crusade to force the State Government to clean up its act.

She tabled an emergency mayoral minute at the last council meeting to establish a taskforce to "fight for our right to safe, odour-free, liveable communities".

Disgusting smells from some of the seven major dumps or landfill operations in the Ipswich local government area have frequently made life unbearable in some communities, said Geoff Yarham of IRATE, the Ipswich Residents Against Toxic Environments.

What does it smell like?

"Rotting prawn heads or dirty nappies," he said.

Then there is the smell of decaying green waste.

To make matters worse, the good folk of Ipswich have been smoked out with nine major fires at dumps in recent years.

It's hard to imagine the scale of the problem unless you see it first-hand, as I did.

Harding told me Ipswich received 58 per cent of all waste collected in Queensland.

Some trucks arrive from NSW. Others came from as far away as Townsville.

Ipswich also processes 73 per cent of all waste collected in southeast Queensland.

Much of it ends up festering in "super dumps" in abandoned coal mines.

There are seven massive landfill sites in the historic city, and the State Government doesn't seem very interested in the problem.

Is this the penalty Ipswich pays for being a staunch Labor town?

I'm sure that if these dumps were in marginal electorates in say Toowoomba, Redlands, Townsville or Gaven, the State Labor Government would not be sitting on its hands.

To make matters worse the government is milking the problem for all it is worth, and has collected a $261 million waste levy windfall since the new tax was introduced in July 2019.

Only $143 million has been returned to the councils that have to deal with the problem.

"The State Government needs to monitor and regulate the waste industry more effectively," Harding said.

 

A fire at Cleanaway's New Chum landfill site last month
A fire at Cleanaway's New Chum landfill site last month

 

"It is costing council, and therefore the ratepayer, millions to defend our community's right to live in safe, odour-free neighbourhoods.

"The State Government should use the proceeds from the waste levy for the intended purpose - to protect the environment and community from the effects of waste management."

She said the State Government Odour Abatement Taskforce had received more than 6000 complaints since it began in 2018.

Yarham and his group are among the complainants who say the State Government is ignoring problems in Ipswich.

He said much of the waste was domestic or commercial food scraps and green waste that ferments under the ground.

Some waste is turned into fertilisers, creating a whole new range of unpleasant odours.

"We've had enough," said Yarham.

 

Geoff Yarham at the site of a waste dump at New Chum, Ipswich
Geoff Yarham at the site of a waste dump at New Chum, Ipswich

 

And quote to the month goes to Bundamba One Nation Candidate Sharon Bell:

"The Queensland Government wouldn't accept a dump being approved in the centre of Teneriffe or Ascot, so why do they think it's acceptable to turn Ipswich into Tipswich?"

She asked what funding, if any, the local Labor MPs had received from some of these waste management companies.

A massive fire at Cleanaway's New Chum dump could be seen 7km away in the CBD, said Harding.

Smoke billowed across Redbank, Redbank Plains, North Booval, Karalee, Swanbank, Raceview, Bundamba, Moores Pocket, Dinmore, Bellbird Park, Collingwood Park, Booval, Moggill, Goodna, Blackstone, East Ipswich, Riverview, North Tivoli and Silkstone.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch would not agree to an interview.

In a written statement she said her department has commenced 45 enforcement actions.

These included environmental evaluations, 20 formal warnings and the issuing of 10 penalty infringement notices.

Originally published as Why Ipswich won't be a dump much longer


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