Welcoming Prime Minister Julia Gillard's call for more scientific investigation of the impact of coal dust on the health of Hunter communities, Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon said the next step should be federal government support for the long running community and Greens' campaign for a parliamentary investigation into this very issue.
"A parliamentary inquiry into the impact of coal dust on the health and well being of Hunter communities is long overdue," Senator Rhiannon said.
"The Greens already have draft terms of reference for this inquiry and with the Prime Minister's statement I am more hopeful that Labor will work with the Greens to ensure there is a thorough investigation.
"I will move to establish this inquiry when the Senate resumes next week.
"It would be a betrayal of the people of the Hunter if the Prime Minister, like her Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese, tried to side step her responsibility and argue that this is a state matter.
"With more than $3.5 billion federal funding driving the expansion of coal rail lines that are adding to the dust burden on local health the Prime Minister needs to face up to her responsibility and come on board to support the Greens inquiry.
"I have visited coal impacted Hunter communities over many years and health concerns are at the top of their list that they want to discuss.
"Many locals have showed me how they wipe coal dust off their kitchen benches every day. They then ask me what is this dust doing when they breathe it in.
"All new coal infrastructure, including the proposed new coal loader T4, should be put on hold until this inquiry is held and then reassessed in light of the findings," Senator Rhiannon said.