House debates

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Questions without Notice


2:49 pm

Photo of Katie AllenKatie Allen (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for the Environment. Will the minister update the House on how the Morrison government is on the side of Australians concerned about reducing our waste, increasing our domestic recycling capacity and keeping plastics out of our ocean?

Photo of Sussan LeySussan Ley (Farrer, Liberal Party, Minister for the Environment) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Higgins for her question, congratulate her on her outstanding start in this parliament, and note, as many members do, that she is a paediatrician by qualification. And I met one of her patients at the Melbourne zoo recently—Estela, a spider monkey who had had some early feeding problems. The member for Higgins is also a very keen conservationist, and she is often seen, with her communities, cleaning up along the banks of the Yarra, particularly around Gardiners Creek.

We're taking national leadership on waste and recycling. We've appointed the first ever assistant minister for waste reduction, the energetic member for Brisbane. We've invested $20 million in a cooperative research centre—and I thank the minister for industry—to look at innovative solutions to plastics recycling. But we've really come to the table with $100 million for a new recycling investment fund. This is about bringing good ideas to us for manufacturing energy-efficient recycled content.

We're working with our Pacific neighbours. There is $16 million to the Pacific Ocean litter project. This is about plastic in the ocean. By 2050, there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish, which is a horrifying statistic. We need to take that neighbourly and international leadership.

We have given, recently, $1.6 million to Planet Ark, an organisation well known to many members of this House, and what they do is to match a recyclable with a business that needs that recyclable. If you've seen their amazing floor tiles that are made out of recycled ground coffee and plastic cups, you will know exactly what I mean.

I met with representatives of local government today. They are encouraged by the agenda that we're setting in this space, because we do need all levels of government on board.

Waste is not a problem. We shouldn't see it as a problem. We should see it as an economic opportunity, not a problem to be solved. And that opportunity can mean that the kerbside litter—the glass and plastic—you put in your bins today can be in the roads we drive on tomorrow. Australians want to see that. We want to see waste in the real economy as part of a supply chain for a product that is demanded, that is part, as I said, of that circular economy.

We're on the side of Australians who want to do the right thing and who want to have confidence that their government, like them, cares about the environment, both locally and nationally. We're on the side of Australians who know that this circular economy can be part of the jobs of the future.