Thursday 29 March 2007
SPECIAL INTEREST MATTERS
Mr FINCH (Statement) - Press the 'on' button. Mr President, the problem of litter on roadsides and other public spaces is reaching a crisis level in many parts of this State. It is a problem that affects all members of this House and their constituents. As motorists head through Riverside to the heart of my electorate, they are greeted by a sign that says –
Mr Wilkinson - Kerry Finch.
Mr FINCH - Vote one.
Mr Aird - Clean up your act.
Mr FINCH - 'Don't Rubbish the West Tamar'. On their right as they drive north is the continuing vista of the Tamar River, shining waters between swaths of green, orderly vineyards, tidy towns. One of the most beautiful views in Tasmania would have to be from Bradys Lookout. It is spectacular as your vehicle sweeps along the West Tamar Highway. But is a different story if you are walking or cycling; then you are going to slow down enough to see the litter on the verges and in the drains. You can even smell it. This litter - drink cans, plastic bottles, plastic bags and even worse - is thrown from vehicles, many of which have passed the 'Don't Rubbish the West Tamar' sign at Riverside.
Mr Parkinson - Bring on container deposits.
Mr FINCH - Many communities around Tasmania have, from time to time, taken responsibility for cleaning up the roadsides in their areas. Clean Up Australia Day peaked some years ago, then somehow lost momentum. Perhaps local people just became sick of cleaning up other people's rubbish. Now, community initiatives are gaining ground on the West Tamar and, I am sure, elsewhere. One idea in my constituency is for various community groups to take responsibility for a section of the West Tamar Highway. That is not a new idea, but perhaps there could be some funding from the State's Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources, which is responsible for the highway. West Tamar Rotary could well be one of the organisations helping to coordinate such an initiative.
Let us face it, the vast majority of roadside litter is deliberately and thoughtlessly thrown from vehicles and it is very hard to stop people from doing it. The State Government is reviewing the present ineffectual Litter Act. However, whatever the penalties for littering, it is hard to catch litterbugs in the act. The only long-term solution is to persuade them not to do it. In the meantime, I suggest more drastic action. As part of the campaign to change public attitudes to littering, we need a way of catching and penalising those who throw rubbish from their vehicles. Cars can easily be identified through their number plates, so let us have a campaign to educate a litterer. It would involve setting up and staffing a hotline, with legal backing, to evaluate evidence for potential prosecutions. I would suggest, though, a warning in the first instance, like the hooning legislation. A similar initiative has helped in the battle against drugs. While it is not a long-term solution to stop the litter problem, it would at least help, in an education campaign, to persuade people to take their rubbish home with them. We cannot promote this State as a clean and green place to visit if our roadsides are polluted with litter.