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Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Page: 2823

Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (12:07): Before we move on, I want to put to the minister a question around an issue that I raised earlier, which is whether he considers the establishment of this advisory group as providing a mechanism for doing a couple of things: firstly, having the expert views in the room and, secondly, publishing lists of particular products or categories of waste that might soon fall under the scheme. As has been made very clear, we have three different ways of regulating different kinds of waste: voluntary schemes, where the industry goes ahead and sets up its own scheme, of which I guess the MobileMuster is an example; the co-regulatory scheme, where we see the industry working with government to establish a scheme that it can then be held to; and mandatory schemes—for example, with very hazardous materials where you do not want things left to chance.

In the broadest conception of this, if we get it right the first time and there is all the goodwill at the table and industry comes to the party and so on, the right products will be put in the right one of those three categories and all of a sudden, within a couple of years, we will see dramatic reductions in landfill; we will see dramatic increases in resource recovery and efficiency of recycling; we will see a huge reduction, for example, in greenhouse gas emissions from landfill as organic material is removed; and the scheme will be working as intended. My question to the minister is: at what point will assessĀ­ments be made as to whether the targets for the various product streams—let us take the example of mobile phones—have failed to be met or are not strong enough in the first place and we still have huge volumes of material just heading out to landfill or being thrown away? What will the process be for re-evaluation of whether something should go from voluntary to co-reg or from co-reg to mandatory? What will be the levers that will drive take-up of higher recycling? What will be the penalties, for example, for missing a particular target? How does the minister envisage the advisory group driving those improvements in performance if, with a particular product or class of materials, we are still sitting here in five years time with, for example, five per cent recovery rates of mobile phones under a voluntary scheme? What will be the process of assessment whereby it is taken out of the voluntary space and, for example, we initiate a co-regulatory mechanism?