Single-use plastic bag ban gets voted down

The Berejiklian government has rejected Labor's bill to ban single-use plastic bags, leaving NSW as the last state to take action on the issue.

The legislation would have banned retailers from supplying plastic shopping bags with handles to customers and introduced penalties of up to $5000.

However it would not have stopped retailers from supplying smaller plastic shopping bags for perishable items such as fruit and vegetables.


Labor’s bill to ban single-use plastic bags has been voted down.
Labor’s bill to ban single-use plastic bags has been voted down.


Labor has attempted to introduce the bill three times previously in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The bill unexpectedly passed the state's upper house last month after two Shooters, Fishers & Farmers MPs didn't turn up to the vote.

However it failed in the Legislative Assembly this morning after government MPs voted it down 48 votes to 36.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said during the debate that banning single use plastic bags would not provide the "silver bullet" to fix the issue of plastic waste. Instead, Mr Kean asked Labor to work with the government to draft new legislation to find ways to fully address the issue of plastic pollution.

NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean. Picture: AAP
NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean. Picture: AAP

"Plastic is everywhere. It's in our clothes, in our utensils, it's in our food packaging and take away containers - and yes it's in our bags," Mr Kean said.

"If Labor were serious they would withdraw this bill and work with me in a bipartisan manner to deliver not just a ban on single use plastic bags but to deal with other single use plastics like cutlery, straws, coffee cups and take away containers to name a few.

"My offer to those opposite and to every other political party in this parliament is to provide a bipartisan approach to managing plastic in our economy, environment and food-stream so that we can deliver not just a great headline, but a great result for the people and environment of this state," Mr Kean said.


NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay.
NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay.

Labor leader Jodi McKay spoke to the media before the debate this morning, saying banning single use plastic bags were an "absolute imperative" for NSW.

She called on Mr Kean to show some courage, and support Labor's bill to ban the bag.

"Matt Kean … has been rolled in his cabinet on this issue. He will say we need a plastic strategy and we do but every week we hesitate in banning single use plastic bags … we see another 130,000 enter the waterways and the environment in NSW," Ms McKay said.

"It shouldn't be this hard, it is a no-brainer that we ban the bag.

Labor's environment spokeswoman Kate Washington said the proposed bill allows for single use plastic bags under 35 microns to be banned, and would allow for a six month transition period for retailers.

"It would be a simple, easy process and we would follow in the footsteps of every other state and territory in Australia," Ms Washington said.