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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 August 2018) . . Page.. 3403 ..


they will be part of it. Sometimes they have perverse environmental impacts, such as additional greenhouse emissions and resource consumption.

What we need to do to solve this problem is to have action taken by everybody. There need to be technological advances, so that the things that are currently being done using single-use plastics can be done in other ways. There needs to be individual behavioural change. Being the oldest member of the Assembly, I can say that when I grew up my mother always washed any plastic bags we had. They were hung out on the line to dry. That is how I was brought up, and that is what I still do with any plastic bag I get. I wash it and reuse it. I generally shop for my fruit and veggies at the farmers market, which is pretty much 100 per cent bring your own, including the very light plastic. Change is not that hard for individuals, once we get used to it.

We also, though, need civil society changes. We need to send the message that Ms Orr and other members have talked about, with regard to the problems—I nearly said “evils”, but maybe I should just say “problems”—of plastic. We all have to know about them. We all have to see those horrific photos of birds’ stomachs entirely full of plastics, of whales’ stomachs virtually entirely full of plastics, which are just heart-rending, so that we are motivated to know that we need to change.

Civil society can do that very well. The commercial sector needs to work on it. They do not have to provide the single-use plastics. There are alternatives. And government needs to work on it. One of the things government can do—which in some cases is the last resort, but that does not mean it is wrong—is that they can actually ban things. The plastic bag ban is a good example of how this can work.

Ms Lee talked about how well the plastic bag ban had been working in the ACT, and I look forward to the commissioner for the environment’s more authoritative report on this, which I understand will be coming out soon. On an observational basis, it appears to be successful. One of the reasons it was successful is because it was a ban. It was quite clear to people what the expectation was: that you would not get a plastic bag. I remember that when it was introduced, while doing stalls for a year or so, a lot of people were telling me how impossible it was. Nobody bothers saying that anymore. We have learned how to live without a plastic bag at every supermarket check-out.

Interestingly, Coles and Woolies recently said they would adopt a ban on plastic bags at their check-outs. Coles have gone back on it, and Woolworths have not. There are probably a lot of reasons why it has not worked as well for them as it did for us. Part of it is that it is obviously just a token. Given that if you go to Coles or Woolies, you will see single-use plastic everywhere, I think people get a bit annoyed. They think, “These people aren’t for real. If they were for real, they would be doing more than that.” If we are for real, we have to do a lot more than just ban plastic bags, but it is the first step.

I will talk very briefly about one of the bits of plastic that I personally find hardest to get out of my life. I am a seven-day-a-week subscriber to the Canberra Times, as I have said before, because I want to do my bit to support daily journalism in the ACT, and that is the only way to do it. But it is wrapped up in plastic. I put that plastic


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