Preventative Health report “slipped under the door”

Posted by Josette Dunn on 12th May 2010

Australia’s food and grocery industry is disappointed that the Federal Government slipped its response to the Preventative Health Taskforce under the door on Budget night, the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) said last night.AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell said for a Government that indicated prevention is better than cure, it was disappointing that the Taking Preventative Action report was not a key element of the Budget night announcements.

“We are pleased with the Government’s ongoing support to set up the new Australian National Preventative Health Agency (ANPHA) to help combat the challenges of preventative chronic conditions,” Ms Carnell said.

“Industry looks forward to working with government to jointly address important issues such as obesity and overweight in Australia. But we understand that the emphasis is now firmly back on industry to deliver on its commitments for better health outcomes for all Australians.

“Industry also welcomed the Government’s continued support for the Food and Health Dialogue however there was no specific funding for this successful industry initiative.”

The Dialogue is an industry/government partnership to reformulate food products to reduce salt, fat and to increase fibre for all Australians. Ms Carnell said industry is grateful for the support by Parliamentary Secretary for Health Mark Butler, who chairs the Dialogue.

Industry applauded extra funding in the Budget to streamline food regulations, that highlighted regulation would be done through a “centralised advisory function”, which has been a major push by AFGC.

Overall, AFGC expressed disappointment that Australia’s largest manufacturing sector was largely overlooked and did not receive any new funding for sustainability issues. “There is no new funds for water security and water reduction initiatives which is critical for food production and processing – no water, means no food for Australians,” Ms Carnell said.

Ms Carnell said industry is opposed to any reduction in innovation funding and the Government’s decision to reduce $5.5 million in funding for Regional Food Producers’ Innovation and Productivity program was a backwards step.

“Industry is seeking a holistic approach to innovation in food and grocery manufacturing – this is vital to ensure we have a food manufacturing sector into future and we don’t become even more reliant on goods from China,” Ms Carnell said.

Ms Carnell applauded the Government’s significant investment in roads, ports and freight infrastructure across Australia, including $1 billion in new funding for the Australian Rail Track Corporation to enhance rail freight.

“Road and freight infrastructure is fundamental for getting manufactured products from farm to factory to market, whether the market is in Australia or overseas,” Ms Carnell said.

AFGC welcomed the Government’s plan to invest $661 million in skills and training under the Skills for Sustainable Growth strategy.