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Government downplaying risks of mobile phone towers.

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Senator John Cherry Communications spokesperson Australian Democrats

July 13, 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/511

Government downplaying risks of mobile phone towers The Federal Government is continuing to downplay the risk of electromagnetic radiation from mobile phone towers and should be offering active support to the Federal School community in who are opposing a phone tower base station being built near the school, according to the Australian Democrats.

Democrats Communications spokesperson Senator John Cherry, who meets with concerned residents at Federal today, said the relaxing of the national standard on phone tower radiation by the Federal Government last year ignored the precautionary principle, and the most recent research on health effects.

“Standards Australia and the CSIRO warned that there was no case to relax the standards to allow for higher levels of radiation, but the Government proceeded anyway to back industry calls to allow for higher levels of radiation,” Senator Cherry said.

“Yet research collated by biophysicist Neil Cherry, after reviewing over 600 studies, found that the level of radiation needed to impact on health could be as low as 3% of that which current regulators regard as safe.

“The Government will now also have to contend with the groundbreaking NSW Court of Appeal decision last week upholding a council decision to reject the siting of a mobile phone tower on environmental grounds.

“The Democrats believe that the precautionary principle should also apply more emphatically on health as well as environmental grounds.

“The Democrats initiated a major Senate Inquiry into electromagnetic radiation, which recommended a wide-ranging research plan and more sensitive siting of mobile phone towers. In the last year, some of the recommendations of the Inquiry have been accepted including:

- The setting of a Code of Practice discouraging the siting of towers in ‘community sensitive’ places such as schools, hospitals and aged care centres;

- The establishment of a $2.5 million Centre of Research Excellence into Electromagnetic Radiation;

- The establishment last week of a Health Complaints register by ARPANSA (the radiation levels regulator).

“The Democrats strongly back the efforts of the community of Federal to prevent the inappropriate siting of mobile phone towers. We have led the campaign in Federal Parliament to give the community more rights over tower sittings for five years.

“The Federal Communications Minister needs to start listening to the community and taking account of what the health researchers and the courts are saying, and act to prevent the siting of phone towers in inappropriate places like our schools,” Senator Cherry concluded.

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