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Tuesday, 24 February 2015
Page: 1085


Mr PITT (Hinkler) (13:49): Nationals MPs and senators such as John 'Wacka' Williams have been fighting for more accurate country-of-origin food labelling for more than a decade. We place enormous red-tape burdens and cost pressures on our growers to ensure that Australian produce is of the highest possible standard. Much of it is exported overseas. And because our supermarket duopoly is hell-bent on cutting its own costs wherever possible, they stock our own shelves with inferior foreign imports. I am tired of seeing our growers being squeezed for every last cent, when overseas growers do not have to meet the same biosecurity and health and safety standards. Australians deserve a clear choice and to know exactly what it is they are buying.

There have been countless inquiries and reports over the years, but to no avail. Today we find ourselves in a situation where 18 Australians have contracted hepatitis A from frozen berries sourced from overseas. I have spoken before in this place about the import risk assessment processes for ginger, pineapples and melons. The scientific process that determines whether produce from a particular country should be allowed into Australia is lengthy and detailed. There has been widespread debate about our screening systems. But in my mind the solution is simple: give Australians the choice. Clear labelling will ensure they are informed about what it is they are buying and feeding their families. Saying the product is 'made from local and imported ingredients' does not cut it! I say: no more! There is a simple fix: 'proudly Australian grown product of Australia'.