After two weeks of inaction by the Government, Labor awaits with interest the details of their plan following their announcement this morning of proposed changes to country-of-origin labelling.


There’s no doubt this is just a desperate distraction from the Abbott Government’s confused and indecisive response following the Hepatitis A berry contamination case.


Australians have been waiting for the Government to show leadership on critical matters of food safety while Tony Abbott has done nothing but attempt to shift responsibility to food manufacturers:


“The bottom line is that companies shouldn't be poisoning their customers.”


Tony Abbott, ABC Radio, 17 Feb 2015


Now that Mr Abbott has finally back-flipped on his recklessly carefree attitude and established a process, Labor looks forward to finding a bipartisan solution on an issue that is vitally important to Australian consumers and producers.


Australians are entitled to know exactly where their food comes from and not get confused by misleading labelling on the packet. Buying Australian is the best way to secure quality food.


Consultation with consumers groups and food industry representatives is essential.


It is not clear that Barnaby Joyce’s proposed ‘diagrammatic’ approach is a practical solution. Nevertheless, we look forward to hearing more about how the Government believes it might be implemented.


We also encourage the Government to take the opportunity of getting all relevant Ministers together to develop a comprehensive and consistent approach to supporting the Australian food industry.


They can start by addressing the recommendations of the bipartisan House of Representatives report on food labelling, which has been with the Government for three months.


The Liberals should think more broadly about the Government’s neglect of biosecurity and Australian manufacturing, which is taking the country backwards and placing jobs at risk.


As always, Labor stands ready to constructively consider any positive policy proposals that might result from this process.

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