Can I also indicate that I speak on this with great pleasure, because it is so unusual for this house on a Wednesday to have a discussion that, one, is heard and I think also is seriously meaningful in a collegiate sense. I think across the board, regardless of our political flavours and colourings, the protection of the environment is absolutely essential. We have worked through a number of issues in our respective parties, and by and large I think the baseline for the protection of the environment is now finally a given.
In terms of the extent of it and how we do it, these are the key issues between us, but I think where there is a will there is always a way for improvement. Indeed we have been able to bring in a range of legislation, and if there has not been legislation, it has been heartening to see local community groups empowering themselves to take action on what they expect their local community to do in terms of things like plastic bags in the towns or suburbs that they live in.
It is also of course important that there is coordination in our actions, whether it be within the legislative or the regulatory framework, and it is important that we do have very serious discussions with our bordering states and indeed the commonwealth, because as we know litter — and plastic in particular — always tends to shift, and it does not recognise state borders. So we do find unfortunately a lot of plastic in our waterways.
In the environment that I live in it is common unfortunately to see plastic litter coming up on the shoreline. My electorate has many wonderful rivers, but it also has a very large portion of the coastal line of the state of Victoria — that is, western Victoria. A lot of it is pristine, and a lot of it is being damaged by the use of plastics and the misuse of plastic. I also see on a daily basis the impact that plastic and plastic products has on wildlife in my local community, with it being not unusual at all and in fact very common that birds have one leg because plastic — whether it be through fishing lines or plastic onion bags or whatever — finds its way into their environment and makes sure that their lives and the young they produce are impacted upon.
I think all of us can tell stories — but not just stories. We can describe situations now that are from our daily lives where plastic impacts on us, our environment and our wildlife in a very negative way. It is heartening, I say, to have this issue brought here today, because it is a timely reminder of a number of activities that the current government is undertaking in the area of plastic usage and indeed around the need for industry in particular to get on board. I think industry stakeholders have a sense that the time is coming when there will need to be a significant transition in this area, but we need to work with them to make sure that the products that they make today can be different products — useful and environmentally friendly products — in the future. I think it is very important that we do work with them and not against them.
In terms of what we have here today, we agree with the broad aims and objectives of what is being proposed, but essentially we believe that the bill is broad in scale but prescriptive in detail. It is that prescription that has not been worked through as a parliamentary collective that raises questions for us. That is not to say the issues raised might not finally be agreed to at some stage. I just believe that the time lines and some of the products that are being proposed at this point in time are logistically impossible to deliver on in a very pragmatic sense. I think there is sufficient will to do some really good work in this area.
I also echo the concerns that Ms Shing raised in relation to the reasoned amendment in respect of the time frame proposed. Up until today I was a member of the environment and planning committee that this potentially will be referred to, and I can tell you we already have two major inquiries in that committee. One is on bushfire preparedness, with all of the legs and arms associated with that issue, and that reports in December. We also have an ongoing rolling inquiry into local government rate capping, which is also a significant resourcing issue, and the next report is due in December. I would be seeking from those that are particularly interested in this that there be an extension of the inquiry time frame so that there can be real and proper consideration of all the issues, so that we actually can take the community and the industry stakeholders with us and so we can be up to date with worldwide trends and what the commonwealth and the other states are doing.
I think a lot of really good work can potentially be done in this area. However, again I say the way the bill is structured at the moment will not have the support of the government, but we will, as the government and the departments are doing already, continue the work that we are doing. More than that, we want to step up how we can ensure that our environment is protected and that we can actually lead as well so we are not just being reactive to certain pockets of community concern but are actually driving what needs to happen to take us as a community to that next level that is required to have a better standard of protection of our environment.
With those few words, I say again at this point that with the way the bill is structured the government will not support it and that in terms of the reasoned amendment to refer the matter to the Legislative Council environment and planning committee, I would seek that the time line be extended because of the current workload of the committee but also to take the community and the other key stakeholders with us on this journey for greater and better reform for the environment.