Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 9 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 3728..
around adequate consultation with the community, particularly in the case of this bill as it will affect the community at large. I would acknowledge that we have been working closely with Ms Bresnan and the Greens on this since the bill was tabled. I think there has been good communication between officers and the Health Directorate in terms of improving the bill. Ms Bresnan has amendments, and so do I, that I think will improve the operations of this bill.
Having said that, I do however accept that I am not satisfied that the consultation to date has been adequate when we are looking at the potential impacts of this change in the way operations will occur. Ms Bresnan advised me that after introducing the bill she wrote to approximately 250 stakeholders, but there are over 21/2 thousand registered food businesses in the ACT and, whilst not all of these would be covered by the legislation, I think it is important to broaden out the consultation.
In response to the targeted consultation, Ms Bresnan received three written responses and one phone call. I think it is interesting that if the government intended to implement change like this we would be required to go through a full regulatory impact statement. I accept that non-executive members of this place do not have the resources available to them to do that type of work, but I think that with legislation like this a robust impact analysis is important. For example, the bill requires food businesses that sell standard food items at seven or more places in the ACT, or 50 or more places nationally, to display point-of-sale nutrition information. The figure of 50 outlets nationally is consistent with the New South Wales legislation which was based on consultation and a regulatory impact assessment.
However, no rationale has been given for the bill's figure of seven outlets in the ACT. Because we do not believe that there has been adequate consultation on this bill, we do not know if there are businesses that will unexpectedly be captured or exempted by this seemingly arbitrary figure of seven outlets. In fact, you could say that the minimum figure of seven outlets has been chosen specifically in order to target certain Canberra businesses, yet, despite this, these businesses may not necessarily understand the impact that this proposed legislation will have on them.
It should also be noted that on 12 August the South Australian government released its draft point-of-sale regulations for four weeks of open public consultation. If the residents of New South Wales and South Australia are given the opportunity to comment on these laws before they are introduced, I think the ACT community should have been afforded the same opportunity.
I will, however, just briefly discuss the position that the Canberra Liberals are taking on this bill today and that has forced the government's hand in this regard. We sought an adjournment of this bill at the in-principle stage because we believed further work and analysis needed to be done on the detail of the legislation. I had assumed that all members of this place would support point-of-sale nutrition information being provided to the Canberra community. This is part of a national move in this direction and it will occur.
I wrongly assumed that all members of this place would support point-of-sale nutrition information and that then we would be able to adjourn so that we could take a bit more time going through some further consultations and detail on how the