A petition backed by more than 1400 signatures from Lower South West residents has failed to get the State Government to ensure the major tourist route to the Lower South West remains litter-free. The petition submitted by local litter-hero Michael Filby highlighted local concerns around climate change, carbon capture and plastic pollution. Letters tabled in Parliament from both the Minister for Transport and Minister for Environment identified that Main Roads held the responsibility for litter collection and rubbish management along major highways and roads in WA. Main Roads said it does all it can within its capacity on an “as needs basis”. Mr Filby, who has single-handedly removed about 26 cubic metres of litter from along the South West Highway between Manjimup and Denmark over the past two decades, said the government’s response was “simply not good enough”. “Starting with local government, the Shire of Manjimup response was both detailed, accurate and concise, relating to the core question raised in the petition — all this when the highway does not fall under its jurisdiction,” he said. “In contrast, the response from the Minister for the Environment was both general and vague, not concerning itself with the core concern of the petition. “The Minister for the Environment ended his response with, ‘Main Roads is responsible for management of litter and rubbish along verges and in rest areas on roads under its authority’, thereby passing the buck.” The Keep Australia Beautiful ambassador — who is now in his late 70s — said he was concerned for what the local community would experience once he was no longer around to continue clearing the litter. “We continue to see rubber from truck and 4x4 tyres, automotive metal, glass and plastic from kangaroo strikes, plastic from fishermens’ bait and ice bags, and tradesmens’ unsecured loads, all of which are not intentionally littered, in addition to the massive amount of tissues and rotting nappies discarded in rest areas,” he said. “This is not a good look for a region noted for its internationally regarded ecological value.” A Main Roads spokesperson said the agency was continuously working to improve the condition and appearance of WA’s vast State road network within its available budget. However, they said with responsibility for about 18,500 kilometres of roads, it was not possible to maintain litter-free road verges for anything other than short periods of time without a significant increase in resources. “Across our South West and Great Southern Regions, major roads including the South Western Highway and South Coast Highway are inspected and cleared of roadside litter on an ‘as needs’ basis,” the spokesperson said. “Funding for litter management is considered together with other road maintenance activities.” Mr Filby said he was hopeful the new Main Roads Hub in Manjimup — announced by the State Government in April 2022 — would result in increased efforts to manage litter along major tourist routes in the region. The hub is part of a new Main Roads model which involves transitioning its maintenance workforce back in-house. Cost savings of $25 million have been identified through the new model. However, the Main Roads spokesperson said “a change to in-house maintenance delivery will not result in a significant change to the current approach taken for the management of litter”. “There may be efficiencies and savings as a result of in-house delivery that may enable additional allocation of budget to litter collection in the future, however, this will need to be considered along with other road maintenance priorities.” The Main Roads spokesperson encouraged the Shire of Manjimup to support Keep Australia Beautiful’s Community Clean Ups or Keep Australia Beautiful Week which encourages community efforts to keep their nominated area tidy, in a more sustainable way.