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NT councils back non-sniffable fuel roll out

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 14 April 2005

Local councils in the Northern Territory have banded together to unanimously support the roll out of a non-sniffable fuel to combat petrol sniffing in Aboriginal communities.

Councils want the specially-developed "opal" fuel to replace unleaded petrol because it does not have intoxicating properties.

Ray Wooldridge, from the Local Government Association of the Northern Territory, says petrol sniffing is a major issue for Aboriginal communities, even for those without unleaded petrol at their bowsers.

He says a two litre bottle of unleaded petrol can fetch up to $50 on the black market in some communities.

"The effort's been made to overcome the problem using comgas and avgas," he said.

"But unless you can remove the unleaded fuel from the surrounding districts, then it's almost impossible to overcome the problem."

A spokeswoman for federal Health Minister Tony Abbott says the Federal Government has committed $1 million to subsidising the use of opal in 37 communities.

She says the Government does not believe introducing the non-sniffable fuel to 37 communities is a solution to the problem of petrol sniffing, but it is a useful contribution.

The spokeswoman says the Government will look at the results of its current commitment and will consider a roll out of pal across central Australia in the future.

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