27
May 2013

Labelling Bill warns imported food is cause for concern

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Is that apple you are about to eat poisoned? If it is not Australian grown, it could be!

POLITICIANS who vote against laws introduced by KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter in Parliament today will condemn Australians to eating poisoned fruit and vegetables.

The Imported Food Warning Labels Bill 2013 ensures the potential health hazard of food brought in from overseas is clearly spelled out for consumers, by marking all imported fresh produce and processed food products with the label: “WARNING: IMPORTED FOOD. THIS FOOD HAS NOT BEEN GROWN OR PROCESSED UNDER AUSTRALIAN HEALTH AND HYGIENE STANDARDS AND MAY BE INJURIOUS TO YOUR HEALTH” – with penalties of $500,000 for non-compliance.

“Anyone who votes against the proposal by myself and my honourable colleague from Hobart believes that we should eat apples in this country with streptomycin on them, or that we should consume citrus product that has carbendazim, a poison used extensively in the citrus industry in Brazil but banned in Australia,” Mr Katter said in his speech to the House of Representatives.

“We are introducing this Bill so that consumers can make informed choices about the potential health risks of purchasing and consuming imported food products.

“Surely a consumer is entitled to know that that an item they are considering purchasing is an import that has risks attached to it? We put that on every packet of cigarettes, so why should it not be put upon these articles coming in from overseas, where the risk may be less but the risk is still very real indeed?”

Mr Katter told Parliament that Australia's industries were also placed at risk by the importation of disease and infections that would have devastating social and economic impacts, as well as environmental impacts.

“Papaya fruit fly, citrus canker and black sigatoka have already come in, at a cost of $300 million or $400 million, if you add all of the costs of eradication. If foot-and-mouth disease comes in, the losses will be $3000 million or $4000 million a year, and it would be similar with bluetongue.”

Mr Katter said he would not apologise to those who dubbed his laws “backdoor protectionism” whilst our government’s continued to force Australian industry to compete on an un-level global playing field.

“One of the reasons our seafood, fish-farming and prawn-farming industries are non-competitive is that we must have pristine pure water not only coming in but also going out – which means it’s processed three or four times before it goes back into the river – in contrast to countries that dump raw sewage and waste water into the rivers, then take water out of the rivers and put it into the ponds, and then just dump the water straight back into the rivers,” he said.

“Meanwhile, our interest rates are 2.7 per cent and the rest of the world is below 0.2 per cent, which is propping our dollar up to twice its value so all of our competitors are at a 50 per cent disadvantage.

“On top of that, total support levels – tariff subsidies, if you like – are 41 per cent in the OECD and 4.5 per cent in Australia. So there is a 100 per cent difference on just two items.

“We are also up against people who work for a disgraceful $5.02 a day, for example, in the Philippines, whereas our agricultural wage costs, quite rightly and proudly, are $19.80 an hour.”

 

PHOTO: Is that apple you are about to eat poisoned? If it is not Australian grown, it could be!

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