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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3076 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

minister that they are inconsistent with the national food standards. He has also told us that other health ministers believe that egg labelling is an animal welfare issue and should not be dealt with in food laws. I do not believe that this means that we should just abandon the legitimate decision by this Assembly in 1997 to introduce egg labelling.

As compensation for the wiping out of the egg labelling, the minister has said that the ministerial council responsible for agricultural issues, ARMCANZ, has recently endorsed a voluntary national standard for egg labelling which may eventually be mandated on industry after a new national egg production assurance program. This may be fine, but, knowing how long national agreements can take to be developed and implemented, and knowing the resistance of the egg industry to the exposure of the cruelty of the battery cage system, the implementation of a mandatory national egg labelling scheme may take some time, measured in years, I would think.

We should keep our egg labelling laws in place until we have a better national system. We should not be abandoning egg labelling now in the hope that a national scheme will come along in the future. I will be moving amendments in the detail stage to restore the existing egg labelling provisions.

MR CORBELL (5.14): Mr Wood has outlined Labor's general approach in relation to this legislation. I want to make a couple of points in relation to the egg labelling issue, which is an issue of some importance to the Labor Party, and obviously to other members in this place.

The Labor Party believes that there has been a legitimate decision of this Assembly to proceed with a unique but, I would argue, progressive form of labelling for eggs produced in the ACT. It is an approach which, with Labor Party support, and as a result of Labor's support, passed through this Assembly, as Ms Tucker highlighted, in 1997.

In the passage of that law back in 1997 the Labor Party made a number of significant amendments to that law to overcome the difficulties that were presented with the original proposal put forward by the then Greens member, Ms Horodony. The proposal which Labor had inserted into the legislation dealt with the issue of mutual recognition-that is, the agreement of all states and territories for a unique labelling system. The Labor Party argued that it was clearly necessary, if we were to proceed with a ban on battery cage production in the ACT, to have the agreement of all the states and territories under the Mutual Recognition Act and the mutual recognition agreements which bound all states, territories and the Commonwealth. That provision was a very important one. Amendments that allowed for labelling for battery, aviary, barn and free range eggs produced in the ACT were also passed at that time.

The Labor Party was therefore concerned to see these egg labelling provisions deleted from the Food Bill as presented by the minister. What was perhaps of more concern was not that they had been deleted from the bill, but that in fact they had not been incorporated into any other form of legislation in the ACT. They basically had just been left to drop out. The law was going to drop out of existence. That, from our point of view, was not an appropriate course of action.

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