FEDERAL Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce said Armidale would host a consultation session as the Coalition Government moved to introduce better Country of Origin Labelling rules to give Australians a clearer understanding of where their food comes from.
Mr Joyce said the Australian Government has begun consultations and in-depth consumer research from early April to deliver clearer and more consistent country of origin labelling for food sold in Australia.
He said this was an important reform that was long overdue, had been talked about for too long, and was now going to become a reality under the Coalition Government.
“Country of Origin Labelling should be simple, compulsory, diagrammatical and show proportionality as to where the product is sourced from,” Mr Joyce said.
“Importantly, the new labelling system should do away with ‘weasel words’ and should give the Australian man or woman pushing their shopping trolley no doubts as to the origins of the food they buy.
“The Government wanted country of origin labelling that gives consumers the information they need without imposing excessive costs on industry,” he said.
The Armidale session, which will be held from 10am to 12 noon on Thursday, 29 April, at the Quality Hotel Powerhouse in Marsh Street, will consult closely with food manufacturers, retailers, agricultural producers and consumers, and conduct national in-depth consumer research.
“Part of our discussions will be about ways technology could be used to provide even more information to consumers about the food they buy without cluttering up labels—including apps shoppers can download onto their mobile phones and other devices.
"Current labelling in many instances is misleading and people have a right not to be misled about the origins of the food they buy.
“We hear clearly that consumers want more information about where their food has been grown and processed. I’ve received in the order of 26,000 emails and about 150 personally written letters asking us to make improvements to country of origin labelling, and more than a million Australians were reached by my Facebook site in response to the Government's announcement.
“Simple, diagrammatic information on a package will allow people to tell at a glance what proportion of the food in a package comes from Australia—and it must be compulsory,” Mr Joyce said.
He said Country of Origin Labelling was one of the key issues raised as part of the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper process and he was pleased to see this important reform being progressed independently of the forthcoming White Paper.
“We look forward to the support of the Labor Opposition as well as the cross-bench on these important changes,” Mr Joyce said.
“Labor promised at the 2007 election to “simplify and strengthen food labelling laws” yet it did nothing for six long years – now is their chance to finally act.”
Mr Joyce said he was proud to be part of a government that was actually doing something to fix this issue.
More information on the consultation and consumer research is available at: industry.gov.au/cool