The Government's announcement this week that New South Wales will adopt the cash-for-containers scheme advocated by the Boomerang Alliance is definitely welcome.
Labor members have called for this scheme because we know it is the best way to stop 160 million drink containers ending up on our beaches and in our streets, parks and waterways, such as the Cooks River in my electorate.
This will be not just a huge win for our environment, cleaning up the places we love, but also a boon for countless community groups across the State, who will benefit by earning 10¢ for every bottle returned.
In my electorate I look forward to working with the local scouts, the Mudcrabs, the Cooks River Valley Association, the Red Devils Football Club, the Marrickville Cricket Club and many, many others to clean up the Cooks River.
Like many residents, I walk along the banks of the Cooks River every day with my labrador, Lucy. She likes it down there. It is a beautiful environmental resource that has been left to languish for generations, clogged with industrial waste and litter.
But it isn't just bottles floating along at low tide; it is hundreds of plastic bags.
A cash-for-containers deposit scheme will make a difference to the river, but it must just be the beginning. We need to legislate now to ban single-use plastic bags.
Australians use up to five billion plastic bags each year, littering more than 61 million of them over New South Wales.
Let us adopt Labor's plan to ban single-use plastic bags. We have a bill but the Government wants to send it to a committee.
Meanwhile, in the next year 61 million more plastic bags will work their way into our State's environment, and into rivers like the Cooks River. Another million seabirds will die from plastic that they ingest, as will 100,000 sea mammals and countless fish.
It is time to act: Let us ban single-use plastic bags.
We should also act in a meaningful way to ban the importation and production of goods containing micro beads—tiny particles of plastic causing untold damage to our oceans, lakes and rivers.
I welcome the motion moved by the member for Oatley because we cannot wait another year for the cash-for-containers scheme. Let us legislate now to prevent another 160 million plastic bottles being littered into our precious environment.
After 13 long years of campaigning, the community knows what it wants and that is not another committee.
It wants action now. It is clear that we cannot continue to sacrifice our ecology for a culture of convenience.
Let us move and legislate now on commensense measures to eliminate plastic pollution whether it be in the Cooks River, where I walk every day with my dog, throughout our community or on our beaches and all the other places we love.
We do not need another committee; we need to act to protect our environment for future generations.