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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3081 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

If Ms Tucker chooses not to seek that advice, that is her business, Mr Speaker. I sought to get as good an understanding as I can as to the most appropriate way to proceed in this matter, and that is what the Labor Party has done. I regret not being able to inform Ms Tucker prior to the debate, but that is just a matter of unfortunate timing, which I am sure all members appreciate sometimes occurs in the sitting period.

Mr Speaker, the Labor Party will not be supporting the amendment today simply because the advice that we have received, and which we are prepared to accept, is that to amend the bill in the way proposed by Ms Tucker will potentially jeopardise the national agreements that have been reached in relation to this legislation, and, further, will seek to put the egg labelling laws in a piece of legislation which will not guarantee their best operation.

As a way of highlighting that, I would stress that to place the egg labelling laws in the Animal Welfare Act will require animal welfare inspectors to enforce the egg labelling provisions in supermarkets, and that approach is one which I do not think is appropriate. I think there are better things for animal welfare inspectors to be doing than cruising the aisles of Woolworths in Dickson, making sure that the egg labelling laws are consistent with our labelling laws. That is one of the perhaps unintentional side effects of Ms Tucker's proposed amendment; that enforcing the provisions that she wants to insert into the Animal Welfare Act will mean that animal welfare inspectors, who really should be out in our rural leases and out at Parkwood, will instead have to spend some of their time checking the labelling provisions in supermarkets. I do not think that is appropriate.

I should stress that the approach that Labor is adopting today is different from that of the Greens, but it is different in a matter of process, not in a matter of outcome. The Labor Party will be moving to ensure that the egg labelling regime, as it currently exists, is maintained in its entirety. I have already indicated to members that I will be presenting a bill tomorrow to that effect. So, instead of having a somewhat unclear situation in relation to egg labelling, we will have a clear legislative framework through a stand-alone piece of legislation, which, as I will argue tomorrow, members should be supporting if they want to support the existing regime. Mr Speaker, we will not, unfortunately, be able to support Ms Tucker's amendment today.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health, Housing, and Community Services) (5.36): Mr Speaker, I have had discussions with Mr Corbell and I have looked at the amendment from Ms Tucker. There is no doubt that the outcome that Ms Tucker seeks is one that the government agrees with. Perhaps if I had put a bit more effort into thinking of the lateral solution that Mr Corbell came up with we would have been able to proceed down that path earlier with less fuss. That is, I think, a sensible approach.

I also indicated to Mr Corbell that I will follow this through and make sure that the commencement of the two acts coincides. I am assuming that the bill that Mr Corbell puts up tomorrow is able to be supported. I assume that it will because it will implement the current system. What will be important to the government is making sure that we commence the new Food Act at the same time that we commence the legislation that Mr Corbell puts up, and in that way ensure a continuity of the current egg labelling scheme here in the ACT. That is what Ms Tucker wants to achieve, I believe, and I think that is the most effective way of doing it.

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