Hundreds of thousands clean up Australia

Published: March 5, 2006 | 3686th good news item since 2003

Organisers of Clean Up Australia Day estimate that up to 700,000 volunteers helped spruce up the environment by clearing it of more that 9,000 tonnes of rubbish.

Clean Up Australia chairman Ian Kiernan, who was helping a group clear rubbish in Sydney’s Botany Bay, said the 7,527 sites was a record since the clean-ups began in 1989.

“I’m immensely proud of my fellow Australians. They’re the ones who made the day the success that it is,” he told volunteers and media at the Botany Bay Collex clean-up site.

Mr Kiernan said the day was proving invaluable to the country’s parks, beaches, waterways and bushland, but said more needed to be done to improve Australia’s environment.

Joined by NSW Premier Morris Iemma, Mr Kiernan used the day to launch a program known as True Green, which will include year-round projects to fix environmental problems.

“There are more than eight million Australians who say they are concerned about the environment but don’t have the time or opportunity to get involved in Clean Up Australia Day,” he said.

“They no longer have an excuse for not taking action with the launch of the True Green campaign.”

Mr Iemma said Clean Up Australia had a become a national icon, but said protection of the environment required a day-to-day effort and urged Australians to join the new campaign.

Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell, snapping on rubber gloves in Perth to join the West Australian clean-up, used the day to call for increased penalties for people caught throwing cigarette butts.

Mr Campbell said fines should be doubled or tripled for people caught discarding butts anywhere but in a bin.

“The biggest stream of litter we have seen this year in the Clean Up Australia campaign has been cigarette butts,” Senator Campbell said.

“Most of us don’t like the smoke that gets blown in our faces but we sure as hell don’t like the butts that people are leaving lying around.

“I think the existing fines are clearly not working. I think we need a system that makes people think twice before they (throw out their butts).”

NSW accounted for almost half the country’s clean-ups, with more than 300,000 volunteers attending more than 3,000 sites.

Victoria provided the country’s second-biggest contribution to Clean-Up Australia Day, with a team of more than 109,500 volunteers at 1,329 sites.

Bad weather failed to stop a record 109,000 Queenslanders taking part in the day, while almost 70,000 turned out in South Australia, 51,000 in WA, 25,000 in Tasmania, and around 10,000 in both the ACT and the Northern Territory.

Published in Community, Volunteer
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