Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3660..
Question resolved in the affirmative, with the concurrence of an absolute majority.
Eggs (Labelling and Sale) Bill 2001
Debate resumed from 22 August 2001, on motion by Mr Corbell:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MR MOORE (Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services) (5.43): Mr Speaker, the history of this legislation goes back a long way. In this instance it starts with the signing of the 2000 intergovernmental agreement on food regulation in which jurisdictions agreed that they would not create their own unique food standards except where they were of a temporary nature, and then only to protect public health and safety. In accordance with this, the Food Bill 2001 did not include reference to the egg labelling provisions which were contained in the Food Act 1992. This had caused some consternation at both officer level and ministerial level. We had sought a solution that other ministers would agree with but they did not do so. As a consequence that part of the act disappeared.
I regret that I did not come up with the lateral solution that Mr Corbell has come up with. I am very pleased that Mr Corbell has come up with it so that our egg labelling regime can remain in place. The solution put up by Ms Tucker in another attempt to achieve the same goal was unacceptable for a series of reasons, particularly because we did not want it attached to the Food Act, nor even the Animal Welfare Act.
Whilst we await a national agreement of the type that Mr Smyth has been negotiating with agricultural ministers and has largely got agreement on, I think it is appropriate for us to have this interim arrangement. It was never our intention to remove this legislation, and for this reason the government will be supporting this bill. Even though I believe some members of the government did not support the original legislation put up by Ms Horodny, they have now seen that it works okay and have accepted it. We have worked in the spirit of the Assembly's decision to ensure that there is a national regime in place. Until such time as that national regime is in place and is satisfactory to members of the Assembly, this is a sensible interim measure for as long as it takes.
Mr Speaker, I did assure members before, and I reiterate that assurance, that I will not gazette the Food Bill until such time as I am able to also gazette this legislation so that there will be no break in the food labelling regime. Basically this legislation maintains the status quo of how eggs are labelled. That is why the government will be supporting it.
MS TUCKER (5.46): The Greens, of course, also will be supporting this bill. It is obviously just another mechanism that is being used to achieve the objective that the Greens had this week. That was the objective of our original legislation put up by Ms Horodny, so we support it.
MR CORBELL (5.47), in reply: I thank members for their support for my bill. The bill, as Mr Moore has outlined, does maintain the status quo. I would like to thank the Office of Parliamentary Counsel that prepared this bill in a very prompt time frame. I am