IN 30 minutes on Wednesday night, Bendigo West Greens candidate Laurie Whelan collected a large bag full of recyclable drink containers from rubbish bins in the CBD and in the gutter.
Yesterday morning, he tipped the bag on the front verge of the office of his incumbent Labor rival Maree Edwards in protest against Victorian Labor and Liberal MPs voting down a private members bill for a state-based container deposit scheme.
A container deposit scheme provides a financial incentive to consumers who return their drink containers for recycling.
The amount is included in the initial purchase price for the beverage and is reclaimed when consumers return the container to a recycling station.
Mr Whelan said the containers he collected in Bendigo were destined for landfill, but a scheme would have provided an incentive to recycle.
He said the government was mistaken to rely on education and the public doing the right thing when it came to waste.
The deposit scheme placed a value on the waste.
“The major parties in Victoria have not gotten behind it (but) it has been in place in South Australia since the 1970s,” Mr Whelan said.
The Liberal Nationals said they voted against the private member’s bill, introduced into the Legislative Council by the Victorian Greens, because it introduced a hidden tax.
“The Liberal Nationals are against new taxes and we are against a container deposit scheme that creates an added cost for Victorians,” a statement issued by the Victorian coalition said.
“Whilst the idea of a container deposit scheme sounds good in theory, all evidence to date indicates that it will be consumers who will end up being out of pocket especially when councils are currently doing a good job with recycling.
“We will continue to monitor the implementation and roll-out of the scheme in NSW and see if they can fix all the teething problems and cost blowouts they have had.”
Despite Victoria being the only mainland state without a scheme, Premier Daniel Andrews failed to include one in a $37 million package to boost its recycling sector and encourage the greater recycling of waste products.
The package will include an education campaign for households.
The government’s strategy is to create new markets for recycled products, while also cutting the total amount of recycling going to landfill.
Mr Whelan yesterday said the scheme would remain a key platform of the Greens campaign leading into the state election in November.