Upper Hunter candidates invited to attend air pollution summit at Upper Hunter Conservatorium of Music

DOCTOR'S ORDERS: Dr Richard Abbott will be in attendance this week as politicians are invited to have their say on the region's air pollution.
DOCTOR'S ORDERS: Dr Richard Abbott will be in attendance this week as politicians are invited to have their say on the region's air pollution.

POLITICIANS and air pollution are often associated with each other, but on Tuesday, March 12, it will be in more than a colloquial fashion.

The local candidates contesting the state seat of Upper Hunter have been invited to a Muswellbrook forum regarding the issue, which has plagued the community for decades, and locals are hoping to get some promises of action this time around.

Dr Ben Ewald and John Van Der Kallen, who are both lecturers at the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle, will be making speeches on the night.

Well-respected Scone general practitioner Richard Abbott will also help coordinate the function and said they’ll tackle the important topics.

“The Doctors for Environment Australia have been doing some work around air quality and the issues coming out of power stations and mining,” he explained.

“And, we just wanted to have a bit of a discussion around presenting some of the issues around air quality and then having the candidates offering us their opinions.”

In regards to what he and the other guests are hoping to hear on the night, he said the development of an actual policy or agency to propose to state government would be a good result.

“NSW doesn’t have a clean air act, we have Clean Water Act but there’s no real control of the emissions that are coming out of various sources,” he said.

As a local in the area, Dr Abbott himself admits he has tribulations about pollution in the Upper Hunter and would like to see some change.

“I, absolutely, do [have concerns], the Hunter Valley has been increasing air alerts coming from the EPA monitoring stations… the most consistent contributor is mining activity the western Muswellbrook,” he said.

Not all candidates have promised their attendance yet, but he remains intrigued to see what is said on the night.

The event will take place at the Upper Hunter Conservatorium of Music from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

However, questions will need to be submitted prior to the beginning of the forum.

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