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Motion for Hunter inquiry into health impacts of coal expansion

Lee Rhiannon 6 Nov 2012

Greens Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon gave notice of a motion calling for an inquiry into the impact the proposed T4 coal loader in Newcatle Harbour and the Hunter Valley coal rail, coal mining and coal export industry has on air quality and public health.

Notice of Motion - Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales)


I give notice that on 21 November 2012 I will move:

That the Senate—

1)      Notes that:

a.       Port Waratah Coal Services is seeking approval to construct a major new coal terminal in Newcastle Harbour called Terminal 4 or T4, with a capacity of 110 million tonnes of coal per annum (Mtpa) which would treble Newcastle Port’s current rate of coal exports.

b.       The Commonwealth-owned Australian Rail Track Corporation plans to spend $3.5 billion upgrading rail infrastructure for the T4 project, which would generate more than 100 additional uncovered coal train movements per day through Newcastle suburbs.

c.       Many Hunter Valley residents living in coal mining areas, along coal train lines and adjacent to coal stockpiles in Newcastle are concerned that air pollution and coal dust from coal mines and coal trains is adversely affecting their health.

d.       A recent University of Sydney report confirmed an elevated risk of cancer, heart and lung disease and birth defects in mining regions, and concluded that there has never been a comprehensive study into the social and health harms of Hunter Valley coal mining, coal transport, or coal exports on air quality in the region.

2)      That the following matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Community Affairs for inquiry and report by 28 February 2013:   The impact of the Hunter Valley coal rail, coal mining and coal export industry on air quality and public health.

3)      In undertaking the inquiry, the committee must consider:

a.      What impacts, if any, the mining, transportation, stockpiling, and exporting of coal has on air quality in the Hunter region of NSW.

b.      What effect, if any, the air quality impacts of the Hunter coal industry has on public health.

c.       What impacts the planned expansion of coal mining, transport and export in the Hunter region over the next decade are likely to have on public health, in particular the increase in coal mining and transport required to service the proposed fourth coal terminal in Newcastle.

d.      What further study needs to be undertaken to fully understand the air quality and public health impacts of the Hunter coal industry.

e.      What steps the Commonwealth could take to protect public health from impacts of the coal industry in the Hunter.

f.       Any other relevant matters.




Senator Lee Rhiannon

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