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Scrap Metal Recyclers Demonstration Speech


Thank you all for attending this event in support of important changes to the Waste Minimisation Bill. In particular, I would like to thank all of the Members of Parliament who are here, and the Rt Hon Margaret Wilson, Speaker of the House, for giving us consent to bring these two symbolic bales of scrap metal.

The metal in these bales has been on a long and complicated journey, starting with ore in the ground, then being smelted and manufactured into something that served its owners well until it became obsolete for its original purpose. Now it is a valuable export commodity, and is ready for the next part of its journey.

We too have been through a long journey in arguing for the future of the Scrap Metal Recycling industry in New Zealand. Sometimes we too have felt like we were excavating a large hole in the ground. Sometimes we had to subject people to intense heat to try to change the chemical composition of their thinking. Sometimes we felt we had been put through a crusher or hit repeatedly with a sledge hammer.

None of this would have happened if we had been consulted at the start. I hope someone in Wellington is asking why New Zealand’s most significant group of recyclers were not consulted on a waste minimisation bill.

However, I am happy to say that the journey appears to be over. The Supplementary Order Paper that Dr Russell Norman MP is putting forward will exclude scrap metal from the definition of ‘waste’ in the Waste Minimisation Bill, with the result that we will avoid the export problems that have plagued the European scrap metal industry over the past few years.

Instead, scrap metal will be defined as ‘diverted material’, and will not be subject to the local authority licensing regime and other controls that would have hamstrung our attempts to grow New Zealand’s 17th largest export industry, and to preserve the 1,000 jobs in the industry.

In this way, the Supplementary Order paper provides recognition of our efforts to reduce the amount of material going to landfill, while still allowing local authorities to put in place effective waste management and minimisation plans.

We are grateful to Dr Norman for being open to discuss the issues with us.

But our thanks also go to Nicky Wagner MP, who was the first politician to take action on our behalf and put forward an SOP to fix the problem with the Bill. SOP 219 also gained pledges of support from National, United Future, New Zealand First, the Maori Party, ACT, Gordon Copeland and Taito Philip Field.

Even though SOP 219 has now been superseded, I want to acknowledge the support of these parties throughout. Your door was always open when others in Wellington were closed to us. It was your intervention and support that was crucial in getting the problem onto the agenda and ultimately getting it dealt with.

The journey is not over yet, of course. The new SOP has yet to be passed, and there is still the risk that it may get changed on the floor of Parliament. Local Government NZ has been keen to control the collection and transportation of diverted material, even though it is not waste. We are asking all parties not to support any such amendment to the SOP or to the Bill.

That is why we have invited representatives of all the political parties here today.

I would now like to hand over to Dr Russell Norman, the sponsor of the Bill and the new SOP. And then after that to invite Nicky Wagner MP and Hon Trevor Mallard, and any of the other MPs who wish to address us today.

Thank you.


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