SELECT COMMITTEE UPON MOTOR VEHICLE EMISSIONS
(Kogarah) [11.32]: I move:
(1) That a Select Committee be appointed to consider and report upon:
(a) the optimum system for New South Wales to monitor motor vehicle emissions and to report on air quality generally in New South Wales, and in metropolitan Sydney in particular;
(b) the advantages and disadvantages of overseas systems, including those of the United States and Europe, of inspection and maintenance for motor vehicles, to ensure that motor vehicle emissions are reduced to the maximum practicable extent;
(c) the advantages and disadvantages of centralised and decentralised systems of inspection and maintenance, for motor vehicles demonstrated by overseas experience in terms of:
* environmental benefits; and
(d) the efficiency of overseas systems of "test and repair" stations, in which motor vehicle emissions are tested and any faults are repaired, within a single organisation;
(e) the investigation of adequacy of current measures designed to improve air quality, and the matter of air quality generally in New South Wales, and in metropolitan Sydney in particular;
(f) the effectiveness and local relevance of alternative technological systems for monitoring motor vehicle emissions;
(g) to recommend on whether or not an inspection system for vehicle emissions should be introduced in New South Wales, and if so, to recommend which type of system is introduced.
(2) That the committee consist of Mr Gaudry, Mr Humpherson, Mr Langton, Dr Macdonald and Mr Rixon.
(3) That at any meeting of the committee any three members shall constitute a quorum.
(4) That the committee have leave to sit during the sittings or any adjournment of the House; to adjourn from place to place; to make visits of inspection within New South Wales, interstate and overseas; and have power to take evidence and send for persons and papers; and to report from time to time.
(5) That should the House stand adjourned and the committee agree to any report before the House resumes sitting:
(a) the committee have leave to send any such report, minutes and evidence taken before it to the Clerk of the House;
(b) the documents shall be printed and published and the Clerk shall forthwith take such action as is necessary to give effect to the order of the House; and
(c) the documents shall be laid upon the Table of the House at its next sitting.
Seventy-five per cent of air pollution originates from motor vehicles. The pollutants emitted include carbon monoxide, lead, hydrocarbons or reactive organic compounds, carbon dioxide, methane, CFCs, nitrogen oxide and toxic compounds such as sulphur and benzene. The effect of these emissions is a deterioration in air quality; both direct and indirect detriment to human health, including respiratory diseases such as asthma; detriment to the environment; depletion of the ozone layer; and the greenhouse effect. The air pollution officer for the Total Environment Centre recently stated:
Ozone is produced by UV from the sun acting on motor vehicle emissions. The link between ozone and asthma as indicated in numerous overseas studies, is that of sensitising and predisposing people, particularly children, to asthma.
The incidence of asthma in Australia has more than doubled in the past 10 years. Although air pollution is highly visible on some days, it is its usual invisibility that has resulted in many people having misplaced confidence in our air quality. Despite the warnings of many scientific and conservation organisations, New South Wales has not addressed the issue of motor vehicle emissions. Air pollution levels in Sydney are seriously high, and the worst affected areas are the west and southwest of Sydney. The topography of Sydney is such that these areas form an ideal catchment for pollution and it is not surprising that the rate of respiratory diseases in these areas is correspondingly higher than in any other part of Sydney. Death rates from respiratory disease in the outer western suburbs are 80 per cent above the State average. In its 1991 report entitled "Air Pollution and Greenhouse", Greenpeace warned that:
Without major new policy initiatives, smog in Sydney is likely to exceed Los Angeles levels within 10 years.
We know that an important part of the strategy required to prevent such a situation is the improvement of public transport. This Government has time and again shown its unwillingness to invest in public transport. Indeed, it has shown a marked preference for more and more roads. I am disappointed that the Minister for Transport is not in the Chamber today - in fact he is not even in the building. He is at the Mortuary Station announcing further moves to destroy public transport in this State. I am sure that the House would be aware of my concerns about public transport. Though I will not give up the fight for public transport improvements in this State, I shall not be debating that issue today - at least not in the Chamber.
We are debating the appointment of a select committee to consider what might be the best system for monitoring vehicle emissions in New South Wales. I understand that the Environment Protection Authority is investigating these issues at the moment, but I am still concerned that too little is being done and that it is taking too long. We need an effective vehicle emissions testing program in New South Wales, and we need it immediately. A select committee will be able to evaluate the various options without the constraints or biases that may be apparent in leaving this to a bureaucratic decision.
Australian car emission standards allow six times more hydrocarbon, four times more carbon monoxide and eight times more nitrogen oxide emissions than the United States 1994 standards. In Sydney alone,
motor vehicles emit almost 800,000 tonnes of pollutants each year, and that raises a serious concern with regard to respiratory health. In addition, they emit 500 tonnes of lead per annum. Some statistics might appear meaningless but we daily see the effect of these statistics. Visit any casualty ward of any children's hospital and you can witness the devastation caused by asthma. As I said earlier, the situation is worse in western Sydney. Clearly there is an urgent need for the Parliament to thoroughly review the state of air quality and consider how best to monitor and control motor vehicle emissions. The United States has had more than 20 years' experience in implementing various programs designed to test motor vehicles for emissions to repair faulty vehicles. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has found as follows:
Despite the most rigorous vehicle pollution control program in the world, cars and trucks still create about half of the ozone air pollution and nearly all of the carbon monoxide air pollution in United States cities, as well as toxic contaminants. Of all highway vehicles, passenger cars and light trucks emit most of the vehicle-related carbon monoxide and ozone-forming hydrocarbons. They also emit substantial amounts of nitrogen oxides and air toxics.
The United States EPA makes the point that while major progress has been made in reducing the emission of these pollutants, total fleet emissions remain high. This is because the growth in vehicle travel has offset much technological progress, and that growth in travel is increasing. The Australian experience is similar. Our reliance on motor vehicles will continue and, therefore, efforts to reduce emissions from individual vehicles are essential, particularly because many vehicles are old. Despite stringent pollution standards for new passenger cars and trucks, proper vehicle inspection and maintenance is needed to ensure vehicles stay clean in actual use. Without efficient systems for detecting and rectifying emissions, air quality will continue to worsen. The United States requires high-tech inspection and maintenance systems for areas which suffer high levels of air pollution. Amendments to the United States Clean Air Act were passed in 1990, and this provided the catalyst for a review of the various emission testing systems in place around the United States.
Regulations for inspection and maintenance were passed in November 1992 to enable States to achieve air quality targets. These regulations required any State with serious to extreme air quality problems to implement a new style of maintenance program for motor vehicles. A new high-tech emissions test was introduced to deal with motor vehicle emissions, and some 30 States were affected by the new regulations. It has been stated many times that 10 per cent of vehicles cause the majority of vehicle-related pollution. However, the point is that proper testing is required to detect these cars. It is not just a simple matter of visual inspection. The United States EPA says that it is rarely obvious which cars are high emitters as emissions themselves may not be noticeable. Emission control malfunctions may not necessarily affect vehicle performance.
Even new cars will fall into this category, with around 8 per cent of one-year-old vehicles identified as high emitters in a United States EPA report of July 1992. The United States EPA is concerned that simple exhaust tests are ineffective. The Roads and Traffic Authority and the Environment Protection Authority have trialed such tests in New South Wales through service stations. The idle tests worked for older cars; but for more modern vehicles, sensor and computer operation and emissions must be tested during the high emission acceleration and deceleration driving modes to most reliably identify high polluting cars. Another problem is that evaporative emissions - that is, vapours which escape from various points in the vehicle fuel system - present a huge source of hydrocarbon emissions, generally greater than that from the exhaust system.
As the name suggests, an exhaust check is not going to detect emissions which escape from anywhere other than the exhaust. The results of the New South Wales trials which were conducted more than one years ago have never been publicly released. The United States EPA estimated that the cost of the high-tech system is $US12.50 per vehicle per year, or $US9 per vehicle per year in a high-volume station. There is much debate about the merits of centralised or decentralised systems of vehicle inspection and maintenance, and the Opposition has an open mind on this issue. But we must canvass all the options and make sure that in New South Wales we implement the best system of vehicle emission testing. The air quality issue is far too important to permit expedience in the decision-making process.
I believe that Australia has much to learn from overseas experience, particularly where there has been a long history of auditing the results and environmental impacts of various systems, such as in the United States. New South Wales deserves a more rigorous examination of all policy alternatives before we commit ourselves to systems which have clearly been found wanting. It is just not good enough to tack a superficial emissions test on to the existing authorised inspection station system. Although that system is good for the detection of faults in the mechanical fitness of motor vehicles, and although it has operated efficiently to this point, it is not the perfect system. I do not believe that adding to that system a pollution or exhaust check, especially if that is to be a static test, will adequately determine mechanical problems with a vehicle's emission. I do not believe that will be sufficient to ensure that when emission problems are detected, adequate regulations are in place or the Government has adequate resolve to do anything about repairing faults to make sure emissions are decreased. Setting up the committee will provide a one-off opportunity to tailormake a program to quickly achieve a better environment at low cost to the consumer. The establishment of a committee to determine the most efficient, effective, and particularly cost-effective system for New South Wales is extremely important. This committee should be the starting point for policy deliberations. [Time expired
(Gosford - Minister for the Environment) [11.42]: The honourable member for Kogarah appears to be unaware of the Government's air quality initiatives, which will provide the strategies required to protect and enhance air quality in this State. This Government has already committed itself to the introduction of an in-service emissions test for motor vehicles as part of a comprehensive strategy for reducing emissions from motor vehicles. To establish a select committee to investigate air quality and other motor vehicle issues when the management is well developed is unnecessary and would only duplicate an established program. Let me advise the member for Kogarah of the extent of the Government's efforts in this area to date.
Protection of our air quality is important, not only from a public health perspective but also as an aesthetic issue. On both these grounds I am pleased to advise that monitoring data indicates that air quality in the greater Sydney metropolitan area is improving. The Government is aware of the potential for air quality to deteriorate as motor vehicle numbers increase and as urban areas of Sydney expand. Consequently it has been proactive in implementing its management strategy. As part of this strategy, the Government approved $10 million funding over three years for the Environment Protection Authority's metropolitan air quality study in 1992 in order to increase our knowledge of air quality in the Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong areas, and to improve our ability to predict the effect of future urban planning and industrial development proposals.
The ultimate aim of the so-called MAQ study is to develop an air quality management plan for all of metropolitan Sydney as well as for the Illawarra and lower Hunter regions. One of the benefits of the study will be the facility, which has not been available to us before, of modelling and predicting the effect of changes, such as different patterns of urban development, on air quality. The model will also allow testing of the impact of various control strategies for protecting air quality. The MAQ study will provide a detailed inventory of emissions in the air shed from all sources, including motor vehicles, industry, and domestic situations. The motor vehicle inventory is based on the best available data on vehicle emissions and will be regularly updated with data provided on vehicle emission trends from the EPA's motor vehicle laboratory and data on vehicle usage trends from the Government's transport study group.
This Government is not waiting, however, for all details of the MAQ study to be complete before taking action. We already know that motor vehicles are a major contributor to air pollution, and programs to reduce emissions from motor vehicles are being initiated. In particular, last November I launched the motor vehicle maintenance program, which is a four-pronged approach to tackling the issue of how to ensure that motor vehicles are properly maintained throughout their working life so as to meet their designed emission performance. The components of the program are: an upgrading of the skills and equipment of the motor vehicle repair industry to ensure that vehicles that fail an emissions test are readily able to be effectively diagnosed and repaired; a community education program to enhance the community's understanding of the car's contribution to air pollution and how emission testing can contribute to improvements in air quality; a visual check of the vehicle's catalytic converter as part of the annual pink slip inspection to ensure that the catalyst is in place and has not been disconnected; and the development of an in-service emission test program.
The proposal by the member for Kogarah focuses only on the last component of this comprehensive strategy and falls into the same trap that the North American in-service program fell into during the 1980s. That is, it focuses all efforts on developing a bigger testing program rather than on reducing emissions from the in-service vehicle fleet. It is not enough to develop a technically sophisticated test and put in place a testing network that is reliable and consistent, as important as these are, because it is also necessary to ensure that the repair industry is capable of effectively diagnosing and repairing polluting vehicles. This is a new task for the repair industry and it is currently working with the Government to ensure that this infrastructure is in place.
As I have said, the development of the in-service emissions test program is well under way. Senior officers from the Environment Protection Authority and the Roads and Traffic Authority undertook an inspection tour of in-service programs in the United States and Canada in November 1993. This tour provided insights into the critical issues for the successful implementation of an in-service vehicle emission program and also confirmed that this State's approach is consistent with world best practice. The New South Wales EPA motor vehicle laboratory is also participating in a Commonwealth sponsored in-service motor vehicle emission study, which will assist in identifying the most appropriate emission test for Australian conditions. This New South Wales program therefore comprehensively addresses the issues that the member for Kogarah seeks to have considered by a select committee. It also addresses a number of issues which the member has not raised but which are critical for the effective operation of an in-service motor vehicle program.
The motor vehicle maintenance program is just one component of the New South Wales air quality management program that is currently being undertaken by the Environment Protection Authority in conjunction with other government agencies, key industry groups and community stakeholders. The key, however, is education, awareness of the effects of the motor vehicle and our alternatives: encouragement to use less polluting modes of transport, alternative, cleaner fuels; and urban design that recognises our needs for transport to and from our places of work without the need to rely on the motor car.
In conclusion, the Opposition should understand that these are not inconsiderable undertakings by this Government, which is showing that the investigation and management of air quality are well in hand. A management plan to be presented at the end of the metropolitan air quality study will further demonstrate this Government's already substantial commitment to this issue. Any deviation from the program at this stage would only serve to delay the implementation of these important strategies. The very people who are doing the work are the only people who will be able to advise a select committee. All that a select committee could do would be to hear from the EPA and the RTA reports on the programs they are already successfully undertaking.
The honourable member for Kogarah talks about looking at experiences overseas. The committee is not qualified to evaluate overseas experience; only the experts can do that. If he is looking for a trip for himself, let that be noted. However, the fact is that in 1992 the EPA and the RTA undertook studies in the United States and Canada. The United States EPA developed a transient test that was tested by the United States general accounting office, which presented to the United States House of Representatives a report outlining the suitability of the test and identifying significant drawbacks. The fact is that at this stage there is no developed program overseas that is working successfully. The New South Wales EPA and the RTA are examining the whole range of overseas experiences, and they are the people best qualified to examine them.
The ignorance of the honourable member for Kogarah on all matters before this Parliament is well known. If he wants to transport his ignorance overseas, well and good. If he wants to go overseas to the United States and Canada, and drag his committee with him, well and good, but the fact is that he is not qualified to make an assessment. Nor will the parliamentary committee be qualified to make an assessment; its only qualifications will be to hear evidence put before it. And, of course, who will be putting the evidence before it? The evidence will come from the Environment Protection Authority, the Roads and Traffic Authority and other organisations such as the National Roads and Motorists Association, which are already involved in this program. All that the parliamentary committee would be doing would be wasting the time of members of the Parliament; it would achieve nothing, nothing at all. It may be a forum for the honourable member for Kogarah to display his ignorance, but he has ample opportunity in this House to do that, and we will all be witnesses to that. The Government does not support the motion. [Time expired
(Newcastle) [11.52]: What is the Minister afraid of? If the reports of the EPA and the technical studies prove to be of such magnitude and significance as he suggests, then let the parliamentary committee review them and make its determination. In 1992, following the air quality summits, and when speaking on this matter in the House, the member for Ermington, Mr Photios, who was then the Government's environment committee chairman, stated:
The second and most critical issue of concern, universally agreed by all people represented at the air quality summits one and two, was the all important issue of monitoring and then controlling, through appropriate standard settings and measurement devices, the question of motor vehicle emission in the Sydney air shed. For that reason it demanded that government move beyond the random testing and on the spot fines program which, although certainly a positive move in the right direction, was not in any way, shape or form the comprehensive answer to this question.
It is now April 1994 and the Government has not shown, either by any achievable results or by any determination, that it is moving to combat that most serious of policy issues and health issues, that is, the problem of motor vehicle emissions. It does bear to repeat that some 60 to 70 per cent of Sydney's air pollution is caused by motor vehicle emissions and that those motor vehicle emissions contribute to the smog problem of Sydney. Though I acknowledge that in both Sydney and Newcastle, and particularly Newcastle, there has been improvement in the control of smog, there is certainly a large and difficult problem associated with motor vehicle emissions. It will be a growing problem because there is no doubt that this Government has shown very little real commitment to improving the public transport net in the Sydney area. We have all heard the many released options for public transport by the Minister for Transport and Minister for Roads, re-released again and again, yet in practical terms there is still a great dependence on the private motor vehicle in the Sydney area. That dependence will certainly increase, so that the problem of air pollution will become entrenched. A study on the matter states:
Evaluation of air quality for the development of Macarthur South and South Creek valley regions of Sydney indicated that prevailing winds push emissions, largely from cars, to the western suburbs of Sydney.
Of course, that is an area that is highly affected by any pollutants that occur within the Sydney basin itself. This is a problem that will increase. It is a problem that should be looked at now and it is a problem that will be approached by this select committee. Let us just look briefly at what the select committee will do. Firstly, it will look at an optimum system for monitoring motor vehicle emissions and report generally on air quality in Sydney and in New South Wales. It will look at the advantages and disadvantages of overseas systems to ensure that motor vehicle emissions are reduced to the maximum practicable extent. It will look at the advantages and disadvantages of centralised and decentralised systems of inspection and maintenance. As the Minister said, the overseas experience does differ quite markedly. For example, the systems used in the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe vary considerably.
If a professional report is produced, it is competent for this committee to look at the results of such a report and to determine whether further studies need to be done in order to set up a system that brings
maximum benefit to the people of Sydney, in terms of both the effect on the health of the people of Sydney and New South Wales from motor vehicle emissions, and the environmental benefits that will come from such programs and from the efficiency of those programs. As the Minister and the shadow minister have said, it is not of great value to set up a system that returns a marginal benefit at great cost. We must look for the most effective system possible, and we must consider the cost and convenience to the consumer. [Time expired.
(Davidson) [11.57]: I support the Minister's eloquently expressed arguments and I admire the deep passion that he feels about this matter. Although the motion of the honourable member for Kogarah suggests that he has some understanding of the issues associated with the management of motor vehicle emissions, it appears that he is not fully aware of the work conducted by Government agencies in this field. For example, the honourable member's motion would effectively duplicate large parts of an already well established program, including a major metropolitan air quality study and a motor vehicle emission reduction strategy. The emission reduction strategy is quite clearly comprehensive and contains a range of controls which include a motor vehicle maintenance program.
As my colleague the Minister for the Environment has stated, the motor vehicle maintenance program, which is a joint initiative of the Environment Protection Authority and the Roads and Traffic Authority, is currently being implemented. It includes a community education program which I recall was launched in conjunction with the NRMA during Smog Action Week late last year as an industry program to enhance the capacity of repair industry to make cost-effective repairs to vehicle emission systems. We have heard that the details of the motor vehicle inspection system are currently being developed, with close attention paid to the inspection maintenance programs run in the United States of America. Although the honourable member for Kogarah appears to be well intentioned in his move to establish a select committee to investigate motor vehicle emissions, there is a risk that such a committee would simply duplicate the extensive and important work currently being undertaken.
Furthermore, it is unlikely that such a committee would be able to make an additional significant contribution at this time to the development of a motor vehicle inspection system in New South Wales, particularly when one compares any contribution such a committee may be able to make with the process adopted by the Government to harness the collective expertise of technical specialists within government departments and industry. Rather, the proposal of the honourable member for Kogarah has the potential to divert the attention of those currently working on the problem and impair their productivity and timely response to this issue.
The control of motor vehicle emissions is extremely important. However, it is a complex problem, and a select committee investigation at this stage is only likely to muddy the waters. For those reasons, I join the Minister in opposing the motion and I applaud him for his well-managed and structured approach to improving air quality in New South Wales. I do not believe any member of this House would disagree with the broad objective of improving air quality in Sydney and, indeed, other centres throughout New South Wales. However, it has been acknowledged by the Government that significant work has already been undertaken in this field. In many areas that work is well advanced. Therefore, the formation of a select committee at this time would be inappropriate. It would simply pre-empt and specifically duplicate much of the work that is currently being undertaken.
With a number of exceptions, the members nominated to be members of the committee are highly qualified and capable. I am sure they will approach their duties on the committee with great diligence if and when they are given the opportunity. However, the formation of the committee should be left for the future. The relevant departments should be able to continue their work and investigations without interruption. I also question the propriety of establishing another select committee at this time. It is proposed that the committee consist of five members, including the honourable member for Manly. I ask, perhaps as a challenge to him, whether he intends to chair this committee, bearing in mind the amount of time he has committed to the Joint Select Committee upon the Sydney Water Board.
(Bulli) [12.2]: One member of this House who should be screaming from the rooftops for a select committee on motor vehicle emissions is the honourable member for Davidson. His electorate is covered by probably half the smog in this city. I now refer to the ignorance of the Minister. Why is this Government so averse to select committees? The Government was dragged kicking and screaming all the way to the formation of a select committee on bushfires. What is wrong with this House being apolitical? The Joint Standing Committee upon Road Safety has existed for a decade and has done tremendous things for New South Wales. It has been claimed that the shadow minister is ignorant of the facts.
The shadow minister, who is proposing the select committee, served on that committee from 1984 to 1991, and for two years was the chairman of that committee. Random breath testing and heavy vehicle safety were two of the major issues he dealt with. How can it be claimed that the shadow minister is ignorant of the facts? Let me tell the Government what it needs to hear. It is all very well for the Minister to drive around in his Fairlane, his ministerial car, but he does not understand what the people of New South Wales have to put up with. He does not realise the cost to the community of replacing a catalytic converter. It cost me $350 to replace the catalytic converter in my old Fairlane. That may have been easy on a parliamentary salary, but millions of people cannot afford that sort of thing.
What is the Labor Party doing for them?
The Minister is in government and he should make sure the charges are reduced. The Government has clearly been averse to the formation of controversial select committees. What is wrong with establishing an apolitical committee? The coalition will lose the next election, and when Government members are then seated on the other side of the House they will understand the policies of the Labor government. Why does the Government continually hide behind Cabinet subcommittees and bureaucratic committees from which nothing emerges? As the shadow minister has already shown, the Government has carried out investigations but has not released any information so that the Opposition or the people of New South Wales can evaluate what is happening with emission control.
The Government is always screaming that New South Wales takes the lead from Victoria. In the week leading up to Easter Melbourne could not be seen for smog, Geelong could hardly be seen for smog, and the way the Government is going this State will take the lead from Victoria for lead emissions and other pollution. The Government will do nothing about it. The Minister should take a look at Victoria to see what is in store for New South Wales if we do not act. The way to do it is to take action on an apolitical basis. The shadow minister is happy to put forward his expertise, gained from a decade of expertise on the Staysafe committee, to give an indication of what needs to be done.
When the Labor Party gains office its policies will be written in concrete. It will adopt any recommendation made by this Government that will benefit the people of New South Wales. It will not hide behind Cabinet subcommittee doors, and will not be averse to working on an apolitical basis. The people of New South Wales should have a government and an opposition that will assure them that Sydney will not end up like Melbourne. That is the biggest danger facing New South Wales. Only when more children die from smog in this State will the Government understand that motor vehicle emissions are one of the State's major problems. The Government will not listen to suggestions from the Opposition about how to deal with the problem. Over the Easter weekend Melbourne experienced health problems everywhere, but the Government will not listen to reason.
(Ku-ring-gai) [12.7]: I was entertained by that highly passionate contribution.
It was excellent.
The Minister says it was excellent. I would be more inclined to describe it as moderate. Although the contribution of the honourable member for Bulli was highly passionate, it was completely off the point. The Parliament is being asked to vote on whether a select committee should be established to investigate some of the problems the Government is already investigating. The honourable member for Bulli claims that Sydney will become another Melbourne. That is not possible because the climatic, geographic and other conditions are quite different. The honourable member for Kogarah claims Sydney will become another Los Angeles. Under United States standards, New South Wales would come nowhere near Los Angeles. Based on the standards that apply in the United States, Sydney would be a moderate city on the United States scale of low to extreme. Therefore, there is no prospect of Sydney being anything like Los Angeles. In relation to Melbourne, it is far off the planet to put forward arguments about children dying and so on. The honourable member was becoming excited by the sound of his own argument.
The Government is clearly committed to reducing vehicle emissions that are harmful to the health of New South Wales citizens. This Government has demonstrated that is it committed to building better cities on behalf of the people it represents. The people of Ku-ring-gai and the people of Bulli would expect the Government to do that. Thankfully for the people of Bulli and the people of New South Wales, the Government is doing that. The Government is committed to building better cities, which includes improving air quality. I will mention briefly six things that the Government is doing. Earlier the Minister expanded on these six things. First, stringent emission standards for new vehicles are being set. Second, a motor vehicle maintenance program will be put in place to monitor emissions of vehicles already on the road. Third, new engine technology and environmentally friendly fuels are being promoted. The Federal Government could do more than it is doing now to help in that regard.
Fourth, the Government will attempt to influence travel behaviour through education. The Government believes in the use of mass transit, where possible and available. Fifth, the Government will encourage the availability and use of less polluting modes of transport, such as bicycles and public transport, to which I referred earlier. Sixth, the Government will promote urban design strategies to reduce the need for motor vehicle use. The Government is already doing work in those areas and, since 1988, it has been committed to doing that work. The Government has encouraged people to report cars that smoke them out when they are sitting behind them. If people report those vehicles to the Environment Protection Authority - this is where the community can play an important role - they will be dealt with under current law.
But the Government is not stopping there. The Roads and Traffic Authority and the Environment Protection Authority are investigating all the complex questions quite rightly raised in debate by the honourable member for Kogarah. We do not agree that another parliamentary select committee is needed to do this. The honourable member for Kogarah has asked this Parliament to send members of the proposed select committee to the United States of America, Canada, Europe and other places to investigate what is being done there. The United
States of America is already having trouble determining the best course of action to follow. If members of the select committee travel to the United States they will find that the United States cannot establish the best tests.
In the transient test, for example, 25 per cent of vehicles tested by the Environmental Protection Agency initially failed the emission test, but when they were tested again they passed. The United States has had trouble tracking down the best tests to use. The emission test alone would probably cost $1 million for equipment and infrastructure and the establishment of stations. The cost of the test for individuals would be $60. The United States is facing significant problems. The EPA and RTA are monitoring studies conducted in the United States and are working in parallel with them. Work is already being done by government agencies, so there is no need for a select committee to be established or to go overseas to determine something about which the RTA can already advise the Parliament and the Government. No one disagrees that we need a better strategy. The Government is working towards a better strategy. The Government is committed to building better cities and control of vehicle emission problems is an important part of it. We do not agree that another select committee should be established to waste the time of members and to waste the money of the people of New South Wales. The cost of such a select committee would be phenomenal. [Time expired
(Kogarah) [12.12], in reply: How dare the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai flippantly talk about children in Sydney dying of asthma! He said that children are dying, and so on. He is a disgrace. He should leave this Chamber now and hang his head in shame.
On a point of order: the honourable member for Kogarah has transgressed the rules of this House. He has made a substantive attack on me. He should be directed to withdraw what he said, particularly in light of the fact that, in his opening remarks, he said that I spoke of children dying of asthma. That is wrong. I said nothing about asthma. In fact, I was quoting the honourable member for Bulli, who spoke earlier about the death of children. The honourable member for Kogarah was not listening. His reflection on me, first, is factually wrong and, second, is out of order as it was a substantive attack on my rights as a member. The honourable member for Kogarah should apologise.
Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Rixon):
Order! My interpretation of what was said by the honourable member for Kogarah is not the same as that of the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai. The honourable member for Kogarah may continue.
The Minister for the Environment claimed that the Government was taking a proactive approach, which is a destruction of our English language. One is either active or one is not. Obviously, this Government is not active. The Minister claimed that the Government was spending $10 million on a metropolitan air quality study. I wish to refer to what the Total Environment Centre had to say about that:
We don't need any more submissions or studies on air pollution. Enough is known already about the sources of air pollution and its health effects. What is needed is some action by the State Government taking what we usually call hard decisions.
The Minister would not know what a hard decision was. How will more data on vehicle emissions and vehicle usage resolve existing problems? For heaven's sake, we have had studies and reports and we know what the problems are! Let us establish a committee to determine how to test vehicle emissions and how to go about reducing them. We do not object to research, but what is required is action. Research is not a substitute for action. The Minister referred also to educating and training people in the motor vehicle industry. The TAFE course to which the Minister referred will not be ready until mid-1995. TAFE cannot introduce a program before 1996-97. The Minister and his little mates opposite are prepared to wait for another three or four years while children in Sydney, particularly western Sydney, continue to die. The Government continues with its agenda, which is achieving nothing. How about some action, Minister? Government members have been hypocritical enough to talk about implementing strategies so that people use public transport. They have the hide to come into this Chamber and suggest that this Government is doing something about public transport!
What did the honourable member for Davidson say last week about building a tollway? He thought it was a great idea. What about some public transport on the northern peninsula? The honourable member for Davidson thought it would be fine to build a tollway as long as people were charged only $1. Tell that to people in western Sydney who pay $2. How about some public transport initiatives? The Minister for Transport and Minister for Roads is at Mortuary Station now announcing a further cutback in country rail services. Government members should not come into this Chamber and talk about this Government doing anything about public transport. I do not know what members opposite had for breakfast. Perhaps they did not get enough sleep or something. It is ridiculous!
The Minister for the Environment claimed that people in the RTA and the EPA, who are currently working on this issue, are the only ones who can advise the committee. I would not accept advice from the RTA on anything! I would not believe the RTA if it told me what the time was. I do not believe people at the RTA know how to get home at night. What about independent experts and academics? For honourable members opposite to suggest that the proposed committee would be unqualified is like suggesting we should not have standing or select committees at all as they would all be unqualified. I am sorry, Minister: I admit that I am not a motor
mechanic. I am not even a scientist. The Minister claims that all select and standing committees are no good because they do not have the necessary expertise. We require a select committee to ensure that as quickly as possible we get to the bottom of vehicle emission testing and rectifying pollution problems caused by motor vehicles. [Time expired
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put.
The House divided.
Ms Allan Mr McManus
Mr Amery Mr Markham
Mr Anderson Mr Martin
Mr J. J. Aquilina Mr Mills
Mr Bowman Ms Moore
Mr Carr Mr Moss
Mr Clough Mr J. H. Murray
Mr Crittenden Mr Nagle
Mr Doyle Ms Nori
Mr Face Mr E. T. Page
Mr Gaudry Mr Price
Mr Gibson Dr Refshauge
Mrs Grusovin Mr Rogan
Mr Harrison Mr Rumble
Mr Hatton Mr Scully
Mr Hunter Mr Shedden
Mr Iemma Mr Sullivan
Mr Irwin Mr Thompson
Mr Knight Mr Whelan
Mr Knowles Mr Yeadon
Mrs Lo Po' Tellers
Mr McBride Mr Beckroge
Dr Macdonald Mr Davoren
Mr Armstrong Mr O'Doherty
Mr Baird Mr D. L. Page
Mr Beck Mr Peacocke
Mr Blackmore Mr Petch
Mr Causley Mr Phillips
Mr Chappell Mr Photios
Mrs Chikarovski Mr Richardson
Mr Cochran Mr Rixon
Mrs Cohen Mr Schipp
Mr Collins Mr Schultz
Mr Cruickshank Mrs Skinner
Mr Debnam Mr Small
Mr Downy Mr Smith
Mr Fraser Mr Souris
Mr Glachan Mr Tink
Mr Hartcher Mr Turner
Mr Humpherson Mr West
Dr Kernohan Mr Windsor
Mr Kinross Mr Zammit
Ms Machin Tellers
Mr Merton Mr Jeffery
Mr W. T. J. Murray Mr Kerr
Mr A. S. Aquilina Mr Fahey
Mr Neilly Mr Griffiths
Mr Newman Mr Hazzard
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.