The recent decision of Eurobodalla Shire Council on the eve of the 4 December election to change its domestic waste and recycling collection contract, leading to the loss of 15 jobs at Moruya Recycling Facility (MRF), was unnecessarily rushed and needs close scrutiny according to Eurobodalla Labor for Council mayoral candidate David Grace.

Mr Grace said today the haste with which the decision was taken was not only indecent, but it was also unfair to local workers and counter-productive for the shire’s residents.

“Not only will we no longer have our recycling which is collected at kerb side being processed at Moruya, which will lead to at least 15 direct jobs being lost, and dozens more indirectly, but we’ll have increased heavy vehicle traffic within the shire as tonnes of this material will be trucked out each week to Canberra and Sydney,” Mr Grace said.

“Why were the ratepayers forced to accept this last-minute decision taken by a council on its way out, with a contract which gives the new domestic waste and recycling collectors a seven year deal with an option to extend to 10?

“The contract was not due for renewal until September 2022 and yet at its last meeting in October, council made a hasty decision with no explanation to the ratepayers; something’s not right, and we want to get to the bottom of this.

“There was no regard for the jobs of the workers at the MRF, a gold-standard facility lauded in June by the NSW Government for its dramatic improvements to its sorting capabilities which reduce contamination in its paper and plastic inputs, and increases the overall recovery of paper for recycling,” he said.

Moruya’s improved operations were funded by a government grant under theWaste Less, Recycle More program which added new equipment to the facility, leading to the operators — SUEZ — diverting more than 2000 tonnes of paper in 2020, and supplying 300 tonnes of higher quality mixed plastics collected from shire residents and businesses.

Eurobodalla Labor for Council is appealing to theTransport Workers’ Union (TWU) for its continuing support to help to save the jobs of TWU members — local drivers and recycling processors — who are likely to be terminated once the new contract commences with Cleanaway.

“In council, Labor would expect a full report from staff on any new contracts, including all relevant information about likely changes to existing services and arrangements,” Mr Grace said, “and we would expect to see a consideration about whether the council would be a better supplier of services than private contractors.

“This discussion would cover issues such as providing secure long-term work for the employees, community transparency, quality of service, and cost — but let’s be clear: cost would not be the sole determinant in our decision making.

“We would also expect councillors to be given ample time to read reports of this nature, so that they can make their own enquiries about the matters raised in them and not simply rely on being spoon-fed by council staff,” Mr Grace said.

TWU organisers will visit the shire next week to hear from their members about their concerns arising from the change of the waste management and recycling collection provider.

“We can see no good reason — other than the dollar — for this indecently hasty decision of  the council at its very last meeting to have rushed this matter through.

“If it’s only ever going to be about the dollar, and not about the quality of service, the provision of local jobs, and the potential for growth to re-purpose recycled materials into, for example, road base for the Moruya bypass, then it’s certainly not in the interests of Eurobodalla residents,” he added.

The Labor candidates in addition to David Grace are Maureen Searson, Matthew Findlay, Claire McAsh, Deirdre Russack and Jack Egan.