Page 3662 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 26 August 2009

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Eggs (Cage Systems) Legislation Amendment Bill 2009

Ms Le Couteur, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MS LE COUTEUR (Molonglo) (11:19): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I present the Assembly with the Eggs (Cage Systems) Legislation Amendment Bill 2009. This bill will outlaw the practice of keeping hens for egg production in a battery cage system by 2011. This is the production method which is also commonly known as battery cage farming or sometimes layer hen farming.

The bill will also change the way that cage eggs can be displayed by retailers. Retailers would need to display cage eggs separately from other eggs and accompanied signage displaying their origin. This is a necessary step to ensure that consumers receive proper information about eggs. Currently we have a system of egg labelling and display that is failing consumers. In addition, the federal mutual recognition law prevents the ACT from banning the sale of imported cage eggs. So the improved display requirements are the furthest additional step the ACT can take to show that we do not support eggs originating from a cage system. It is a step consistent with and complementary to outlawing cage egg production.

Members will recall that I introduced an exposure draft of this legislation in May. I did this because I wanted other parties to find a way that they might be able support an end to cage egg farming in the ACT. The draft, of course, went out to the public as well. I can inform members that I have received a large amount of positive support from the community. In fact, with the exception of a number of letters from employees of Parkwood farm, I have only received positive support for this.

I did not receive one critical submission, although I requested feedback from the Australian Egg Industry Association. It could be that possibly even those in the industry recognise that cage egg systems are archaic and will be phased out. Battery cage farming has already been banned in many countries, including the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Norway. The EU is phasing out battery cage production for a total ban on cages by 2012. The US state of California also voted last year to ban this type of cage, as well as to introduce other improvements for the welfare of farm animals.

The exposure draft of this bill also attracted approximately 600 signatures on a petition of support, which I tabled earlier today in the Assembly. This is in addition to the many hundreds of signatures the Greens have received on this issue over past years. The ACT community is very supportive of moves to stop battery cage production. I regret, however, that the feedback to date from the government and the Liberal Party has not been positive.

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