The Liberal Party’s 2018 state election policy ‘Safeguarding Tasmania’s Unique Natural Environment’, commits to a program to assist in cleaning up major rubbish dumps and stronger penalties for those responsible. This may not sound like a ground breaking environment policy but it was the only positive environment policy the Liberals proposed other than more staffing for the Parks and Wildlife Service.
One reason governments around the country have opposed increasing the cost for disposing of waste to landfill is that it will lead to more rubbish dumping. So, if there are effective penalties and programs in place to combat rubbish dumping then it is more likely that the State Government will support increased levies on landfill disposal.
We have written to Minister Elise Archer expressing our interest in assisting with the design and implementation of the proposed major rubbish dumps program, as the TCT has considerable experience in rubbish clean-ups, having established and run the Great Car Body Clean-up, coordinated Clean Up Australia Day in Tasmania for ten years and recently held four successful car tyre clean-ups. We would like the minister to consider developing a more strategic and multifaceted approach.
Limitations of the Tasmanian Liberal policy
The Liberal policy is very limited, simply focusing on:
increasing penalties for large scale rubbish dumping;
working with councils to monitor rubbish hots spots;
making it easier for rubbish dumps to be reported through the development of a smart phone app (which will receive all the promised funding);
the EPA and Community Corrections running a program to remove rubbish from reserves and other Crown Land using people on Community Service Orders (CSO).
The policy seems to underestimate the difficulty of getting people to report rubbish dumps and managing a large database. Just developing an app will not be sufficient.
The government proposes that the clean up program only target parks, reserves and other public places. From our experience, illegal rubbish dumping occurs on all land tenures.
Focusing only on parks and reserves may just shift more of the problem to private land.
Contrary to the claims made in the policy, our experience is that Community Corrections expect land managers or community groups to do the planning and safety assessments for clean-ups, rather than the CSO supervisors. The project proponents also have to pay for tools, materials and disposal, which the government’s policy does not address. So, unless councils or Crown land managers, such as the Parks and Wildlife Service, Sustainable Forests Tasmania and road managers, can dedicate resources to these clean-ups, they will not occur. The policy is predicated on the EPA taking a leading coordination role, but there are no additional resources for them to do this.
Strengths of the NSW Illegal Dumping Strategy
There is an excellent model to learn from. The NSW State Government has recently finalised its revised ‘NSW Illegal Dumping Strategy 2017-21’. The strategy is built on social research that seeks to understand why people illegally dispose of rubbish, and aims to help with preventative measures including education and advertising to change behaviour,
The strategy has a strong focus on documenting the illegal rubbish disposal sites, principally through RIDonline (‘Report Illegal Dumping Online’). This database is heavily promoted through advertising and signage (there are more than 500 standard signs across the state). The government also provides training and support to ensure data is robust and up-to-date. Currently 40,000 rubbish records have been lodged on RIDonline.
The NSW government has used the strategy to justify and prioritise funding. So far $9 million from the Waste Less, Recycle More program has been allocated to help fund RID Squads (Report Illegal Dumping Squads) to do clean ups. They have also provided funding for Aboriginal Land Councils, NSW public land managers, councils and communities for prevention and clean-ups.
Funding is provided for strategically located gates and barriers to reduce access for dumping at secluded locations.
Article by Peter McGlone, TCT Director