Shadow Minister for Small Business, Jenny Aitchison MP, and Shadow Minister for the Hunter, Kate Washington MP, today met with local bottle shop owner Glen Ayton from the Little Bottler at Tenambit in Maitland to discuss the impact of the Berejiklian Government’s botched roll out of the Container Deposit Scheme. In yet another bungle by the Environment Minister, Gabrielle Upton MP, the Government’s flawed roll out has placed the viability of Hunter manufacturers and independent retailers at risk. Minister Upton promised there would be 800 reverse vending machines across more than 500 collection points for the scheme, but this week’s figures show there are just 45 reverse vending machines across 249 collection points, with no timetable for the remainder. The electorate of Maitland currently has no collection points and the electorate of Port Stephens has only one. In fact, there are only five collection points across the entire Hunter (Bonnells Bay, Medowie, Mayfield, Singleton and Scone). There are no collection points in Swansea, Charlestown, Wallsend or Cessnock. While a carton of beer has increased by $4 due to the introduction of the scheme, most people will not have convenient access to a location to get their 10c refund for each bottle or can, meanwhile the price increase on drinks puts extra pressure on bottle-shops, retailers and their staff. Many Independent retailers such as the Little Bottler have been abandoned by the NSW Government. The NSW Labor Opposition is calling on the NSW Government to delay the implementation of the scheme until July 2018, which will allow them time to genuinely consult with small businesses across NSW – something the Government should have done in the first place. Comments attributable to the Shadow Minister for Small Business Jenny Aitchison MP: “This scheme will force independent retailers and beverage manufacturers out of business if the NSW Government doesn’t intervene. Small business owners like Glen deserve better than this from the Government” “It is the little guys that this scheme will hurt. They have found that obtaining a machine is nigh on impossible. They have emailed the contractors for collection but do not get a response.” Comments attributable to the Shadow Minister for the Hunter, Kate Washington MP: “From tomorrow, the entire Hunter will be paying more for every drink, but in our region, there’s only one collection point for every 125,000 residents. That goes to show how much of an almighty mess this scheme currently is." “The Government has turned a decent environmental scheme into a complete disaster, and residents and small businesses in the Hunter are going to pay the price.”

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