By Tanya Plibersek

15 December 2023




STEVE DIMOPOULOS, VICTORIAN MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: Thanks very much. I might just begin by acknowledging the land upon which we meet and pay my respects to the elders past and present. Sanjay, thank you so much for having myself and Tanya here at this incredible facility, and it is incredible.


We are very proud, the Victorian Government is very proud to have partnered with industry for this $50 million facility, it's a $3 million grant from the Victorian Government, and $3 million from the Federal Government through Tanya's portfolio. We realised some years ago we have, we will have a capacity issue in terms of recycling, and through those investments we've made, this will see 21 projects in through this particular fund. We've increased capacity together with industry in Victoria, 300,000 tonnes per annum in terms of recycled capacity across plastics, glass, cardboard, paper. 


And it's really, really fundamental, because when you think of community sentiment, the community has a big bold agenda, our government has a big bold agenda. The community's playing its part through the Container Deposit Scheme, over 65 million containers returned already in the last six weeks, and we've got the rolling out the four‑bin stream recycling, kerbside recycling.


So the community's doing its bit, and it's really incumbent on the rest of us, and I think the industry, the beverage industry, as represented here today, is a mature industry. I wouldn't have not ‑ we would not have expected to see such product stewardship 10 years ago, let alone 20 years ago by the beverage industry.


So I'm really proud of the industry, it's doing an incredible job, and any other ideas or appetite the industry has, always happy to listen to it, because I think this is fundamental. The stakes the of not doing this incredible work that we see inside are too high, therefore we have to do it. So well done on the industry for partnering with us, and I might now hand over to Australia's Environment Minister, Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek.


TANYA PLIBERSEK, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER: Thanks so much. It's great to be here with our partners from industry and the Victorian Government. This is what the future looks like, this is what the circular economy looks like. This is a wonderful new facility, and I really want to congratulate you, Sanjay, and the whole team on this enormous new contribution to recycling capacity in Australia.


We know that recycling is great; it's great for the environment, it's great for the economy, and it's great for jobs. It's great for the environment because we we're keeping this product out of landfill, it's great for the economy because we're getting more use out of all of our products, and it's great for jobs because there are three jobs in recycling for every job in landfill.


We're very pleased to be partnering with the private sector and the Victorian Government for this facility, and that's just one example of a much greater collaboration across Australia.


We will see more than a billion dollars go into new and upgraded recycling facilities in our partnership with the states and territories and with the private sector. We will increase capacity by 1.3 million tonnes every year with this investment, and this is just the beginning. We've got further investment in additional recycling capacity still to come.


So far we've seen an additional 3,000 jobs from the projects that we've signed up to nationally, and as I mentioned, 1.3 million tonnes of additional recycling capacity every year. That's waste that would have gone to landfill. It means that we lose the value of that material, but we're also really harming our environment if we just use plastic once and dispose of it. Unless we change what we're doing, by 2050, plastic in the ocean will outweigh fish in the ocean, so we've got a really important job to do for the environment with recycling.


So congratulations to the partners here, and congratulations to the Victorian Government, and to all the people out there who are doing the right thing by recycling their plastic bottles; you see where they're going, and you know that you're doing good. Thanks. Any questions.


JOURNALIST: A question for Sky News. Minister, the Prime Minister said earlier today that Hamas can't remain in power in Gaza. Is that statement [inaudible] calls for ceasefire?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, we have been clear from the very beginning that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, and the attacks that they launched on Israel at the beginning of October are beyond appalling, and Israel absolutely has the right to defend itself, and to remove the leadership of Hamas and pursue Hamas in Gaza.


What we've also said in signing a statement with the Canadian Government and the New Zealand Government as well as saying that we utterly condemn Hamas attacks and that their ongoing leadership in Gaza is not sustainable, we've also said that as Israel defends itself, it has to be careful of civilian casualties.


We've now seen thousands of civilian casualties in Gaza; about 80 per cent of the population have been displaced from their homes, about 60 per cent of buildings have been destroyed. Of course Israel has the right to defend itself, but it has to do so in accordance with international humanitarian law.


JOURNALIST: So then should Hamas [inaudible]?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, Hamas should immediately release the hostages, and if Hamas is serious about protecting Palestinian civilians in Gaza, it should lay down its arms.


JOURNALIST: Minister, Lucy Gray from 10 News First. AEMO has fast‑tracked the exit of coal by five years, it wants the doubling of new transmission lines this decade to secure the grid. Is that possible, and does this show the government's current transition plan is a risk to energy security?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: The release of that AEMO report today shows that the government is absolutely on track with our massive conversion to renewable energy in Australia. We've set a very ambitious but achievable target of 82 per cent renewable energy, and we are on track to get there because of our investment in solar, in wind, in hydro, and in transmission lines.


What the AEMO report shows is that coal‑fired power is being phased out in Australia. Now this is no surprise. In fact the Coalition government were told when they were in government that about 24 coal‑fired power stations were facing closure. The difference between the previous government and our government is that we're doing something about it by investing in supporting renewable energy.


Renewable energy is cheaper and it's cleaner. We know that millions of Australian homes have put solar panels on the roof because they've worked out that it's not just better for the environment, it's better for the family budget.


Australia has an incredible capacity to generate power from renewable energy. We can be a renewable energy superpower. We can be exporting renewable energy in the future in the way that we have built our wealth on exporting coal and gas in the past.


The AEMO report shows that we are on track, and it shows that the Coalition's fantasy for nuclear energy is just that, a fantasy; a fantasy that is estimated to cost close to $400 billion and is decades away, even on the most optimistic assessments.


JOURNALIST: We're already seeing black‑out warnings in New South Wales. How concerned are you about the strength of the grid this summer?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, we saw warnings in New South Wales recently during those extremely hot days, because existing coal‑fired power stations are increasingly unreliable. It's like expecting your 50‑year‑old car never to break down. These coal‑fired power stations were built decades ago.


The previous Coalition government was warned that they were coming to the end of their lives. We continue to see parts of these coal‑fired power stations not operating for hours or days or weeks at a time. Of course that takes capacity out of the grid.


Again, this is no surprise. The previous government were warned, think just too no actions; they had 22 separate energy policies, and they didn't land a single one.


JOURNALIST: Minister, Andrew Probyn here from Nine News. [Inaudible] Sayed Abdellatif has been in detention for 11 and a half years, he was initially suspected of terrorism offences, but he was cleared by ASIO five months ago. When will he be released?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, Andrew, we know that we don't comment on individual cases, particularly when there are ongoing legal matters surrounding them. Okay. Thanks everyone.