Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (15:33): I move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) a spokesperson for the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport was quoted on 16 March 2013 as saying That the level of particulate matter emitted by coal trains was not statistically significantly different to passenger trains,
(ii) the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), a wholly government-owned corporation, commissioned a Rail Corridor Air Quality Monitoring Study, 'Pollution Reduction Program 4 - Particulate Emissions from Coal Trains' released in September 2012, which assessed the levels of particulate pollution on the Hunter rail corridor at Mayfield and Metford and concluded that concentrations coinciding with loaded and unloaded coal train passes are statistically higher for PM10 and PM2.5 than concentrations recorded during passenger train passes,
(iii) the ARTC earmarked $3.525 billion to spend on upgrading the Hunter coal rail network in its 'Hunter Valley Corridor 2012-2021 Capacity Strategy', released June 2012, and
(iv) there is a high level of concern about the health impacts of coal rail dust along frequently-used coal rail lines, such as communities along the Hunter Valley and Brisbane coal rail lines;
(b) acknowledges the inconsistency between the spokesperson's comments That the difference between particulate emissions from coal and passenger trains is not statistically significant and the findings of the ARTC-commissioned particulate emissions study; and
(c) requests That the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport (Mr Albanese) correct the comments or provide evidence to the Senate that proves the difference between particulate emissions from coal and passenger trains is not statistically significant.
Senator RHIANNON: I have not called a division because of the current circumstances of this chamber. However, I do wish to record that the Greens would have called a division.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Rhiannon, are you seeking leave to make a short statement?
Senator RHIANNON: Yes.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.
Senator RHIANNON: The Greens will not call a division on this because of the current circumstances in this chamber, but we do support this motion. It is an unusual situation, because yesterday the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport made a personal explanation in the House claiming his office was misreported by the AAP and the Newcastle Herald. An email he sent to my office provides evidence that this was not the case. His statement in the House was therefore quite misleading.