Greens say NSW must follow Queensland lead
THE NSW Greens have called on Premier Mike Baird and NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman to follow Queensland and ban single-use plastic bags in NSW.
The call follows an announcement that Queensland will ban the bag by 2018 after a meeting of Commonwealth environment ministers failed to get agreement on a national scheme.
Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles said he was pushing for an east coast ban on plastic bags but if the NSW and Victoria states won't agree that won't stop the Palaszczuk Government from going ahead with the ban.
"It's the best way for it to happen. What we don't want is for people who live on the southern Gold Coast to drive to New South Wales if they forget their reusable shopping bags,” Mr Miles told the ABC.
"It would be better if we could get a solution that would deal with those kind of cross-border issues.”
In NSW, the Greens have a bill sitting in the Parliament that would ban lightweight shopping bags being given out or sold by retailers to customers to carry away goods.
The ban will focus on plastic bags of less than 35 microns, which includes single-use, lightweight bags such as grocery bags with handles, and other bags used to carry away products such as takeaway food, or alcohol.
"Queensland has shown real leadership in committing to phasing out single-use plastic bags and now it is time for NSW to step up and ban the bag,” Greens NSW environment spokeswoman Dr Mehreen Faruqi said
"NSW risks being one of the last holdouts, with South Australia, the ACT, Tasmania and the Northern Territory already banning the bag.
"For the sake of our environment, we need decisive action from the NSW Government.”
Her view was backed up by Greens NSW marine environment spokesman Justin Field.
"An estimated 50 million plastic bags end up in the environment each year in Australia, mostly in our waterways and ocean, where they kill and injure dolphins, turtles and other marine life,” he said.
"Local communities around Australia are already pushing local businesses to go plastic-free and some national retailers have shown they can operate effectively without plastic bags.
"There is no reason similar practices cannot be adopted by supermarkets and shops throughout NSW, there are plenty of alternatives to single-use plastic bags.”
Mr Speakman said NSW was concentrating on its plans for a container-refund scheme.