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Animal Welfare Disregarded in New Free-Range Egg Regulations

5 April 2016

TUESDAY 5 APRIL 2016

Andrea Dawkins On tomorrow to move -

That this House notes:

1.      The reforms agreed to at the recent Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting which will see eggs stocked in farms with up to 10,000 hens per hectare labelled as ‘free-range’;

2.      That animal welfare organisations have, for some time, been lobbying governments to adopt their recommendations that free-range eggs be labelled as such when stocking densities are capped at 1,500 hens per hectare; significantly lower to that agreed to at COAG;

3.      That consumer watchdog, CHOICE, are so outraged by the new specifications for free-range egg labelling that they have recommended consumers boycott up to 19 producers stocking so-called ‘free-range’ eggs at farms with a density greater than 1,500 hens per hectare;

4.      That it is well known that market demand for quality, cruelty free food products has increased significantly in recent years and that consumers expect their governments to legislate to ensure they are properly informed about the products they are purchasing and that those products align with adequate animal welfare standards;

5.      That despite consumer demand for cruelty-free food products, CHOICE estimates that up to 213 million eggs sold in 2014 alone did not meet consumer expectation;

6.      That by agreeing to regulate the labelling of free-range eggs in line with the definition of 10,000 hens per hectare, so-called ‘free-range’ eggs will occupy up to 40 per cent of the egg market, significantly disadvantaging genuine producers of free-range eggs stocked in line with animal welfare and consumer group organisation recommendations;

7.      That the Greens have long called for better and stricter and regulations for food labelling in Tasmania and across the country, lobbying for comprehensive and enforceable standards Australia wide that see the welfare of animals considered to highest standards and consumers getting what they believe they are paying for;

8.      That the Liberal government have once again bowed to industry and business pressure and have opted to legislate for the power of the dollar rather than the welfare of animals, consumers and broader community expectation; and

9.      Further, that this House:

a.      Condemns the Hodgman Liberal government for its decision to rollback the previous government’s procurement order that saw schools, hospitals and government departments consuming only free-range eggs;

b.      Calls on Primary Industries Minister, Jeremy Rockliff MP, and Minister responsible for Consumer Affairs, Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin MP, to listen to the Tasmanian community and genuine producers of free-range eggs and to lead the way by legislating for better food consumption regulations for Tasmania; and

c.      Calls on Premier Will Hodgman MP to show real leadership by taking a well developed policy to the next COAG meeting that actually reflects the public’s expectations for food labelling laws in Australia.