Ms JO HAYLEN (Summer Hill) (11:13:49): The Plastic Shopping Bags (Prohibition on Supply by Retailers) Bill 2019 will end the shameful situation in which New South Wales remains the only State or Territory not to have banned single-use plastic bags. This is the second time the bill has been introduced and I will be proud to vote for it. I will be voting for the bill on behalf every child who has spoken to me about phasing out single‑use plastic bags. I will be voting for the bill on behalf of the constituents in my electorate and the volunteers who tirelessly work to clean up the Cooks River, as well as waterways, beaches and parks across our State. I will be voting for the bill on behalf of consumers who have already taken action to change their behaviour but want to see leadership from the Premier and the environment Minister.
Plastic bags are choking our planet. The Boomerang Alliance estimates that 180 million bags are disposed of into our natural environment each year—an average of 5.8 bags per second. New South Wales residents alone use three billion single-use plastic bags, which is one‑third of all plastic bags used across the country annually. It takes 85 times more energy to recycle a plastic bag than to create it, which means that 97 per cent of plastic bags are discarded rather than recycled. The average time for which a plastic bag is used is 12 minutes but that bag takes 1,000 years to break down. The problem is very, very clear but so, too, is the solution.
This is not the first time this Government has had the opportunity to legislate on the issue. Labor tried to pass this bill two years ago, only for the Government to vote it down. In 2018 young environmental activists secured a 10,000‑signature petition to ban plastic bags in New South Wales. What was the Premier's response? It was, "Let the market manage itself." Well, the market has not managed itself. Coles has stopped 17 billion single‑use plastic bags ending up in landfill. Woolworths has said that it has issued three billion fewer plastic bags. But that is a drop in the bucket considering five trillion plastic bags are produced every year.
Real action will take real leadership and once again, with this bill Labor is showing how to deal with the issue. Local communities will not wait. In fact, many of them have taken matters into their own hands and introduced plastic bag bans at the local level: Kangaroo Valley in the electorate of Kiama, Mogo in the electorate of Bega, Oyster Bay in the electorate of Miranda and Huskisson in the electorate of the South Coast. Those communities are sick and tired of waiting for their State Liberal representatives to put the health of the planet before politics. Members opposite had another opportunity today to back those communities and their own communities, support the bill and ban single‑use plastic bags. But they have signalled that they will not, and what is their excuse this time? It is, "We need a review of all plastic in New South Wales."
I want to be really clear: I absolutely support taking holistic action on plastic pollution. Every young person in my community and, I am sure, all of the communities represented in this place talks to us about this all the time—plastic straws, plastic bottles. They are passionate about it, and for good reason. But there is absolutely no scenario in which we cannot review plastic pollution and also ban single‑use plastic bags at the same time. It is not revolutionary. I reckon we can do it at the same time. The Minister's review will tell us exactly what we already know: We need to ban single-use plastic bags. This is nothing more than a veiled attempt by the Minister to give the appearance of environmental action whilst actually doing nothing at all.
Let me save the Minister some time. In June 2018, the Federal Government's Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications held an inquiry into waste and recycling. That inquiry told all Australian State and Territory Governments to phase out petroleum‑based single‑use plastics by 2023. It has already done the work, so why do we not just do that now? Every State and Territory Government has looked at the problem in detail and resolved to ban single-use plastic bags—every one except New South Wales. Again I want to be very clear: Even the environment Minister agrees with himself. I will directly quote the Minister. He has said:
I'm certainly very concerned about single-use plastic bags, and plastics in general polluting our natural environment, … That's something I want to tackle head-on.
We do not need another inquiry. We can tackle the issue head-on right now. If the Minister wants to do that I invite him to support Labor's bill and band single-use plastic bags now.