The Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister have made their first joint appearance since the controversial Liverpool Plains coal mine approval, to announce a revamp of the ‘Made in Australia’ kangaroo food label.
The Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce took to Facebook when the Shenhua open-cut mine was approved in his electorate two weeks ago, stating it was “ridiculous” and the decision showed “the world has gone mad”.
After a Cabinet meeting this morning Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce emerged for a joint announcement with the Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane on Country of Origin labelling.
They outlined plans to use simple gold bar as the new national standard for showing whether food has been grown, made or packaged in Australia.
The labels weave in the existing ‘Made in Australia’ green and gold kangaroo with a yellow bar showing whether a product was grown or made in Australia and the percentage of local ingredients.
The labels would initially be voluntary, but manufacturers would be forced to use them from next year if the states and territories agree to the proposal.
“What this is about is being truthful to the Australian people about what they buy with their money,” Mr Joyce said.
“The Australian people overwhelmingly wanted greater clarification and greater honesty in the description of where their product comes from.”
The frozen berries hepatitis scare earlier this year triggered the government pledge to revisit food labelling.
The Prime Minister has conceded the changes won’t prevent a similar scare.
“This is about country of origin labelling it’s not about food safety standards,” Mr Abbott said.
“People might have different views about where you are most likely to be confident in the quality of your food, but they’re two separate issues effectively.”
Establishing the new labels will cost Australian businesses $37 million a year.
Mr Joyce was questioned over the mine proposal during the media event about the Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s comments on water management at the mine.
“I’m happy that we have an Environment Minister that’s going to be completely diligent in the job that he has in the auspice of what he is allowed to do, which is hydrology,” Mr Joyce said.
“It now goes back to the states and it is an issue now for the states and I think everything else on this issue has been well and truly ventilated.”