NSW communities which share a border with Victoria could eventually be eligible for compensation for impacts relating to the Container Deposit Scheme.
A ‘‘financial assistance package’’ recommendation has been put forward by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal following a special review of the recycling scheme.
The report concluded that ‘‘the CDS creates a potential price differential wherever it is convenient for consumers to purchase container beverages in an adjacent state or territory’’.
IPART’s only other recommendation to the NSW Government is to develop an exclusion zone, which would exempt border towns from participating in the CDS.
The scheme provides a 10c refund to people recycling eligible containers in NSW, with retailers forced to increase prices on recyclable items to cover the cost of the scheme.
With the scheme not applicable in Victoria, local retailers and Berrigan Shire Council have been highlighting the pressure this puts on businesses to compete with their interstate neighbours since before the scheme began in December 2017.
Council director of corporate services Matt Hansen said the financial assistance proposal would be most suited to local areas, as an exclusion zone would only relocate the border issues.
‘‘While retailers in the rest of New South Wales have been able to raise their prices to absorb the charges, that hasn’t been the case with border towns. If they raise their prices, they won’t be able to compete with Victorian retailers,’’ Mr Hansen said.
‘‘The first recommendation (for an exclusion zone) would suit us if the whole of Berrigan Shire was part of the exclusion zone, but that would affect towns like Jerilderie (in the Murrumbidgee Council area) who would then have to compete with the Berrigan Shire.
‘‘I suspect the four business chambers in the shire, particularly Tocumwal, will be all for compensation as they’ve had the biggest impact.
‘‘This is at least a start, where IPART has said there is an issue here with our border businesses so why don’t we do something about it. This is a welcome measure.’’
Tocumwal Chamber of Commerce president Sergio Redegalli said the CDS was a ‘‘real mess’’.
‘‘‘You’d like to think it’s good for the environment, but because we’re close to the border and people will shop over the river I just don’t see how it will work,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve been told at chamber meetings of how difficult it has become.
‘‘The other side of it is that you can only get a refund if the bottle is in tact and who has the space for that?’’
Mr Hansen said the only real solution to the issues caused by the CDS is for the scheme to be implemented Australia wide.
Queensland and the ACT have both committed to implementing the scheme by the end of this year, but Victoria has made no such promise.
Mr Hansen said its not the first time NSW Government policy has created cross border issues.
‘‘One of the big issues across the board in New South Wales, on a variety of measures, is the government puts us in a position where we find it hard to compete with Victoria,’’ he said.
‘‘Unfortunately Victoria has been quite up front with finding ways to develop and grow business, where New South Wales hasn’t in the past.
‘‘The best outcome for everyone, whether it’s business or environment, is if Victoria gets on board. If they get on board it fixes the border issues right away.
‘‘There are still implementation problems with the CDS, for example we don’t have any vending machines in Berrigan Shire.’’
Submissions are being sought on IPART’s special report before it is forwarded to the NSW Government for consideration. They can be made until June 8, at www.ipart.nsw.gov.au/Home/Consumer—Information/Lodge—a—submission.
~ James Bennett