Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 2 Hansard (22 February) . . Page.. 585..
One of the other things the Greens have been consistently supporting is collection systems for some of the toxic waste in the ACT. Batteries and fluorescent light bulbs are both toxics. Both of these currently go into our landfill bin. Both of these, under the scenario of the government, will go into the compost which is produced out of a dirty MRF. This is the sort of thing that means that the compost produced out of a dirty MRF will never, ever be a high quality product. It will always be something that no gardener, no farmer, would want to use on their soil. It will be something that will only be used for mine rehabilitation or possibly some forestry plantation.
The use of organic waste is something that Australia needs to pay even more attention to than other countries because Australia, as we all know, is an ancient continent and we have very poor soil fertility. People know that I have banged on a bit about peak oil. There is another peak that I could bang on about. That is peak phosphorus. It is believed that in about 30 years this is going to occur. Australian soils are very poor in phosphorus. If we do not start reusing the phosphorus in Australia we are going to have major agricultural problems even if nothing happens to our climate.
We have got to start looking at our organic waste as a resource, not as a waste stream. That is why the Greens want to see a source separation approach. The source separation approach which is modelled in the Hyder report is called education. What that is doing is educating people as to what you can do with waste, how you can reduce waste and how we can reduce the waste problem for the ACT. If we are ever to achieve the goal which the community signed on to more than 10 years ago of no waste by 2010, education has got to be a part of it.
I am very depressed to find that although Mr Corbell has spoken a lot about the virtues of education and how the government is committed to education, unfortunately the government is not committed enough to education to actually support it in a motion. Paragraph (2)(a) of my motion states:
commence an education program along the lines indicated in the Hyder report ...
The government has not committed to that. So I can only assume that the government is in fact not committed to putting any substantive additional funds into education. I think this is a real risk. I think the Hyder report has demonstrated that this is the most cost-effective thing for the ACT to do.
I agree that the Hyder report sees that from 2035 the dirty MRF is environmentally preferable to education. Mr Corbell, I did mention that in my speech. The reason Hyder found this is that the report assumed after four years the education scenario had no further gains and it assumed that total waste generation per capita would continue to grow, as would the number of people in the ACT. I think that these assumptions are not necessarily true.
There is no reason to think that after four years the people of Canberra have learnt all they possibly could learn about waste, that there will be no improvements in packaging and there will be no changes in waste generation—no positive changes in waste generation. I am not pessimistic enough to think that is true.