In a first for public health advocacy in Australia, 30 distinguished medical researchers, professors of medicine and health, specialist clinicians, GPs and public health experts have joined forces to send an open letter — attached — to Australian Radio Network (ARN) and its high-rating Sydney station 101.7 WSFM, calling on the company to drop its lucrative sponsorship deal with powerful coal industry lobby group NSW Minerals Council on public health grounds.
Amongst the signatories to the letter are the heads of Doctors for the Environment Australia, the Public Health Association of Australia, the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association and the Climate and Health Alliance.
“Jonesy and Amanda’s Million Dollar Mine” coal promotion is running throughout February on WSFM’s high-rating breakfast program hosted by Brendan Jones and Amanda Keller. The promotion is a partnership with the Minerals Council, whose membership is heavily dominated by coal companies. WSFM’s parent company, ARN, is the largest owner of radio stations in Australasia.
The health experts’ open letter to ARN calls attention to the significant adverse health impacts of coal mining and combustion, including increased risk of respiratory disease, heart disease, lung cancer and premature death. The signatories raise particular concern for the health of children, who are especially vulnerable to the impacts of air pollution from coal.
The letter notes that the promotion of coal would appear to be inconsistent with WSFM Breakfast presenter Amanda Keller’s public commitment to child health as Patron of the fundraising committee of the Sydney Children’s Hospital.
The following experts are available for interview, including on the leadership role of health professionals in communicating the health risks of coal, as they did on the health impacts of tobacco.
Professor Kingsley Faulkner, Chair, Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) (based in Perth)
Professor Faulkner was President of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons 2001-2003 and Professor in the School of Medicine, Fremantle,University of Notre Dame Australia. He is on the Board of the Cancer Council Western Australia and was formerly Chairman of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health.
Dr Merryn Redenbach, Research and Liaison, Doctors for the Environment Australia (based in Melbourne)
Dr Redenbach is a paediatric doctor specialising in Community Child Health and currently works for DEA as Research and Liaison on the health impacts of fossil fuels.
TO ARRANGE INTERVIEWS:
Madeleine Egan 0423 100 113
Annemarie Jonson 0428 278 880