Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (29 November) . . Page.. 5077 ..
clear and accurate information when purchasing free-range eggs and fuel. The bill also enacts necessary amendments to improve the territory's consistency with national regulation of free-range eggs and fuel.
The bill updates the territory's regulation of free-range eggs by amending the Eggs (Labelling and Sale) Act 2001 and the Animal Welfare Act 1992 and creating the new Eggs (Labelling and Sale) Regulation 2018. The bill also changes the territory's regulation of the display of fuel price boards by amending the Fair Trading (Fuel Prices) Act 1993.
I will begin by discussing the bill's changes to the territory's regulation of eggs. The Assembly will be aware that the ACT has enacted progressive laws in recent years to implement best practice conditions for the treatment of hens. In 2014 this Assembly passed the Animal Welfare (Factory Farming) Amendment Bill 2013, which banned battery cage egg production in the ACT. The bill also banned the inhumane practice of beak-trimming fowls.
The ACT has also long advocated for hens that produce eggs to be subject to humane maximum stocking densities. The Eggs (Labelling and Sale) Act 2001, or the eggs act, governs the labelling and sale of eggs in the ACT. The progressive conditions set by the eggs act currently require producers of free-range eggs to keep hens in accordance with the model code of practice for the welfare of animals: domestic poultry. The model code currently recommends a maximum stocking density of 1,500 hens per hectare.
The bill I am presenting today makes a number of changes in the eggs act to the territory's regulation of the production of free-range eggs. The changes are the result of the Australian government introducing the Australian Consumer Law free-range eggs information standard 2018. The information standard imposes new national obligations on producers of free-range eggs which differ from the standards currently imposed by the eggs act.
The coexistence of these two standards in the ACT has created confusion about the definition of free-range eggs that applies in the territory. The bill will align the eggs act with the information standard to eliminate confusion about the operation of the law relating to free-range egg production in the ACT. Notably, aligning the eggs act with the information standard will change the ACT's standard for maximum stocking density of hens producing free-range eggs from 1,500 hens per hectare to 10,000 hens per hectare.
The ACT government continues to believe that a maximum stocking density of 1,500 hens per hectare is the appropriate standard from an animal welfare perspective. The ACT government did not agree to the new free-range eggs standard of 10,000 hens per hectare that was proposed at the 2015 consumer affairs forum. However, the passage of the information standard has limited the ACT government's options in this area. Some provisions of the eggs act are inconsistent with the new Australian information standard, which creates the potential for the provisions of the eggs act to be declared invalid. The ongoing divergence between these territory and federal standards is not good for consumers or retailers.