Page 5078 - Week 13 - Thursday, 29 November 2018

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In these circumstances it is best to amend the eggs act to be consistent with the new requirements imposed by the information standard. This will remedy community confusion about the applicable definition of free-range eggs in the ACT and ensure that there are no legal issues arising from inconsistency. In doing so, it is crucial that we uphold our commitment to the welfare of hens to the greatest extent possible within the ACT’s now limited range of tools.

Whilst the amendments to the eggs act permit a maximum stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare for free-range eggs, the bill will require retailers to display a sign next to their free-range eggs which clearly indicates that, notwithstanding the extant legal standards for stocking densities, the ACT government supports a stocking density of 1,500 birds or fewer per hectare. These signs will improve consumer protection and promote animal welfare by informing consumers about best practice conditions of hens that produce free-range eggs within the ACT. The requirement to erect these signs has a delayed commencement period of six months. This will allow ACT retailers sufficient time to amend their existing signs about free-range eggs.

The amendments further adopt the information standard’s requirement that producers prominently label the stocking density of hens on their cartons of free-range eggs. This will inform and empower consumers to purchase free-range eggs produced under best practice animal welfare conditions. The carton labelling requirements, in conjunction with the proposed signage requirements for ACT retailers, will encourage producers to keep their maximum stocking density of hens around the current 1,500 hens per hectare requirement.

The second measure in the bill amends the Fair Trading (Fuel Prices) Act 1993 to prohibit service stations from misleading consumers about fuel prices. The bill prohibits service stations from displaying discounted fuel prices on fuel price boards. Service stations will be required to display the true retail price of fuel available to all customers. Service stations will also be required to make sure that the price of fuel advertised on the fuel price board is never lower than the price of fuel displayed at the corresponding pump.

These changes will bring the ACT in line with the rest of the country. Following discussions by the Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs in 2015, all other Australian jurisdictions have now legislated changes to protect consumers from misleading displays on fuel price boards. The ACT has adopted the South Australian model of regulation, which has also been implemented in Queensland, the Northern Territory, Victoria and Tasmania.

The bill recognises that some service stations may be required to purchase new livery or signage to comply with the new regulations. The bill prescribes a six-month commencement period to enable retailers to organise new signage. The amendments before the Assembly today are in the best interest of consumers and improve the consistency of territory and national laws in the areas of free-range egg sale and fuel sale, both common purchases in a typical Canberra household. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

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

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