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Today in Question Time, Amanda asked the Government what they are doing to meet the WHO standards for air quality monitoring, considering how far NSW and Australia is falling behind. 

Amanda asked:

My question is directed to the Minister for the Environment. A New South Wales Government study published in March shows that air pollution in New South Wales is estimated to cause approximately 603 deaths and $4.8 billion in health costs each year. The Ambient Air Quality National Environment Protection Measure standards for ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide significantly exceed the World Health Organisation's recommended thresholds. Health bodies including Lung Foundation Australia and Asthma Australia are calling for that to be urgently addressed. What is the Government doing to protect our health by ensuring that New South Wales meets global standards for air quality and air quality monitoring?

Source: NSW Department of Planning and Environment, Sydney air quality study program report: Stage 2 – health impact assessment, published 2 March 2023. 


The Minister's answer is as follows: 

The Hon. PENNY SHARPE (Minister for Climate Change, Minister for Energy, Minister for the Environment, and Minister for Heritage) (11:21): I thank the member for her question. It is a very important issue. I do not think people always fully understand the impact of poor air quality on health and deaths. It was concerning to read the report referenced by the member. The Sydney Air Quality Study is a two‑stage, multi‑year research program led by the Department of Planning and Environment in collaboration with the Environment Protection Authority and NSW Health. Stage one of the report discussed changes in air quality over the past two decades. Stage two was published in March.

Particulates were the primary cause of air pollution in New South Wales in 2022, exceeding national standards at some monitoring stations. Despite that, it is important to note that air quality has improved in many areas and that many air quality monitoring stations met national health‑based standards 100 per cent of the time and had no days with extremely poor air pollution levels. We should be aiming for that to be the case everywhere. The whole‑of‑government NSW Clean Air Strategy 2021‑2030 was released in February 2022 by the previous Government. I note that we on this side of the House share the ambitions of the Clean Air Strategy and offer bipartisan support.

The strategy presents a set of priorities and actions to support livable communities, healthy environments and the New South Wales economy by reducing the adverse effects of air pollution in New South Wales communities. The strategy integrates with the Net Zero Plan and other key energy, transport and planning strategies. It sets out five priority areas of action: better preparedness for pollution events; cleaner industry; cleaner transport, engines and fuel; healthier households; and better places. The first annual report on the implementation of the strategy formed part of the 2022 New South Wales annual air quality statement. The Clean Air Strategy is strong, and the Government agrees with the priority actions in a bipartisan way. I believe everyone in this House would agree with them. But for the past 12 years we have not had a government prepared to implement many of the strategies that are suggested by it. We are working through that.

One of the things that we are taking action on is the Electric Vehicle [EV] Strategy. We are looking at how we can encourage EV take‑up as fast as possible, which is one of the fastest ways that we will be able to achieve cleaner transport, engines and fuels. We are continuing to roll out charging infrastructure across the State and to encourage as many people as are able to transition to electric vehicles. I note that many businesses are taking up the challenge and starting the transition. It is an ongoing project that will require a lot more attention than it has had over the past 12 years, but the Government acknowledges that there is a problem, that we need to do better and that it is a health issue. We should be working to provide clean air for all.


See the full transcript in Hansard here.



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