Australians are suffering ill health and Australia is incurring economic loss because of grossly inadequate assessment and management of the health harms caused by resource and other major developments.
The rapid expansion of the coal and unconventional gas industries has not only created widespread community concern over health and environmental issues but it has exposed the inadequate processes whereby governments impose projects which in their view are in the interest of economic development.
Each project is subject to an environmental impact assessment (EIA) by the States. As part of this process, there is an expectation that the health effects on workers and communities will be effectively assessed. The process is called Health Impact Assessment (HIA) and if conducted properly according to guidelines it has the confidence of the medical profession.
In the interests of human health, Australia must take a national approach to assessing the health impacts of resource and other heavy industries.
There are two alternatives for reform:
- The establishment of a national EPA along the lines of the USEPA
- The establishment of a body charged with oversight of States’ environmental and health impact assessments for resource and other industry projects.
Both solutions are likely to be resisted by States, Federal Government and vested interests but we maintain that human health and well being must have prime consideration.