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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 5984

Mr CHESTER (Gippsland) (18:18): Just to complete the set, Minister, we will go to fisheries. I know you are quite familiar with the area of Lakes Entrance; you were an active campaigner there in 2007, I believe, in the lead-up to the federal election.

The seafood industry in Gippsland is a very important one, particularly in Lakes Entrance, but on the issue of importations I take up the theme of the previous question. There is a growing concern within the seafood industry in relation to the country of origin of seafood, particularly at the end user stage. There is a concern, particularly in our restaurants and clubs, that there are products being sold as the 'fish of the day', and people are under the misapprehension that they may be buying a fish that was caught locally, when in fact it is an imported product. I have raised this issue before with the government, and I do it again now in the context of food security and food safety. People are becoming more and more aware of where their food comes from, particularly, as we have seen in recent days, with the E. coli outbreak in Europe. It is important that people can be confident in the source of their food, and the deceptive conduct which is currently underway in some of our clubs and restaurants to suggest that some of the products are coming from Australian waters is unfair to local product. The seafood industry has no problem with the fact that we are going to have imported product in the market place—they have no problem with that whatsoever. But in the interests of industry and consumer fairness, it is an issue that the government is going to have to deal with sooner rather than later by providing clear labelling so that consumers can be confident in the country of origin of the product they are eating.