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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (15 June) . . Page.. 1967 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Council agreed to the National Packaging Covenant and the National Environment Protection Measure, NEPM, for used packaging materials.

The covenant is a voluntary agreement by industry players in the packaging chain that they will take various actions to reduce the packaging waste they generate. The establishment of NEPM protects covenant signatories from competitive disadvantage by setting out a regulatory scheme for industry players who choose not to sign up to the covenant. Part of this agreement is the requirement for all states and territories to legislate for industry waste reduction plans in their own jurisdiction so that companies who do not want to sign up to the covenant cannot avoid being bound by the NEPM.

This is obviously a good move; we would all agree that there is a need to reduce waste from packaging. However, this part of the legislation will probably have limited practical impact in the ACT, as none of the brand owners covered by the NEPM are based in the ACT and most packaged products that are sold in shops here would have been packaged at their place of manufacture outside the ACT. Nevertheless, it is important to establish this enabling legislation that will allow the industry waste reduction plans to be implemented in the ACT where necessary.

I also note that we will now be eligible to access up to $280,000 as the ACT's share of funding for waste minimisation projects that is being provided by industry as part of their commitment under the packaging covenant. The second part contains provisions for the management of the territory's garbage collection services and the setting of fees and charges for the disposal of waste. These provisions have been transferred from the Building and Services Act and the garbage regulations, which are being repealed on 30 June 2001 as part of the utilities legislation package.

These provisions are pretty standard, although they allow for persons who are authorised to undertake regulatory activities not to be public servants. The Liberal government has adopted this approach in other legislation as part of its ideological commitment to outsourcing government services. I have already raised in the Assembly my view that regulatory functions of government should be undertaken by public servants and not be outsourced to private operators. In the briefing on this bill I received from officials, I was told that there was no intention to outsource these activities in the waste area at present, but I want to put on the record my concerns about this.

In response to Mr Corbell, I will refer to GEO 2000, which is the UNEP overview of major global trends. I have a real concern that people seem to think we have got a lot of time in this. We do not; we need to be acting urgently. I put up legislation such as I did yesterday to get change happening more quickly. In describing major global trends, the United Nations environment program confirms that economic trends are still outpacing environmental repair and conservation. For example, if present consumption patterns continue, two out of every three persons on earth will live in water-stressed conditions by the year 2025.

That is about packaging; that is about consumption; that is about life on earth. This is 2025 we are talking about; it is not something we have got much time on. We actually have a crisis.

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