Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 2944 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
There has been an issue raised that there are problems with the definitions of what is irradiated and how foods are handled; for example, "bacteria" is not included in the definition. Mr Connolly has the resources of a backbench member. Sometimes it is difficult to get these things right. That is why I am quite content today to look at passing this Bill in principle and then to look at these issues. I would have thought the normal approach, where a government is concerned about those things, would be that they should take the same approach as backbench members take. If we do not like something we prepare amendments to their legislation. If you do not like something or you think that there is an inadequacy in a particular piece of legislation, then you prepare amendments to correct what you see as inadequacies. That having been said, there was an understanding among members, I think for some months, that, although the Government would oppose this legislation, members would take it to the in-principle stage and not to the detail stage at this point. Therefore, I accept that there is time to prepare amendments to the legislation over the next six months or so.
The Government is advocating the mushroom principle here; that is, keep people in the dark, feed them on manure and you do not have to worry. This legislation, which is much more consistent with the normal approach of open government that you have stood on, advocates that - - -
Mr Humphries: We did not sign this agreement.
MR MOORE: I am talking about this piece of legislation, not the agreement, and the way that you are arguing today against people being informed. This is a question about people being informed.
Mr Humphries: There is no irradiated food.
MR MOORE: You keep arguing, "There is no irradiated food". Tell me that there is no genetically engineered food. It covers both.
Having put that one in with the mushrooms - perhaps in with the toadstools - it is time now to look at the actual role of this Bill. By agreeing to this Bill in principle today we will send a message to Ministers and the National Food Authority that it is time that they did a bit more work on this - and I understand that the authority is doing work on this; that it is time to speed up this work and not rely on paragraph 3 of section 5 of that agreement, because it was signed by a previous government under different circumstances; and that we are prepared to look at these issues again.
The message still is that we are only passing it in principle and that we would prefer the National Food Authority to do the work and bring it back by way of a national agreement. That is the preferred way to do it, but it is time that it was done. It is time that people were able to make their own decisions about whether they want to use food that has been subjected now to genetic engineering or at some time in the future will be subjected to irradiation. We all know that there is a constant push for irradiated food. We will send that message. I am prepared to do that; I am prepared to support this legislation in principle. I understand that Mr Connolly will be moving for the adjournment of clause 1. I am happy to support that as well.