The Nationals WA have welcomed the announcement of a launch date for Western Australia’s new container deposit scheme (CDS) but warned regional communities could still be left carrying the can.
Leader Mia Davies said The Nationals supported the objectives of the CDS – due to start on 2 June, 2020 – and introduction of such a scheme had been Party policy for six years.
“The concept of a container deposit scheme enjoys a high level of community support across the State,” Ms Davies said. “However, that’s not to say we don’t have our concerns.
“When the legislation was before Parliament earlier this year our environment spokesperson Shane Love emphasised that any scheme that is rolled out must be accessible for our regional and remote communities.”
The Government has revealed large regional areas such as the Kimberley, Gascoyne and Wheatbelt will only have one full time fixed CDS refund point each.
“While there are additional ‘flexible’ refund points proposed for each of these regions as part of the Government’s minimum requirements for the operator of the scheme, these have significantly reduced operating hours compared to the full time collection points,” Ms Davies said.
“The Minister has advised that 170 full-time or flexible points will be open on the launch date next year in June, and a further 59 by the end of the year.
“This means there’s the potential for some consumers to be paying 10c more for the containers eligible for recycling, but may not be able to recoup their money because they can’t access a deposit point locally.”
In briefings with the Department of Water Environment Regulation, The Nationals WA raised access problems experienced in regional NSW when a similar scheme was rolled out there.
“We want to be confident, right from the outset, that regional people do not end up paying a tax on their foodstuffs and drinks simply because it is difficult for the CDS operator to find their way through the regions,” Mr Love said.
“Our message to the McGowan Government was – and continues to be – make sure these problems of access are handled right from the very start so there is no lag period where country people are being penalised compared with their city counterparts.
“Everyone has approached this process with goodwill, and we will be making sure our regional communities who are looking forward to participating have the opportunity to do so.”