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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 386

Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (18:29): I have a number of questions in respect of the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Country of Origin) Bill and in relation to the second reading amendment which was just defeated. I outlined the basis of that amendment in my second reading contribution—in other words, that there be an administrative arrangement to determine whether labelling laws were being complied with. In particular, this matter was raised in the context of the inquiry into this bill. It seems to me that there ought to be an analysis and report on the benefit of an administrative mechanism which would give manufacturers the ability to apply for a ruling on country-of-origin labelling claims. In my additional comments in the Senate committee's report into this bill, I made a recommendation that legislation ought to be introduced to this effect.

What I respectfully put to the minister is that there is a real issue as to how the supply of inputs is determined to be Australian or not. In particular, Australian Made Campaign Limited, whilst it supported the removal of the 50 per cent cost test, noted:

… some concerns that it may result in adverse consequences for some Australian suppliers of inputs. This will occur where a manufacturer opts to source cheaper inputs offshore, knowing that it will not affect their capacity to make a Made in Australia claim. An example of this is a manufacturer of soft gel capsules who currently purchases gelatin from an Australian manufacturer because it assists them to meet the 50% threshold. The local packaging industry may also be impacted adversely by this change.

AMCL raised concerns that there was currently no mechanism by which manufacturers could obtain a definitive answer regarding country-of-origin claims, and this could result in companies being hesitant to make a claim for fear that competitors would challenge its validity. That is contained in the committee report. So that is a particular issue that I would be grateful if the minister could address. Australian Made Campaign Limited is well known and it made a very cogent submission, and there does not appear to be any administrative mechanism to deal with the concerns made by Australian Made Campaign Limited.