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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 384

Senator WILLIAMS (New South WalesNationals Whip in the Senate) (18:23): In continuation of my discussion of the presentation on country-of-origin labelling, this legislation before chamber today amends Australian consumer law to simplify the test used to justify a country-of-origin claim of 'made in' and removes the 50 per cent production cost test. It will make clear that importing ingredients and undertaking minor processes that merely change the form of appearance of imported goods, such as dicing or canning, are not sufficient to justify a 'made in' claim.

I am very pleased to see this legislation getting fine-tuned and coming forward. Also, I support what others have said, and what Senator Macdonald has said, about the seafood industry—in allowing them to be identified more clearly. I was on a Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee inquiry into fish labelling/seafood labelling in the Northern Territory. Seventy per cent of the seafood in Australia is imported. We need to go a step further to see that the people who are eating seafood, like all other foods, know exactly where it comes from. Of course, this also promotes the Australian consumption and jobs in Australia. It is well known throughout the world that, if it is grown in Australia and processed in Australia, then it is good, clean food from the best farmers in the world.

I will conclude my contribution in saying that I welcome the country-of-origin labelling. As my colleague Senator Nash knows, we nearly ran out of puff on this issue at some stage. I said to Senator Nash, 'I've been trying for 23 years to get this country-of-origin labelling. I'm giving up. I'm hitting my head against a brick wall. I'm sick of having a bruised forehead and going nowhere.' Thanks to former Prime Minister Abbott for his decision to proceed with this and to my colleagues in the coalition. The inquiry has been a long period of consultation.

There will no doubt be some fine-tuning required later on. These things are complicated. They may have a negative effect on some businesses, with paperwork and labelling and clarification. We can do that later. The most important thing is: 1 July 2018 is the day when everything must be finalised. The Australian people can learn to read the labels—the bar underneath the green triangle with the kangaroo in it—to see how much is actually grown in Australia. And, of course, they will know that the more that bar is filled up the better quality food they can consume with total confidence. One thing that we have in this country—along with many things that we are good at—is great farmers.