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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 396

Senator RICE (Victoria) (19:06): The Australian Greens will be supporting Senator Xenophon's amendment. Overall, we still believe that we have some way to go until we have the best country-of-origin labelling that we need in this country. We feel that there is still room for improvement. We are going to be supporting the bill overall because we think that what has been put forward is a step forward and it is an improvement. It is in that spirit as well that we are supporting Senator Xenophon's amendment. We do not think it is perfect; we think it is probably a reasonable amount of work. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating to see how much value it really would be to consumers.

I do not accept the position being put that it would be too much of a regulatory burden. As Senator Xenophon has pointed out, food manufacturers know where their ingredients come from and, if they do not, they need to know, because they need to have that accountability in the supply chain. So, given that they are paying their bills and know that they bought X-kilograms of walnuts from California or whatever it is, I do not think it is going to be too much for that to be reported in a manner which then gives more transparency and accountability to the Australian consumer and to see that what is on the labels of food that a consumer is buying is reflected and true over a period of time.

I think we are on a journey in terms of this country-of-origin labelling. If we keep on working at it, we will get there and eventually end up with labelling so that we have that transparency and consumers know what they are buying to eat. It does mean that it is going to place more focus on people knowing what they are eating and, because of that, they will be paying more attention to it. I think it will support people in making healthier and more sustainable food choices. This legislation is heading us in that direction. We have still got a way to go, but I think Senator Xenophon's amendment is perhaps going to be only a small step forward to getting some legislation that meets the requirements of healthy, sustainable food consumption in Australia.