After a successful and long-running community campaign, legislation to establish a container deposit scheme in NSW has come to Parliament. The scheme will have a positive impact on waste management in NSW.
Greens Member for Newtown Jenny Leong MP joined the debate. A full transcript of her speech can be found below.
Ms JENNY LEONG ( Newtown ) ( 17:58 :06 ): I make a contribution to debate on the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Amendment (Container Deposit Scheme) Bill 2016. I start by congratulating the community and all of the organisations that have been pushing for this for a very long time. It has been a long wait—dare I say, for16 years under a former Labor Government—to see the scheme introduced. Congratulations to the many, many thousands of people across this State who have pushed this Government into action and now see the introduction of the Container Deposit Scheme. It is worth noting that it is a Liberal-Nationals Government that has introduced the scheme. Unfortunately, it is not something we saw from the former Labor Government, but the Opposition's support for the bill is welcomed.
The member for Ballina has already outlined The Greens' position in relation to this bill and has flagged the amendments we will be moving in the other place, as well as the concerns that still stand around this bill.
There will never be a perfect bill when the bill is being introduced by a neo-liberal Liberal-Nationals Government; we will never see a perfect bill from a Government of that persuasion, but the community must know that we should claim this as a win. This is a win for the environment and it is a win for our community, and wins are rare. They are very rare in this current climate so when the community is heard and the Government responds we should recognise that and claim it for what it is—a win.
Mr Adam Marshall: It is called democracy.
Ms JENNY LEONG: We could talk about democracy—Sydney Park and WestConnex—but I will not do that now. I grew up in South Australia and I was not aware that having bottles collected and having a container deposit scheme were not the norm. I assumed it was the same everywhere, but I very quickly discovered that was not the case in New South Wales. I could see the that not having a container deposit scheme resulted in large amounts of litter, which caused damage to the environment. The introduction of this bill will result in improvements to the environment, which is very positive. We welcome and encourage such a move.
I specifically thank the Boomerang Alliance for its work. I thank also Greenpeace and the other organisations that have mobilised people. We heard from more than 500 constituents in the electorate of Newtown who specifically spoke to us and asked us to support a strong and effective container deposit scheme. They noted that the pollution from drink containers, particularly plastics, is a massive environmental issue, especially for our oceans and beaches. Those constituents did not want just any container deposit scheme; they wanted a proven scheme that would make a real difference. They saw the beverage industry lobbying the New South Wales Government and loudly opposed a scheme that would be based on the industry preferred model. Many of them raised the imperative that the scheme be a model with a direct refund to customers. Meg of Erskineville said:
A refund on bottles makes HUGE sense if we're to drastically limit plastic pollution. The evidence of its success is in from South Australia so please act now so New South Wales can also do its bit!!"
Rachel of Marrickville wrote:
I want a recycling refund scheme in New South Wales that actually works.
Nicolas of Camperdown said:
Please support the community effort to have an effective recycling refund scheme implemented in New South Wales. Other states have done so with great results, so can we".
Simone of Newtown said:
I want a recycling refund scheme in New South Wales. With the recycling technology available to us in this day and age and the amount of plastic and aluminium waste that is circulating in our oceans there is simply no excuse anymore for not implementing a scheme in New South Wales.
Dale Stiaddick of Erskineville said:
OMG this is a no brainer.
I can say to Meg, Rachel, Nicolas, Simone, Dale and the 500 constituents who directly wrote to us to advocate for this scheme and to ensure we held the Government to account that while we have some concerns, we have achieved a significant win in having this legislation debated and supported by all members in this place today. I acknowledge the Boomerang Alliance for its strong advocacy and work. I emphasise that collection points need to be convenient and accessible. We must ensure that they are available to all communities. We must also acknowledge that while there are concerns about areas within New South Wales that might not see the depots, we must consider how we support inner-city residents, as many do not have cars so cannot drive to supermarkets or petrol stations. They too must have easy access to depots. Other members have pointed out that arising from this legislation we may well see local organisations engaging in fundraising activities and pick-ups.
Scouts have always collected bottles from my parents in South Australia after the many gatherings at their house, enjoying a beer or two. I am sure they have funded many of the scouts activities over the years as a result. I congratulate the community on its efforts. This is a positive move by the Government, which has listened to the community on this rare occasion. It will result in a significant waste reduction and many containers that destroy our precious environment now being removed. I congratulate the Government on introducing the scheme. It is long overdue. I say a massive well done to all those community members who have put pressure on the Government to make sure that the Parliament finally acts.