The Hon. Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

Topics: E-waste, National Recycling Week, UN climate change conference, carbon tax repeal

Transcript: ABC 702 Sydney, Interview with Linda Mottram
7 November 2013

LINDA MOTTRAM: Greg Hunt at St. Michael's Primary School in Blacktown, good morning.

GREG HUNT: Good morning to you, Linda.

LINDA MOTTRAM: How can we get rid of e-waste safely? What do we need to do to make this better?

GREG HUNT: Okay. So there's been a really good scheme set up by the industry itself and they've created a body called TechCollect, so anybody has access to a free service.

Basically, each of us generate on average about 400 kilos of e-waste in our life. That means televisions, computers, printers, monitors - the whole gamut.

TechCollect has about a hundred sites around Australia. Just in Sydney for example Randwick, Gannon's Park, Wetherill Park - they're just some of the examples.

To find out you just go to the website - techcollect.com.au and you can drop your stuff off for free. So there are a series of sites around Sydney, New South Wales and Australia more broadly, and the reason it matters of course is (a) you should be able to recycle the plastic, the glass and the metals, but (b) if this goes into landfill, you get mercury in some cases, lead - so leachates, which can be a real environmental problem.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Massive environmental problem indeed. So that's free. Anybody can call those services and you can drop off.

GREG HUNT: Correct. TechCollect.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Okay. TechCollect - techcollect.com.au. So that's worth knowing about because I know a lot of people complain that they can't find a way of getting rid of this material. Is there any more that government can do - the Federal Government can do on this? The whole issue of the pace of consumption is really the core question here isn't it?

GREG HUNT: Look, I think the roll of the government is two-fold; firstly, to make sure that we've got this recycling program and it's a very interesting example of partnership between industry, community and government.

I know Planet Ark for example, has been tremendous across the whole recycling space. Keep Australia Beautiful - all of the different recycling groups and of course, [Ian Kiernan] and his people. The second thing however is, we have a role to educate which is why interviews such as this are extremely important.

[Squeak noise].

LINDA MOTTRAM: Squeaky door, Greg.

GREG HUNT: Yeah. [Laughs].

The reason why interviews such as this are important is because people can learn that (a) there's a problem, but (b) that we actually deal with it. So anybody can participate and then the really broader thing is, for young Australians and this is what I'll be talking to the students at St. Michaels about - they can get involved whether it's in Clean Up Australia Day or Keep Australia Beautiful Day.

Next week is National Recycling Week and so from there, you can be dealing with things at home or you can be engaged at a community level or you can be engaged and trained to clean up your school. So we have an educative role. We also have a systems role to make sure that systems such as that are happening.

LINDA MOTTRAM: I know you're pressed for time but I just want to ask you one other question about the climate talks in Warsaw next week.

GREG HUNT: Sure. Sure.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Were the climate change briefings with business and lobby groups and so forth cancelled yesterday?

GREG HUNT: No. No. What's happened here is that I think that the timing's just been changed. Our Ambassador heads off today, so the first part of the delegation leaves today for Warsaw and I think there'll be plenty of engagement with business and community over the coming weeks.

In my case, we've got Parliament over the next two weeks and I'm dealing with the legislation for repeal of the carbon tax. But the first part of the delegation leaves today so there are plenty of engagements.

LINDA MOTTRAM: So what position will Australia take to that climate conference?

GREG HUNT: Well, our position is that we accept the science. We accept the targets. We want to be part of an international agreement and we have a very different view, however, on a better way to deal with the mechanism.

We don't think a massive electricity tax is either fair or effective, nor is it really in line with what the rest of the world is doing at all. When you see - when nobody else is doing it quite like us as the Productivity Commission said. Basically we're the only ones with this massive electricity tax on an economy-wide basis.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Well, there's a whole lot of things we should talk about in more detail about that when you have more time.

GREG HUNT: Be delighted.

LINDA MOTTRAM: But just very quickly - also this guarantee about electricity prices falling a full nine per cent. It feels like one of those things politicians say and might live to regret...

GREG HUNT: Oh no, no - let me be absolutely clear that the Electricity Supply Association yesterday, said that the full amount of the carbon tax will come off.

So the bills will be reduced by the amount of the carbon tax so whatever you're paying - if you're paying $150 a year at the lower end, $200 a year on average, $250 a year more, your bills will be reduced by that amount compared with what they would otherwise have been.

The ALP also said the same thing on the 16th of July when they said they'd reduce the tax rather than abolish it.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Immediately after the tax is repealed?

GREG HUNT: Well, it should happen immediately. Now we will look through our discussions with groups as with the electricity suppliers but the statement from the Electricity Supply Association yesterday was clear and categorical, so I think their words are the strongest words.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Others were putting out warnings though. It sounds like it's contested at least. Greg Hunt, I'll let you go. I know you've got St. Michael's students waiting for you, so I'll let you do that. We'll get you back on soon. Thank you for talking to us.

GREG HUNT: Thanks very much. Bye bye.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Greg Hunt, the Federal Environment Minister who's at St. Michael's Primary School in Blacktown today to talk about e-waste.

[ENDS]

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