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The problem with the General Election


Paul Sanderson’s report:

At some point this year, the Prime Minister will need to call a General Election. 

The gossip seems to suggest November is the most likely date, but some think it might be May. 

Obviously, the recycling industry is only a part of the considerations of when the Prime Minister will call an election, but my preference would be May.
Let me tell you why.

In the United States, they have the concept of a lame duck president. In their second term, the president can’t seem to get much done as they are limited by the fact they cannot serve a third term, and this takes away their power on their party.

It feels like we are at a lame duck stage for this Parliament, and that creates uncertainty, not least for us in the recycling sector.

Take as an example the proposed changes from site exemptions to permits. The Parliamentary time for this is scheduled for November, with implementation from April 2025 when people will need to apply for permits.

But what if there is a General Election in November? There is a Parliamentary procedure called the ‘wash-up’ where the Government and the Opposition get together once an election is called and agree which legislation will be hurried through Parliament before it is prorogued.  

While there is a possibility that the permitting legislation will get pushed through in a ‘wash-up’ for a May election, it would seem more likely if the election is held in November.

Additionally, I understand the Government has realised it had a manifesto commitment to ban plastic exports to non-OECD countries in the 2019 election and now wants to push this through before the election (there will be a consultation soon apparently). Again, a May election would make this unlikely to happen.

But the main issue for a November election is all of the uncertainty this creates and the lame duck situation we find ourselves in. Whoever wins the election will most likely keep the main thrust of Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging, consistent collections and the like.
Yet things like site permits and export bans may require investment decisions or changes to business practices. Our sector needs time to adjust if these are happening, not for them to be rushed through because a General Election has been called.