Territory Stories

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 the last 8 to 10 years have occurred at a greater rate than the global average. The ANZEC advised that the ozone layer absorbs harmful ultraviolet radiation and prevents most of it from reaching the earth. It is calculated that, on average, a 1% decrease in ozone concentration will lead to a 2% increase in ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet radiation can damage both protein and genetic material in living organisms. It can cause skin cancer, of which Australia has the highest incidence in the world. In addition, eye diseases and suppression of some human and animal immune respons. mechanisms is predicted to occur as a result of greater ultraviolet radiation. Some decrease in agricultural productivity and marine plant productivity may also result .. However, more research is required to establish these links. I am sure that all members of thi s House share my concern and the concern of the Northern Ter,ritory government at thi s potential for environmental disaster. Further to this, CFCs and ha10ns are known to contribute significantly to the Greenhouse Effect. The Greenhouse Effect is the name given to global warming expected to be brought about by an increase in certain trace gases in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide being the principal one. However, it is estimated that, unless we take immediate action to reduce, if not eliminate, the discharge of CFCs and ha10ns into the atmosphere, by the year 2030 CFCs and ha10ns will contribute approximately 20% to the Greenhouse Effect. Greenhouse gases allow heat from the sun to reach the earth ' s surface, but prevent some of the reflecting infra-red or heat radiation gases escaping into space. It is on this basis that scientists are predicting that a global warming will result, as a consequence of which there will be changes in the earth's climate with sea levels expected to rise and major social and economic disruption as a result. CFCs and halons are widely used in diverse applications throughout industry and the community. Although, in total, Australia's usage of CFCs and ha10ns is only a fraction of global consumption, unfortunately our use on a per capita basis is one of the highest in the world. As a consequence, it would be difficult for us to expect other nations to reduce significantly their use of these ozone depleting substances unless we can demonstrate similarly that we are making genuine attempts to reduce our consumption of these products. CFCs are stable, odourless, non-toxic and colourless. They do not conduct electricity, they are non-flammable and they produce a fine even spray, as a consequence of which they have been used as aerosol products, as refrigerants, as solvents, in foam production, the packaging industry and in fire fighting. I am advised that it is estimated that, in 1987-88, the Northern Territory used approximately 160 t of CFCs, about 1.2% of the total Australian consumption and approximately 0.02% of the total world consumption. Halons are chemicals used in BCF-type fire extinguishers and I am advised that, during the same period, the Territory used an estimated 14.5 t of ha10ns, calculated as 1.7% of the total Australian use. This very high per capita use is believed to be due primarily to the large building program undertaken after Cyclone Tracy when many halon fire protection systems were installed. The potential for destruction that we humans as a species are capable of wreaking on our planet is of sufficient international concern that a Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was signed in Vienna in 1985 by 16 countries, including Australia. Under the provisions of the convention, a separate agreement, known as the Montreal Protocol, on substances that deplete the ozone 1 ayer, was f1 na 1i sed in September 1987. 8818