FOOD AMENDMENT (MEAT GRADING) BILL 2008
Agreement in Principle
Debate resumed from 4 December 2008.
Mr RICHARD TORBAY
(Northern Tablelands—Speaker) [4.19 p.m.], right of pre-audience: Since I introduced the Food Amendment (Meat Grading) Bill 2008 in the Legislative Assembly in December last year I have consulted widely with the industry and, as a result, have negotiated a large number of changes to the bill. These changes do not alter in any substantial way the main purpose of the bill, which is to provide consumers in this State with a system of meat labelling that is reliable and consistent. The need for this bill has become all the more urgent because figures show an alarming decline in beef exports. Beef exports to Japan of 31,000 tonnes in October 2009 were 7 per cent below the last five-year average. October exports to the United States of a little over 16,000 tonnes were 42 per cent below the last five-year average. The January to October exports to Korea of more than 92,000 tonnes were 11 per cent below the last five-year average. In real terms it means that producers and the industry will be more reliant on the domestic market, which has also been declining.
Many people in the industry attribute this drop in consumption to the unreliability of the labelling of beef products. It has been described as a lucky dip, where consumers buy meat one week that is tender and delicious and then the next week they buy the product under the same label and it is tough and tasteless. This bill addresses consistency in labelling reflecting the quality of the product. Since December, talks have been held with representatives from New South Wales Farmers, the Red Meat Advisory Council [RMAC], Meat and Livestock Australia, AUS-MEAT, major supermarkets, a range of key industry figures, organisations and communities. I include in that list Melbourne beef retailer Rod Polkinghorne, the founder and driving force behind Meat Standards Australia [MSA]. I have also had extensive discussions with the New South Wales Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon. Ian Macdonald, who issued a media release in February indicating his support for the bill. He went on to ask the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Hon. Tony Burke, to include the concept of a consumer-orientated beef grading system on the April 2009 Primary Industries Ministerial Council [PIMC] agenda.
Subsequently, the Primary Industries Ministerial Council established a working group whose terms of reference include, amongst other things, consideration of the cost benefits of making AUS-MEAT accreditation mandatory for all processors and retailers, and consideration of the establishment of a voluntary or compulsory meat-labelling code for processors and/or retailers that is suitable for consumers. The final report of the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport inquiry into meat marketing, handed down in June this year, was critical of the labelling arrangements of beef from old cow with eight teeth under the 2002 Voluntary Beef Retail Labelling Agreement between the Meat and Livestock Authority, major supermarket chains and some independent butchers. The Senate committee found that the use of the word "budget" was "at best confusing and at worst misleading" as to its true meaning and suggested that the Government should investigate the most appropriate legislative pathway to ensure that beef from animals with more than eight teeth be required by law to be labelled "old cow beef".
The Senate committee was also of the opinion that a beef grading system with broad application and acceptance would benefit consumers and the aggregate Australian beef industry and considered that this could best be achieved through a voluntary system devised by industry. Currently about one million of the approximately three million cattle slaughtered for the domestic market each year are MSA graded. Only 12,500 of the 150,000 cattle properties in Australia are MSA accredited. Cattle sold through saleyards and from the top end of Queensland, the Channel Country and the Northern Territory cannot be MSA graded because of the MSA 24-hour transport rules. This leaves a lot of beef destined for the domestic market ungraded, which means that consumers, who play a big part in this bill, have no guide as to the quality of the beef they are purchasing before they make their decision to buy. Consumers who get a good steak one week and a bad steak the next are less likely to make repeat purchases.
Following our discussions, the Red Meat Advisory Council has asked the AUS-MEAT Standards and Language Committee to devise a consumer-orientated grading system that will provide a consumer eating quality guide for the ungraded products in between the Meat Standards Australia grades at the top end and the "budget" and "manufacturing" beef at the bottom end. It is hoped that the industry will agree to the AUS-MEAT proposal for a consumer-orientated eating quality guide by April 2010 so that the proposal can be considered by the Primary Industries Ministerial Council at its April 2010 meeting as the basis for a national consumer-orientated beef grading and labelling code. The industry, through the Red Meat Advisory Council, agreed to the Food Amendment (Meat Grading) Bill 2008 provisions that call up the AUS-MEAT language from the back door of the retail store to the shopfront and proposed that the AUS-MEAT language should be expanded to include common descriptors that are not currently included in the AUS-MEAT language, such as "scotch fillet", "New York cut" "porterhouse", et cetera.
The beef industry, through the Red Meat Advisory Council, was also supportive of the legislative underpinning of the 2002 voluntary retail agreement with respect to "budget" beef from animals with eight permanent incisors—this includes appropriate qualifiers to the term "budget" to ensure an understanding that "budget" beef comes from older animals—and the provisions of the bill that require beef labelled "manufacturing" to be accompanied by the words "suitable for mince only".
The Leader of the Opposition agrees. I am happy to get that in Hansard
. The Red Meat Advisory Council has suggested that the beef from animals with eight teeth sold in New South Wales should be labelled "budget grade" and Meat and Livestock Australia would then mount a public awareness program to explain suitable cooking methods, such as slow cooking and casserole, that would provide a good eating outcome from this product. However, Rod Polkinghorne, the Australian Consumers Association, the Minister for Primary Industries and I do not believe that the words "budget grade" will effectively ensure that consumers understand the quality of the meat they are buying and the fact that it comes from older animals for the following reasons.
Under the terms of the 2002 voluntary retail beef labelling agreement between Meat and Livestock Australia [MLA] and the major supermarket chains and some independent retail butchers, the only exceptions to the requirement to label beef from cows with eight teeth "budget" are tenderloins and mince. Under the AUS-MEAT standards and language, beef from animals with eight teeth destined for the domestic market has to be labelled "budget ox", "budget cow" or "manufacturing". Industry has requested that MSA-graded product from animals with eight teeth should also be excluded from the requirement to label beef from eight-tooth animals "budget".
There has been considerable concern throughout the beef industry in recent years about a breakdown in the integrity of certain aspects of the Meat Standards Australia Scheme including concerns about the sale of MSA 35-day vacuum-packed aged beef from old cows which, in practice, is often opened by retailers before the 35 days, resulting in tough cow beef being sold to consumers; the introduction in recent years of MSA boning groups 10 to 18, which allows in certain circumstances, among other things, more beef from older animals to be MSA graded; and the degree of eating quality variance for MSA 3 product that flows from the current 18-point score scale for MSA 3.
Discussions are currently taking place between the Australian Meat Industry Council and the Meat and Livestock Association to address the Meat Standards Australia integrity issue. They include a proposal to require MSA 35-day vacuum-packed cuts to be held by the abattoir or wholesaler until the expiry date, and a proposal to delete MSA boning groups 10 to 18. Provided that the Meat Standards Australia integrity issue can be satisfactorily resolved, I am happy to accept the recommendation of the Red Meat Advisory Council that the AUS-MEAT Language and Voluntary Retail Budget Agreement be amended to exclude MSA-graded product, tenderloin and mince.
Rod Polkinghorne points out that any cut of beef from an old cow that would eat well if slow cooked or casseroled would make MSA 3 star and the remaining beef would not eat well however it was cooked. Therefore, if the better quality MSA-graded beef is excluded from the "budget" labelling requirement for beef from animals with eight teeth, it is difficult to argue that the remaining product should be called anything other than "low quality" or "low grade". This conclusion is consistent with the findings of the Senate rural affairs and transport committee and has the support of Rod Polkinghorne, one of the founders and driving forces behind MSA and a member of the MSA workshop currently reviewing the integrity of the MSA system. Rod Polkinghorne is also supportive of the provisions of the bill, which will call up and expand AUS-MEAT language from the back door of the retail store to the shopfront.
The Minister has agreed to withhold the introduction of the proposed regulations to introduce a voluntary all-of-product grading scheme to allow the industry to develop an acceptable alternative proposal through the AUS-MEAT Standards and Language Committee. This was a suggestion by the Red Meat Advisory Council, which was acceptable to me. I have made it very clear to industry that its proposal must provide an eating quality guide for all products between "budget" and "manufacturing" beef at the bottom end and MSA-graded beef at the top end.
In 1998, when MSA was first launched, Australians each ate 38 kilos of beef a year. MLA forecasts that this year each Australian will eat 31.3 kilos of beef, a decline of 17.6 per cent. Since the Food (Amendment) Meat Grading Bill 2008 was introduced into Parliament in December last year, I am informed that cattle prices have collapsed and cattle producers are now receiving about 30 per cent less in real terms for cattle than they were 20 years ago. Terry Nolan, Chairman of the Australian Meat Industry Council, advises that Australia's beef export markets have collapsed as a consequence of the global financial crisis and the recent increase in the value of the Australian dollar. That has led to a beef glut and a swamping of the domestic market. He says the current beef industry trading conditions are probably as bad as he has seen since the 1974-78 beef slump and the period in 1996 when demand dropped dramatically in Japan.
The importance of the domestic market to the Australian beef industry has therefore never been greater or clearer. The reforms contemplated by this bill are long overdue and will go a long way to alleviating the worst of the crisis now facing the Australian beef industry. This bill has been on the table for almost a year. I have had more than 50 meetings, more than 300 communications and conversations and almost 100 media interviews. There has been widespread consultation and engagement with the community about this legislation. The bill has the overwhelming support of consumers and, with the exception of the appropriate qualifier for the "budget" label description—which is a point of disagreement—at least until 48 hours ago it had the support of the Red Meat Advisory Council.
I take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the mostly constructive manner in which the beef industry and New South Wales Farmers have conducted their discussions with me. The process was very constructive until 48 hours ago, when agreements that had been made with me were not honoured by some industry representatives. Despite this, on the whole, the amendments that have arisen out of these discussions have strengthened the bill and produced a better outcome for both consumers and the industry. I acknowledge Minister Macdonald's staff, who have been very helpful and constructive in progressing this bill. I commend the bill to the House.
Mr GERARD MARTIN (Bathurst) [4.32 p.m.]: I support the Food Amendment (Meat Grading) Bill 2008. I speak on behalf of the Government. I congratulate the member for Northern Tablelands on introducing it and for his persistence over the past 12 months. If the goal is achieved the struggle is worth it. The bill and proposed amendments address the issue of beef labelling and aim to promote consistent, consumer-orientated labelling systems that will inform consumer choices in relation to the quality of beef products. Inaccurate or deceptive labelling of beef in Australia has affected the market for high-quality beef produced in New South Wales. These labelling issues may have also contributed to the overall decline in red meat consumption as consumers react to inconsistent quality. The member for Northern Tablelands mentioned a reduction in consumption of about 17 per cent. Obviously such a reduction would have an impact on the viability of the industry.
The bill provides for a standard labelling system for consumers to differentiate between high-quality beef that will produce a tender meal and lower-quality beef more suited to stewing, or even lower-quality beef that is suitable only for mincing. While industry has been seeking to address the issue in various ways, a standard and consistent scheme has not been adopted that successfully addresses the impact on consumers and beef producers of inaccurate or deceptive beef labelling. In the meantime, beef's market share continues to decline. Members of the House are aware that the beef truth-in-labelling issue has generated considerable television and print media interest, particularly in recent months. I understand this has prompted further consultation on the bill with all sections of the industry, including the Red Meat Advisory Council and its members, Meat and Livestock Australia, AUS-MEAT, New South Wales Farmers, and major retailers. The original bill has been substantially amended following that consultation.
The bill now amends the Food Act 2003 to make it an offence in New South Wales to advertise, package or label beef using the word "budget" if the advertising labelling or packaging does not also include the words "low grade" or "low quality". It further amends the Food Act 2003 to make it an offence for any retailer in New South Wales to advertise, package or label beef using the word "manufacturing" if the advertising, packaging or labelling does not also include the words "suitable for mince only". These provisions will assist in overcoming current confusion in the market around lower-priced products and will go a long way to addressing truth-in-labelling concerns. In addition, the amendments will allow for the regulations to prescribe schemes to regulate the use of other words and expressions in the labelling of meat. These schemes will no longer be necessarily restricted to the existing AUS-MEAT language.
The bill's provisions commence on proclamation. This allows time for industry to further develop a consumer-orientated grading system with the AUS-MEAT Standards and Language Committee. This system could include expanding the AUS-MEAT language to include familiar and consumer-friendly terms such as "scotch fillet" and "New York cut", which I think is a particular favourite of the member for Port Macquarie—probably because it is the thickest cut. It could also provide terms for product that might be of a better standard than "budget" or "manufacturing" grade but that is not eligible to be graded under the Meat Standards Australia scheme. The Government strongly encourages the beef and retail industries to be involved in the further development of this proposed expanded labelling scheme. In the event that industry is not successful in agreeing on an appropriate scheme, the bill will provide the Government with regulation-making provisions to prescribe alternative schemes.
The Government also acknowledges the proposal that industry could present this system to the Primary Industries Ministerial Council [PIMC] next April. This would obviously give the PIMC the option of considering this work as the basis of a national beef grading scheme. As previously stated, the bill's provisions will commence by proclamation and, in anticipation of the need to allow industry time to work on the AUS-MEAT language, they are not expected to commence until mid 2010. The Government also notes that commencing the bill by proclamation provides the opportunity to ensure the AUS-MEAT language or any retail subset of the AUS-MEAT language that is prescribed is appropriate as consumer-friendly retail language. As the member for Northern Tablelands pointed out, the bill is about protecting consumers. The Government acknowledges the limitations of the existing AUS-MEAT language in this regard.
Some in the industry have had reservations about New South Wales being the only State to regulate meat labelling. For example, some of the major retailers support a national approach but are concerned at the prospect that New South Wales may be the only State to introduce legislation on this issue. However, these concerns are not shared by all retailers. Despite extended consideration of the issue at a national level, there has been no national agreement to change Australian beef labelling arrangements. The Government therefore supports New South Wales taking the lead. In fact, I anticipate this approach may well lead consumers in other States to perceive New South Wales beef as being of a higher quality and a more consistent product. Due to the size of our market, this initiative in New South Wales will no doubt influence other jurisdictions when they give further consideration to this issue.
In view of the need to facilitate industry compliance, section 94 of the Food Act 2003 will be amended by the 2009 bill to allow audits for truth in labelling. Proposed section 87A will be added to create a new beef labelling auditor role and allow for the Food Authority to appoint third-party auditors from an approved industry body to carry out those truth-in-labelling functions. Approved bodies would likely include agencies with industry experience, such as AUS-MEAT.
There are a number of beneficiaries of this bill. The millions of consumers of beef in New South Wales will benefit from being able to make more informed choices about the beef they consume and they will have increased confidence in the quality of product they buy. Industry will benefit. Improving the labelling of beef is an attempt to minimise inefficiencies in the New South Wales beef retail market by providing a type of quality assurance. It is expected that beef producers and ancillary industries will benefit directly from the legislation through improved returns for better quality product and possibly from increased demand. Improved labelling is expected to improve efficiency, profitability and sustainability of the beef industry and, therefore, the rural communities it supports. In particular, small and boutique producers, processors and retailers focused on producing high-quality products will benefit from appropriate recognition of the standard of their product and its differentiation from lower-grade alternatives.
Some aspects of the scheme are voluntary. It is up to each retailer to decide whether to opt in to using the AUS-MEAT language or another prescribed scheme consistently. The bill tabled in December 2008 would have applied to all food businesses in New South Wales, including restaurants and fast-food outlets. The provisions of the 2009 bill will not apply to restaurants and fast-food outlets unless their inclusion is prescribed in regulation. The Government is not contemplating this course of action at this time. The revised bill prescribes penalties of up to $660 for individuals and $1,320 for corporations. The maximum court-imposed penalties are 500 penalty units in the case of an individual, approximately $55,000, and 2,500 penalty units in the case of a corporation, approximately a hefty $275,000.
It is anticipated there will be modest implementation costs to industry and government, however it is also anticipated that the benefits of the proposed system to both industry and government will outweigh these modest costs. This revised bill will improve consumer access to reliable quality beef and better reward beef producers and retailers who deliver and sell accurately labelled high-quality beef product. It also allows for industry to take a lead on further developing appropriate labelling schemes rather than the Government imposing these immediately. On this basis the Government supports the bill.
Mr THOMAS GEORGE
(Lismore) [4.42 p.m.]: The aim of the Food Amendment (Meat Grading) Bill 2008 is to amend the Food Act 2003 with respect to the advertising, packaging and labelling of meat. It aims to change the existing meat labelling code using the AUS-MEAT guide and labelling standards to more accurately reflect meat quality and punish those who fail to label meat according to specific standards. The bill proposes a system of inspection at retail in order to enforce the AUS-MEAT labelling program and penalise those who do not conform. The bill would make it illegal to falsely describe meat, including beef, in advertising, packaging or labelling. When the member for Northern Tablelands introduced the bill in December last year he agreed to take it away to do more work on it and consult more widely with the industry.
Philosophically, the New South Wales Opposition supports the principle of the bill and its intention for truth in labelling. It is in the interests of the industry to have an effective labelling system to ensure that good beef gets approval. It will help keep the industry honest and if there is a premium for quality it is an encouragement for people to do the right thing in growing, butchery, preparation and sales. Consumers want certainty and innovative meat cuts to suit changing food styles. However, we have serious concerns with the bill in its current form and believe that more time is needed to conduct further industry consultation.
I know the bill has been on the table for 12 months and many people have been consulted—the industry, consumers, New South Wales farmers, everyone. However, we only received the amended bill yesterday and to have such an important issue debated today does not give us time to consult with people from the industry who have come to us, growers and consumers, to discuss the changes in this bill. Stakeholders with serious concerns that the requested changes have not been made have contacted us. In particular, the industry objects strongly to the bill retaining the words "low grade" and "low quality". However, the member for Northern Tablelands briefed me on this yesterday and indicated that that was the only sticking point left for the industry to try to negotiate an outcome.
There continues to be genuine concerns about the technical deficiencies and differences in the bill that has been tabled. Some of those concerns come from the Red Meat Advisory Council. I am very pleased to see in the gallery this afternoon Kevin Cottrell, Jim Cudmore and Terry Nolan, who have been very concerned and prepared to negotiate on the introduction of the bill. They advise me that the Red Meat Advisory Council believes the bill in its current form will fail to achieve the desired outcome agreed by the member for Northern Tablelands and the industry and, if enacted, will have financial consequences for all sectors of preproduction and labelling in New South Wales. I will read onto the record the letter the council sent to the member for Northern Tablelands—I also received a copy—about the Food Amendment (Beef Grading) Bill 2009. It states:
Thank you for your fourth meeting yesterday with the Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) Delegation on the above Bill.
The current version of the draft Bill has been amended yet again since our meeting yesterday; the version to which I'll refer in this letter is the one dated10/11/09. I must say these last-minute amendments are making our interchange very difficult and reflect the problems associated with the wording of the Bill as crafted by your legal advisers; this has been an ongoing problem for all of us.
Certainly there have been several positive changes resulting from meetings between the RMAC Delegation and you. I thank you for your spirit of co-operation in these matters and demanding change where we agreed change was necessary.
Nevertheless, there remain four major obstacles to industry supporting the Bill in its current form:
1. the inclusion of 23B(1)(c) relating to "low-grade"/"low quality"—
which I mentioned a moment ago—
2. the empowering of the Minister to approve or otherwise changes to the Industry's
Language (Manual and proposed Register);
3. the fact the Bill as worded calls up the entire AUS-MEAT Language and, according to AUS-MEAT's legal advice, will prevent the proposed Domestic Retail Beef Register
from replacing the Manual as the reference document; and
4. the retention of a heavy emphasis on a "grading scheme" as referenced in the Bill's title,S23A and throughout the Bill.
As such the RMAC Delegation, despite best endeavours, is unable to secure industry support for the bill before it is tabled tomorrow—
that is, today—
Having said this, we still strongly support your Truth in Labelling intention and will not resile from our offer of co-operating with you to achieve a meaningful outcome for both of us. This is only possible if the tabling of the Bill is delayed and you've indicated your unwillingness for this to happen.
You are witness to our strident attempts to avoid further delays, and we acknowledge your comment that the Bill was first put to the House in December 2008. However we believe the Bill if enacted will place industry in a situation of financial disadvantage and leave it vulnerable to unnecessary political intervention where none is needed.
I regret having to write this letter because I thought we were nearly there. I do implore you to reconsider lifting the Bill from debate so we can together make use of time and legal advice to write the Bill in a way that reflects the agreement we have drawn with you rather than trying to fit our priorities into the existing document that was developed on a false premise. This is the only way I can see us bringing the industry, and particularly the retail sector, along.
In spite of this position, we are continuing our activities with AUS-MEAT regarding the review of our grading systems.
For your information I have attached as a separate document AUS-MEAT's legal advice. Although it results from the review of the version dated 9/11/09, the comments remain relevant.
To enable us to keep industry and Peak Councils aligned on this issue I would appreciate urgent and further discussions on this matter. I and a number of delegation representatives are in Sydney tomorrow [that is today] if it is of any assistance to you.
Meat and Livestock Australia maintains that the bill does not give any grounds, particularly with respect to terminology. Woolworths, Coles, Metcash—which is IGA—the Australian Meat Industry Council and the Retail Council do not support the current bill. The industry maintains that although there is genuine commitment to deliver an improved outcome on truth in labelling, more work in industry consultation is needed to achieve the best outcome for everyone. At the end of the day this is not about better cuts of meat but about using budget or low-quality meat. The concern is that the system in New South Wales will not be in line with that of the other States, which may have major ramifications. It is important for us to have a national approach. My electorate has considerable cross-border issues and meat for Woolworths, Coles and IGA stores comes from Queensland. Under this bill will meat from Queensland not long be allowed into New South Wales? Will the supermarket chains be exempt because their meat comes from Queensland, or will they be prevented from bringing meat from Queensland?
Mr Peter Besseling:
They will just label it.
Mr THOMAS GEORGE:
That is how much the member for Port Macquarie knows about the industry; he suggests the meat be labelled. He says: Give the problem to the industry to fix up. It does not work like that. The member should visit meatworks to see how the labelling system works. If a national approach is not taken and we do not take the major supermarkets along with us, we are wasting our time. We will merely place restrictions on local butchers that major supermarkets will not abide by. The Opposition will not oppose the bill in this House. However, the bill is not acceptable in its current form and we reserve the right to amend it in the other place.
Mrs DAWN FARDELL
(Dubbo) [4.54 p.m.]: I speak briefly to the Food Amendment (Meat Grading) Bill 2008 and commend the member for Northern Tablelands for introducing it. The bill has been on the Notice Paper
for more than 12 months, which should be adequate time for the issues to be addressed. It is important for the producers and consumers of this State to have truth in meat labelling. The bill will make it an offence to falsely describe meat.
When the bill was originally proposed—which was reported in the Land
—the first constituent to contact me was Mr Charlie Francis, a well-known beef producer in the Lachlan area. Charlie is a former president of the then Country Party. He is still a strong member of The Nationals. He told me that many years ago during a visit to a meatworks in Colorado, in the United States, he was fortunate to see the system in progress and have explained to him the benefits to the producer and consumer. He told me that he fully supported the proposal of the member for Northern Tablelands. His statement demonstrates how far behind we are with this process. Charlie is a producer, the people we should be looking after in this State. Without them we would not have meat on the table.
Truth in labelling will be a major step in ensuring consistency for consumers. Under this legislation they will be able to recognise waigu from buffalo in their local butcher shops or Coles and Woolworths supermarkets. The delay in passing this bill has been too long; indeed, it may be further delayed by amendments. The member for Northern Tablelands, the member for Bathurst and the member for Lismore highlighted the finer detail of the bill. They outlined reasons for their support for the bill. The member for Lismore also foreshadowed amendments in the other place. The Opposition constantly highlights the fact that New South Wales lags behind Victoria and Queensland. The bill will make a difference to producers and consumers—major stakeholders in the State.
I urge all members to support truth in labelling because producers and consumers need our support. I understand the concerns of the industry. If industry has urgent concerns, they can be dealt with before the end of the year if the process is transparent. Decisions about major food distributors should not be made under pressure; we need truth in the process. I commend the member for Northern Tablelands for introducing the bill and ask all members to support it.
Mr KEVIN HUMPHRIES
(Barwon) [4.57 p.m.]: I speak on the Food Amendment (Meat Grading) Bill 2008. The bill aims to amend the Food Act 2003 with respect to the advertising, packaging and labelling of meat. It aims to change the meat labelling code using the AUS-MEAT guide and labelling standards to more accurately reflect meat quality and punish those who fail to label meat according to specific standards. I commend the member for Northern Tablelands for introducing the bill, particularly the measure with respect to truth in labelling. As the shadow Minister for Healthy Lifestyles, I know how important it is to take preventative action, particularly with the prevailing issues around obesity and lifestyle. One of the biggest issues for our community is truth in labelling. Sodium chloride, disguised as salt, is of particular concern and is something we will debate early next year.
The member for Northern Tablelands highlighted the fact that the domestic consumption of beef had fallen. I accept it is partially due to labelling. However, competitive markets are a driving force in the domestic consumption of beef and the fact that other products are offered. All products, particularly food, are sensitive to price. A number of concerns have not been raised today, are not covered in the bill, and often go unnoticed. I come from an electorate where the survival and sustainability of the community are based on agriculture. It is difficult when people continually talk down the industry, particularly the red meat industry. Recently I attended a beef field day at Weebolla, a famous cattle property east of Moree. Young Jenny Munro ran the field day. The Munro family has a substantial history in the area. I notice the expression of the Minister for Community Services. She could be a relation, but they all took each other's name.
The Munro family has been heavily involved in the beef industry for many generations, and indeed has held pastoral holdings not just in New South Wales but also in Queensland and the Northern Territory. Jenny Munro, who conducted the field day, did a fantastic job. The field day was attended by officers from the Meat and Livestock Association. Also in attendance were growers, administrators, and consumers. Issues of concern raised on the day included the quality of beef and how we can improve our herds through genetics and better livestock management. The discussions revolved around community leaders talking down the red meat industry, which gets traction. One of the calls I made on that day was to City Hall here in Sydney. It was evident that—and I am not seeking to put down the member for Sydney—
Ms Clover Moore:
She is sitting right behind you.
Mr KEVIN HUMPHRIES:
She knows what I am going to say. I made a call to City Hall because it concerned me that some of our leaders are talking down the industry and red meat had been taken off the menu. We sought to clarify that. Here we have a young generation of cattle producers in the industry doing well who have to confront, without a lot of explanation, some of the spruikings, strategies and policies that have been designed to drive down the consumption of red meat in our community. Whilst I commend the member for Northern Tablelands for introducing his bill, one of the things we have to do as advocates for the red meat industry is to get the message across that all things are good in moderation. Whilst we may be able to target labelling, we should look at our community leaders to see what is driving the reduction in red meat consumption and hold people accountable.
A further issue raised was the emissions trading scheme. I know it has nothing to do with labelling. The scheme is not just a driver of less red meat consumption in this country; it has the potential to cause the demise of the red meat industry in this country. As has been alluded to in this place today, the fact that cattle producers are getting the same price per kilo as they were getting 20 to 30 years ago shows that the only thing that has kept them in the game is increased efficiencies and their becoming better at what they do. However, they certainly have not been rewarded at the farm gate.
Labor governments at both State and Federal levels and emerging trends within this country are clearly anti-agricultural. It is quite offensive that a carbon emissions trading scheme is heading towards imposing a tax on ruminant animals—in the case of cattle, potentially up to $70 per beast. There are ways in which we can promote the red meat industry. For example, we can encourage our leaders to talk up the industry and to set a good example, rather than consistently talk down some of our agricultural industries. We support the member for Northern Tablelands on truth in labelling. We also support the member for Lismore, who indirectly has had a long history in the red meat industry in the beef game. We are concerned that the industry is not united behind the bill. We will not oppose the bill in this House, but we reserve the right to move amendments in the upper House.
As I indicated earlier with regard to truth in labelling, it is okay to target age. A lot of things come into play here. I have spent the past two to three years moving around the western part of New South Wales, and I can honestly say that drought has driven a lot of change in production. It has also driven a lot of change in the quality of produce that is coming out of our area. I do not refer only to beef; the drought has also affected the quality of grains and other primary produce. I suggest that a four-tooth beast produced in one of the tougher parts of my electorate, particularly to the west, and sold to a market would have far less appeal to the shopper than an eight-tooth beast produced in the tablelands that has enjoyed a positive grazing experience.
Mr Richard Torbay:
The good life.
Mr KEVIN HUMPHRIES:
The good life, as the member for Northern Tablelands says. It is often said that our produce is reflected in the people. That is why they say we are a bit longer and leaner out in the west. I do not know about that, but I do not want to go there.
My good friend Jimmy Cudmore and those fellows that played footie always alluded to that. The first game of the season, they all came out of the hills pretty red and woolly. It is not just about age. If we are to implement truth in labelling it must reflect the conditions, including the potential climatic conditions where the animals come from. It goes back to point of origin labelling, which people in my electorate are very much used to, particularly in the grain industry, the fibre industry and the cotton industry. Certainly people who have been involved in the beef export industry would agree that Australia has enjoyed a very good reputation with regard to point of origin labelling. In fact, we have led this trend throughout the world.
Until recent years the Picones, friends of mine to the north-west of Moree, were exporting their feedlot cattle out of Pittsworth. The beasts were flown to Japan in the bellies of 747s, and they were then cut up and packaged there, with a point of origin sale back to Tallawanta, near Moree. We have led the way in truth in labelling and we have led the way in point of origin labelling, particularly in the beef industry. In order to do the same thing in the domestic market, we do not have a problem with truth in labelling but we cannot simply target age; many other issues have to come into play. We also should not underestimate the power of the market or the power of the consumer, particularly the relationship the housewife has with the meat supplier.
I have spoken with a number of butchers in my electorate, as well as beef producers and retailers, and I can honestly say I have not received one complaint about labelling. That is not to say that people do not have issues with it; I accept that. But I do not underestimate the power of the consumer or shopper to not go back if they believe they have bought an inferior product. In fact, if we look at the shopping patterns of housewives, who are obviously the dominant purchasing members in their families, they are very astute in their purchasing. It goes beyond labelling; it goes to developing a relationship with the supplier. That is why some of the supermarkets do not currently support branding that relates to low quality.
A further issue that has been raised is the way in which a government is able to legislate for the standard, integrity, experience and capability of the person who buys the product. Who is to say that a person of inferior skill or experience—I am thinking of the member for Port Macquarie here and wondering what would he do with a cut of beef—
Ms Linda Burney:
Mr KEVIN HUMPHRIES:
—apart from eat it. This week we have enjoyed three barbecues on floor 12. We might invite the member for Port Macquarie to the next barbecue and show him how he can dress up meat and make it taste good. How does a government legislate for the quality and capability of the person who will buy a piece of meat as the end user? We believe that many of these issues could be addressed in truth in labelling. If we are going to do it, let us do it properly and let us take the industry with us. Let us use the language that is acceptable right across the country, not just in New South Wales. If truth in labelling is accepted only in New South Wales, it will not work: it would not reflect the true understanding of what is happening interstate and the fact that the beef industry is an integrated industry. We have producers who live in our backyards, so to speak, who have production capabilities in other States. Meat is sent interstate from New South Wales to be processed, and it is then brought back. It is a little complicated.
The point was made that to an extent our export cattle industry has struggled, for many reasons. There is no doubt about that. There have always been concerns in the southern part of the country about northern producers dumping product into our domestic market, which drives the price down. There are certainly issues around that, and I suspect that is driving the labelling issue as much as anything else, which is why we need industry consensus right across the board on this.
In conclusion, the Opposition will not oppose the bill in this House. We support the principle of truth in labelling. We also support the united front of the industry, consumers and our interstate counterparts. However, when the bill is referred to the upper House we reserve the right to amend it.
Mr PETER BESSELING
(Port Macquarie) [5.10 p.m.]: I support the Food Amendment (Meat Grading) Bill 2008 and I congratulate the member for Northern Tablelands on introducing it. I found the comments of the member for Barwon very interesting. I make the comment whilst he is still in the House that it is very difficult to legislate for the standards of people who eat beef. That is the point: the bill is all about the consumer. It is about consumers going into a shop and knowing exactly what they are getting. Consumers cannot judge the best cuts by looking at a piece of beef so they rely on the labelling, and labelling is very important for a consumer to determine what they are eating.
I found it absolutely amazing that a number of The Nationals said that people living near cattle properties, or who have had experience of cattle properties, are better judges of what meat tastes good once it is put on the barbecue. I have eaten meat all my life—I have probably eaten just as much as people who are older than me—and I can tell you what a good cut of beef is, what tastes good and what does not. So it is all about the consumers. Nowadays we have more choice, but more choice leads to more confusion. We need to be leading the nation in the labelling of food—not only beef but all the food in our supermarkets. It is also about market-driven forces. Labels meet the wants and demands of consumers, who need clarity about what they are buying.
The mid North Coast parliamentary showcase, recently held in this Parliament, was all about quality produce. Quality produce brings benefits in the form of tourism. It would be great if we could have a labelling process. We have all had the experience of buying a cut of meat, even from our favourite quality butcher or the supermarket, which was absolutely delicious, but when we returned the next day to buy the same cut of meat it was not the same. We need a standard that consumers can apply when they are buying their produce. The directors of the Australian Beef Association have voted in support of the beef-grading bill. Brad Bellinger, Chairman of the Australian Beef Association, said:
The bill is a further step towards truthful labelling and a small step towards a beef grading system with penalties for unscrupulous meat traders, who pass off inferior beef as prime product.
Unlike most developed countries, Australia does not have a beef-grading system and consumers pay premium prices for an inconsistent product at the supermarket. At the same time, Australia's producers receive the lowest cattle prices in the developed world. Mr Bellinger further said:
The US has had a grading system for decades, and in the US beef costs about half as much at the supermarket and producers are paid 30 – 40% more for their cattle.
Grading has been a long-term industry objective, officially supported by all industry sectors. This bill is based on the recommendations of a recent Red Meat Advisory Council working party report on grading. Mr Bellinger further said:
Processors claiming that it will add to their costs are really saying; we won't be able to mislabel low quality beef and pass it off as good quality and this will add to our costs!
In the United Kingdom, after the bovine spongiform encephalopathy [BSE] outbreak the Government banned the consumption of beef from animals over 30 months of age. This basic step that excluded beef from aged cattle from the market improved eating quality so much that consumption increased from 16 kilograms to 21 kilograms per capita per annum, and it has remained there. I commend the bill to the House.
Mr PETER DRAPER
(Tamworth) [5.13 p.m.]: I make a brief contribution to the Food Amendment (Meat Grading) Bill 2008. I commend the member for Northern Tablelands for introducing this legislation. It is all about reliability and consistency. As was pointed out by the member for Port Macquarie, consumers at the moment do not know what they are getting from week to week. I have had the experience of buying something one week under a certain label and two weeks later going back and the meat standard was completely different.
The term "budget" is confusing and misleading, and consumers do not have a guide to quality before they purchase. The bill is about protecting consumers and consistency. The opposition appears to be coming from the major supermarkets, Woolworths and Coles, and others, who are protecting their rights to sell low-quality meat to consumers. It is interesting to note the statistics that in 1998 we were consuming, on average, 38 kilos per person and now, 11 years later, it has dropped to 32 kilos. And as long as we have inadequate labelling the statistics will continue to head in the wrong direction. My local area is heavily involved in the beef industry. From Nundle in the hills out west to Barraba, we have enormous numbers of producers who do an excellent job, and they would certainly benefit from consumer surety and consistency.
The bill has received widespread support. It has also received extremely wide media coverage, to the point where I noticed the member for Northern Tablelands has had multiple articles, many letters of support and even photographs of himself in the Land
. The coverage was so strong that I actually thought he had joined The Nationals at one stage.
Mr Gerard Martin:
You have to draw the line somewhere.
Mr PETER DRAPER:
That is right. Increased reliability of product should result in increased consumption. It is a shame to see the last-minute waverers; I think that is very much a vested interest. I commend the bill to the House.
Ms CLOVER MOORE
(Sydney) [5.15 p.m.]: I support the Food Amendment (Meat Grading) Bill 2008, which will ensure accurate labelling of meat in terms of quality. I understand that Australia has no consumer-based meat-grading system that guarantees quality meat. This enables the sale of cheap, poor quality foreign meat to sell on the market, making it difficult for higher quality and locally produced meat to compete. Governments are frequently saying that it is up to the consumer to decide when groups call for bans or restrictions on particular products, but how can the consumer make an informed decision without accurate labelling?
What is of enormous concern to my constituents is that the Government has refused to ban cruel factory farming for meat and dairy. Layer hens are crammed in tiny cages the size of an A4 sheet, unable to spread their wings, eating pellets all day. Broiler chickens are confined to big sheds housing up to 60,000 chickens, where they never see sunlight. They are bred so large they cannot support their weight and they live among their faeces. Pigs are reared in sow stalls where they cannot even turn around, they give birth on concrete floors, steel bars prevent them from nurturing their new-born piglets, and they undergo painful procedures such as castration and teeth clipping. I keep raising this in the House because I believe that a humane and just society—values that are reflected in this Parliament—should not allow cruel treatment of live, sentient and intelligent beings. It is an indictment that we have not legislated to prevent it.
The Government has failed to support a ban, saying that it supports choice. But our labelling laws are extremely lax and these processes remain largely unknown to consumers who are given confusing and misleading information on labels like "farm fresh". They are prevented from using their consumer power to take a stand against institutionalised suffering. In fact, the Humane Society International recently conducted a survey on consumers' interpretation of frequently used labels. Of the respondents surveyed, 50 per cent did not understand labels that said "cage-free eggs", almost no-one understood terms like "raised in eco-shelters", 33 per cent incorrectly thought chickens in barns could move about freely, and 93 per cent did not know that animals bred free-range only have outdoor access for the first few weeks of their lives and then are raised under factory farm conditions.
Last year the Free Range Pork Farmers Association raised concerns with my office about use of the term "bred free-range". It said the term is purposely being used to confuse consumers into believing they are buying products from animals raised in pastures when they are in fact supporting factory farming. Bred free-range is not free-range and is therefore cheaper, but the consumer does not know that, and this is at the expense of the true free-range industry. Consumers willing to pay a premium price for what they believe to be ethically produced products are being duped! The Free Range Pork Farmers Association uses independent certifiers to ensure that all pigs raised are free to graze in pastures in the day, can express their instinctive behaviours, and are free from pain and discomfort. We must support producers that are progressive and use humane farming practices instead of cruel cheap factory farming methods—this requires the strong labelling laws indicated in this bill.
Almost all of respondents—98.3 per cent exactly—to the Humane Society International's survey said that correct labelling is every consumer's right, but only 7.4 per cent of respondents said that labels give them enough information. As elected representatives of Parliament it is our job to support transparency and accountability, to ensure that our constituents are given the information they want and to prevent them from being purposely misled. This bill will ensure that people are given accurate information about the quality of the meat they buy. I hope in future we will see measures to ensure that people are given accurate information about the animal welfare production process of animals. I commend the bill to the House.
Mr RICHARD TORBAY
(Northern Tablelands—Speaker) [5.19 p.m.], in reply: I thank all members who have contributed to this debate—in particular, the member for Bathurst, who led for the Government, the member for Lismore, who led for the Opposition, and my Independent colleagues the members for Dubbo, Port Macquarie, Tamworth and Sydney. The member for Barwon also made a contribution to the debate. With their comments, the principle of the bill has been supported in the House today. The member for Lismore indicated that the Opposition reserves the right to amend the bill in the upper House. That right applies to every piece of legislation in this House, and it is one that I firmly support. The member read onto the record correspondence from the Red Meat Advisory Council, which is represented in the gallery today. I would have been happy for him to read onto the record my reply to that correspondence. The position put by the council in that correspondence was in direct contradiction to the position it put to me 24 hours earlier in my office.
When negotiating on legislation in good faith, one tends to take statements at face value. I acknowledge that in our negotiations the terminology of "low quality beef" was a point of difference. However, it is a bit rich to raise concerns about the terminology after indicating full support for the rest of the bill. I say to the Red Meat Advisory Council that when undertaking negotiations in the political arena it should do so in good faith. I am firmly of the view that this bill should pass through the Parliament. There has been extensive consultation on this legislation. The other concerns raised by the Red Meat Advisory Council, such as the name of the bill and ministerial powers, which is common practice in legislation, have no foundation. I have made clear in my comments today the issue of disagreement. This is special legislation for the people of New South Wales, producers and the beef industry, which has been long suffering and lacking good leadership. I commend the bill to the House.
Motion agreed to.
Bill agreed to in principle.
Consideration in detail requested by Mr Richard Torbay.
Question—That this bill be now agreed to in principle—put and resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration in Detail
Mr RICHARD TORBAY (Northern Tablelands—Speaker) [5.22 p.m.], by leave: I move amendments Nos 1 to 5 in globo:
No. 1 Page 2, clause 1, line 3. Omit "Meat
". Insert instead "Beef
No. 2 Page 2, clause 2, line 5. Omit "the date of assent to this Act". Insert instead "a day or days to be appointed by proclamation".
No. 3 Page 2, clauses 3 and 4, lines 6–12. Omit all words on those lines.
No. 4 Pages 3 and 4, schedule 1, lines 1–34 on page 3 and lines 1–3 on page 4. Omit all words on those lines. Insert instead:
Schedule 1 Amendment of Food Act 2003 No 43
 Part 2, Division 2A
Insert after section 23:
Division 2A Beef labelling
23A Beef labelling schemes
(1) The regulations may prescribe schemes regulating the use of words and expressions used in the labelling of any type of beef intended for sale or beef for sale to indicate the type of beef, the quality of beef or any other characteristic of the beef.
(2) Without limiting subsection (1), the regulations prescribing a scheme may:
(a) specify the type of beef that the scheme applies to, or
(b) specify the requirements for labelling beef with a word or expression indicating the type, quality or any other characteristic of the beef, or
(c) specify any other conditions relating to the use of a word or expression indicating the type, quality or any other characteristic of the beef, or
(d) prohibit activities in relation to the labelling of beef, or
(e) require records to be kept in relation to the labelling of beef.
(3) This section does not limit the operation of the provisions of this Act relating to food safety schemes.
(4) In this section:
means the whole or any part of the carcass of any bovine animal.
23B Misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to beef
(1) For the purposes of section 18 (1), a person carrying on a food business is taken to have engaged in conduct that is misleading or deceptive (or is likely to mislead or deceive) in relation to the advertising, packaging or labelling of beef intended for sale, or in relation to the sale of beef, if:
(a) the person does not use AUS-MEAT language consistently (unless the person is complying with a scheme prescribed under section 23A), or
(b) the person voluntarily adopts, but does not consistently comply with, a scheme prescribed under section 23A, or
(c) the beef is advertised, packaged or labelled with the word "budget" and does not also include the words "low grade" or "low quality", or
(d) the beef is advertised, packaged or labelled with the word "manufacturing" and does not also include the words "suitable for mince only".
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) (a), a person does not use AUS-MEAT language consistently if:
(a) the person advertises, packages, labels or sells beef described by means of AUS-MEAT language, and
(b) other beef advertised, packaged, labelled or sold by that person is described by any other means that does not include a description by means of:
(i) AUS-MEAT language, or
(ii) a consumer descriptor.
(3) For the purposes of subsection (1) (b), a person voluntarily adopts, but does not consistently comply with, a scheme prescribed under section 23A, if:
(a) the person labels any beef in accordance with a scheme prescribed under section 23A or advertises, packages or sells beef that has been labelled in accordance with such a scheme, and
(b) the person does not comply with that scheme in respect of all beef to which the scheme applies that is advertised, packaged, labelled or sold by that person.
(4) This section does not limit the operation of section 18 (1).
(5) In this section:
means any words, letters or symbols (other than the words beef, steak or veal or any words indicating a cooking method) that (whether alone, in combination or together with other words, letters or symbols) are used by the AUS-MEAT manual to designate or indicate beef as belonging to a particular type, quality, classification, category, cut or grade.
means the Australian Meat Industry Classification System (Manual 1) (2009 edition) published by AUS-MEAT Limited (ACN 082 528 881) or, if a replacement document is prescribed for the purposes of this definition, that document.
means the whole or any part of the carcass of any bovine animal.
means a word or expression prescribed by the regulations that is used to describe beef that is of a cut prescribed by the regulations.
23C False descriptions of beef
(1) For the purposes of section 18 (2), beef is falsely described if:
(a) it is described by means of AUS-MEAT language that is referable to beef of a particular type, quality, classification, category, cut or grade and:
(i) it has not been assessed in accordance with the requirements of the AUS-MEAT manual, or
(ii) it does not comply with the standards set out in the AUS-MEAT manual, with respect to beef of that type, quality, classification, category, cut or grade, or
(b) it is described by means of a word or expression that is regulated in accordance with a scheme prescribed under section 23A and the description does not comply with the requirements of the scheme, or
(c) it is described by means of a word or expression that is prescribed for the purposes of the definition of consumer descriptor
in section 23B and the beef cannot be described as being of the cut that is prescribed in relation to that word or expression.
(2) This section does not limit the operation of section 18 (2).
(3) In this section:
has the same meaning as it has in section 23B.
has the same meaning as it has in section 23B.
means the whole or any part of the carcass of any bovine animal.
23D Exemptions for restaurants, take-away food shops and similar outlets
(1) Subject to subsection (2), any person selling beef that has been cooked and is intended for immediate consumption (including, but not limited to, restaurants and take-away food shops) is exempt from sections 23B and 23C.
(2) The regulations may prescribe any persons or classes of persons in respect of which the exemption provided by this section is not to apply from the date specified in the regulations.
 Section 87A
Insert after section 87:
87A Beef labelling auditors
(1) This section only authorises the exercise of functions in relation to the auditing of the beef labelling requirements.
(2) The Food Authority may appoint a person employed by an approved industry body to be a beef labelling auditor for the purposes of carrying out audits to determine compliance with the beef labelling requirements.
(3) A beef labelling auditor is to exercise his or her functions in accordance with the directions issued to the approved industry body by the Food Authority.
(4) The cost of exercising those functions is the responsibility of the approved industry body.
(5) A beef labelling auditor is taken to be a food safety auditor for the purposes of this Act and accordingly a reference in this Act to a food safety auditor is taken to include a reference to a beef labelling auditor.
(6) In this section:
approved industry body
means a body that represents the beef industry and that is approved for the time being by the Food Authority.
beef labelling requirements
means the requirements arising under Division 2A of Part 2.
No. 5 Page 1, long title. Omit "meat". Insert instead "beef".
The proposed amendments to the Food Act 2003 will now appear in new part 2, division 2A, Beef labelling. Following representations by New South Wales Farmers, the amended bill will apply only to beef. I refer to proposed sections 23A (4) and 23B (5). The short and long titles of the Act have been changed to the Food Amendment (Beef Grading) Act to reflect the definition of "meat" as "bovine meat". New section 23A will give the Minister power to prescribe a voluntary beef labelling and grading scheme, including Meat Standards Australia, "budget" and "manufacturing" grades, as well as product that is not or cannot be Meat Standards Australia graded. It imposes penalties on any retailer who voluntarily adopts the scheme and sells meat that does not comply with the standards for the particular grade of beef described.
The Red Meat Advisory Council has requested AUS-MEAT to investigate the development of a consumer oriented quality guide as part of the AUS-MEAT language, which will encompass ungraded beef and Meat Standards Australia at the top end and "budget" and "manufacturing" at the bottom end. If the consumer oriented eating probability guide descriptor additions to the AUS-MEAT language proposed by the beef industry are acceptable, there will be no need for the Minister to exercise his powers to introduce a beef grading scheme under proposed section 23A. The industry can lead in this area. Under section 23B, misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to beef, new section 23B (2) (b) (ii) will give the Minister power to introduce regulations to allow retailers who adopt the AUS-MEAT language to use consumer descriptors such as "scotch fillet", "porterhouse" and "New York cut", which are not currently included in the AUS-MEAT language. The Red Meat Advisory Council has requested AUS-MEAT to add these commonly used consumer descriptors to the AUS-MEAT language. If that occurs before the bill is assented, there will be no need for the Minister to promulgate consumer descriptor regulations.
The provisions in the December draft bill that relate to proposed section 22 (4) of the Food Act 2003, which will make it an offence for any retailer who advertises, packages, labels or sells meat described by means of AUS-MEAT language and sells other beef described by other means, can now be found in new sections 23B (1) and 23B (2). The provisions have been extended to apply to any prescribed voluntary grading scheme in proposed new sections 23 (1) (b) and 23 (3), and consumer descriptors in new section 23B (2) (b) (ii). New section 23B (1) (c) of the Food Act 2003 will make it an offence in New South Wales to advertise, package or label beef using the word "budget" if the advertising labelling or packaging does not include the words "low grade" and "low quality". New section 23B (1) (d) will make it an offence for any retailer in New South Wales to advertise, package or label beef using the word "manufacturing" if the advertising, packaging or labelling does not also include the words "suitable for mince only".
Following representations by AUS-MEAT and the New South Wales Farmers since the introduction of the Food Amendment (Meat Grading) Bill into Parliament last December, AUS-MEAT's Australian Meat Industry Classification System (Manual 1) (2009 edition) has been added to the bill as the primary AUS-MEAT language reference material. The Minister has been given power to prescribe a later edition of the current AUS-MEAT manual for the purpose of the bill in lieu of the current edition if the Minister is satisfied with the contents of those later publications. I refer to new section 23B (5). In relation to new section 23C, False descriptions of beef, the words "quality, classification, category, cut", which are terms used in the AUS-MEAT language, have been added to the redrafted section 23C to the Food Act 2003. For the sake of abundant clarity, "steak" and "cooking methods" have been added to the beef and veal exclusions in the definition of "AUS-MEAT language". That is in proposed new section 23B (5). The amendment to section 23D, Exemptions for restaurants, takeaway food shops and similar outlets, was in response to a recommendation from the Red Meat Advisory Council. The Minister for Primary Industries requested the amendment in new section 87A, Beef labelling auditors. I commend the amendments to the House.
Question—That amendments Nos 1 to 5 be agreed to—put and resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses and schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Long title, as amended, agreed to.
Consideration in detail concluded.
Amendments Nos 1 to 5 agreed to.
Passing of the Bill
Bill passed and transmitted to the Legislative Council with a message seeking its concurrence in the bill.
ASSISTANT-SPEAKER (Mr Grant McBride):
Motion by Mr Richard Torbay agreed to:
That this bill be now passed.
Order! General business having concluded, the House will now proceed to private members' statements.