Waste recycling industry
9th August 2017
Mr GREG PIPER ( Lake Macquarie ) ( 15:09 ): I direct my question to the Minister for the Environment. Given recent exposure and scrutiny of the waste and recycling industry, will the Minister support an inquiry to examine the viability of the industry and its systemic flaws, including the alleged organised criminal exploitation of waste disposal due to the high cost differential between States stemming from the New South Wales waste levy?
Ms GABRIELLE UPTON ( Vaucluse—Minister for the Environment, Minister for Local Government, and Minister for Heritage) (15:10): I thank the member for his question. I know he is genuinely concerned about contamination and waste issues. He often drops into my office to share his ideas with me. I also thank him for his genuine engagement on those issues. This question gives me an opportunity to update the House. The NSW Environment Protection Authority [EPA] released a statement this afternoon in which the chair and chief executive officer, Barry Buffier, confirms that he has written to the chief commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption [ICAC] referring allegations of possible corrupt conduct through inaction by the EPA in response to notifications of illegal waste activities. I welcome that decision and that action by the EPA, and now it is up to ICAC to consider the serious issues that have been raised.
It is unfortunate that Labor Party members here and in Queensland are hypocrites when it comes to tackling the waste issues that face our community. We heard their colleague and comrade, the Queensland Premier, on the radio this morning crying crocodile tears about the movement of waste between our two States. She has known about this problem not for one year, not for two years, but for three years, and she has done nothing. She could simply reintroduce the waste levy.
The SPEAKER: Order! Members will get nowhere shouting at the Minister. It is rude, it is unacceptable and it is unparliamentary. The Minister has the call.
Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: It is hypocritical of the Labor Party to be making such comments in the Chamber. Pick up the phone to your comrades in Queensland.
The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Gosford to order for the first time.
Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: Tell your comrade Premier in Queensland that all she has to do is reintroduce the waste levy and then this issue would be removed. It is just disingenuous of the Labor Party.
The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Gosford to order for the second time.
Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: It has gone on for three years. All the Queensland Premier has to do is reintroduce the waste levy and this issue will be removed.
The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Gosford to order for the third time. The member for the Entrance will resume his seat. Hanging around the door is not a good look; nor is chewing gum. I know who the gum chewers are. I have taken their names and I have given them to the Leader of the House for future reference.
Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: I call on the Leader of the Opposition to pick up the phone to the Queensland Premier and this problem will be solved.
The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Gosford will cease interjecting. I remind the member that she is on three calls to order.
Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: The issue of illegal dumping is serious. It is something that this Government is determined to stamp out. We will shortly release for public consultation a draft regulation that flows from the discussion paper that was released last year. This flows on from a program of work on this issue. Next month the heads of the environment protection authorities across the States and Territories will meet to work up a national plan in the absence of action by the Queensland Labor Government to tackle this problem.
The SPEAKER: Order! I remind the member for Gosford that she is on three calls to order. This is her final warning.
Ms GABRIELLE UPTON: On a very serious note, this Government has some of the toughest environment protection laws in the nation. Let me assure the House that if any improvements need to be made, we will make them [Time expired.]
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