Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Government Whip) (18:18): I move:
That this House:
(1) recognises that:
(a) Patrick Ryan, aged 16 years, from Port Lincoln South Australia died in February 2020 at a party with friends as a result of inhaling Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) from a barbecue gas bottle;
(b) a number of young Australians have died from intentionally inhaling LPG; and
(c) inhaling LPG can cause dizziness, coughing, nausea, vomiting, skin irritation, fever, numbness and death;
(2) notes that there is presently no label on LPG bottles warning inhalation may cause death;
(3) calls on the relevant Minister to:
(a) establish an inquiry to investigate the circumstances of such deaths; and
(b) develop recommendations to ensure LPG bottles are required to display a warning label which explains the gas is poisonous and of the dangers of inhalation; and
(4) asks that the relevant Minister consider the recommendations and urgently bring forward legislation, that if passed, will ensure all LPG cylinders in Australia carry the recommended warnings.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is there a seconder?
Dr Gillespie: I second the motion, and reserve my right to speak.
Mr RAMSEY: On 9 February this year, Patrick Ryan, called Paddy, was out having a great time with his mates, when it seemed like a good idea to the rest of his crew, and he joined in, to huff the gas out of a nine-kilogram LPG bottle. It killed him. Quite frankly, there’s no other way to put it. You can imagine the challenge this has been for his family. It’s just the worst nightmare of any family, to have your kid going out having a good time and then their life cut off for no good reason.
There has been a committee formed in Port Lincoln by Paddy’s father, Adrian, and friends to try to bring about some change, to warn on the bottles that this is a very dangerous exercise. At the moment, I don’t think people had even thought of it before. But the idea that there is no warning on the bottle that if inhaled it may kill you—it’s an inflammable gas; you shouldn’t light it in an enclosed space; we’ve got all that stuff. There is a whole range of different things that they can tick off on the bottles, but it doesn’t actually warn you that if you inhale it it may kill you.
Whether or not that would have stopped the kids that night we don’t know, but it would have given them a fighting chance of actually making the right decision.
I have spoken to a concerned parent in Port Lincoln who has spoken to over 90 teenagers since this time and only four of them denied ever having done the same.
We are given to believe that there is more widespread use throughout Australia. I quote from Adrian’s letter to the South Australian government: ‘One in six children in Australia 16 and under will have tried inhaling aerosols or LPG products. America has 1,500 to 1,600 children a year that die from huffing, and it is thought that about 200 a year die from inhaling LPG products. In the period from 2002 to 2014, New Zealand had 60 children die from LPG abuse.’ I also point out that Adrian pointed out in his letter that he found an article dated 2007 of exactly the same death of a 15-year-old in the northern suburbs of Adelaide—just one breath.
I thank Connie Bonaros from SA-BEST. She has brought the issue to the South Australian government through the Legislative Council. The House of Assembly, though, at this stage has elected to defer it for some time. I’ve spoken to the Premier, and he believes, and I believe, and Gas Energy Australia believe that it would be better if we had a national approach on this particular issue, so that when your caravan goes over the border it’s not carrying the wrong labelling. We don’t want states going off willy-nilly all over the place doing their own thing.
I have spoken to the Attorney-General and have advice from him that he doesn’t believe that he has the ability to legislate this at federal level. I accept that advice. But he does say to me that he would be minded to take a leadership role at the next meeting of Commonwealth, state and territory ministers on industrial relations and work health and safety to raise the issue and advocate for reform. I thank him for doing so.
In the view of the people of Port Lincoln, in the view of Paddy’s family, in my view, something needs to be done and it needs to be done urgently before we lose one more young Australian. As I said, it may not fix the issue. We can put all kinds of warnings on all kinds of things and it doesn’t necessarily change the behaviour as we would hope. But, as I argued when we dealt with country-of-origin food labelling, if you don’t have the information you can’t make a sensible decision. If we have the information on the bottle, then at least people know it is a dangerous substance to be inhaled. It could be as simple as requiring every retailer in Australia, when they sell the bottle or when they refill the bottle—this is where it comes a little more complex, of course—that they have a pile of stickers and they just have to make sure that a legible sticker goes on that bottle when it is returned for refill or swap and go or whatever it might be. I think the answer can be simple. Maybe the path to get there is difficult, but I want this looked at the highest level ASAP.