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Media Release 5th September 2000

Green Games Sham - Visitors Will Breathe Leaded Air - Why?
55 Countries Will Have Banned Leaded Petrol Before Australia Does

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If countries like Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Colombia and Haiti have already phased out leaded petrol - why can't Australia? (See full list of the 55 countries overleaf.) Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Spain and Australia are the only OECD countries that will have failed to phase out leaded petrol by the end of 2001.

"I don't mind how much money the government collects in petrol excise as long as it is spent on public transport, bicycle tracks, walkways and other programs that improve our environment, especially phasing out leaded petrol and cleaning up the lead contamination" says long-term lead campaigner Elizabeth O'Brien.

"The only federal budget details I have been able to track down specifically for Lead Abatement were for the Commonwealth Environment Protection Agency's [CEPA's] main Lead Abatement activities (in a fax dated 2nd May 1994). This amounted to $37 million over the next four years, ie 5.1% of the leaded petrol excise income of $725,000,000 up to January 2000" says O'Brien, who is the National Coordinator of The LEAD Group.

"The remaining money could be put toward actually carrying out the Recommendations for a National Strategy, published by the National Health and Medical Research Council in 1993 (e.g. making sure the 600,000 Australians who drink tankwater aren't being lead poisoned, after a Victorian study found one in every four tanks exceeds the lead guideline.)

"Or for any number of other actions, like:

  • cleaning up all the lead shot from Australia's 350 shooting clubs such as might be done for the Olympics clay target club

  • making sure Australia isn't the last OECD country to phase-out leaded petrol. Etc etc.

"Meanwhile the NSW Environment Minister, Bob Debus, claims that the NSW Health Minister says NSW blood lead levels are "well below national health goals" thus ignoring the fact that there were over 700 NSW notifications in 1999 of blood lead levels one and a half times the national goal. And these 700 cases of levels above 15 micrograms per decilitre are truly the tip of the iceberg, for blood lead testing is exceedingly rare.

"My question to federal Environment Minister Senator Hill is, if Environment Australia [previously known as CEPA] has given a paltry $15,000 annual grant to the Lead Advisory Service Australia (run by The LEAD Group), has he put any other petrol excise income to good use for the environment or health? If so, what? When will Australians see some environmental health benefits of paying all this petrol excise?"

The latest LEAD Action News is available by calling (02) 9716 0014, Elizabeth O’Brien is available for interview on this number.

Global leaded petrol phase-out SCORECARD

The following lists of countries have or will have achieved leaded petrol phase-out before Australia does, i.e. before 1st January 2002.

The source of the information on Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries is the International Lead Management Center (USA).

Also see www.ilmc.org/rptcard.pdf

Non-OECD countries

Argentina, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Guam, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Monaco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Slovakia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands.

OECD countries

Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.   ###

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Last Updated 09 March 2012
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