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Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

Wednesday, 13 April, 2005

AM Programme

Recycling mobile phones and States carbon trading scheme

When state and Commonwealth environment ministers meet in Darwin today, they'll be discussing your mobile telephone, or, more particularly, what you do with it when you no longer need it.

About seven million phones are bought by Australians each year and the old ones go nowhere, because at the moment, most of them are not recycled. Also on the agenda today will be discussion about the state's plans to operate a carbon emissions trading scheme.

From Melbourne, Lynn Bell reports.

Two weeks ago, the state and territory governments agreed to set up their own carbon trading scheme, because the Commonwealth's refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol has locked Australia out of the international market for trading carbon credits.

Today, the Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell wants to take a closer look at the states' proposal at a meeting of environment ministers in Darwin.

I've been asking the states to come clean and just say what sort of carbon tax they're proposing, what sort of emissions trading scheme they are proposing, and I would hope that in Darwin today they'll actually tell us the details of the scheme, so we can have a broad community debate about it.

I mean, it's a secret plan at the moment. We don't know what it's going to cost and we don't know whether it'll be effective at reducing greenhouse gases.

The Victorian Environment Minister John Thwaites says he's happy to discuss the scheme, but argues Senator Campbell is wrong to conclude carbon trading will increase the cost of power for consumers.

Well, that's not correct, and the Commonwealth is running a scare campaign, which is not based on fact; it's just purely based on politics.

This issue of climate change is so important for Australia. It's important for our farmers, it's important for anyone who lives near the coast. And unless the Commonwealth starts taking action, Australia will be out on its own as the one advanced country that is not taking real action on climate change.

Mr Thwaites will also push for a national agreement to recycle mobile phones when he takes his seat at today's meeting.

Currently, about seven million phones are sold nationwide every year, and almost none of them are recycled. These mobile phones can be dumped in the litter stream. They can be toxic with the batteries and some of the chemicals in them, and we want to see a system to encourage people to recycle those mobile phones.

Senator Ian Campbell agrees efforts to recycle phones have so far been unsuccessful, and he's happy to advance the idea.

I think we just have to be cautious to make sure whatever we do is done in an economically efficient way. No-one wants to see the price of mobile phones come up, but people certainly want to see them recyclable, and I'm happy to work with Victoria and the mobile phone industry - in fact, all other state governments - to get mobile phone recycling up to much higher levels. It really is appallingly low at the moment.

The Environment Minister in New South Wales Bob Debus will call for sixty-five per cent of all product packaging to be recycled by the year 2010, and reducing the use of plastic bags will again be on the table.

The Victorian Environment Minister, John Thwaites.

There has been a significant reduction in plastic bag use, but we're not getting the big reductions that we need, especially in the small retailers. There does need to be some sort of clearer signal to the smaller retailers, and to consumers, that will lead to that reduction.

Commonwealth of Australia