Senate debates

Thursday, 10 February 2022



1:45 pm

Photo of Stirling GriffStirling Griff (SA, Centre Alliance) Share this | | Hansard source

The government will soon release the new State of the environment report, an independent five-yearly assessment of our environment. Unfortunately, this report will very much make for grim reading. As we learned from Professor Samuel's review of the EPBC Act, our environment is in an unsustainable decline, and this government is yet to make any real change that will slow the decline.

One important part of the report will look at Australia's air quality. While our air quality is clean by global standards, there are persistent issues that require attention and action. One concern is particulate matter from cars and trucks, which affects urban and regional communities. Some regional communities also face excessive pollution from local industrial activities. As we learned two years ago, bushfires can have a devastating impact on air quality. The significance of good air quality cannot be overstated. It is not just important for general health or for those with breathing difficulties; it also has huge effects on our children's wellbeing. One of the best things we can do to improve our children's education and health is to simply ensure the air they breathe is clean.

When you add up the health, education and workforce impacts of pollution, the costs are truly enormous, and they completely outweigh the benefits of allowing polluting activities to continue. So I sincerely hope that this government acts on this new report and takes seriously the concerns it raises about air quality. It should move quickly to improve air quality monitoring throughout Australia and to implement policies to improve air quality in our schools and in our communities.