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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (12 March) . . Page.. 919 ..

MS MacDONALD (continuing):

A special mention has to go to the volunteers of the Hall Bushfire and Emergency Service Brigade, who collected three tonnes of dumped household items after protecting properties during the January bushfires. Almost 200 business volunteers took part in Business Clean Up Day on Tuesday, 25 February, while 1,490 students from nine schools participated in Schools Clean Up Day on the Friday.

As always, the Lions Club, Rotary Club, Neighbourhood Watch, volunteer bushfire brigades, Park Care, Land Care, guides, scouts and church groups put in a fantastic effort on Clean Up Australia Day. An example of the type of person we should thank is Don Thomas, of Conder. Mr Thomas joined my group, cleaning up the area around Lanyon marketplace. I quote from the letter he subsequently sent to me:

After I parted company with you... I returned home to cook my younger daughter's Sunday dinner (at age 32 she still likes me to cook for her!). After which, at 3pm, I returned to our work site to complete what I intended to do there. When I finished at 6pm I was only too pleased to return home to get a hot shower to ease my numerous aches and pains.

Whilst we should be grateful to all the volunteers, we must also be concerned that a Clean Up Australia Day is still needed, more than a decade after the initiative began.

Mr Speaker, my Clean Up Australia Day group received a great many words of encouragement from passers-by-if only they had come with offers of help! One woman passed me as I was picking up cigarette butts-I picked up 267 around one tree. She then walked along, calmly flicked her cigarette butt onto the ground, stubbed it out and walked into the shopping centre. I suppose she wanted to give me something else to do.

Cigarette butts might be small, but they are a big problem. The Environment Protection Authority estimates that they take up to 15 years to break down. The residue left in butts contains toxic chemicals that pollute the environment. Numerous butts are found in children's playgrounds. That was one of the areas I did not get to on the day. Unfortunately, the playground at Lanyon marketplace is still a disgrace. I might have to go back there, to pick up the rest of the cigarette butts.

It is unsafe for young children, who have been known to eat cigarette butts-and the poison that comes with them. If that is not bad enough, littered butts cause more than half of all fires in the built environment, according to the 1995 annual report of the New South Wales Fire Brigades.

The same report stated that flicked cigarette butts cause 1,200 grass and bushfires in Australia each year. It is estimated that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered world-wide every year, and more than nine million in New South Wales alone. To put this into frightening perspective, EPA figures show that butts littered in New South Wales alone would span four-and-a-half times around the planet, or 180,000 kilometres.

Mr Speaker, with the butts I was picking up, it was not for want of ashtrays that these butts had been deposited on the ground. Attached to all the bins at Lanyon marketplace are ashtrays for people to use to put out their cigarette butts.

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