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Thursday, 4 April 2019
Page: 14933

Food Labelling

Live Animal Exports

Infant Formula

Dear Mrs Wicks

Thank you for your letter of 18 February 2019, regarding Petitions EN0822, EN0799 and EN0789.

I note the petitioners concerns regarding the certification of halal and non halal products, banning of live exports and exportation of baby formula.

In regards to petition EN0822, there are a range of third-party certification schemes operating in Australia to meet consumer preferences. The decision to obtain third-party certification to meet consumer values for products sold domestically is largely a commercial decision for businesses. This is true not only for halal certification but also the many other certification schemes in operation, including organic, fishery stewardship, ethical sourcing, environmental sustainability and animal welfare programs.

In 2015, the Senate Economics References Committee completed an inquiry into third-party certification of food, including halal certification. Evidence received by the Senate Committee as part of the inquiry overwhelmingly showed that halal certification does not result in increased food prices. The government's response to the recommendations of the Senate committee's report was tabled on 2 August 2017. A copy of the report can be downloaded from the Parliament of Australia website

The government is committed to protecting Australia's well-earned position as one of the most successful and cohesive multicultural and multi-faith societies in the world. This success is based on respect for one another's human rights, the law and core values. Australia's approach to cultural and religious diversity recognises that our multicultural character gives us a competitive edge in an increasingly globalised world.

Regarding Petition EN0799 about banning live animal exports. The Coalition Government remains absolutely committed to supporting our hard working farmers and regional communities, including those involved in the livestock export trade. The thousands of people who work in this industry would be unfairly affected by a full ban on the trade. I am taking necessary actions to improve animal welfare outcomes for exported livestock and strengthen regulatory oversight of exporters to make them more accountable for their actions.

The government supported the recommendations of the independent review conducted by veterinarian Dr Michael McCarthy in April 2018 into live sheep exports to the Middle East during the northern hemisphere summer. The review's recommendations are being implemented as a priority, including additional conditions being applied to sheep shipments to the Middle East, An independent Technical Advisory Committee has completed its review of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock and has provided the final report to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. I anticipate the report and the department's response to be released shortly.

Lastly I note Petition EN0789, to restrict the exportation of baby formula. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department) is responsible for the regulation of the export of Australian manufactured dairy products in accordance with the Export Control Act 1982 and its subordinate legislation. All shipments of Australian manufactured infant formula exported in volumes of greater than 10 kilograms per individual consignment must meet strict manufacturing and export requirements, and must be issued with a permit by the department prior to export. Export of individual volumes less than 10 kilograms are not regulated, however the department believes the current regulatory settings are suitable to control the volume of legally exported Australian made infant formula.

The department also continues to work collaboratively with cross-border agencies to investigate allegations around exports of dairy products, including infant formula to China. The penalties in place under export legislation are considerable and where appropriate, include financial and penal provisions.

Thank you for bringing your concerns to my attention. I trust this information is of assistance.

Yours sincerely

from the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Mr Littleproud(Petition Nos EN0822, EN0799 and EN0789)