When the country’s most populous state’s top two cities, Sydney and Melbourne, experienced large surges of traffic and noise pollution in March, it seemed the country was on the brink of a serious public health crisis.
But there was another problem on the horizon.
While Sydney’s pollution was at record highs, and Melbourne’s had dropped to record lows, the problem for Australia’s public health system was not only Sydney’s but also Melbourne’s.
The nation’s health system has a history of chronic underfunding and lack of transparency, and while it is widely believed that the federal government is to blame for the crisis, experts have pointed out that a number of factors contributed to the state’s record levels of pollution in the two weeks leading up to the March emissions ban.
A number of issues have been identified by experts in the state, including the failure of health officials to monitor and report on the health effects of diesel particulate matter, which causes lung disease and heart disease.
In March, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released a study showing that Sydney had the most polluted day in the country in the past year, with more than one million tonnes of diesel particles spewing into the air.
The report also noted that the peak day of pollution was in April, with peak hours and periods of high traffic being significantly more polluted than the rest of the day.
“In the first 24 hours, it’s almost like the Sydney peak has become an annual event,” Dr. John Watson, a public health professor at the University of Sydney, told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“I mean, the whole system’s failing.””
The state’s health department has also been criticised for its inability to accurately report the health risks of the diesel particulates.”
I mean, the whole system’s failing.”
The state’s health department has also been criticised for its inability to accurately report the health risks of the diesel particulates.
The Department of Health has consistently reported that diesel particulation is not a significant contributor to lung and heart diseases.
In fact, the agency has consistently downplayed the risks of diesel emissions in the Australian Capital Territory.
Dr Watson said that the state had the highest number of deaths from lung cancer in the nation, with about 1,800 in Australia, and about 2,400 in the ACT.
“We are seeing a lot of the population’s health care system is being undermined by the fact that it’s so expensive to treat and it’s very difficult for people to access care,” he said.
But Dr Watson said the federal governments inability to make good on its promises to improve the state government’s health performance in the face of the crisis has also caused a significant gap between the state and the rest in Australia.””
We need to change that and we need to get serious about it.”
But Dr Watson said the federal governments inability to make good on its promises to improve the state government’s health performance in the face of the crisis has also caused a significant gap between the state and the rest in Australia.
“What we need is a national health policy, and it needs to be a federal policy,” he told ABC News.
“What we are seeing in Australia is that when a federal government says it wants to get rid of the government health system, then they will do the best they can, but they can’t do it unless they have some kind of a federal health policy that has a national impact.”
Dr Watson and other experts are calling for the federal and state governments to address the major challenges that the health system faces.