"The failure by the Howard Government to deliver the promised community education campaign to back-up the roll-out of un-sniffable OPAL fuel in Alice Springs is threatening to undermine the success of the scheme," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.
"Based on previous experience with Avgas and the introduction of Opal to remote communities, the Senate Inquiry into petrol sniffing recommended that community education would be needed for the scheme to succeed," she said.
"However the planned publicity campaign for local papers, TV and radio has been delayed, and the government has failed to respond to ongoing misinformation in the local media."
"All that is needed is a simple presentation of the facts, and yet months have gone by with no response to this misinformation," said Senator Siewert.
"The rollout of OPAL in central Australia has been hugely successful. It has virtually wiped out petrol sniffing."
Opal fuel has been rolled out to two-thirds of the petrol stations within Alice Springs, but complete coverage is needed for the scheme to succeed. Meanwhile those stations who have adopted Opal feel that they are being disadvantaged by unwarranted consumer concerns.
"The Prime Minister must act to ensure that non-sniffable OPAL fuel remains on sale in Alice Springs and central Australia."
"A campaign to educate consumers in Alice Springs about the safety and efficacy of OPAL fuel must be implemented as a matter of urgency," said Senator Siewert.
"Opal fuel is completely safe for use in all unleaded vehicles and will not harm vehicles."
"The Prime Minister cannot allow the health of young Indigenous Australians to be sacrificed for the sake of people worried about their car engines, particularly when those worries have no basis in fact."