Not good enough Premier – Labor will move to ban the bag in the face of government inaction

In Parliament | 25.07.17

The NSW Labor Opposition will move to introduce legislation to ban single-use plastic bags in the lower house of the NSW Parliament in the first parliamentary sitting week after the winter break. 

The urgency comes in light of comments made by Premier Gladys Berejiklian that the Government does not need to ban plastic bags in NSW ‘‘because 80 per cent of plastic bags’’ will already be banned by supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles in their voluntary phase-out. 

This position would still allow at least 10 million plastic bags to be littered across the state every year– NSW Labor says that prospect is not an option and requires immediate action. This issue already has broad community support and the corporate sector is already way ahead of the Government. 

There is no reason not to act. Already the ACT, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory all ban single-use plastic bags, with Queensland committing to do so next year. 

NSW is now firmly at the bottom of the pack when it comes to protecting our environment, whether it’s plastic bag pollution, plummeting koala numbers, or devastating land clearing about to return, supported by the Liberal and National parties. 

On the dangers of plastic bags, the facts are stark: 

  • Every second, 159 single-use plastic bags are used in Australia – more than 10 million new bags each day.
  • In NSW, up to 61 million bags are littered each year.
  • More than 70 per cent of the rubbish entering our oceans is identified as plastic.
  • Plastic kills up to one million sea birds, countless fish and 100,000 sea mammals each year. 

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley 

“NSW should have been leading the nation in banning single-use plastic bags, but instead the Premier and her predecessors have dragged their feet and stifled this important environmental reform.” 

“Corporate Australia should not have to go it alone to ban plastic bags – it is well past time for NSW to act, but the Premier is happy for us to be the environmental black sheep in a nation that benefits so much from our reputation of having a pristine natural environment. 

“Gladys Berejiklian should stand up today and announce a statewide ban on plastic bags – if she doesn’t I will under a Foley Labor Government." 

Quotes attributable to Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe 

“This issue is no-brainer: plastic bags kill. They kill our wildlife, they kill turtles, dolphins, fish and birds, and they pollute the precious natural environment of our state. 

“The only way we can successfully deal with the pollution that single-use plastic bags cause is to remove them – not some of them, but all of them. 

“This government will be remembered as the most environmentally destructive in generations: we’ve got record low koala numbers, rising greenhouse gas emissions, tree clearing about to be unleashed across the state, and now the Government is failing to intervene in the slow, painful deaths of thousands of marine species and bird life from plastic bags.”