Today is the day: Baird Government must end delays on plastic bag ban

In Parliament | 25.11.16

As Australian Environment Ministers gather today for the national Meeting of Environment Ministers (MEM), the NSW Labor Opposition has again called on the Baird Government to back a ban on single-use plastic bags.

In December last year the Opposition challenged the Baird Government to place a ban on single-use plastic bags across the state. The MEM established a committee to look at the issue, with positive signs that they were working towards a ban that would be carried forward in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

The ban would bring NSW in line with the ACT, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, with the state becoming the latest and most significant state or territory in Australia to do so.

However, following a recent Cabinet leak reporting that the Government baulked at a proposed ban, there are concerns that Minister Speakman is preparing to back away from this major environmental reform at today’s meeting.

The facts are stark:

  • Every second, 159 single-use plastic bags are used in Australia – more than 10 million new bags each day.
  • In New South Wales, 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.

Numerous states and nations worldwide have already stepped up to the challenge, with countries as diverse as Bangladesh, China, England, Ethiopia, France, and South Africa all taking action to reduce plastic bags.

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe MLC

“NSW should be leading the large eastern states in banning single-use plastic bags, but instead our Minister for the Environment is dragging his feet and stifling this important reform.

“We have an obligation to take reasonable and sensible steps to protect the environment for future generations.

“A plastic bag ban will drive change to improve the environment – it will reduce waste and landfill, and sharply cut the devastating environmental impacts of plastic bags, including their often fatal interaction with marine and bird life.

“Today is the day, the public wants action.”