Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for ENVIRONMENT, PARKS and HERITAGE, Mr GUTWEIN
We heard the bad news on Friday that SKM Recycling, the company that picks up recyclables from five southern councils has been declared insolvent. Without an immediate intervention, this means that kerbside recyclables are destined for landfill from those councils. That would be a disaster for those local councils, for the environment, and it would cripple people's confidence in the value of recycling. We do not have any capacity to recycle plastics and paper on-island, and we desperately need to put downward pressure on landfill and to generate money for a Tasmanian waste-recycling industry.
Your Government has stalled on signing a waste levy plan since 2014. Your draft waste strategy plans to continue to delay until 2021. Will you heed the plea of Sorell Mayor, Kerry Vincent, and prioritise and bring forward the container deposit scheme, as well as a statewide-based levy?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for that question on this important matter. I am aware, as all members of this House are, of the circumstances around SKM, and we are continuing to work closely with the Local Government Association. The Local Government minister has been engaged with LGAT, and to be clear, at the moment it is business as usual. That is my understanding. I met with a council yesterday in my current role and had a discussion with them and this issue was not raised.
Setting that aside, we understand there have been some shifts - certainly, the impact of China's position, and the more recent challenges associated with SKM. We will continue to work closely with the local government sector. As the member correctly mentioned, we have brought forward our waste action plan for public consultation.
Dr Woodruff - The waste levy has been there since 2014.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff.
Mr GUTWEIN - We are committed to working through the process and to ensuring that the waste levy, the container refund scheme, are implemented successfully, after we have appropriately consulted with local government to ensure that with local government, and with industry, we get the settings right. The plan is out there. We are consulting, we are doing what we said we would do.
Regarding the current challenges in front of us -
Dr Woodruff - It is pathetic.
Mr GUTWEIN - I know that the member wants to raise issues and create concern, but we are working closely with local government. We will work through this process and we will sensibly introduce the waste levy, and also the container refund scheme.