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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 3119 ..

Wednesday, 22 August 2001

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.

Eggs (Labelling and Sale) Bill 2001

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

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (10.31): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, the bill I table this morning is a measure designed to ensure that the ACT's existing provisions in relation to egg labelling remain in force. The debate yesterday over the Food Bill highlighted the problems that currently exist in the proposed new arrangements under national agreements in relation to food safety laws and the impact they will have on our existing egg labelling provisions. The egg labelling provisions originally approved by this Assembly in 1997 were inserted into the existing Food Act. The passage of the Food Bill yesterday deletes those provisions from the new Food Act because of requirements for uniform national food safety laws.

My bill today, therefore, ensures that the provisions for egg labelling in the ACT remain in force. My bill sets out clearly a stand-alone piece of legislation that provides for the existing laws to remain in force.

In brief, the bill outlines the requirements for egg labelling, the requirements for keeping of hens and a regulation-making power. This bill simply transfers the existing arrangements under the previous Food Act into a new stand-alone piece of legislation.

Members would be aware that there has been quite a deal of debate nationally in relation to a model uniform national provision for hen egg labelling. It may be the case that in 12 or 18 months time those new egg labelling provisions will become mandatory. At that stage, the Assembly may well need to revisit this bill if it is passed later in this sitting period. But at the moment there are no mandatory egg labelling provisions nationally, and therefore the ACT's egg labelling provisions continue to lead the nation in rigour and the amount of consumer information they provide.

The Labor Party believes that the ACT's egg labelling laws are the best in the country. They provide consumers with the information they need to make a properly informed choice about eggs, where they are produced and the conditions under which they are produced. We believe that this is the approach that should be adopted by other jurisdictions nationally. However, if other jurisdictions choose to impose upon the ACT a nationally agreed scheme which is less rigorous than our own, that will be a matter for this Assembly to decide at a later time. In the interim, Labor believes it is appropriate to

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