Poor Government Legislation Threatens Closure of 89-Year old Innisfail Business

Nov 14, 2023

Member for Hill Shane Knuth and Innisfail based business Northern Iron & Brass Foundry Pty Ltd (NIBF) are calling on the State Government to amend legislation and permanently exempt the 89-year-old business from its Waste Levy, first introduced in 2019.

“This is another example of poorly thought-out legislation that has had a devastating effect on NIBF, who employ up to 70 people in Innisfail,” said Mr Knuth.

“NIBF has been granted a financial exemption, three times, from the Waste Levy, first introduced in 2019, with assurances the issue would be fixed.”

The businesses latest exemption is expected to run out on December 31, 2023, however the State Government has failed to live up to its commitment to amend the legislation and according to Knuth seem to be avoiding facing the issue.

After raising the matter in parliament, a number of times and holding a number of meetings, Mr Knuth said he was fed up.

“Saving an 89-year-old business which employs 70 people may not sound like much in the ivory towers down south, but it would be similar to losing 2,000 jobs in Brisbane,” he said.

Mr Knuth said not only has the business been hit with a 200 per cent increase in waste disposal costs via the levy, but the changes to and removal of electricity tariff 37 from July 2020, has forced the foundry into a higher tariff and increasing electricity costs by a further 40 per cent.

“Adding to that their Emergency Management Levy went from $16,000 to $48,000 in one year,” Mr Knuth said.

“They are being hit from all sides by a State Government who has lost touch with regional Queenslanders and shows a complete lack of interest in saving regional manufacturing industries.’

Knuth said he was sickened that poor government legislation and apathy can cause an established company to be in danger of closing its doors.

“I am putting the government on notice to fix the issues or risk the closure of the business, which will be on their heads.” Mr Knuth said.

“What really upsets me is I listen to government members pat themselves on the back and boast about creating jobs in Queensland and supporting manufacturing, when the reality is the exact opposite.

“The ALP no longer supports the average worker, manufacturing industries and jobs in regional Queensland.

“I find it difficult to tell them apart from the Greens these days. They have abandoned the average worker and are completely out of touch with regional Queensland.”

Northern Iron and Brass Foundry operations manager Joe Vecchio said the State Government needs to help the Innisfail foundry so that waste was not going to regulated landfill and could continue to be recycled.

“The State Government has given us three exemptions since the legislation was first introduced but have done nothing to fix the core root of the problem in the legislation,” Mr Vecchio said.

“We have exhausted every possible option we can to recycle the current moulding sand on site. 

We don’t have easy access to waste facilities that major cities enjoy, so once the exemption expires, we will be left with no other options, and it will have to be transported at significant cost to regulated landfill in Townsville, as it cannot be dumped locally.”

“This will add hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cost to the business, which is going to create a huge financial burden on the foundry.”

Mr Vecchio added that if the business cannot continue, the effect on Innisfail will be highly destructive and create a domino effect right throughout the region.

“All we are asking for is urgency, understanding and some empathy in working with us to amend the legislation to assist the business to keep our doors open and keep employing the local workforce.”