Environment Minister Greg Hunt: Clearing the air?

Greg Hunt talks about tackling air pollution in Parliament

Since we launched our report, Clearing the air: Why Australia urgently needs effective national air pollution laws on May 1, there has been some excellent media coverage of the issue. (If you missed our in-depth interview on this topic on Radio National’s Breakfast show, you can listen to it here)

Now it seems that we’re getting some traction, with the NSW EPA agreeing that particulate pollution needs to be better regulated and Environment Minister Greg Hunt raising the issue in Parliament.

Speaking in Parliament on 2 June, the Minister described ‘clean air’ as one of four ‘pillars’ of the Coalition government’s plans for the environment. He went on to say:

The second of the clean air pillars is to work towards a national clean air agreement by mid-2016. Particulate pollution is a killer, and we need to address this issue. I know that the member for Corangamite has raised this issue with me directly as well as in public and there are those with deep concerns in areas such as Anglesey. Particulate pollution is a deep personal project for me, and to have secured the agreement of all the states and territories to work towards a national clean air agreement by 2016 was a singular breakthrough on behalf of the government .

Unfortunately, recent announcements from the Minister and his State and Territory counterparts do not support this statement. The National Plan for Clean Air was supposed to be finalised this year, and so this statement is actually confirming that the plan will be delayed another two years. In fact the official statement said they would only ‘consider working towards’ an agreement by 2016. In addition, Ministers recently announced that rather than making a binding reduction standard for PM2.5, they would merely continue to monitor PM2.5, but at lower levels – something they have been doing for over a decade.

We welcome the Minister’s commitment to the issue, but what we really need to achieve these goals are national laws to protect our air from pollution.

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