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Drowning in waste: Plastic pollution in Australia’s oceans and waterways report tabled

THE House of Representatives Standing Committee on Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water has concluded its inquiry into plastic pollution in Australia’s oceans and waterways.

The committee’s final report, tabled today in Parliament, makes 22 recommendations aimed at strengthening Australia’s plastics management framework to minimise plastic waste to landfill, incentivise the use of recycled materials in the production of new plastics and strengthen management of the plastics that are already in the environment.

Chair of the Committee, Tony Zappia MP, said, "Without urgent action, plastic waste will increase and continue to negatively impact our oceans and waterways. Australia needs to act now to protect its natural environment for future generations."

A key recommendation is the development of an updated National Plastics Plan in consultation with state and territory governments, industry, and the community. Mr Zappia said, "The plan should be nationally coordinated and increase industry accountability to reduce the amount of plastics ending up in landfill."

"Many Australians want to recycle correctly but inconsistencies among states and territories have led consumers to believe that certain items are recyclable or compostable when they are not. The committee recommends nationally harmonising the single-use plastic bans, waste collection standards and the Container Deposit Scheme," Mr Zappia said.

"Packaging and recycling labelling need to be standardised and simplified to reduce confusion and help consumers recycle the right containers," he said.

"We also need to better understand the potential risks and effects of microplastic pollution on human health. The committee has recommended investment in research and the development of a microplastic reduction strategy to limit microplastic pollution in our marine environments.’

The full report, including the committee’s complete list of recommendations, can be found on the inquiry website.

 

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Parliamentary Budget Officer announces departure

TODAY, Dr Stein Helgeby has advised the Presiding Officers that he will not seek reappointment as the Parliamentary Budget Officer when his term expires in November 2024.

Senate President, Senator Sue Lines, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Milton Dick MP, have thanked Dr Helgeby for his contribution and his stewardship of this important institution over the past four years.

Under Dr Helgeby’s leadership, the department has upheld a reputation for providing independent and non-partisan economic and fiscal analysis to Parliament. The demand for Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) services has continued to grow, which is testament to the quality of its modelling and analysis and approach to client service.

“We extend our gratitude to Dr Helgeby for his outstanding service and contribution to the role,” Senator Lines said. “His expertise will be missed."

Dr Helgeby was appointed to the role on November 18, 2020, after serving as a Deputy Secretary in the Commonwealth Department of Finance and in several roles within the Commonwealth and Victorian public service.

“The PBO plays a very important role within the Australian Parliament and contributes to Australia’s great democracy. We thank Dr Helgeby for his professionalism and dedication and wish him all the best,” Speaker Milton Dick said.

After advising the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, the Parliamentary Services Commissioner, Dr Gordon de Brouwer, will undertake a merit-based recruitment process to appoint a new Parliamentary Budget Officer.

 

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Why isn’t civics education working?: Electoral matters committee begins hearings

THE Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters will hold the first public hearing for its inquiry into civics education, engagement, and participation in Australia on Thursday May 23..

Committee Chair, Kate Thwaites MP, said, "It’s concerning that many young Australians don’t have the grounding in civics to set them up to be confident participants in our democracy.

"Data from the National Assessment Program – Civics and Citizenship shows that in 2019 just 38 percent of year 10 students and 53 percent of year six students achieved the ‘proficient’ standard.

"As we begin our inquiry, the committee will be investigating how civics forms part of the Australian curriculum. We will also be examining the importance of media literacy, and listening to the voices of young people about how best to improve civics education.

"The committee will engage with young people, along with people in remote communities, new migrants and culturally and linguistically diverse Australians, to ensure that everyone in Australia is able to participate fully in our democratic system."

The committee wants to hear from a wide range of people interested in the inquiry’s terms of reference. Submissions can be made through the inquiry website.

Public hearing details

Date:               Thursday 23 May 2024
Time:              10am – 4pm (Canberra time)
Location:      Committee Room 1R2, Parliament House, Canberra
Witnesses:  Australian Curriculum, Assessment, and Reporting Authority
                           Department of Education
                           Office for Youth
                           Australian Media Literacy Alliance
                           Australian Electoral Commission
                           Foundation for Young Australians
                           Australian Council for Student Voice
                           Adjunct Associate Professor Elizabeth Tudball
                           Dr Zareh Ghazarian
                           Associate Professor Tanya Notley
                           Dr Keith Heggart

The hearing will be live broadcast via the Parliament’s Watch, Read, Listen website.

 

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Intelligence and Security Committee to hold hearing on ASIO’s questioning warrants

THE Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) will hold a public hearing for its review into the operation, effectiveness and implications of Division 3 of Part III of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 today, May 23.

The laws under review allow the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to seek a warrant to compel an individual to attend questioning. These powers were originally introduced in 2003 as part of Australia’s counter-terrorism response and were significantly amended in 2020 following a review by the PJCIS.

Further amendments have been proposed by ASIO ahead of the hearing, including repealing questioning warrants for minors and making adult questioning warrants available for a wider range of purposes.

The committee has invited government and non-government representatives to its hearing to discuss the operation, effectiveness and implications of the powers.

Committee Chair, Peter Khalil MP, said, "‘The committee has received mixed evidence regarding ASIO’s compulsory questioning powers. We look forward to hearing from a range of government and non-government witnesses to inform our review and report to Parliament."

Further information on the inquiry can be obtained from the committee’s website.

The committee’s website has a full program for the hearing, and the hearing will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

Public hearing

Thursday, 23 May 2024
9:15am – 3pm AEST
Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra, and via videoconference

 

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'A lot at steak' for Parliamentary Committee

ON THURSDAY May 23, the House Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Resources will hold a day of public hearings in Sydney as part of its inquiry into food and beverage manufacturing in Australia.

This will be the first of several public hearings the committee will hold across the country to hear from a range of stakeholders, including those from the food and beverage industry, processing, packaging, and recycling businesses, and the research and development sector.

Committee Chair, Rob Mitchell MP, said, “Australian food and beverage products are globally trusted for quality and safety. The public hearing will be an opportunity for the committee to hear about industry needs and aspirations, and discuss what kind of support is needed for Australian food and beverage manufacturers to continue to innovate and grow.”

The committee will conduct further public hearings between late May to August 2024. Further information about the inquiry, including the terms of reference, is available on the committee’s website: aph.gov.au/isr.

Public hearing details

Date: Thursday, 23 May 2024
Time: 9am to 3pm  (AEST)
Location: Mercure Sydney, Wynyard Suite, 818-820 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Witnesses: Veolia, Tetra Pak, Opal, Australian Council of Recycling, Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology, Diageo Australia, Archie Rose, Hickson House Distilling Co., Vow, Cauldron Molecules.

 

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