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Joint Media Release
The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

24 November 2006

Call to increase effluent recycling and purchase of low emission vehicles


Australia's Environment Ministers have agreed to consider a call by the Commonwealth to recycle Australia's ocean outfall and effluent discharge in under 20 years.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Greg Hunt, put forward a proposal to recycle all wastewater from effluent and ocean outfalls by 2025 to a meeting of Commonwealth, State and Territory Environment Ministers in New Zealand today.

Mr Hunt said Ministers agreed to examine further opportunities for and impediments to the recycling of Australia's wastewater output.

"In the face of severe drought conditions and rising water demands, there is a clear need to recycle wastewater for industrial and agricultural purposes," Mr Hunt said

"Our major cities process over 1,800 billion litres of sewage effluent a year but only about ten per cent of it is recycled for other uses.

"We have 140 locations where wastewater is pumped into our oceans. This is clearly a 19th Century practice in the 21st Century.

"It is a waste of a valuable resource which could be used for industry and agriculture.

"I would like to see a plan with deliverable outcomes that would see all of the nation's wastewater recycled by 2025."

The meeting of the Environment Protection and Heritage Council in Christchurch agreed to examine further recycling options ahead of its next meeting in 2007.

Mr Hunt also asked the Council to investigate a proposal for Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to increase the purchase of low-emission vehicles.

"If all Australian governments purchased more low-emission vehicles it would not only reduce air pollution, but also provide a strong market indicator for our important automotive industry," Mr Hunt said.

"The best solutions for change are often those that are market-driven. Australian governments make up a large part of the vehicle market and are therefore in a strong position to drive change."

Media contact:
John Deller (Mr Hunt's office) on 0400 496 596

Commonwealth of Australia