The Government is committed to policies and programmes that will promote improvements in air quality. Commonwealth initiatives are designed to provide national leadership and to complement work under way in the States and Territories.
The Government will provide $4 million in 1999-2000 to continue the Air Pollution
in Major Cities Programme under the Natural Heritage Trust. Building on the achievements
of 1998-99, the aim is to develop national strategies and standards to minimise adverse
impacts of air pollution and address key threats to sustainability with respect to air
In 1998-99 the National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM) was gazetted for ambient air quality, which establishes world standard criteria for air quality adapted for Australian conditions. Steps are now being taken to develop monitoring protocols to measure air quality against the new standards. In addition, $200,000 has been allocated in 1999-2000 towards the development of a NEPM for diesel fuel and vehicle emissions.
In 1999-2000 the Government will continue with `Clear the Air', its $2.1 million package of responses to the Inquiry into Urban Air Pollution. These include $400,000 allocated to a community information programme aimed at reducing particulate emissions from wood heaters. It builds on successful pilot studies in Tasmania and Western Australia, which significantly raised awareness of the hazards of woodheaters and the methods of hazard reduction. National campaigns will be run during winter in 1999 and 2000.
Codes of practise for vapour recovery from dry cleaning businesses were established in 1998-9. In 1999-2000 $100,000 has been allocated to facilitate vapour recovery standards for spray painters/surface coaters and printers. A programme for developing a high definition pollution forecasting system was implemented and this work will continue over two years with an injection of $350,000 in 1999-2000. The system will provide daily reports on air quality in time for the Sydney Olympic Games.
A pilot study on the problems associated with monitoring fine particles has been completed and further work is proposed. In December 1999 a fuel quality review will be completed, providing information on the fuel quality needed for new vehicle technologies in Australia. As well, during 1999-2000 a standard will be developed for replacement and reconditioned/rebuilt engines, incorporating a performance measure for emissions.
The Government will continue its commitment to collaborative education programmes by allocating over $300,000 to the Airwatch, Smogbusters and Travel Smart programmes. Collectively these programmes promote alternative transport strategies in city businesses and foster a greater community understanding of air quality issues.
As its second stage response to the Inquiry into Urban Air Pollution, the Government will allocate $4.9 million over three years for the development of a national air toxics strategy under the Living Cities Programme. This strategy will monitor, establish the levels of community exposure to, and manage emissions of selected air toxics. The Government will also consider the inclusion of air toxics in a future NEPM.