Community Affairs Legislation Committee - May 31 2012
Richard questions Food Standards Australia and New Zealand on alcohol labelling regulation
Senator DI NATALE: I want to ask you firstly about alcohol labelling and the food forum, I think you described it as. There is a bit of confusion about alcohol labelling. Could you just clarify: is the government going to move to regulate after the two-year period or is this going to be dependent on the industry's efforts to voluntarily introduce labelling, particularly around pregnancy?
Ms Halton: Sorry, I missed the beginning of it.
Senator DI NATALE: That was a time-stalling tactic, I am sure.
Ms Halton: It is my fault. I am sorry, Senator, repeat it, if you would not mind.
Senator DI NATALE: Can you clarify whether the government is going to move to regulate after two years? I understand there has been a two-year period to allow for industry regulation. Will the government move to regulate after that two-year period depending on the outcome of industry's approach?
Ms Halton: This is on alcohol labelling?
Senator DI NATALE: Yes.
Ms Halton: There are two things. One, it is not the government's decision because it is a matter for food ministers. It is administered by all states, territories and the Commonwealth government. Secondly, there is no decision at the moment to regulate. The minister has welcomed the initiative of the industry to adopt a voluntary approach and they said they would consider it, depending on the actions of industry in two years time. There is not an active decision to regulate, I need to be very clear about that, but there is a very active consideration that they will consider it once they see what the industry does.
Senator DI NATALE: How are you going to evaluate what the industry does? What is the process?
Ms Halton: Ministers will look at what the actions that have been taken are. We had a conversation, as I said, yesterday, with industry. Our suggestion to industry will be that they might want to talk to us about their intended action. If they are going to take action across industry, it would be better that that is discussed with us early so that there is no difference of view later about what could or should have been.
Senator DI NATALE: I am certainly watching that space very closely.