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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Tuesday, 7 December 2010) . . Page.. 5812 ..


This is one of the things that the Greens have had on their wish list forever and a day and, when the Greens came to choose whom they would support for government, they did not choose the party which had gone to the electorate with an iron-clad guarantee to deliver this commitment. They went with the people who said, “We will think about it.” Two years after, they have done nothing about it. That was one of the key elements of the Greens’ environment policy.

They signed up to the Labor Party and they still do not have anyone to deliver on this commitment, because the Labor Party has been in government for 10 years and has been faffing around for 10 years, failing to deliver a policy on putrescible waste. Mr Hargreaves failed to deliver it, Mr Wood before him failed to deliver it, Mr Stanhope failed to deliver it, and Simon Corbell failed to deliver it.

This is just one of the Greens’ wish list. It goes to show that here Ms Le Couteur today is still lamenting the lack of a green bin policy in the ACT. If she and her colleagues had done the right thing and backed a party of principle and with policies in this area, she could have had it already by today.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.38): I rise to support this bill today, which provides us with an incremental step to making a better world. I think it is important in thinking about what we are debating today to focus on exactly what this legislation does—that is, it bans non-biodegradable plastic bags. These are ones that are recognised as causing environmental problems by various organisations and do not break down in the environment for periods of up to 1,000 years, I have read in various literature over time.

What the legislation does not do is also important to focus on. This legislation allows people to still receive a plastic shopping bag, provided it is biodegradable. These do exist in the market. Ms Le Couteur mentioned this already. There are bags made of corn starch, and various other options are being developed. These are available on the market today, and it is really important that we recognise that. I think that some of the discussion we have seen this morning amounts, frankly, to a beat-up. I will come back to that in a moment, but a series of furphies does not make an argument. It is important that we remember that as well.

This legislation, as I said, seeks to ban those bags that do not break down in the environment. It is about changing behaviour and driving people towards an alternative. If we sit back and wait for change to come, it will come either too slowly or frankly, it will never happen. This legislation is simply about saying that many Canberrans are already doing the right thing, alternatives are available, there is a better way to do it, and we are going to use this legislation to nudge this community in that direction. That is what it is about.

The whole suggestion that somehow we are seeking to take away Canberrans’ inalienable right to convenience is a beat-up. It is a somewhat embarrassing series of arguments—well, furphies—that we have seen put forward this morning. Mr Smyth touched on the no waste by 2010 target that was set many years ago and which we are obviously going to struggle to achieve. Nonetheless, it remains a valid focal point. We


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