The Government has over-promised and under-delivered on country-of-origin labelling, leaving Australian consumers with a lot of work to do if they want to know where their food comes from.
Today’s announcement does not justify the $15 million the Liberals are planning to spend on a pre-election advertising campaign.
This afternoon, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer and Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash finally presented their long-awaited country-of-origin labelling (CoOL) plan.
Unfortunately, it leaves a lot to be desired.
Last year the Government said that consumers deserved to know the exact origins of their food, today they have conceded that their CoOL plan will not make this possible.
Instead, Australians have been told to go to a website if they want “deeper information” about the items going into their supermarket trolley. This will bring no comfort to consumers who expected more.
Although the new requirements announced today do tell consumers how much of the product (if any) is made or grown in Australia, there is no information about which other country or countries the food has been sourced from.
Officials from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science stated at Senate Estimates in February 2016 that the Liberal Government will be spending $15 million on a country of origin campaign, set to commence in June 2016 – just before the proposed July 2 election.
This wasteful spending of taxpayers’ money is nothing more than a thinly veiled propaganda campaign by the Liberals to spruik their policies in the lead up to the election.
The Abbott Government undertook to introduce new CoOL laws following its inept handling of last year’s Hepatitis A outbreak, which it claimed resulted in over 30 people being infected after consuming imported berries.
At the time, Mr Joyce said that new CoOL laws would give Australians the chance to be sure they were buying from local farmers. He even went as far as to say that: “If you are buying Australian produce, you are buying an insurance premium against getting sick”.
The model Barnaby Joyce and his colleagues delivered today is a long way short of what Australians were promised.
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
SENATOR KIM CARR
SHADOW MINISTER FOR INNOVATION AND INDUSTRY
JOEL FITZGIBBON MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
SHADOW MINISTER FOR RURAL AFFAIRS
STEPHEN JONES MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR HEALTH
ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION