Abstract: There have been major reductions in petrol sniffing in Australia over recent years. The rollout of Opal fuel in some of the severely affected regions of Australia is widely regarded as one of the most important contributors to this trend. While Opal is still potentially highly damaging if sniffed, it does not produce the high that sniffers get from sniffing aromatic petrol, and consequently it is much less likely to be inhaled by people in search of a high. In 2005 the Australian Government introduced a whole of government approach to the reduction of petrol sniffing, under the name of the Petrol Sniffing Strategy. Earlier this year the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs investigated the impact of the Petrol Sniffing Strategy to date. It noted the important role that Opal had played in reducing sniffing, and voiced its concern that while Opal had been widely adopted in some regions in central Australia, there remained a number of petrol stations that declined to convert to Opal. The Committee recommended that, unless all relevant stations agreed to adopt Opal, the Australian Government should draft legislation to mandate the supply of Opal in the Petrol Sniffing Strategy Zone. Further, the Committee said, the Australian Government should seek to have relevant States implement such legislation if it could not do so itself. The Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) engaged the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies (SACES) to investigate legislative options and to undertake a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of legislation to mandate the supply of Opal fuel in regions of Australia as a measure to reduce petrol sniffing. In undertaking this task, SACES was also required to assess the expected costs and benefits of legislation requiring the controlled sale and secure storage of premium unleaded petrol (PULP) in those regions. In addition, DoHA required that SACES consider whether the legislative options that SACES considered would comply with the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.
Notes: Report commissioned by The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing
Jim Hancock, Elizabeth Stephens, Anthony Kosturjak, Steve Whetton, Antony Pietsch, John Williams, Anne Hewitt, 2010, Cost benefit analysis of legislation to mandate the supply of Opal fuel in regions of Australia – Final Report, Report, viewed 17 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3036.