Database House Hansard
Date 08-12-1976
Source House of Reps
Parl No. 30
Page 3471
Status Final
Speaker SPEAKER, Mr
System Id hansard80/hansardr80/1976-12-08/0045


Mr SPEAKER -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Mr FRY - This report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory examines and makes recommendations concerning the system of waste collection, disposal and management in Canberra. The Committee has placed particular emphasis on the need to find some alternative to the traditional landfill method of disposal which makes little provision for the recovery and re-use of important resources. The report stresses the need to preserve many resources such as metal, glass and paper which are often indiscriminately disposed of in the existing system of waste collection and disposal. The Committee has therefore examined alternative waste collection methods, both for domestic and other waste materials, and has examined new technology available to separate resources before final disposal or for recycling. It is essential that these matters are constantly reviewed by planning and management authorities so that proposals for the introduction of new arrangements or disposal techniques in the Capital Territory should be the most effective available given the size of the Territory and the related region, which may be associated in this respect, and the need to re-use important materials. This is a responsibility we should be ready to accept and on which we should begin to take action now to preserve vital resources.

There are a number of recommendations concerning recycling and the need for increased public awareness of the benefits of measures to conserve valuable materials which are currently disposed of simply as 'waste'. This need to recycle resources led the Committee to question some aspects of the National Capital Development Commission's and the Department of the Capital Territory's approach to the landfill method of waste disposal. This is not to suggest that any existing method for disposal should entirely replace the landfill method. The need for landfill will remain for the foreseeable future. But a number of measures could be taken to overcome some apparent problems with this means of disposal. For example, 'tips' should be sited so as to cause the least inconvenience to the public. Access roads and approaches should create the least possible nuisance to residents either as a result of heavy traffic at particular times or because of litter falling from trailers and trucks on their way to disposal sites. We refer to problems that have arisen, for example, in Belconnen. These sites should also be managed so that they can be converted to community use in the shortest possible time after the landfill process has been completed.

It was also felt that if the authorities encouraged separation of recyclable items for collection and re-use, the impact of landfill could be reduced. This led the Committee to question the 'total collection' system suggested by NCDC and the Department of the Capital Territory. This method does not in the Committee's view do enough to facilitate recovery of resources and might, in effect, discourage separation and recycling,

The Committee has therefore suggested a scheme whereby separate containers would be supplied to householders for the collection of particular classes of waste such as paper, glass and metal. An intensive and concerted advertising and information campaign would be required to ensure the public co-operation essential for the success of the scheme. The Committee has recommended that a pilot study be conducted to test the scheme 's feasibility. We do not claim to have found an answer to the waste disposal problem. But the Committee was impressed by the necessity for communities to begin examining and, where possible, introducing systems for the collection and disposal of waste whereby resource conservation, recovery and recycling are seen as essential goals. The Committee is not as concerned that its proposed scheme be implemented in every particular as to be assured that the authorities in the A.C.T. will begin to move in the directions indicated by the philosophy behind the proposals. We consider moves in these directions to be essential and inevitable for all communities. We hope the recommendations of the Committee will be seen as contributing to this process of reassessing assumptions and testing new means of collecting and disposing of the vast quantities of 'waste' materials generated by our society.

The Committee was also concerned to find a number of deficiencies in legislation in the A.C.T. relating to the issues before it. These arise in such areas as the enforcement of regulations which deal with littering, pollution of the air and disposal of radioactive waste. The Committee has directed the attention of the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Staley) and his department and the A.C.T. Legislative Assembly to these matters which should be dealt with as soon as practicable.

In this brief statement I have not attempted to deal with all the main issues considered by the Committee or on which it has made recommendations. The subject is one of such complexity that the Committee might well have extended its inquiry. Although this reference has been with the Committee for 2 years, the present Committee had only one of the former Committee among its members. The Committee has also undertaken a considerable work load during the current period of sittings. Members will recall that 2 substantial reports on proposals to vary the plan of Canberra have been presented in the past 2 months. Thus, while the Committee could well hive dealt with some aspects of the reference before it in greater detail, for example the financial implications of various schemes of collection and waste disposal, it was considered that the report should be presented at this stage as a contribution to the growing debate on the issue with which it deals.

I would also draw the attention of members to the bibliography which will be printed with the report. This was prepared by the staff of the Parliamentary Library. The Committee was impressed with the range and comprehensiveness of this bibliography and felt that it should be made available to the Parliament and the public through this report. Unfortunately printed copies of the report will not be available for distribution today. It was not possible for printing to be completed. Copies of the report will, however, become available within the next 2 weeks.

I would like to conclude by thanking all members of the Committee for the time and effort they have put in to producing this report at a time when the Parliament has been particularly busy. I would also like to thank, on behalf of all members of the Committee, the staff of the secretariat who have put in an enormous amount of effort to ensure that this report could be presented before the Parliament rises. I know that all members are aware of the contribution which staff of the parliamentary departments frequently make in such circumstances but I would like to pay special tribute on this occasion to the work of the Parliamentary Joint Committee staff. I commend the report to the House.

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