Agriculture Minister hints at country of origin labelling laws

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 3rd February 2009

The Federal Government is planning to introduce a “Grown in Australia” label for packaged food but progress is stalling due to the number of people involved in the process, Agriculture Minister Tony Burke has advised.

“In terms of the labelling issue, I’ll say at the start that I think all of these processes on labelling move way too slowly. There’s so many ministers involved, so many different levels of government involved,” he told Adelaide’s 5AA radio station. “The principle that I want to get to is really simple. We want to look at having a ‘Grown in Australia’ label. You can have something that says Made in Australia but actually was grown somewhere else.”

“When someone wants to buy Australian produce, they want an easy way of knowing that’s what they’re getting,” Mr Burke added. “And the information at the moment, I just don’t think is the quality that it needs to be. I would have liked for this to have moved more quickly than it has but it’s the nature of the process we’ve got.”

Country of origin labelling has already been seen in certain fresh categories, such as fruits and vegetables and seafood, sold in Australia and Minister Burke notes that consumer demand is strong for local produce. “It’s the simplest way of people making sure they get the quality that they know from Australian produce – the freshness that you get locally,” he suggested.

And, while progress remains slow, Mr Burke insists that the government is working hard to make the “Grown in Australia” label a reality. “I can assure you the accelerator pedal’s down. But it’s still not happening as quickly as certainly I think Australian consumers want it to be,” he concluded.