Page 765 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 5 April 2022

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Members will, or should, recall that we noted just how much disposable nappies and sanitary products can contribute to landfill, that there are an increased number of recyclable products about, and that the technologies, as Ms Clay flagged, are evolving. We called on the government to best consider how to promote these and to consider if a rebate scheme would be appropriate. The motion also emphasised that this was about choice.

The government rightly acknowledged that it would always support the use of more sustainable alternatives to reduce the volume of disposable products entering our waste streams but noted that personal decisions about the products to use involved the consideration of hygiene, convenience, price, availability, self-sufficiency and dignity. Again, I acknowledge Ms Lawder’s comments regarding dignity and I certainly support those.

The government also stressed that it would be doing more to promote and educate the community about the options of re-usable products, and I want to acknowledge that work now. The Recycling Discovery Hub in Hume has exhibited cloth nappies and re-usable personal hygiene products to its over 6,000 annual visitors for quite some time and the Canberra Environment Centre has also hosted a display for parents to look at and feel nappy alternatives. That information is also available on Recyclopaedia, our one-stop shop of recycling information.

The ACT government also has supported ongoing workshops with the Canberra Environment Centre on cloth nappies, and extra workshops were run back in 2019, when we could. With regard to a rebate scheme, Minister Steel proposed in 2020 that the government would revisit possible arrangements for financially supporting the uptake of cloth nappies and re-usable sanitary items in the future, once we had a better grasp of our “new normal”, following the COVID-19 pandemic, which I note we are still in. Building on this, I note that the amendment to the motion also stresses that the government will investigate better environmental options for nappy waste and that there will be a report back on this.

I appreciate Ms Lawder bringing this to the Assembly’s attention and her interest in this area, and that she has acknowledged FOGO’s success so far. I also acknowledge that there has been feedback, and for some families this does go to matters of wellbeing and dignity. But I reject Ms Lawder implying that we were not taking the feedback seriously. As Minister Steel and his amendment have emphasised, the needs of Canberra households which produce a large amount of waste will be considered and they will be addressed. This is about a transition that is just.

I want to thank those Belconnen residents who have been engaged in this pilot and encourage them to continue to provide their feedback, to engage with the detailed survey that is coming. I look forward to seeing the result of the actions in Minister Steel’s amendment and I commend it to the chamber.

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (3.53): In speaking to the amendment and in closing, I would like to thank everyone for their contributions today. I did not speak too much in my opening speech about reusable nappies, but I would like to note that I asked the

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