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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2644 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

additional training levy revenue providing more funds for training in the ACT. This is the only impact on business.

Mr Speaker, construction and development companies would also welcome more appropriately qualified personnel, such as engineers, quantity surveyors and architects, being available to determine the value of non-building work. The definition has been broadened in such as way as to make clear that if, for example, cables are laid by a telecommunications company on land owned by the ACT government, the levy will attach to the telecommunications company as owner of the work, not to the ACT government.

As members can see, the amendments are quite simple and straightforward. They make a significant improvement to the act. The technical amendments bring the act into line with current drafting practice. Mr Speaker, I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Berry ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Food Bill 2001

Mr Moore , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services) (11.04): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The ACT Department of Health, Housing and Community Care is notified of around 650 cases of food-borne illnesses each year. International studies suggest that these reported cases may represent only 1 per cent of the total number of actual cases which occur in the ACT. Taking account of the underestimation, there could be as many as 180 cases per day or 65,000 cases per year of food-borne illness in the ACT. Nationally, this suggests that each day around 11,500 Australians get sick with food poisoning.

This problem is costing our community, including the food industry, far too much in human and economic terms. Data suggests that the nation's annual bill for food-borne illness is about $2.6 billion per annum, or $5 million a week. For the ACT, this equates to around $29 million per year or $560,000 a week. As we all know, food poisoning is not an illness to be taken lightly. It can kill. The people who are most vulnerable are the elderly, children and those with suppressed immunity to infections.

To attempt to combat the ever increasing rate of food-borne illness and to standardise the composition and labelling of food, in 1991 the Australian states and territories agreed to adopt, through an intergovernmental agreement, a national system for food regulation. This agreement included details on the creation of the national food authority, a ministerial council, an advisory committee and the uniform adoption of the Australian food standards code. The food standards code prescribes compositional, chemical, microbiological and labelling standards for food manufactured and sold in Australia. Essentially, it regulates what can be put in food and how it must be labelled.

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