Page 3166 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 24 August 2005

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I am going to use coffee as a case study. There is a crisis destroying the livelihoods of 25 million coffee producers around the world. The price of coffee has fallen by around 30 per cent in real terms in the last 15 years to a 100-year low. Our cappuccino prices might go up but the return to farmers in developing countries goes down. Even the World Bank, after doing a study of sustainable coffee markets, has taken a positive stance on fair trade. I have some case studies here but I do not have time to go into them. In short, farmers who grow coffee are now getting less than they put in when they sell it and, given that some of these people are not living on incomes that keep them well fed, that is a disaster.

East Timor, our neighbour, has an interesting solution to this. The Cooperative Cafe Timor is a cooperative organisation of the organic coffee farmers of East Timor. There are currently 19,000 farmer members. East Timorese farmers founded CCT to fill the void left after gaining independence from Indonesia in late 1999. CCT processes, transports and exports the Timorese farmers’ annual coffee crop. Its aim is to get the highest possible price for their coffee, and 98 per cent of these farmers’ income is generated by coffee. The initiative is supported by USAID. It also involves offering primary health services to coffee farmers, which is a good thing, and reducing dependency on aid in the long term.

I now move to Mr Quinlan’s amendment. I cannot see the difference between Mr Quinlan’s part (3), except that his words are less emphatic than ours. I am disappointed in his rejection, or the government’s rejection, of part (4). Just by way of clarification, when we talk about letting consumers know that they are being served fair trade products, it might be a little notice on the table or a sticker near the urn. We do not think that is too hard or undignified. Part (5) of our motion would have led us to be proactive on this issue, just to try and get other government departments doing so.

I think it is disappointing that the government has chosen to pussyfoot on this one—to put just a toe in the fair trade camp instead of an entire foot. I am tabling an amendment to Mr Quinlan’s amendment to ensure that we set an example, that we need to demonstrate what we are doing otherwise there is less point in doing it. How can we be leaders if people do not know we are doing it? We reluctantly accept the replacement words from Mr Quinlan’s part (3) because we think it is important to get the motion through, but we do commend our amendment to you. We are a small Assembly but, by adopting this motion, we can make a difference. In the words of that discredited exploiter of labour, Nike, let us “just do it”.

MR QUINLAN (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Business, Minister for Tourism, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister for Racing and Gaming) (3.55): I will move the amendment circulated in my name immediately. I move:

Omit paragraphs (3), (4) and (5), substitute:

“(3) where possible, and in accordance with prevailing legislative requirements, supports the use of products from accredited ‘Fair trade’ suppliers.”.

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