A promotional give-away of helium-filled balloons by the LNP and Channel Seven at the 2015 Royal Brisbane Show has shocked and angered conservation groups, including Wildlife Queensland.
“This is madness,” said Toby Hutcheon, Wildlife Queensland Campaign Manager for Plastic Waste. “After all the publicity this year about the dangers of plastic packaging and helium balloons polluting the environment and killing wildlife, it’s appalling that the state opposition is still deliberately adding to our plastic pollution problem.”
“To make matters worse this is happening at a time of year when prevailing winds will blow any helium balloons from the city towards Moreton Bay,” said Hutcheon.
Studies by the Moreton Bay Research Station have found that 30 percent of sea turtles in the bay die as a result of plastic ingestion – eating discarded products such as plastic packaging and balloons.
Surfrider Foundation Sunshine Coast, which removes tonnes of rubbish from local beaches annually, has also slammed the promotion which spokesman Craig Macintyre said simply compounded what was already a massive problem.
“Nothing of that sort of product breaks down in the environment,” he said. “It just breaks up and is a real threat to wildlife. Organisations like ours then have to pick up the mess.”
Renate Hottmann-Schaefer, Protect the Sandgate Waders founder, pointed out that what goes up must come down.
“They kill turtles and birds,” she said.
The LNP’s stall at this year’s Ekka, manned by volunteers and MPs, distributed thousands of balloons during the 10-day show.
Wildlife Queensland has written to both the state government and the LNP seeking their agreement to prohibit the use of helium-filled balloons at public events, and will lobby for the prohibition of these balloons at all public events as part of the state government proposed plans to restrict plastic packaging.
As a result of lobbying by WPSQ and Boomerang Alliance, the state government has announced plans to investigate a container deposit scheme and options to restrict plastic packaging in Queensland. Wildlife Queensland is urging the LNP to support these initiatives and help address Queensland’s plastic litter problems.
“A first step would be to prohibit the release of helium-filled balloons at all public events in Queensland,” concluded Hutcheon.