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Monday, 21 May 2018
Page: 3845

Infant Formula

Dear Mrs Wicks

Thank you for letter of 5 December 2017 to the Hon. Luke Hartsuyker MP, Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, requesting advice on a petition which asks that sending infant formula via private parcel/courier/shipment from Australia be made illegal. I am responding as the Minister responsible for the matters you raised.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is responsible for the regulation of the export of Australian-made dairy products in accordance with the Export Control Act 1982 and its subordinate legislation. All shipments of Australian-made infant formula exported in volumes of greater than ten kilograms per individual consignment must meet strict manufacturing and export requirements, and must be issued with a permit by my department prior to export. Export of volumes less than 10 kilograms are not regulated.

Many popular infant formula brands for sale in Australia such as A2, Karricare and Aptimal, which are currently being purchased off the shelf and subsequently exported, are not Australian-made and therefore fall outside the remit of the department.

While the department is not responsible for regulating the export of products not manufactured in Australia, officers have worked closely with the larger supermarket chains, the Infant Nutritional Council of Australia, Dairy Australia and local manufacturers, to ensure there remains sufficient supply of infant formula on the local market for Australian parents.

The Coalition Government believes the current regulatory settings are suitable to control the volume of legally exported Australian made infant formula. However, industry and key stakeholder views will be sought on the appropriateness of the current regulatory settings as part of the improvements to agricultural export legislation which are currently being developed. Further information about this process can be found at www.agriculture.gov.au/market-access-trade/export-regulation-review.

The issue of infant formula availability and suitable controls over the export of Australian made dairy products is a challenging issue. I believe both industry and the government share a common goal of providing a safe and high quality product for our domestic and international markets.

I am advised that supermarkets continue to work with their suppliers regarding stock levels and are enforcing limits on individual purchases. Several companies have also made their products available online to ensure supply.

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The department 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 this petition to the government's attention.

Yours sincerely

from the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, The Hon David Littleproud MP