Page 5798 - Week 18 - Tuesday, 10 December 1991

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Debate resumed from 21 November 1991, on motion by Mr Wood:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR COLLAERY (4.45): This Bill is supported by the Residents Rally. It is a welcome amendment to the air pollution legislation in the Territory. Members will recall the recent furore about lead in petrol and the successful campaigning on that issue by a certain prominent radio journalist in this town.

The Bill seeks effectively to bring the mechanism for notification and surveillance of potential offenders into a more workable form. It is my understanding that this legislation provides for an easier method of dealing with not only those who sell or distribute leaded petrol but also those who have it in their possession.

Members will recall that the Scrutiny of Bills Committee made some slight comments on the Bill in relation to whether a vendor would be strictly liable in certain circumstances. I believe that that has been attended to by the foreshadowed amendment to be moved by the Minister. That effectively deals with the strict liability problem that occurs at proposed new paragraph 42E(1)(b).

The subject is very important to the community. I was surprised some months ago to learn that there is at times quite a variation in the lead content of different deliveries. Although the figures are minute in real terms, there are variations there. I believe that the environmental protection authority in the Territory does a very good job and is very closely attuned to the community's interest in the subject of pollution.

I must be less complimentary of the Australian Institute of Petroleum which, as we well recall, dug in on this issue. It took a sort of a ministerial showdown between Mr Duby and I and representatives of that institute to bring about change in terms of the distribution of petrol that had a lead content. It turned out that there was one refinery in Sydney that for a long time had supplied lead-free petrol and another refinery had not, and the authority, in effect, was effectively covering up for one of the refineries which had not modernised and altered its procedures to take into account the community reaction. I regret to say that the offending distributor was Shell and it was a government contracted party, as well, in this Territory. So, on the Socratic notion of whether we were being exemplary, we failed. Certainly, that is being cured.

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