This October marks the 10th anniversary of the conversation of regular unleaded fuel bowsers in Alice Springs to low aromatic fuel.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, attended the anniversary celebrations in Alice Springs today and thanked all who played their part in the roll out.
“The smooth roll out was only possible because of the cooperation of Indigenous organisations like the Central Australian Youth Link-Up Service, the NPY Women’s Council and the Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation as well as the strong support of petrol station proprietors, fuel producers and the people of Alice Springs,” Minister Scullion said.
“Alice Springs was one of the first communities, and certainly the largest, to give it a go and low aromatic unleaded fuel is now seen as a normal part of life. I congratulate the community for embracing the fuel, which has led to a significant reduction in petrol sniffing in Central Australia.
“This has been the experience in many other regions across the country, with low aromatic fuel now available in more than 170 outlets across the Northern Territory, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland.
“To offset costs associated with the conversion to low aromatic fuel, the Coalition Government funds the extra costs of producing, transporting and storing low aromatic fuel.
“In the past I have used my powers under the Low Aromatic Fuel Act 2013 to designate low aromatic fuel areas in and around Tennant Creek, Katherine and Palm Island. I will continue to do so in the future if needed; however only ever as a last resort.”
Minister Scullion said that 10 years ago, people claimed low aromatic fuel would damage engines.
“All the analysis from experts in the field has shown this is not true – the fuel has been tested by independent testing agencies across a range of different car, boat and small motor engines and it is completely safe for engines,” Minister Scullion said.
Minister Scullion said that petrol sniffing can cause major health damage, including social dysfunction and brain damage.
“The report by Professor Peter d’Abbs and Ms Gillian Shaw from the Menzies School of Health, Monitoring trends in the prevalence of petrol sniffing, notes where progress has been made, what is and isn’t working and which communities are still having petrol sniffing problems,” Minister Scullion said.
“This study showed that petrol sniffing has been reduced by up to 88 per cent in areas where the fuel has been introduced. This reduction in sniffing is most significant when access to regular unleaded fuel is restricted across a larger region.
“The roll out of low aromatic fuel is an effective strategy to reduce petrol sniffing in regional and remote areas of Australia.
“I will continue to work with communities, petrol station proprietors and fuel producers to ensure the roll out continues in regions of Australia where petrol sniffing is causing harm to our First Australians.”