Food and Beverage Benzene Levels
The Hon. Dr ARTHUR CHESTERFIELD-EVANS: My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries, who is unfortunately not here today.
The Hon. John Della Bosca: You're right. I'll try to stand in for him.
The Hon. Dr ARTHUR CHESTERFIELD-EVANS: I had hoped that there would be some such arrangement. Is the Minister for Commerce, representing the Minister for Primary Industries, aware of the recent concerns about benzene levels in drinks caused by the preservative benzoate reacting with vitamin C? What inspections are conducted of foods in New South Wales? Can the Minister guarantee that foods and drinks in New South Wales are checked for benzene and other hazards, and that the reaction pointed out in 1993 by Glen Lawrence is not contaminating any foods or drinks in this State?
The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: I thank the Hon. Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans for his question. As he correctly points out, the Hon. Ian Macdonald is absent today; he is on important business on behalf of the State of New South Wales.
The Hon. Duncan Gay: Which holiday destination is he at?
The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: He is not on holiday. He is pursuing a very tough working agenda. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows all about it—in fact, I am sure he fully supports the Hon. Ian Macdonald's important undertakings over the next day or so. I am not qualified to answer the Hon. Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans's question about benzene—and, unlike the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, I will not venture into an area that I am not qualified to comment on. I will await the Hon. Ian Macdonald's return with bated breath because I am sure that, as always, he will have the answer.