Earlier in the local government election campaign MINCA spearheaded a group of nine environmental and community groups in Townsville - MI Fauna Care, MI Development Association, Sea Turtle Foundation, Marine Wildlife Australia, NQ Wildlife Care, NQ Conservation Council, Permaculture Council, Food for Thought and MINCA. Together they wrote to each of the mayoral candidates, asking each to commit to banning single-use plastic bags in Townsville by June 2013. Read the letter here, and check out the responses below. You may like to keep them in find as you vote tomorrow.
From Dale Last (on 14 April):
I am more than happy to support the banning of plastic bags and I will be checking with our legal staff on Monday to confirm the process required to achieve this outcome.
[Dale did not respond to MINCA's request for information on what the legal people offered. Note also, that Dale did not refute a comment in the Townsville Bulletin that he had not provided a response on the issue.]
From Jenny Hill (on 12 April):
Thank you for taking the time to write me, I appreciate the opportunity to outline my vision for reducing our reliance on one-use plastic bags.
If elected, I look forward to continuing environmental programs aimed at reducing destruction to our reef and protecting our marine life.
I am proud of Townsville City Council’s affiliation with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), and will continue to harvest this relationship to better service our unique ecosystem.
I especially look forward to working with them towards a program designed to reduce the number of plastic bags used locally.
As part of our reef guardian status with GBRMAP we will seek a partnership role in developing a program aimed at getting rid of single-use non-biodegradable plastic bags.
We will be open to involving Townsville City Council in trial programs such as this, with the intent of being an example and an advocate for better environmental practice to other local Councils.
We understand this issue affects a number of stakeholders and that it is necessary to also work with local businesses, and we look forward to doing so.
From Jeff Jimmieson (on 15 April):
Hello Wendy, thank you for your letter.
I prefer to reply to these enquires personally rather than have someone "on staff" flick though a reply so I appreciate your patience. As you would appreciate I am receiving many many requests for responses and policies at the moment as well as campaigning with my very small team of helpers.
The ambition of a plastic bag free Townsville (and world!) is indeed an admirable one and something that I support. We as a family have for many years used our laundry basket as the method of conveying our groceries from the car to the house, after loading them from the supermarket checkout into a trolley without bags and then into the car.. This is something our children started years ago from an initiative at their school.
Unlike some candidates in this campaign that are promising all sorts of unfunded commitments, I have said that I will find savings and keep rates down rather than make promises just to get votes. I like to research my answers and come up with all the facts and costs before making a commitment.
Accordingly I wont promise to have Townsville plastic bag free by 2013 as you ask, but I do promise this: I will establish a team to research this, including looking at the practicalities and success of the program in the places you mention in my first year in office. Your organisation will be asked to be represented on this project team.
I applaud your group's endeavours and commit to support you wherever possible if elected.
From Brendan Porter (On 8 April):
I have often watched documentaries and news programs showing the pollution in our waterways, seas and oceans. The problem is absolutely huge and although plastic bags are a major issue other plastic materials pose an even larger issue for Marine Life. The Great Barrier Reef as an Australian and Natural Wonder of the world is in the top 10 best tourist destinations and needs our protection. Recently I watched an interview with Charles Moore who spoke about the vast number of bottles in the Northern Gyre. He related that for as far as he could see there were plastic bags, shampoo caps and bottles, fishing line and floats, rope, toys, balloons, condoms, and plastic knives, forks and spoons.
It is also noted that plastic bags can suffocate and/or block sunlight from the reef causing it to die. Some countries have already led the way in reducing the numbers of plastic bags these include China, Uganda, Russia, South Africa and the country of my birth Ireland.
Most experts believe that society needs to make behavioral changes. Individuals must make choices as to how they want to change.
Businesses need to be encouraged to make good choices and I am happy to support any initiative which will help. Bunnings is a store which doesn't use plastic bags and Target charges a fee for a plastic bag. Individual stores need to be approached and canvassed regarding their opinions and ability to help; however, In recent times there has also been complaints about the cloth bags used on regular visits to shops. There is harm to the environment in their production and there has been numerous complaints from shop assistants about the smell and poor hygiene of many reusable bags.
I am supportive and can see an advantage in running a sensible management campaign for plastic bag eradication. I believe it would be a step forward but I believe it would only be the tip of the iceberg; however I don't believe council should be issuing a diktat to the people of Townsville.
If elected I will use my personal influence to highlight the environmental issues with discarded plastic bags. At one of my planned community forums I will make it a subject for discussion and I will develop a subsequent action plan.
Thanks for your question
Please take the time to view my website at brendanporter.com
From Harry Patel (on 15 April):
I fully support any initiative to use re-usable bags and also I feel when u buy appliances or furniture , or simple electrical items , plastic is used to wrap. I would love to preserve our planet EARTH , I would propose that as a Mayoral Candidate . Thanks for your email .
Regards Harry Patel.