Freo’s plastic bag ban will be debated in WA Upper House TONIGHT
October 13, 2015 4 Comments
The disallowance motion on Freo’s plastic bag ban will occur TONIGHT around 8pm.
Below is the letter I have written to the upper house MPs on this. I have had some excellent responses form ALP and Greens MPs already but it is the liberal coalition who control the Legislative Council so I hope they can let they can let Freo be a leader on this.
Dear Member of the Legislative Council
I am writing to ask that you vote against the disallowance motion on the City of Fremantle plastic bag local law. I understand this will be debated in the Legislative Council this week.
The Fremantle Council started the process to ban plastic bags over three years ago because the Fremantle community wanted change and submitted a petition to the Fremantle Council, with over 1000 signatures from community members, including local retailers, calling for a ban on single use plastic bags.
The Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation (JSCDL) reviewed the first iteration of City of Fremantle Plastic Bag Reduction Local Law in 2012 and at the time formed the view that the “(Local Law) is, with exception of clause 6, within power of the Local Government Act 1995, under the Committee’s Terms of Reference 6.6(a)”.
In response to this advice, the City completely removed the contentious 10 cent charge and there is no charge in clause 6, or in any other clause in its current lawful 2015 local law. It also sought legal advice as to whether there were any other clauses or issues of contention that could render the law unlawful. In essence, there are no legal grounds to give rise to a disallowance motion against this local law in its current form.
Reasons for support
The City of Fremantle plastic bag local law is consistent with the approach used in many other jurisdictions around Australia including South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT and Tasmania.
Internationally, there are a growing number of cities and countries restricting the use of plastic bags. For example, from the start of last week, shops in England were required by law to charge customers for single-use plastic bags in a bid to reduce their use.
Many other WA local governments who have been watching the progress of Fremantle’s local law with interest would like to see it supported so they can consider a similar approach in the absence of the WA State Government legislation on this matter.
The evidence of the impact of plastic bags on the marine environment continues to grow. For example: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3265825/Shocking-x-ray-autopsy-photos-shopping-bags-kill-sea-turtles-leaving-balls-plastic-stomach-rupture-intestines.html
This government has an opportunity here to enable the legitimate trialling of a local law which could significantly change the conversation around litter, resource use and waste management in Western Australia.
Every second, 159 single-use plastic bags are used across Australia.
Mr Katsambanis has stated that there was an 80% increase in the use of bin liner sales. This is incorrect. Recent evidence from the ACT shows that the sale of bin liners have largely fallen to pre-ban levels. http://www.environment.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/602018/20140407-ESDD_BagBan_Report_2014_Final.pdf
Unintended implications of disallowance
The implications of the Legislative Council disallowing a local law made in accordance with section 3.5 of the Local Government Act 1995, goes beyond the issue of this particular local law and questions the legitimacy of local governments making local laws. It sets what I see as an ill-advised precedent for the Legislative Council to become the local government ‘House of Review’ and the arbiter of local governments’ ability to represent its community on community matters.
The City of Fremantle’s plastic bag local law is strongly supported by the Fremantle community, retailers and the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce. It should be viewed as a trial and data collection exercise that will help inform the merits of a larger state-wide plastic bag ban. It should not set a problematic precedent that sees the Legislative Council involve itself in local government matters in a manner and extent that is has not previously.
Dr Brad Pettitt