Food labelling laws

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Dear Editor,

I am writing is response to Bernard Barry’s letter (5/3) about food labelling laws.

Mr Barry is absolutely right when he says the recent berry contamination is just the tip of the iceberg.

However, his other claims are completely incorrect.

Contrary to what Mr Barry says, the Federal Government has not “suddenly galvanized into action because people became seriously ill”.

The National Party has been advocating for country-of-origin food labelling for two decades. On March 27 last year the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Agriculture and Industry agreed to undertake an inquiry. They released their report, “A Clearer Message for Consumers” in October.

What the berry issue has done is increase public awareness and support for something that the farming and fishing industries have long been calling for. Widespread media coverage and public debate has brought the issue to a head, prompting the relevant Ministers to prepare an urgent submission for Cabinet consideration.

I’m not sure how Mr Barry can claim that there are only two major food processing plants left in Australia, when we have several right here in the Hinkler electorate. They export to the world and together they employ hundreds of local people.

It is the two major supermarket chains that are enthusiastic about cheap inferior imports, not the Government. Intent on cutting costs wherever possible, they source products from overseas markets where labour is cheap, and biosecurity and health regulations are almost non-existent.  

The Government will take action on this issue to support our farmers and give consumers real choice, but Australians also need to get on board – shop local and always read the label!

Keith Pitt MP

Federal Member for Hinkler   

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