Just recently a young Manly West local, Nichola, wrote to me with a very upsetting story. She was out for a run on the local foreshore when she came across a dead hawksbill sea turtle. The turtle had died after eating a plastic bag. This is a common death for many turtles these days and it’s a horrible one.

The awful thing is that this turtle was just one of many dead marine animals Nichola has seen since she moved into the area only seven months ago. According to UNESCO, plastic debris kills over a million seabirds and over 100,000 marine animals every year. Meanwhile, according to Keep Queensland Beautiful data, there’s been an increase in litter around the bayside area. Clearly something must be done.

It heartens me to know so many locals who use their own time to go along the waterfront and pick up trash left behind by others. Local volunteer groups do regular litter clean-ups in the area. One constituent tells me he fills up bags of rubbish during daily walks, but when he returns the next day it’s all returned.

As Keep Queensland Beautiful CEO David Curtin said to me, if all we ever do is pick up after litterbugs, we will always be cleaning up—education is key. And there are already some fantastic education programs in place in my electorate.

The Moreton Bay Discovery Centre is a great educational resource for the community. I was happy to secure $450,000 for the Centre’s construction and fit-out. The Centre is an important tourism hub that will teach locals and visitors to the area how to help keep Moreton Bay healthy for local marine life. It will also run a Moreton Bay Discovers Children’s Programme when it opens. This is a great way to teach kids the importance of protecting the bay. Another great initiative in Bonner is the renowned Tangalooma EcoMarines program, which includes an Early Learning Centre program for pre-school children.

This Government supports moves by a number of states to phase out single-use plastic bags, including Queensland from July 1. We also welcome industry moves to do the same. Coles and Woolworths have announced they will no longer be using single-use plastic bags by the end of 2018. At the Manly Harbour Village Markets in my electorate, stallholders have reusable fabric shopping bags available for customers. The Manly Harbour Village Chamber of Commerce is also in discussions with the Village traders about using fabric shopping bags.

The Minister for Environment has said it’s inevitable that Australia will be free of single-use plastic bags over time. Until then, I intend to do my part. I will be launching a Clean Up the Bay initiative and working alongside local environmental groups to help keep the bayside beautiful and rubbish-free for marine life. I plan to get as many locals involved as possible. Together we can clean up our bay and teach and inspire others to do the same.

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