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Monday, 23 June 2003
Page: 17248

Mr HAASE (7:39 PM) —I rise in support of the Product Stewardship (Oil) Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2003, a bill that highlights the federal government's ongoing commitment to progressive environmental policies. The product stewardship scheme was initiated by the Howard government's Measures for a Better Environment package in 2000 and was designed to ensure the environmentally sustainable management and refining of waste oil. The product stewardship program has seen the oil companies progressively assume a greater share of the costs incurred in recycling waste oil. These costs are therefore borne not by the public but by the markets which gain most benefit from the production and use of that oil. Furthermore, the program actively encourages oil recyclers to undertake advanced recycling of waste oil, with a view to minimising the environmental impact of industries which produce these potentially damaging by-products.

The intent of this amendment bill is to recognise that, in fact, oils ain't oils. It has become apparent that certain oils and certain uses of oils fall outside the original intent of the policy and should receive a rebate for the full amount of the levy. These are single-use oils which cannot be recycled into a usable product. The Product Stewardship (Oil) Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2003, introduced into parliament by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage on 27 March this year, creates a new category benefit, to be known as category 8 benefit, which will be paid under the act at the same rate as the levy. In other words, those industries which produce recyclable waste oil will be encouraged to refine and reuse it, while those which produce inherently non-recyclable waste oil that is deemed of minimal risk to the environment will not be penalised.

These amendments preserve the original intent of the product stewardship arrangements for waste oil by continuing to advocate the federal government's vision for responsible and efficient recycling options. The Commonwealth government's dedication to recycling in this and other bills is further evidence of its commitment to the environment—a commitment that extends across all regions of Australia. We have heard the member for Wills wax lyrical about the pork-barrelling nature of what is being done by this government in order to address environmental issues. I can assure the member for Wills that no such pork-barrelling has gone on in my electorate. I have an electorate where my constituents—thank goodness—are definitely involved in and concerned about the nature of their environment, and therefore they seek out every opportunity to obtain funds, primarily Commonwealth funds, in an endeavour to address environmental deficiencies and apparent degradation. I suggest to the member for Wills that, rather than denigrating this very forward thinking and environmentally conscious coalition government, he ought to spend his time in his electorate promoting the federal government packages that will put money on the ground to assist environmentalists in his electorate to do good works for the future.

Industrial waste management and the environment are inextricably intertwined issues within my electorate of Kalgoorlie, which encompasses 2.3 million square kilometres and balances mining and industry with spectacular ecotourism. I remind the House that, at a recent mineral industry dinner, the centrepiece on the table was Mondo grass in a miner's helmet. I thought that perfectly reflected the mining industry's concern these days with things environmental. At that dinner I heard the simple fact that all of the minerals mined in this great nation of ours today are mined from a footprint of area approximately equal to the collective parking lots of this nation's hotels. It is worth reflecting that the impact created by the mining industry is minimal while its concerns for the environment are major. When it comes to compiling the list of environmental heroes in this country today, some of our leading mining industries must be among that list.

As the member for Kalgoorlie, I work hard to promote a viable business and industry focus for my constituents, while simultaneously striving to preserve the astonishing beauty and biodiversity of our land. We do not want to see our streams and waterways polluted with unrefined waste oil, which is why I commend the Commonwealth government's enterprising recycling efforts. In keeping with the Howard government's dedication to the protection of the environment, it has instigated numerous long-term programs designed to manage our regional and urban areas so that we may enjoy them for generations to come. One such program is the National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality, which offers some $700 million of Commonwealth funds to fight the nationwide salinity problem in Australia. We have the federal commitment. Now we must take action to address an environmental concern which will only grow worse if we drag our heels and fail to act. Salinity is one environmental issue that we have created, especially in the rural and broadacre farming areas, but it is one that we can solve together if we act quickly enough.

In relation to the timeliness and the speed of that action, I bring the attention of the House to the fact that the government of Western Australia are still recalcitrant when it comes to addressing this issue. They are yet to come to the table with equal funding on a dollar for dollar basis with the Commonwealth; they are yet to act in the protection of our environment, the reduction of the effects of salinity and the improvement of our broadacre farming areas for the future.

As has been agreed by other state premiers and chief ministers, we do not want recycled old programs brought forward by people trying to dud the Commonwealth and other states out of their deserved dollars. In order to attract some of this federal $700 million, the Western Australian government must bring to the table programs which are approved by local environmentalists as being necessary in their particular environment, which are clearly new and which get down to tintacks and really do something on the ground about promoting the reduction of saline affected land.

The federal government is certainly acting to fund important environmental projects in regional Australia. For example, the Natural Heritage Trust, together with the National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality, represents the largest commitment to the environment by any Australian government. The program includes $12.7 million allocated for ecologically vital schemes in Western Australia. The federal funding not only embraces and recognises the environmental needs of many regions within my Kalgoorlie electorate but also provides $600,000 to promote ecologically sustainable pastoral management that complements work undertaken in the Gascoyne-Murchison region, expanding the program into the Southern Rangelands district; $295,000 for the Kimberley Regional Fire Management Project to encourage improved fire control skills, strategies and regimes and to identify biodiversity at risk from fires; $175,000 for integrating marine water quality objectives into regional planning and encouraging ecologically sustainable development on the North West Shelf; and $124,690 to improve environmental management of ecology and industry in the Ord region, targeting issues such as the loss of biodiversity, land misuse and water quality degradation. This is a significant program, aimed at implementing the Ord Land and Water Management Plan and minimising the threat to the riverine environment through better pesticide controls. The funding also provides $270,000 for the Pilbara bioregion biological survey to fund the inchoative stages of a comprehensive biological survey in the area.

I am pleased to commend a bill that encourages more ecologically and economically sustainable management of the environment by Australian industry in rural and urban communities. I am equally pleased to commend a bill that advocates sensible management of waste oil but does not disadvantage industries which are environmentally responsible but are otherwise unable to produce a reusable oil product. It gives me great satisfaction to support the Product Stewardship (Oil) Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2003 in the House.