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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 650 ..

There has never been a better time to ban plastics than now. It is essential that we help remove our reliance on plastics as soon as possible. Everything I have just mentioned is only the damage caused in under 100 years; imagine what the impact of plastic would be in another 100 years if we do not take action.

In conclusion, Madam Speaker, I cannot think of one reason why anyone would not support this bill. You would have to be unbothered by the damage plastic is having on this world. That is why I am in full support of my colleague’s bill and I encourage everyone else in this chamber to vote in support of it too. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (5.17), in reply: I am pleased to close the debate on the Plastic Reduction Bill 2020 in the Assembly today. I welcome the contributions of members supporting our commitment to phasing out certain single-use plastics in the ACT and our commitment in the bill to responsibly manage our environment.

The ACT is one of the first Australian jurisdictions to implement a phase-out of single-use plastics, joining the government in South Australia, and I congratulate them on being the first Australian jurisdiction to pass legislation. Their legislation came into force and commenced in March. The Queensland legislation is also due to commence, but after ours, on 1 September.

The bill complements the work that is already going on to phase out single-use plastic across ACT government operations, with more work to come on further measures to build a circular economy.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank local businesses who continue to act to phase out single-use plastic. The ACT government has given the community and businesses time to act to reduce plastics—action that the community and businesses have overwhelmingly supported.

In December 2019 we released the Next Steps policy document, detailing which items would be phased out and when. In August 2020 we released the public exposure draft of the Plastic Reduction Bill. With this came an updated Next Steps policy document, with a revised time line that recognised the impact of the pandemic on local businesses. In December 2020 the final bill was introduced to the Assembly, providing a further reminder that the transition needed to begin. Today I call on all remaining businesses in the ACT to immediately start the transition away from single-use plastic.

Many businesses are well progressed in making the transition away from single-use plastic, but some will need a little extra help to prompt them to make the change. In the lead-up to the ban in July, the ACT government will be targeting businesses with an education campaign. From April, businesses will be supported through a telephone advisory service and face-to-face visits at major shopping centres, and a supply guide will be provided with acceptable alternative products.

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