NGO Power Versus Leaded Petrol in New Zealand

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This paper outlines the key role of non-governmental organisations(NGOs) in New Zealand's steps towards the removal of lead additives from petrol. Their actions had a significant effect on the Government's decision in 1984 to introduce lead-free petrol. This was despite resistance from officials within government departments such as Health and Energy, who were subject to intense lobbying by the suppliers of lead additives, Associated Octel. In a small country, with limited expertise among government officials, the NGOs were able to provide a broadly-based perspective from which to assess the competing demands of national energy policy, child health, the influence of the lead additive industry, the impact of fuel changes on vehicle performance, the release of emissions other than lead, the composition of the New Zealand vehicle fleet, and the refinery options for New Zealand. The NGOs strongly urged the need for a precautionary principle in decision- making. Their campaign provides an example of "popular epidemiology", in which community activists take part in environmental health issues that are usually the province of professionals. This included the involvement by these groups of other experts who were not aligned with either officials or industry, as well as highlighting offical delaying tactics in the form of unrealistic standards of proof.


Keywords: Lead-free Petrol, Popular Epidemiology, NGOs, Environmental Health
Stream: Environmental Sustainability
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: , , NGO Power Versus Leaded Petrol in New Zealand


Dr. John Horrocks

Senior Lecturer, School of Health and Wellbeing, Wellington Institute of Technology
Wellington, Wellington Province, New Zealand

John Horrocks is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health and Wellbeing at the Wellington Institute of Technology. He teaches psychology and research methodology to students studying health psychology or taking degrees in counselling or alcohol and drug studies. He has an MA in psychology from Auckland University and a PhD in English from Victoria University.He has wide experience of community campaigns on environmental issues, including two years as a full-time organiser and researcher for Friends of the Earth. He was the editor of "From Manapouri to Aramoana", a history of environmental issues in New Zealand during the 1970s, and has written several articles on the issue of lead additives in petrol, including one as co-author of a leading article in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

Ref: S08P0100