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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 640 ..


MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (4.41): This legislation aims to regulate and reduce the supply and distribution of single-use plastic in the ACT. The phase-out will be conducted in tranches and establishes a framework for future items to be banned, with the first tranche including plastic cutlery, plastic coffee stirrers and polystyrene cups.

The scrutiny committee noted several concerns about the legislation: firstly, the bill creates a number of strict liability offences, meaning that the prosecution need only to establish the physical elements—in this case, single-use plastic—rather than prove fault when investigating. Similarly, the enforcement powers outlined in the bill include the ability for an authorised person to enter private premises and take photographs or video recordings or require the occupant to provide more information, documents or anything else. An authorised officer may also be able to enter private premises without consent, in accordance with a search warrant or if they believe on reasonable grounds that an offence as listed in the bill is being or is likely to be committed on the premises. These enforcement measures therefore permit the intrusion into a person’s private affairs and potentially limit the protection of privacy as outlined in section 12 of the Human Rights Act.

Furthermore, clause 28, under part 6 of the bill, states that a person is not excused from answering a question or providing information or a document on the basis that doing so may incriminate them or expose them to a penalty. I note these concerns from the scrutiny committee and the government’s response to them and encourage the government to examine these measures again, following the implementation of the legislation.

Plastic pollution is one of our greatest environmental challenges. On average, Australians use 130 kilograms of plastic per person per year, the effects of which are of course detrimental. Each year up to 130,000 tonnes of plastic finds its way into our waterways and the ocean. We know plastic is harmful to our wildlife, with toxins and microplastics being consumed by the tiniest animals in the sea and poisoning the health of the entire food chain. Entanglement, ingestion and habitat destruction are common consequences we hear of due to plastic entering our waterways and oceans.

Our community want action on plastic reduction. They see single-use plastics discarded around the landscape. Just before Christmas last year I received some reports from students at Gordon Primary School about endangered animals. They had done an assignment about endangered animals, and many of the reports were about sea animals that faced a high risk from plastic pollution, such as turtles. While there is still so much for us to learn and achieve when tackling plastic pollution, it is heartwarming to see such enthusiasm and passion about preserving our environment for our next generation.

This legislation is just one small step in the fight against plastic. The reduction of plastic is a global effort, one that Australia is in a fortunate position to be an active participant in. There are countless organisations in Australia and locally in the ACT dedicated to reducing the amount of plastic in our community. I acknowledge the work of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation. This organisation provides


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