Low Aromatic Fuel (LAF)
As you may be aware, the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) is working in close collaboration with all levels of government, non-government organisations and the private sector to prevent petrol sniffing in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around Australia under the Petrol Sniffing Strategy. A key component of this strategy, led by DoHA, is the replacement of regular unleaded petrol with Low Aromatic Fuel (LAF). LAF has been made available to a number of regions including Central Australia and the Top End of the NT since 2005 and has made a very significant and sustained contribution to reducing petrol sniffing in these areas.
The program has recently expanded to other regions such as the Goldfields in WA and Kakadu in the NT and DoHA is now seeking to make LAF available to the Katherine and Tennant Creek regions in the NT, the East Kimberley in WA, the Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape York regions in QLD, and Coober Pedy in SA. To meet this increased demand, DoHA has undertaken a competitive tender process to identify suitable fuel companies to produce and supply LAF.
I am pleased to inform you that as a result of this tender process BP Australia will continue to supply its LAF (Opal) to Central Australia, SA and parts of WA, including the WA Goldfields and the Ngaanyatjarra lands. Shell Australia will also produce its own LAF and will be the primary supplier to the northern parts of Australia, covering areas such as the Top End of the NT, the Gulf of Carpentaria, Cape York and the East Kimberley. These arrangements, which are expected to start by late 2013, will be supported by increased storage capacity for LAF at key regional centres such as Darwin, Mount Isa and Weipa and greatly boost the Australian Government and communities’ ability to achieve its petrol sniffing prevention goals through a sustainable supply of LAF to the above mentioned regions. In the meantime there will be no disruptions to regions and communities currently receiving BP’s LAF (Opal).
As the rollout of LAF is a voluntary program, DoHA has commenced the consultation process in many of the targeted regions and will continue to work in collaboration with key local stakeholders to ensure LAF is made available to your region as soon as possible and the initiative is supported by the broader community.
You would also be aware of the proposed Low Aromatic Fuel Bill that has been introduced into parliament. The Bill has been passed in the Senate, with government amendments, and is now before the House of Representatives where debate is scheduled for February 2013. The Bill, if passed, will not affect the voluntary rollout of LAF across the planned areas but will provide the means by which the Minister may designate low aromatic fuel areas and prohibit the supply, transportation, possession or storage of regular unleaded petrol in these areas.
Volatile Substance Use Section
Mental Health and Drug Treatment Division
Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing