On 9 February 2020, Patrick Ryan tragically died from heart failure minutes after inhaling liquified petroleum gas from a nine-kilogram barbecue LPG cylinder at a house party in Port Lincoln. Paddy's family members have continued to express their concern about the current LPG cylinder warning labels not being adequate and have suggested that there should be mandated warning labels stating 'inhalation may cause death'.
On 17 June 2020, the Hon. Connie Bonaros of another place introduced the Dangerous Substances (LPG Cylinder Labelling) Amendment Bill 2020 and that was passed on 2 July this year with the support of the opposition. The proposed bill seeks to amend the Dangerous Substances Act 1979 by introducing a new provision that requires most LPG cannisters to be labelled with a warning about the danger of inhalation. I note there have been some amendments filed that seek to change the wording and colour standards, insert an exemption for cartridges used in camp stoves and also set out a transitional process in schedule 1.
Currently, I advise the house, the Australian Gas Association is in the process of finalising standards for new LPG cylinder connections that will not allow flow of gas from a cylinder unless it is connected to a gas appliance. These new valves are designed to be rolled out in April 2021, but it is expected to take a number of years before the rollout is complete.
In the meantime, Gas Energy Australia member companies, including Elgas, Kleenheat, Origin and Supagas, have agreed to voluntarily affix labels to their exchange LPG leisure cylinders. Each label includes the words 'intentional misuse by deliberate concentrated inhalation may cause injury or death'.
While the current labels on LPG cylinders include warnings about inhalation, these are not consistent and not as strong as the new warning. The new warning is similar to that on aerosol cans but of course much larger. The fonts of all warnings on new labels, like those on the old labels, are readable, in accordance with the Australian Consumer Law mandate that the font be legible and large enough to read. The new warnings about inhalation are no longer on the other warnings so they do not distract from the other important safety information. Over the next three to six months, the revised artworks will be put into circulation when existing stocks are depleted.
The circumstances that relate to the introduction of this bill and making it a mandatory process have raised some concerns by industry as to how that might apply and, even with the amendments that are foreshadowed, there are very significant areas of concern:
the commencement of the legislation is unrealistic, coming before Christmas, if it is to be assented to and dealt with. It is obviously a very difficult time, with the busy Christmas period and lots of cylinders already out there;
an excessive penalty, they claim, for noncompliance, and obviously we would have to have a look at that;
the added cost on small businesses, with the addition of the new valve coming up in April;
the difficulty in proving that the cylinder had a label when it was hired out, and this may be a deterrent to small businesses;
the challenges and costs associated with retailers who refill cylinders having to label the cylinders that come from customers and from interstate to be refilled;
the small size of the label will not in any case be visible enough to operate as an effective warning; and
the ambiguity, with unintended consequences of the rushed scheme.
With interstate cylinders and the Christmas period coming up, it is going to be unmanageable. They are working on the voluntary compliance with a label that is consistent with what is being sought. I think in that sense that ought to be considered. I propose that this debate be adjourned. I do not think there should be any indication of voting this down.
I for one have not waited for the commonwealth on a number of areas already. Whether it is payday lending or gift card laws, we progress these issues in South Australia if we see them as urgent. I thank the member for raising the issue in the parliament. This is a matter that requires some proper attention. It may take a long time for the commonwealth to deal with how they are going to deal with it, and Australian Consumer Law can take at least a year or so. I understand the importance of this. I applaud the industry for getting on and doing something voluntarily and dealing with it.
I lived half my life in the country, and we have gas cylinders still on country properties. They are obviously used to provide cooking facilities and the like. There are all sorts of standards and rules that relate to the transporting of large gas cylinders. They are in our barbecue facilities. Again, we have them both in urban and rural parts of South Australia. Some of ours are pretty old; a few weeks ago, I had to wash away a few cobwebs from some on Kangaroo Island. We do need to store these things safely. We need to make it clear to young people that these are dangerous products if they are used in any way other than their purpose, namely, for operating barbecues if they are in a recreational facility. It is important as we come up to the Christmas season.
I am proud to say that just today I actually banned Emodka, in case you had not been aware of that. If you want to go out and buy online these little yellow emoji filled vodka balls with a screw tap, you cannot: they have now been banned. From time to time, we do need to act, sometimes really quickly, when there is a situation of risk, and online products are in that category big time. In this instance, we have the industry working to deal with the situation.
It is a tragic story for young Patrick Ryan, and I certainly hope, with the support of his family, to see change. With the sentiments expressed by the member in introducing this bill—the Hon. Connie Bonaros taking this issue up initially—we will exert sufficient pressure on the industry to do something here in South Australia before anywhere else, but if they do not, and we come back here in February, we will obviously be able to take up the issue.
Debate adjourned on motion of Dr Harvey.