Jane Prentice MP, Federal Member for Ryan - Coat of Arms
Federal Member for Ryan
Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services
JANE PRENTICE MP, Federal Member for Ryan

Plastic is not fantastic

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan—Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services) (10:46): Contrary to the mantra of the sixties, plastic is not fantastic. I rise to say no to single-use plastics. That means no straws, no plastic bags and asking people, instead of buying bottles of water, to refill their existing ones—all pretty simple when you think about it. I speak of the issue of plastic following the recent screening of A Plastic Ocean. Plastic pollution is not just an issue here in Australia but a global issue affecting our oceans, health and wellbeing. However, organisations like Plastic Oceans Foundation Australia are working to change the world's attitude towards plastic within a generation.

Plastic truly is one of the world's great environmental challenges and surrounds us in our everyday lives. Through societal failure to dispose of plastics correctly, our environment is suffering. In fact, with more than eight million tonnes of plastic finding its way into our oceans every year, behaviours and plastic disposal methods must change. Do those who undertake the weekly shopping and come home with everyday plastic bags full of other wrapped items realise that these plastic bags can take up to 60 years to degrade? Annually, we use approximately 500 billion plastic bags, each with a working life of 15 minutes. Too often people take plastic for granted and give no thought to the environmental ramifications of disposal. Think about the marine life that unknowingly consumes a plastic product believing it to be food, then consider that perhaps a fish higher up the food chain will eat that animal, which has a gut full of plastic. Perhaps this fish will be served up on your plate at a later date. It may not seem like a great deal when you dispose of your used drink bottle, but its sometimes questionable destination is an underlying issue.

When I meet constituents who share concerns for the environment I share my concerns about the plastic islands in our oceans. These trash vortexes occur in gyres in the major oceans. One example is the 'great Pacific garbage patch'. Simply put, the ocean's circulating currents collect masses of rubbish in a never-ending cycle. The problem occurs during the photodegradation of plastic, which expends particulates in the water. This continues until the process reaches a molecular level. Some of it may even end up in our digestive systems without us knowing. You would not eat a plastic bag, so why subject our oceans to such vile rubbish? I encourage and challenge all members here today to reuse plastic items in order to start a behavioural change. If our oceans die, we die. With 70 per cent of our oxygen produced by marine plants and 97 per cent of the earth's water contained in the oceans, we need to change our actions and we need to change them now.


636 Moggill Road
Chapel Hill Q 4069

Ph: 07 3378 1599
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