If today tells us anything at all, it’s that with young activists like Sophia Skarparis and those young people here in the Parliament today, the days of single use plastics are numbered.
Collecting 10,000 signatures is no mean feat.
It takes patience; it takes commitment; it takes passion.
It also takes courage to come into Australia’s oldest parliament and speak truth to power.
I welcome you here today and I thank you for fighting to end the scourge of plastic pollution.
We must ban single use plastic bags.
NSW is the only state in the country not to have banned single-use plastic bags, and there are no excuses left for us not to do so now.
Rather than show leadership, the Premier has relied on markets and retailers to enforce their own voluntary bans.
And we know how well that has worked:-
On June 20, Woolies stopped providing single-use plastic bags and Coles said it would follow suit.
Woolies then did a backflip, handing out free reusable plastic bags for 10 days.
Coles, on the other hand, back-flipped on their ban of bags, offering plastic bags indefinitely, only to then backflip on the backflip.
In short, we’ve tried the Premier’s path and it has been a mess.
The Boomerang Alliance estimates that NSW residents use 3 billion single use plastic bags in NSW alone, a third of all plastic bags used in Australia each year.
They also estimate that even with the supermarkets self-imposed ban in place, at least 10 million bags will continue to clog up our state.
These bags end up on our streets and on our beaches, in our parks, rivers and oceans;
They end up in the stomachs of seabirds, mammals and whales;
As they breakdown into micro-plastics, they also end up in our own bodies too, as they accumulate up the food chain.
The threat of plastic pollution is immense, and we have to act now, to do something about of it.
Yes, each of us, and each business out there has a role to play.
But saving our world from choking in plastic will also take principled leadership.
We’ve see in it from every other state and territory in Australia.
We’ve seen it from the European Union who today announced sweeping reforms to phase out plastic pollution beginning in 2021.
We’ve seen it from small island nations like Vanuatu and Palau.
We’ve seen it from Sophia and the young leaders here with her today.
Premier, there is too much at stake not to take action;
It’s time for you to take a leaf our of Sophia’s book, and to listen and lead.