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Monday, 31 October 2011
Page: 12244

Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (20:58): This parliament strongly opposes the use of forced child labour or other forms of child exploitation. The Harkin-Engel Protocol has been an important stepping stone in bringing the matter into the public arena and encouraging chocolate companies to open their eyes to the practices in West Africa. This protocol is an international agreement aimed at ending child labour in the production of cocoa.

The protocol laid out a series of data-specific actions working to eliminate the worst forms of child labour. Key actions included the development of a public certification system for cocoa farming, a credible, mutually acceptable voluntary process which would give a public accounting of labour practices in this type of farming. It also gave a commitment to establish a joint international foundation to serve as a clearing house on best practices to eliminate child labour and drive remediation efforts on the ground.

Consumers now have the opportunity to play an active role in discouraging child labour practices by choosing not to purchase chocolate from companies which fail to certify their product free from the use of forced child labour. Public pressure resulted in the decision last year by Cadbury to use the Fairtrade logo on its Dairy Milk bars, which requires it to certify that the cocoa was sourced from farmers in Africa with ethical practices. Similarly, Arnott's announced in 2010 that the chocolate used to make Tim Tams would be sourced from farmers certified by the Fairtrade scheme. All too often we are flooded with foods we know to have been grown using cheap labour, with workers paid a mere fraction of our stringent minimum pay, and some foods which have been subjected to sprays and contaminants our farmers are not allowed to use and would not use. Our quarantine procedures are tight, but little more than a week ago I observed in New Zealand apples ready for shipment to Australia being washed in the same water which had been used on apples sprayed with streptomycin destined for other markets in other countries. If we are going to be fair dinkum about spurning chocolates for one reason or another, we should also be just as consistent about targeting apples, whether they be from China, New Zealand or wherever.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms S Bird ): Order! It being 9 pm, the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 41. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting. The member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed on a future day