Australian Greens spokesperson on Agriculture Senator Rachel Siewert has welcomed the roll out of country of origin labelling by the Government today but said the model doesn’t fully deliver for farmers or consumers.
“The labels revealed today are a step in the right direction but would not give consumers as much information as the approach recommended by the Greens.
“The country of origin labelling bill introduced by the Greens last year was the result of more than a decade of consultations. It is a shame that Bill sitting before Parliament wasn’t used.
“Consumers want to know three simple things: where their food is grown, manufactured and packaged. The Greens’ Bill would have delivered those answers.
“Barnaby Joyce co-sponsored an earlier draft of our Bill and it went through multiple parliamentary inquiries. Instead of going with the industry-supported legislation, the Coalition grabbed an idea from thin air and started consultation again”.
Under the Greens bill:
‘Product of' or ‘grown in' – would describe food that has been wholly grown and processed in a country.
‘Manufactured in' - would replace ‘made in' for food that has been substantially transformed in a particular country. The term ‘made in' would no longer be used as many people think that ‘made in' refers to where the ingredients were grown.
‘Packaged in' – would be used on food that has been highly processed but can't claim to have either ingredients of significant processing in a particular country. Companies can still choose to highlight the source of significant ingredients if they wish.
All the other confusing terms such as ‘made from local and imported ingredients' would be prohibited.
Companies would also be encouraged to highlight significant local ingredients to help you choose local - e.g. chocolate ‘Manufactured in Australia with Australian milk'.
The Greens would also provide a regulation that makes it clear what kinds of food processing does not qualify as manufacturing. This is important as manufacturing typically involves significant investment in local equipment and jobs, which is what Australians want to reward.
The Greens’ Country of Origin labelling Bill was introduced on Feb 12, 2015.