Hobsons Bay Council is considering charging residents by the kilogram for garbage removal.
While markets have their place, putting a price on rubbish will have many unintended consequences, few of them pleasant.
The anti-social will cost-shift, stuffing their garbage into neighbors’ bins in the middle of the night.
Locked bins? What about pedestrians who drop their lolly wrapper in a useful bin – it just turned into litter.
Even weirder, the miserly would sun-dry their garbage to reduce weight, undermining the sanitary benefit of removing waste. Think of the rats!
And will Council slash prices for diligent recyclers who emit virtually nothing? No, I thought not.
But the main objection, the really bizarre consequence, is the further distortion to land prices this cost-shifting brings.
A separate garbage charge, usually a specific dollar amount itemized in rate notices, reduces the tax burden on land and puts it onto the people who happen to be using it. The service provided is made to the land – its amenity and value is significantly raised by waste disposal. If that seems far fetched, imagine the chaos if we dumped our rubbish individually.
This important civic service should be funded from the land – the benefit is already capitalized into its price. So users pay twice – once for the land’s imputed rent, inflated by the lack of a charge and again for the rubbish.
That an ALP-dominated council is proposing this user charge shows they have capitulated to landowners and forgotten their party’s history. The great labor leaders of the past would be appalled at their naivety and lack of economic sense.