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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1729 ..

Wednesday, 2 September 1998


MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.


MS TUCKER (10.31): I present the Food (Amendment) Bill 1998.

Title read by Clerk.

MS TUCKER: I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, this Bill addresses a growing consumer issue not just in Australia but globally, which is the issue of genetic modification of food. The Bill requires that irradiated or genetically modified food sold in the ACT be labelled to that effect so that consumers are able to make an informed choice about whether they want to buy such food.

This Bill is a slightly modified version of the Bill which members of the last Assembly will recall was presented to the Assembly by former MLA Terry Connolly in August 1995. The Bill was passed in principle in December 1995. Debate on the Bill was then adjourned at the detail stage, but unfortunately the Bill languished on the notice paper and was never brought back for debate. I am disappointed that nobody in the ALP was prepared to take up the issue after Mr Connolly's departure from the Assembly. I have decided therefore to push this Bill along myself as the situation with genetically modified food is becoming urgent.

Mr Connolly was aware, as I am, that there are national agreements in place through the Australia and New Zealand Food Authority for regulating the production and sale of food. However, his intention in presenting this Bill was to get support from the Assembly for the labelling of genetically modified or irradiated food because at that time there were no national agreements in place covering the issue. He wanted the ACT to send a clear message to the other States that they needed to take the issue of genetically modified food more seriously and to take a strong stand about the labelling of such food. In fact, he said that he hoped that the Bill would not need to be implemented because he would prefer the National Food Authority to adopt mandatory labelling on a national scale.

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