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Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Tuesday 27 February 1990 of things with which I would like to take issue. The first concerns the honourable minister's mathematical knowledge. At page 3 of his statement, he talks about the short-wave energy from the sun arriving at the earth. He says that about one-thi rd of that energy is refl ected back to space and that, of the remainder, approximately one-third - that is, one-third of two-thi rds - is absorbed by 1 and and ocean surfaces. I s that two-thi rds of the whole or two-thirds of two-thirds? Mr Finch: Four-ninths. Mrs PADGHAM-PURICH: Four-ninths. We are right. Mr Speaker, I was very interested in the honourable mi n i ster I s remarks regarding methane emission and the importance of methane concentration in the atmosphere, as well as the minister's observation that methane gas is emitted by cattle and buffalo. He would have sounded much more educated and scientific if he had said 'ruminants ' . Cattle and buffalo are ruminants but they are not the only ruminants. The honourable minister said that methane concentrat ion in the atmosphere has more than doubled from about 0.8 pa rts per million to 1.7 parts per million. I would like to read from an article in The Australian which commented a couple of weeks ago on the amount of methane emitted into the air, which is very relevant to what the honourable minister said today. The article referred to a Dr Richard Bright, who was born in the 18th century and was phys i ci an extraordi nary to Queen Vi ctori a. It says: I As a young doctor studying at the Pneumatic Institute, he worked on a thesis that tuberculosis could be controlled by inhaling the breath of cows l That phrase puts it very nicely. We all know what 'breath ' means in this case. 'The cows were brought into the bedrooms of unhappy suffers for that purpose. As the animals were readily available, such experiments were reputedly carried out despite the protests of ladies ' . Mr Speaker, we now come to the important information. I would like to stress the importance of this to the minister because I really do not believe that he realises the importance of ruminants in generating income for the Northern Territory. Our cattle industry is very extensive and we hope that it will grow further when BTEC is completed. Of course, we have other ruminants as well. The average cow emits about 100 L of gas into the atmosphere every day. If t~is gas could be harnessed, it would take only a few cows to heat and light the average home. Mr Collins: Can I have a blue one? Mrs PADGHAM-PURICH: Mr Speaker, thi sis ridgy-didge. CSIRO is working on a pill which will reduce this emission of gas. I do not want to use a particular word because it is not polite. Mr Coll ins: Flatulence. Mrs PAGHAM-PURICH: CSIRO is working on a pill which will reduce this emi ssion of gas by at least 20%, the methane equivalent of 2.6 mill ion tonnes of coal in Australia. In other words, the present local cattle population produces a volume of methane gas which is equivalent to 13 million tonnes of coal. Australia exports 110 million tonnes of black coal and the total world production is 326 million tonnes. There are 790 million cattle in the world and therefore their total methane production is equi va 1 ent to over 350 mi 11 ion tonnes of coa 1, whi ch is more than the total amount of black coal mined throughout the world. 8775