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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 11 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 4566..


Food production

Discussion of matter of public importance

MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne): Mr Speaker has received letters from Dr Bourke, Ms Bresnan, Mr Coe, Mr Doszpot, Mrs Dunne, Mr Hanson, Mr Hargreaves, Ms Hunter, Ms Le Couteur, Ms Porter, Mr Seselja and Mr Smyth proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, Mr Speaker has determined that the matter proposed by Ms Bresnan be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

Food production in the ACT.

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (4.23): Thank you for the opportunity to speak on this vital matter of public importance—food production in the ACT. There are a number of elements to a discussion about food production which I would like to touch on today, including food security, the role of land planning in rural and urban environments and what the ACT government can do to assist increased food production.

Food security exists when all people at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Unfortunately, global and regional food insecurity has the potential to dramatically disrupt our livelihoods, our economies, our ecosystems, our biodiversity, geopolitical security and vital life support systems. While the issues surrounding food security are complex, the options for Canberra are simple—Canberra can either not make adequate preparations and remain vulnerable in the face of inevitable future food shocks, or it can become a world leader in its preparations, showing innovation and embracing measures to improve food security in a global and local context.

Many inherent food security risks are already being realised, such as broad-scale food contamination from pathogens and poisonous chemicals and food product recalls. Natural and human-induced disasters are becoming more frequent. Large areas of land and sea near both Japan and Chernobyl are contaminated with nuclear pollution and now threaten multiple food supply chains and the economies of these neighbouring regions.

There are various trends in the food production value chain that currently threaten our food security, including climate change. All these threats present a multiplicity of problems for food security. We also raised the issue of food security after the Pakistan floods and referred to a paper published in the journal Science, which estimated that climate change will threaten the food security of approximately 60 million people in Asia by the year 2050.

Growcom, the peak Australian horticultural body, released its own food security report on 17 March 2011. The organisation's chief executive officer, Alex Livingstone, said that the general public was largely unaware that up to 34 per cent of fruit and 19 per cent of vegetables consumed in Australia are imported. Mr Livingstone said on release of the report:


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