The berries contamination scare took a large slice of the news cycle last week and received its fair share of attention in the House of Representatives.
You can bet a dollar that most people are now checking food labels more intensely than was the case – I sure am.
But as politicians we need to make sure the labels are easy to understand and accurate. Surely that’s something we can find a bi-partisan position on. Beyond that, a community information campaign is needed to ensure consumers appreciate the fact that cheaper imported foods may not be of the same standard in health terms as Australian produce.
We can’t stop imports, imagine if our trading partners blocked ours. We would be the losers – we export two-thirds of everything we produce. But we can get tougher on standards and be more diligent in our screening. The consumer is rightfully demanding nothing less.
The other thing we need to do as a nation is to ensure our own reputation for clean, green, safe, and high quality produce is retained. At the moment it’s only that, a reputation and one founded on results. But what if we have a problem with one of our exported products? What system do we have in place to verify the effectiveness of our farming and quality control systems?
We can’t assume we will always be immune to a failure in our system and we must be ready to respond to it in a way that re-assures our customers to our north.
Last Sunday was Clean Up Australia Day. It was a great opportunity for members of the community to volunteer their time to help keep our town free of litter and to clean up some of the areas that attract illegal dumping activity.
Since the national event started in 1990 Australians have donated more than 27.2 million hours taking to their streets, bushland, parks and waterways on Clean Up Australia Day, removing an estimated 288,650 tonnes of rubbish from 145,754 sites across the country.
My Staff joined members of the Abermain Tidy Towns team at Jeffreys Park and did their bit in tidying up the local area.
Thank you to everyone who gave generously of their time.
Voting in Australia is compulsory, but it is also a privilege. It is important that you exercise your right to vote and to do so you need to make sure your enrolment is up to date.
To check your current enrolment or to register to vote go to www.aec.gov.au and follow the links or call my office for more information. Make your vote count!
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To contact the office, phone 1300 301 753, visit www.joelfitzgibbon.com or by post 3 Edward Street, (PO Box 526) Cessnock, 2325.