Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 14 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 November 2009) . . Page.. 5090 ..
an expensive piece of equipment which has to be brought from overseas, and parts for repair also need to come from overseas. So it was difficult to repair the air monitoring equipment at Monash quickly because of those constraints. Nevertheless, we operate on the data we have available to us.
The data we have available to us indicates that overall air quality is improving. It is important to stress that our data set stretches over a period of five to 10 years, so we know what air quality was like a decade ago and we know what air quality is like more recently. It is clear from that data that, regardless of the faults with the monitoring equipment more recently, there has been an overall improvement. If you look at the number of exceedences in air quality from when monitoring first began and where monitoring is now, the number of exceedences of the relevant standard has gone down.
MR SPEAKER: Ms Bresnan, a supplementary question?
MS BRESNAN: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, was it correct of the government to have said in this place that there were only eight occasions in 2007 and four occasions this year so far where the particular levels at Monash were over the national standard without giving any qualification to that statement?
MR CORBELL: The government gave an accurate statement. The government has never avoided the issue of the fault with the air monitoring equipment. That has been public knowledge. Indeed, I have said so on a number of occasions publicly, including at public meetings.
MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Le Couteur?
MS LE COUTEUR: Yes, Mr Speaker. Minister, given that we cannot rely on the recent air quality measurements, can you advise us how you determine whether or not the wood heater replacement program is having enough impact?
MR CORBELL: The wood heater replacement program has seen, I think, close to 1,000 wood heaters removed from homes across Canberra. If Ms Le Couteur does not think that makes any difference to air quality, I do not agree with that assertion. Any removal of wood heaters from homes in Canberra is going to improve air quality in Canberra. The more non-compliant smoky wood heaters that we get out of homes the better the air quality is going to be. I reject the assertion that air quality has not improved over the past decade. It clearly has. We have had, as I say, a recent problem with the quality of the equipment, but that has been only a recent problem. The data over the past decade or so would indicate that overall the number of exceedences of the relevant national environment pollution measure has gone down and, therefore, air quality has improved.
The government also has other data available to it in assessing the impact of wood smoke on the air quality of Canberra. The ACT is the only jurisdiction in the country where wood merchants are licensed and regulated. They have to abide by a code of conduct in terms of the type of wood that they sell and make sure that it is clean and burns as efficiently as possible. We know from their reporting, because they are