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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 2945 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for Consumer Affairs) (10.59): I am not sure what the Assembly is trying to achieve by passing this Bill in principle today.

Mr Moore: Read the legislation.

MR HUMPHRIES: Goodness me; all these voices - by passing the legislation in principle today and not moving to the detail stage. I suppose that it is trying to make some statement about its opposition to irradiated food or its desire for labelling of irradiated food. It would seem to me that there is a better way of doing that, and that is to pass a motion on the floor of the Assembly expressing that point of view. As it is, going down the path of purporting to almost legislate but not quite, because we are not confident that we can go all the way, is a strange and most unfortunate way of doing that.

Can I start by saying that I hope that Rosemary Follett will come down and join in this debate, because it was she who signed the agreement in 1991. I can accept Mr Moore's argument that he should not be bound by an agreement that he did know anything about. We did not know anything about it at the time. I take that point. That is a very good point to make. It does seem very strange that a party that was actually a signatory to that agreement in government should now be flouting that agreement in the course of putting forward this legislation.

Mr Moore: He can be honest now that he is not in government.

MR HUMPHRIES: He can be honest now that he is not in government; that could be the explanation.

Mr Berry: He can be dishonest now that he is in government.

MR HUMPHRIES: We are not talking about you.

Mr Moore: I was baiting you, Mr Humphries, was I not?

MR HUMPHRIES: You were; but you were talking about them. The suggestion was put to me that what was agreed in 1991 was basically a minimum standard; that we were establishing a minimum standard which all Australian jurisdictions would agree to abide by. They could then build on that in individual cases, to create higher standards for their own jurisdictions, if they wished. That is a possible explanation as to how this legislation is before the Assembly today. With great respect, if you look carefully at what was in the agreement signed on 30 July 1991, you will see that that is not the case. It says:

No State -

which includes the Territories -

shall, by legislation or other means, establish or amend a food standard other than in accordance with this agreement.

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