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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

GOVERNMENT BACKS WINTER CLEAN AIR BLITZ


17 June 1999

The Federal Government has launched a winter campaign to reduce air pollution in major cities and in regional centres prone to smoke haze.

Federal Environment and Heritage Minister Robert Hill says public participation will be the key to improving urban air quality this winter, in turn alleviating the health and quality of life problems caused by air pollution.

Senator Hill says a range of initiatives funded through the Natural Heritage Trust's $2.1 million Clear the Air package will be in full swing in the coming weeks.

"The first full-scale AirWatch National Monitoring Week takes place this week, involving primary and high school students in capital cities monitoring their local air quality. Using methods developed for AirWatch by the CSIRO, students will measure particles and nitrogen dioxide levels, visual air quality and local weather conditions and contribute their results to a national data base.

"AirWatch is a prime example of how schools can contribute to national efforts to combat air pollution by developing students' awareness of the issues and helping them work towards solutions which will benefit the entire community.

"At a workshop held in Sydney on Tuesday, government representatives, researchers and air quality monitoring practitioners discussed a national standard for measuring fine particles.

"The aim is to develop a common standard so that results from across Australia can more easily be compared.

"In Melbourne, football supporters attending a match between the Western Bulldogs and Freemantle at Optus Stadium on Saturday (19 June) are urged to participate in the first Smogbusters Way to the Game promotion. By catching public transport to and from major sports events, rather than driving, people can take simple but practical action to reduce vehicle exhaust fumes.

"In addition, a community awareness campaign is being launched to highlight the problems caused by smoke from household woodheaters. Shepparton, Toowoomba, Canberra and Tamworth are among the areas to be targeted.

"Air pollution is a pressing national issue which can be addressed if Australians get behind community programs like Smogbusters and make small changes to their behaviour," Senator Hill said.

Contact:
Rod Bruem (Senator Hill's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0411 128 582
Christine Schwiezer (Environment Australia) 02 6274 1581
Margot Finn (AirWatch National Facilitator) 03 9239 4667
Karl Charikar (Smogbusters) 03 9348 9044

Commonwealth of Australia