World Environment Day and World Oceans Day
(Response to Motion, 2 June 2016, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
Read Member for Coogee's Motion HERE.
I acknowledge that Sunday 5 June is World Environment Day and that Wednesday 8 June will be World Oceans Day. I congratulate the Government on the introduction of the container deposit scheme, which is long overdue. I also acknowledge many people in the environmental sector and movement and others throughout New South Wales who campaigned hard to achieve a container deposit scheme through petitions, emails, and lobbying of the Government and the Opposition. I also acknowledge the former member for Sydney, Clover Moore, who is the Lord Mayor of Sydney, for her work with a former member of the upper House, Cate Faehrmann, on container deposit scheme legislation during the last Parliament. I thank them for their work that led to and informed the container deposit scheme that will be implemented in 2017.
I also join the call by other members for a ban on lightweight plastic bags in New South Wales. Approximately four billion lightweight plastic bags are handed out every year in Australia but end up in landfill as litter and in our waterways. It is estimated that each year lightweight plastic bags kill approximately 10,000 whales, seals, turtles and birds. Voluntary reduction programs have failed to meet targets to reduce in‑store recycling or reduce litter. Reusable bags provide an alternative to single-use plastic bags. South Australia and a number of other countries have successfully imposed bans. A ban on plastic bags would save clean-up costs incurred by local government and ratepayers, and protect the Government. I ask the Government to extend its commitment to environmental protection to a ban on lightweight plastic bags in New South Wales.
I also ask the Government to extend its commitment to protecting the environment by seriously considering abandoning plans to repeal the Native Vegetation Act 2003 and the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and replacing them with new bills—a move that will put biodiversity protections in New South Wales at risk. As a result of a briefing provided to members by the Nature Conservation Council, we know that many people across the environmental sector and throughout New South Wales are deeply concerned about the destructive nature of the proposed legislative changes.
I assure the Government that there will be a strong campaign to protect biodiversity in New South Wales and prevent it from being put at risk by the proposed legislation. The campaign will be similar to the campaign that has resulted in implementation of the container deposit scheme in New South Wales. I support the motion, but the Government has an opportunity to extend its commitments to the environment. Its commitment to the environment does not stop at the container deposit scheme; it should be extended to a ban on lightweight plastic bags. The Government's commitment to the environment should be extended to abandoning plans that will result in the biodiversity of New South Wales being put greatly at risk.