Page 3666 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 26 August 2009

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While commenting on the issue of consumer choice, I would also like to comment on the argument that we should not ban cage egg production; we should instead let consumers choose to stop buying cage eggs. This is a very weak approach. It is more about the unwillingness of the Liberal and Labor parties to act on the issue.

As we know, consumers are often misled or unaware of factory farm conditions. In addition, there are many consumers who believe that the government would not permit the sale of products which were cruelly produced. Consumers think, “Well, these eggs have been produced legally. If these eggs were produced through cruel means, the government would not allow their sale.” It is the job of the Assembly, as legislators, to prohibit animal cruelty. It is not the market’s job, with its limited and sometimes erroneous information.

One final part of the bill I will mention is an amendment to the labelling legislation which would mean that eggs from the ACT must be labelled with the words “cage eggs”. Currently the labelling act requires the words “battery cage eggs”. However, the industry is not complying with this. It appears that this is happening because cage eggs sold in the ACT come from interstate. The ones that are produced in the ACT are in fact exported to New South Wales and then imported to get around our labelling laws.

Under the commonwealth mutual recognition laws, eggs imported from interstate do not need to meet the ACT’s labelling legal requirements. I believe the best and easiest way to correct this for now is to require that our eggs only be labelled “cage eggs”. This would be consistent with the national scheme and is an adequate description. It would stop the transporting of eggs backwards and forwards for absolutely no purpose.

In conclusion, I commend this bill to the Assembly. It takes practical steps to improve consumer information around the sale of eggs. This is an area where individual retailers are already, thankfully, beginning to act. It also takes long overdue action on the important moral issue of cage egg production. This issue is not about the morals of farming animals or about eating animals. It is simply about basic human decency and how we as a society treat other sentient creatures. To act on this will require a small amount of bravery, but it can be done very simply and it will reward us as a society. I commend my bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stanhope) adjourned to the next sitting.

Department of Territory and Municipal Services—strategic budget review

MR COE (Ginninderra) (11:37): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes the Strategic Budget Review, Department of Territory and Municipal Services of 9 December 2008:

(a) was tabled on 20 August 2008;

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