Page 1998 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 6 May 2009

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unknowingly purchasing “vegetarian” cage eggs. The new sign will also alert consumers that the ACT is a jurisdiction that does not support cage egg production.

Members who have looked into this issue before will know that the commonwealth Mutual Recognition Act does not allow the ACT to require particular labelling of egg cartons imported from other states. However, it does allow the ACT to determine the manner in which a product from interstate is sold. That is the approach taken in my bill.

I expect that these changes will make considerable difference to battery cage egg sales in the ACT. Consumers will now have better information about which eggs are which, and they will also be informed that the ACT is phasing out cage egg production. I believe that the more than 84 per cent of ACT consumers who believe that cage eggs are cruel will choose not to buy them. This, of course, is another reason why Parkwood farm is unlikely to re-establish its cage operation outside the ACT.

I urge you to look carefully at the point-of-sale provisions I have proposed. Of course, I am very happy to hear suggestions about how to use the point-of-sale options more effectively. I would point out that these provisions can be implemented whether or not a ban on production is enforced.

Members will be interested to know that IGA stores and Canberra Supabarn have told me that the point-of-sale measures outlined in my bill will be simple to implement and will not increase the price of eggs. In any case, there is no longer a huge discrepancy in cost between cage and non-cage eggs. The highest priced cage eggs are now around the same price as the lower priced non-cage eggs in the supermarket. And if you shop at the farmers markets, you will find that free-range eggs are available there at reasonable prices.

As cage egg sales decline—and especially if Parkwood converted to barn-laid production—barn eggs will lose their boutique premium and they will come down in price. Of course, a cheaper price is not all that matters; we have ethics and standards that we want to meet in our society.

I will finish off by pointing out one further fact. It has been over a decade since the ACT Assembly agreed to the original Greens bill to ban the sale and production of battery cage eggs in the ACT. At that time, Mr Corbell articulated the Labor Party’s position on cage eggs. He said:

Ultimately, the decision we make on this issue is in many ways a moral one. Labor believes it is appropriate that we signal the ACT’s intention to address the community’s concern about the system of battery cage production.

He also said that “the constraints that the system of battery cage production has on the natural behaviour of the animals kept in the cages” is foremost in the Labor Party’s mind.

Since Mr Corbell pointed out that the community was concerned about battery cage production, almost 12 years have passed. The community is now much more concerned. I know that there are members from all parties who feel strongly about this issue and want to find a way forward to end cruel cage farming.

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