Waste Management

My questions are for the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation on the subject of the latest attempt to seek to provide fortnightly waste collections by East Waste, as follows:

1.Has East Waste approached the minister with this particular proposal?

2.Is he aware of any attitude held by Green Industries SA towards fortnightly collection?

3.Is he aware of whether fortnightly collection might be contrary to the public and environmental health regulations?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER  (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change)  ( 14:29 :00 ): I thank the honourable member for her most important question, and I am glad we are back to normal programming and I have the second question of the day. I have seen some media reports which suggest—

Members interjecting: 
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: A little snitchy on the other side today, Mr President.

The Hon. D.W. Ridgway interjecting: 

The PRESIDENT: The honourable leader of the opposition, please allow the minister to answer the question.
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Thank you, Mr President. It is always rewarding to remind those opposite about the rules of how this chamber operates, because they do forget. I have seen some media reports which suggest that some councils—notably, Norwood, Payneham & St Peters, and Campbelltown—are calling for a change to the weekly rubbish collection system, say those reports that I saw in the media.

There are other contradictory media reports, however, that suggest that previous endorsement of a fortnightly rubbish collection has now been ruled out by the Mayor of Norwood, Payneham & St Peters, Mr Robert Bria, who told Channel 9 News on Monday that there were no plans to change the rubbish collection schedule. Media reports have other councils calling for no change, including the Mayor for Mitcham, Mr Glenn Spear, who said that the proposal would not work.

I remind honourable members that this matter was considered back in 2009, I think, when legislation was introduced to establish a weekly rubbish collection in metropolitan Adelaide. Nothing has changed since 2009 in that regard. I still believe that the community expects a weekly rubbish collection, and that is what the current legislation provides for, as I understand it.

This matter is not being revisited by the government. It does not form part of the current waste reform discussion paper, as far as I understand. As I have outlined in this place before, the waste reform paper came out of extensive feedback the government has received from the waste and resource recovery sector.

I remind honourable members that this is a $1 billion industry in our state, employing about almost 5,000 South Australians. The industry contributes over half a billion dollars to our state's economy, a larger contribution than the fishing and aquaculture industry combined. The industry has suggested that regulatory change could help the sector grow. Of course, we are very happy to hear from the industry and how they plan to grow the sector over the coming years. The waste reform discussion paper sought input from the industry about what changes were required to help facilitate expansion of their sector and to enable it to create more jobs for South Australians.

Getting our regulatory settings right is one part of the puzzle. We will continue to work with the sector to explore ways to expand jobs. Studies have shown, for example, that for every 10,000 tonnes of waste that we recycle, we can create about nine full-time jobs, and that has certainly been our experience in this state, as the sector has grown over the years. We have some of Australia's best recycling and waste recovery rates, and this has helped create jobs and to protect our state's environment.

In closing, let me say again: changing the frequency of rubbish collection does not form part of the discussions we are having, nor have any changes been contemplated, and the legislation we passed in this place in 2009, I understand, will not allow it anyway without some revision and some permission from both houses of parliament.