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Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Page: 2764


Dr STONE (Murray) (13:49): Australia's reputation is as one of the safest producers in the world of eggs, seafood, meat, fruit, honey, nuts and cereals. Our farmers grow this produce in compliance with some of the world's strictest and most comprehensive food safety regulations. They do not do this because they must, they do it because they are proud to grow and see sold-on some of the cleanest product in the world. This clean production adds considerably to the cost but the dividends have been a rock-solid reputation built in both domestic and international markets. Australian produce is trusted and attracts premiums, and demand is strong.

Unfortunately, unscrupulous food exporters in some countries that have very poor food safety records regularly try to pass off their produce as Australian. We have Koala brand rice grown in Thailand, imported contaminated honey from China being rebranded and re-exported as Australian and apples from South Africa with kangaroo branding.

The defence of our reputation must include strict prosecution and penalties, but I acknowledge that is difficult for a company in Australia to work in these overseas jurisdictions to get a penalty imposed. Part of the solution is to impose much clearer country-of-origin labelling on our own Australian goods, so there is no confusion and we can protect our own stellar reputation, which is the envy of the world.