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From recycling to morning television


This Week – Victorian recycling, slow uptake for veterans’ discount card and the 'Ice Maiden' sees ratings drop



Victoria's recycling crisis

Another Victorian recycling plant has shut its doors to recyclable waste, putting increased pressure on the state's struggling system and forcing more councils to turn to landfill.

  • The issue arose in July last year when China stopped importing low-grade Australian waste, which totalled around 619,000 tonnes per year. Now local councils across Victoria are urgently looking for solutions for their recyclable waste as another recycling plant shuts down.

  • Municipal leaders have been calling on the Victorian Government to acknowledge there is a crisis while the State Government have put it back on councils saying that they should have their own contingency plans.

  • A South Geelong plant was closed last week amid fears about the fire risk posed by growing stockpiles. The Coolaroo plant in Melbourne's north was the site of a major blaze in 2017 which burned for 11 days, leading to the evacuation of more than 100 homes.

  • Around two dozen councils have indicated they will be sending recyclables to landfill as an interim measure, costing between $20,000 and $30,000 a week.

  • This is an issue that has been brewing for some time yet both Victorian local and state governments appear to be scrambling for a solution. They will need to act quickly to manage public backlash from communities who expect their council rates to be used effectively by recycling their waste, and from industry who bore the cost of transitioning to recyclable packaging.

Morrison's veterans' discount card yet to attract businesses

The Federal Government has copped criticism after it admitted, during a Senate estimates hearing, that proposed Veterans’ discount card had failed to attract any companies to sign on.

  • The scheme that was announced in October last year has been designed to encourage businesses to offer discounts to veterans on everything from groceries to power bills. The announcement also included an employment ‘covenant’ and a lapel pin to encourage veteran employment and recognition respectively.

  • The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) has acknowledged that while 39 businesses have expressed interest in the program, none have formally signed up. The program is expected to cost around $11 million and has attracted previous criticism with some saying many businesses have been helping veterans and their communities for years, without asking for any attention for it. One business owner stated the approach is not only a nice thing to do, but it is "good for business".

  • However the bad news headlines fail to capture some of the positives that have been achieved:

1. While there is considerable room to scale up, the 39 businesses represent some 300 outlets nationwide including the retail, service industry and tourism sectors.

2. The delays are attributed to the businesses adequately preparing their staff and systems so that the program is suitably delivered – indicating that it is not an ad-hoc roll-out, but rather a deliberately developed program.

3. The overarching intent of the program is to benefit the Australian veteran community – even if it takes some time to be developed.

  • There are potential shortcomings of the program, from the timing of roll-out and the low up-take from the business community. However, it appears the greatest issue is DVA losing control of the narrative as facts from Senate estimates are used against them.

‘Ice Maiden’ prompts crisis talks at Nine

Tabloid media has reported that the Nine Network has held ‘closed door crisis meetings’ last week following a slump in ratings of the newly revamped Today show. The heart of the issue appears to be that audiences perceive the new host, Georgie Gardner, as “cold” and “an ice maiden”.

  • The slump in ratings to a 10-year low will likely have an impact on Nine’s ability to attract and retain advertising sales. This comes at a time where advertising has become more complex than ever with ongoing growth of digital media, which is additionally complicated by the influx of unorthodox viewing devices, advertising units, data sources and the emergence of media giants like Google and Facebook.

  • Nine’s Director of News and Current Affairs claims ‘we’re not about to hit the panic button’. Rather than an actual ‘panic button’, it can be assumed that Nine have a crisis management team and contingency plans awaiting activation.

  • While it is unlikely Nine’s crisis meetings will bring back long-time presenter Karl Stefanovic, discussions around how to recover its viewer base should consider a range of options and scenarios to ensure the best decisions are made.

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