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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

manipulating Fair Dinkim Food Campaign

Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Water and Environment
Wednesday January 18, 2006

Concern supermarkets manipulating Fair Dinkim Food Campaign goodwill highlights need for Labor to finally accept responsibility for enforcing food labelling laws

Shadow Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff today demanded the Lennon Labor Government finally accept its responsibility for enforcing country of origin food labelling laws, amid concerns that supermarket chains are abusing the goodwill generated by the Fair Dinkum Food Campaign.

Mr Rockliff said he was concerned by a number of examples highlighted in the Weekly Times today of supermarkets displaying prominent Aussie-grown signs above produce that is imported.

Mr Rockliff said he found a clear example of this in a North West supermarket this morning where an Aussie Grown sign hangs prominently above pears imported from China. In smaller type is the word imported, but this could mean either domestically or internationally and I had to ask exactly where they were from to discover they were from China.

“This is just not good enough,” Mr Rockliff said.

“Supermarkets appear to have responded to the Fair Dinkum Food Campaign by lifting their rhetoric about supporting Tasmanian, and Australian farmers, but not matching this with their actions.

“Supermarkets know that as a result of the campaign led by Richard Bovill, consumers are increasingly seeking out locally grown produce. But to mislead them is unacceptable.”

Mr Rockliff said when new Food Labelling Laws come into force in six months time, supermarkets will be forced to smarten up their acts but yet they may be able to continue to get away with misleading labelling unless the Lennon Labor Government finally accepts its responsibility to enforce labelling breaches.

“The State Labor Government is clearly responsible for the inspection and enforcement of food labels under the Food Act 2003, and the Health Minister has clear powers and functions under this Act.

“Yet Labor has admitted that this important function is not a priority despite all its rhetoric about supposedly supporting Tasmanian farmers.

“The Primary Industries Minister, Steven Kons, has had more than three months to answer the following questions which I asked him in State Parliament late last year. If he refuses to answer them today Tasmanians will have to draw the conclusion that Labor has something sinister to hide.

These questions are:

· How many prosecutions has the State Labor Government instigated for breaches of country of origin labelling over the past five years?

· How many inspections has the State Labor Government instigated for breaches of country of origin labelling over the past five years? And
· What level of resources has the State Labor Government dedicated specifically to country of origin labelling enforcement and policing over the past five years?

Mr Rockliff said Tasmanians would find it unacceptable that the Premier Paul Lennon and Minister Kons would try to make heroes of themselves during a very serious campaign for tougher food labelling laws while doing nothing whatsoever to fulfil their side of the bargain in terms of compliance inspection and enforcement.

“Tasmanians will rightly question what is the point of tougher food labelling laws if the Lennon Labor Government has not even been enforcing the existing ones,” he said.

For more information, please contact:
Georgia Warner (03) 6233 2370 or 0418 564 073


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