In January, 2009, the then Acting Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Marion Scrymgour told the ABC that the Northern Territory government would take no action to ban plastic bags on its own behalf and that the issue was a Federal government responsibility.
The Australian Federal government last year announced that it would not ban plastic bags.
Some Northern Territory corner stores have however been refusing to offer plastic bags to customers for more than a decade. This was discovered during a survey by Clean Up Australia in 2006.
Of the 60 Top End stores quizzed about plastic bags, almost a quarter said they had already banned them. Their chief motivation was environmental and most had switched to paper, cardboard boxes, green bags or calico.
Jules Kerinaiua, community service officer with the Milikapiti Council at Melville Island, north of Darwin, said most locals accepted the decision would benefit their community. “A lot of plastic was flying everywhere and didn’t really look that good,” he said.
The ban came into effect about five years ago. Kerinaiua said the main obstacle for making the indigineous community entirely free of plastic was the number of people arriving from Darwin weighed down with full plastic shopping bags.
Ms Scrymgour, who has now left the NT government, also told the ABC,”Places [in] my electorate [like] Maningrida have got rid of plastic bags. You can’t take a plastic bag or purchase a plastic bag in Kakadu. That community certainly prides itself on making sure that no plastic bags are sold in Kakadu.”
One of the first towns to act was Jabiru where businesses announced a phase out of plastic bags in 2005.