“On Melbourne Cup Day, it is clear who the Turnbull government is backing on air pollution standards”, said Clean Air Lawyer, Phil Hill from Environmental Justice Australia.
“The Prime Minister’s announcement of a joint minister industry forum to report on vehicle emissions standards in 2017 appears to be another delay tactic to appease business. (See Government launches process for new vehicle emission standards, in The Australian today.)
“Putting industry in the lead on vehicle emissions standards is like making the town arsonist the fire warden. The Government’s claim that we already have “tough noxious emissions standards” is wrong. Australia is many years behind the United States and Europe on effective air pollution laws, and the government just bought themselves another 18 months to do nothing on vehicle emissions, with this announcement.
“It is dangerous for ministers in the Turnbull government to downplay the impacts of air pollution on Australians. Air pollution kills 3,000 people per year, and government estimates have put the health costs of air pollution as high as $8 billion in Greater Sydney alone, making action on air quality imperative”, said Mr Hill.
“The government’s own investigation into the impact of air pollution found that toxic pollution is likely to increase by up to 65% in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia by 2036. The suggestion that air quality in Australia is “not as bad as other countries” is dangerously misleading”, said Mr Hill.
“Australians deserve at least the same level of legal protection from toxic air pollution as the United States and Europe. It’s time for active monitoring of industry compliance with rigorous standards and proper enforcement if standards are breached.
“National air emissions standards appear destined to remain as monitoring and reporting standards only – for the foreseeable future.
“Consulting with industry is just shifting the deckchairs, when the time for strict, enforceable air pollution standards is now.”