State Government on the wrong side of history on plastic bag ban.

You have probably heard that the Liberal Party members of the upper house of the State Parliament have moved to disallow Freo’s local law banning single use plastic bag. This is despite the parliamentary committee responsible for examining this legislation NOT recommending such action. Peter Katsambanis who moved the disallowance in the media made two arguments against it:

  1. “If we’re going to ban plastic bags, let’s do it properly – and that’s at a state-wide level.”
  2. “Claims about waste reduction and environmental protection are minimal. When a ban was introduced in South Australia, sales of bin liners – that use more plastic – increased by 85 per cent”.

On #1 I agree but the State Government has had years to introduce legislation to do this as South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT and Tasmania have all done in recent years. But they have failed to do so. So that response by Peter is at best disingenuous.

On #2 that is a silly red herring that doesn’t live up to scrutiny. Australians use around 3.92 billion plastic bags a year, that’s over 10 million new bags being used every day. Clean-up Australia estimate that around 50 million bags enter the Australian litter stream every year. The number of bin liners is a small fraction of these. It is also better that bin liners for food scraps and other non-recyclables are bio-degradable so they can be composted. Bin liners also don’t end up in our rivers and ocean.

All the evidence is against the upper-house liberals on this. The vast majority of Fremantle residents, business and the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce have supported this local law. It is time for the State Government to make it a state law or just get out of the way of progressive change.

Here is the press release from the City of Fremantle :

The City of Fremantle is disappointed its innovative local law designed to reduce plastic waste in Fremantle may be in jeopardy after a notice of motion to disallow the law was tabled yesterday by Liberal MLC Hon Peter Katsambanis.

The City of Fremantle Plastic Bag Local Law prohibits retailers providing customers with single–use non–biodegradable plastic bags and was amended and resubmitted after a similar law was blocked in 2013.

“We are really disappointed and struggle to understand why the state government would look at blocking a local government that is trying to pioneer a sensible approach to waste reduction and environmental protection,” said acting Fremantle Mayor, Josh Wilson.

“We’ve followed good process, including consultation with both the wider and business community, and have adjusted the local law in response to issues involved in the first version.  By contrast, the WA government looks like it’s going to ignore the recommendation of its own parliamentary committee in order to block the initiative.

“There are several other local government authorities, both in Western Australia and in other parts of the country, who are eagerly awaiting the outcome before they moved to implement similar laws so there will be a lot of interest in this decision.

“We will be calling on these like-minded councils and other community groups and supporters to lobby the state government to make a sensible decision on a matter which has far reaching and serious implications,” Mr Wilson said.

If approved by the state government, the City of Fremantle would become the first local government in Western Australia to implement the law, which is already in place in other parts of the country.

plastic bag

 

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

2 Responses to State Government on the wrong side of history on plastic bag ban.

  1. waexplorer says:

    I don’t get why this is turning into such a huge political debacle. Not using plastic bags should be a no brainer. My grandmother in Switzerland was using her own bags 25 years ago because it was already banned in most of central Europe in the 1980’s.

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