Labor moves to fix broken waste system

In Parliament | 11.08.17

The NSW Labor Opposition has successfully moved in the NSW Legislative Council for an extension of a current parliamentary inquiry on waste to deal with the issues raised by the ABC’s 4 Corners program last Monday. 

Labor also announced that the Opposition will refer the former Gosford City Council (now Central Coast Council) to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) over allegations surrounding illegal dumping and the dumping of its own waste at Mangrove Mountain. 

The Legislative Council agreed to Labor’s motion to expand the terms of reference for the current inquiry into ‘energy from waste’ technology to investigate the following matters: 

  1. the transport of all classifications of waste and recyclable materials out of New South Wales and the consequences for waste disposal, government revenue and environment programs, employment, roads and transport routes, and the environment;
  2. the prevalence and scale of illegal dumping across New South Wales and the actions of the NSW Environment Protection Authority to address it;
  3. the sustainability and impacts of the current waste and landfill regime on human and environmental health, including drinking water, soil contamination, fire hazards and emissions. 

Since the shocking news that over 50 per cent of some recycled materials are ending up in landfill or interstate storage instead of being recycled; that illegal dumping has run rampant with the EPA failing to take immediate action; and that hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste is being trucked from NSW to Queensland costing NSW over $100 million a year, the response from the NSW Government has been to blame Queensland. 

That response will not serve to unearth the reasons that have led to the current broken waste system in NSW, nor produce solutions to repair it. The parliamentary inquiry will now air these allegations and constructively build a response to ensure the waste and recycling system is working and trustworthy. 

The ICAC referral will ensure that the local council in Gosford is not off the hook when it comes to the problems with their waste management. 

Quotes attributable to Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe 

“I was shocked by the revelations on ‘4 Corners’ this week and I am determined to get to the bottom of it – the NSW waste system is broken and the NSW Government can no longer turn a blind eye nor blame others for the problems. 

“The time has come to step in and fix it. Illegal operators need to have the book thrown at them. The State’s environment regulator needs to be resourced and empowered to deal with rogue elements and the community needs to have an opportunity to ask questions about how this has been able to happen. 

“This inquiry will be the disinfectant the community needs to start restoring trust that our waste and recycling system is doing the right thing, just as households do with their own recycling bins each and every day.”