Page 2589 - Week 07 - Thursday, 18 June 2009
Ms Porter, Mr Seselja and Mr Smyth proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, Mr Speaker has determined that the matter proposed by Ms Le Couteur be submitted to the Assembly for discussion, namely:
Air quality in Tuggeranong Valley.
MS LE COUTEUR (Molonglo) (3.16): Madam Deputy Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to discuss this matter of public importance, being air quality in Tuggeranong Valley. As winter is descending upon us, many of the residents in Tuggeranong Valley will be lighting up—in fact, they have already lit up—their wood heaters. Unfortunately, there are consequences to their use. Given the nature of the valley, wood smoke builds up and may cause local residents to suffer ill health as existing lung and heart problems are aggravated. The problem is so bad that Tuggeranong Valley has previously been declared one of the worst areas for wood smoke pollution in Australia.
The Tuggeranong Community Council recently wrote to the minister for environment informing him of a motion passed at the general meeting of the Tuggeranong Community Council on 7 May 2009. The motion read:
The Tuggeranong Community Council notes with extreme concern statistics released by Professor John Todd of the Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand showing that more than 53 percent of air pollution in the Tuggeranong Valley is generated by domestic wood burning for heating.
The council also notes average monthly air pollution readings taken at Monash between 2004 and 2008 show that the level of fine particle air pollution more than doubled in the Tuggeranong Valley every winter, and exceeds acceptable national levels.
It is at an exceptional level, I guess we could say. It continues:
Therefore the Tuggeranong Community Council calls on the ACT Government to take immediate and decisive action to rid Tuggeranong of winter domestic smoke pollution and protect the health of Valley residents through the following measures: Ban the installation of new slow combustion wood burning heaters by January 2010, followed by a total ban of all such heaters by 2015.
The Tuggeranong Community Council is making a strong call on the ACT government and I understand that the minister for environment is due to appear at the next Tuggeranong council general meeting on 2 July. In the lead-up to this I think today’s debate provides an important opportunity for all sides of the chamber to put on the record to the residents of Tuggeranong where they stand on this very important issue. The Greens acknowledge that the build-up in wood smoke in the Tuggeranong Valley is an important health problem. Tuggeranong used to be regarded as the second most smoke polluted valley after Launceston, Tasmania.
I appreciate that the ACT government has taken positive steps since 2003, such as through the wood heater replacement scheme, to alleviate the problem, but I am