Media release

How clean is our air? Late data leaves Australians wondering

April 22, 2014

Australians have been left wondering how clean the air they breathe might be, with the release of government data subject to delay after delay, says Environmental Justice Australia CEO Brendan Sydes.

The National Pollution Inventory establishes the right of all Australians to data about pollution. This right to know is established under a National Environment Protection Measure, agreed to by the Commonwealth and all State and Territory governments in 1998.

Under the National Pollution Inventory, all governments have promised to make sure the community has access to information about pollution in a useful and accessible form.

”Under the National Pollutants Inventory the Commonwealth Government is legally obliged to release this data on March 30 each year. This deadline has now been pushed back three times. With the latest deadline of last Thursday also being missed and no new deadline set, Australians must wonder: what is being kept from us?” says Brendan Sydes.

“The failure to meet the obligation to release this information is symptomatic of a deeper problem.  Responsibility for protecting Australians from pollution is done under a complicated national system that relies on cooperation between the Commonwealth Government and the States.

“This system is not working.

“The former standing Council on Environment and Water Ministers was abolished by the Abbott Government last year and has not even been replaced.  It’s no wonder nothing is happening.

“Environment Minister Greg Hunt has admitted that particulate pollution killed 3,000 Australians in 2003. Surely we have a right to know if levels of this pollution are getting better or worse?

“Minister Hunt has already said that strong action by the Commonwealth is vital to protect the air we breathe. But how can we take action if we don’t even know the facts?

“Environmental Justice Australia calls on Minister Hunt to release this data immediately.”

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