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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3074 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

The details of the protection measures, those very extensive details, are contained in food safety standards that provide one set of standards for all of Australia. They are now incorporated into the foods standard code and, with the passage of this legislation, the code will be operative in the ACT.

This legislation does allow community charity groups, for example, to continue. That is a question I asked because we track around and go to fetes and the like, and if there is a limited number of occasions for a group in a year they are able to operate under this legislation. I certainly hope that the requirements on those bodies are still policed, because I think that is where I got into strife on one occasion.

This legislation does have some labelling requirements, but it does not cover what I hope we get to in the future, and that is labelling that details the level of various elements in the food. Most of us are now beginning to look to see how much fat, for example, is incorporated into any product that we buy, and I think that is a very important measure. That is something that will be considered in other circumstances. It is not covered in this legislation.

I notice that the scrutiny of bills committee had some comment. I took very careful note of that, and I read what the minister had to say in response. The scrutiny committee, properly, is very protective of the rights of the citizens of Canberra and we pay close attention to what it says, but I noted the minister's response and I accept it. I am only too happy for that committee to be on the alert because I think we can see a tendency, as time goes by, to be a bit cavalier with the rights that we all have. We are certainly not reducing the rules and regulations by which this society operates. They increase in considerable measure every year, and we are part of that process. But that is required for our protection, and therefore it is worthy of our support, as is this bill. The Labor Party will be supporting this bill.

MS TUCKER (5.08): This bill is basically a re-write of the existing Food Act and it stems from a COAG agreement on food regulation signed last year. I understand that for some years there has been a national food standards code which sets down the compositional and labelling standards for foods manufactured and sold in Australia. The COAG agreement last year extended intergovernmental cooperation on food issues and committed governments to a new system of consistent national food regulations. This covers the adoption of national food safety standards, and a legislative framework covering such issues as definitions, enforcement, offences and emergency powers.

It is obviously in the public interest that the food we buy is safe to eat, both in terms of its nutritional quality and also in being free of biological or other contamination. It is also in the public interest that food be adequately labelled so that consumers can clearly know what they are buying.

Given that there is the free movement of food products across state borders, I can understand the desire for consistent national regulation of the way that food is produced and handled. This bill focuses on the regulatory framework for this, and I have no objections to the bill on this basis. However, this does not diminish my concerns about some of the detail within the national food standards, for example, on the approval and

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