11 AUGUST 1999

© Commonwealth of Australia 1999

ISSN 1440-2572

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APPENDIX 1 - Submissions received by the Committee


APPENDIX 2 - Public hearing


For further information, contact:

Committee Secretary
Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: +61 2 6277 3515
Fax: +61 2 6277 5829




Senator Sue Knowles, Chairman LP, Western Australia
Senator Andrew Bartlett, Deputy Chair AD, Queensland
Senator Kay Denman ALP, Tasmania
Senator Chris Evans ALP, Western Australia
Senator Brett Mason LP, Queensland
Senator Tsebin Tchen LP, Victoria

Former Members

Senator Alan Eggleston LP, Western Australia
Senator David MacGibbon (to 30.6.99) LP, Queensland

Substitute Member

Senator Forshaw for Senator Denman for the Committee's inquiry into the Bill ALP, New South Wales

Participating Members

Senator Eric Abetz LP, Tasmania
Senator Bob Brown Greens, Tasmania
Senator the Hon Rosemary Crowley ALP, South Australia
Senator the Hon John Faulkner ALP, New South Wales
Senator Michael Forshaw ALP, New South Wales
Senator Brenda Gibbs ALP, Queensland
Senator Brian Harradine Ind, Tasmania
Senator Meg Lees AD, South Australia
Senator the Hon Chris Schacht ALP, South Australia
Senator John Woodley AD, Queensland




1.1 The Australia New Zealand Food Authority Amendment Bill 1999 (the Bill) was introduced into the Senate on 31 March 1999. On 20 April 1999, the Senate, on the recommendation of the Selection of Bills Committee (Report No.6 of 1999), referred the provisions of the Bill to the Committee for report by 30 June 1999. The reporting date was subsequently extended until the first sitting week in August.

1.2 In undertaking its inquiry into the Bill, the Committee agreed to consider a number of issues relating specifically to the proposed amendments in the Bill and the Bill's place in the overall Government legislative framework relating to food standards and regulation.

1.3 The Committee considered the Bill at a public hearing on 25 June 1999. Details of the public hearing are referred to in Appendix 2. The Committee received 25 submissions and other written material relating to the Bill, which are listed at Appendix 1.



2.1 As part of proposals to reform the food regulatory system in Australia, a number of reviews have been conducted including the Food Regulation Review, the National Competition Policy Review of the Australia New Zealand Food Authority Act, and the Review of the Model Food Act and the State and Territory Food Acts. The Bill addresses recommendations arising from the reviews and seeks to amend the Australia New Zealand Food Authority Act 1991 (the Act) in four major ways:

2.2 A number of the amendments in this Bill were previously contained in the Australia New Zealand Food Authority Amendment Bill 1996, which lapsed at the end of the previous Parliament. The Committee had considered and reported on that Bill in June 1997, commenting on a number of issues including management improvements and resource prioritisation, and cost recovery from industry through application fees and charges. [3]



3.1 As noted in paragraph 1.2, the Committee agreed to consider specific issues relating directly to the Bill in undertaking its inquiry. This section discusses the issues as agreed to by the Committee.

The adequacy of the proposed objectives for ANZFA

3.2 The Bill proposes to insert an overall objective for the Act in order to `provide public transparency and a concise statement of the role of the Authority'. [4] In addition, the proposed amendment of section 10 of the Act will provide two objectives for ANZFA in developing and varying food regulatory measures: the protection of public health and safety; and, the prevention of misleading or deceptive conduct. The Bill also provides that ANZFA must have regard to five matters when developing food standards. These include the provision of adequate information to consumers and the promotion of consistency between domestic and international food standards.

3.3 The inclusion of the overall objective was commented upon in a number of submissions. The Australian Consumers' Association (ACA) submitted that the objective `seemed superfluous'. The ACA and other groups expressed concerns about the use and potential misuse of the concept of `equivalent public health protection' in Australia and New Zealand. It was argued that `equivalent' protection would lead to `lowest common denominator' harmonisation of food regulations in Australia and New Zealand. [5] Other submissions noted that the word `safety' had been dropped from the objective. [6]

3.4 Some groups also commented upon the proposed amendments to section 10 of the Act. The Food Industry Conference of Australia (FICA) stated that the inclusion of a reference to `the prevention of misleading or deceptive conduct' could risk confusion with the trade practices jurisdiction. [7] It was also argued that the amendments will downgrade the objective of focus on consumer need to only something to which ANZFA `must have regard'. The introduction of a requirement to consider `risk analysis that uses sound scientific principles' was questioned as the risk assessment was not quantified, it is only required that it be based on sound scientific principles. [8] Concerns were also raised about the use of the term `sound science'. [9]

3.5 Another matter raised was the provision of adequate consumer information. The ACA noted that food labels are the key to information and provide the only point of sale advice available to the consumer. The ACA added that `labelling is becoming increasingly important because people cannot open foods in the supermarket. They do not know how foods are produced.' [10]

3.6 Submissions also argued that the introduction of consistency between domestic and international food regulations could lead to a lowering of standards as Codex levels are `arguably well below our existing standards in many respects'. [11] The AMWU Food Division noted, in relation to harmonisation with New Zealand standards, that:

3.7 In addition, it was argued that the inclusion of the promotion of trade and commerce will put ANZFA in a contradictory position and was inappropriate for a regulatory body. [13]

3.8 While some submissions acknowledged the need to redraft ANZFA's objectives, it was considered that greater emphasis should be put on consumer interests and less on those of industry. [14] However, the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) stated that the proposed amendment was an improvement on the current objectives. [15]

3.9 ANZFA noted that the overall objective `provides a strong statement of the Authority's role, providing both guidance to the Authority in administering its various functions under the Act, as well as setting a broad benchmark of public accountability'. It also noted that the proposed objectives for food regulatory measures:

3.10 In response to concerns that a general objective to provide information to consumers will be removed from section 10, ANZFA stated that this objective still remained in section 10(2) and in the overall objectives of the Act. [17] It noted that section 10 was being amended because it only applied to mandatory standards. ANZFA stated that:

3.11 In relation to the harmonisation with international standards, ANZFA stated that:

The extent to which public health is actually protected and promoted

3.12 Some groups suggested that the amendments would not sufficiently promote and protect public health and safety. It was argued that the protection function was being relegated to a lower priority in view of moves to minimise regulation and ensure that industry was not overburdened. [20] A range of other concerns were raised including the removal of `quality' standards; allowing (private) third party auditing of food safety programs; and the introduction of industry codes of practice which are not legally binding. [21] The Public Health Association of Australia stated that:

3.13 ANZFA stated that the protection of public health and safety `has been, and will remain, the primary focus' of its standards development work. ANZFA went on to note that its food product standards and food safety standards functions were underpinned by a food monitoring and surveillance program, a legal program, a general policy area, and public information and education program. However, the responsibility for enforcing and administering the food standards developed through the ANZFA system rests with the States and Territories, which have devolved much of this responsibility to local government. ANZFA noted that, as a consequence, the food regulatory system in Australia is complex and fragmented. [23]

3.14 ANZFA submitted that the proposed amendments to section 9 of the Act would enable food safety standards to be included in the Food Standards Code. The standards will replace existing State and Territory food hygiene regulations `making them more consistent nationally, promote a preventative approach and align with international best practice'. [24]

3.15 ANZFA also stated that:

The extent to which consumer protection may be reduced

3.16 Several submissions argued that there will be a lessening of consumer protection through lowering the priority given to providing information to consumers to enable them to make informed choices, the use of codes of practice and the move for the harmonisation of regulation with New Zealand and the Codex. Submissions cited recent examples of harmonisation in relation to cadmium levels and the Maximum Residue Level for glyphosate as instances where protection for consumers had been reduced. [26]

3.17 Some groups argued that consumers would not be protected by the introduction of charges for certain applications. [27] CFA stated that this will mean that ANZFA becomes `beholden to, or captured by, the food industries it is meant to regulate' and the AMWU stated that it would disadvantage smaller organisations because of the significant cost factor. [28] CFA indicated that consumer groups believed that in order to minimise the risk of regulatory bodies being `captured' by the interests which they are charged with regulating, they should be wholly public funded. [29]

3.18 Coles Supermarkets submitted that cost recovery should not be a priority `as this may lead to distortions in setting of the work program'. [30] FICA supported cost recovery but `only where the benefits of such a review can be shown to accrue in a significant way to a particular organisation or a business'. [31] FICA also suggested that the establishment of the work program should be open and transparent so that it was not unduly influenced by any particular interest group. [32]

3.19 AFGC argued that the issue of adequate funding of ANZFA operations is central to the cost recovery debate. AFGC stated that the Government `has an unequivocal obligation to adequately fund agencies with clear public health and safety objectives such as ANZFA'. AFGC considered that the only condition under which ANZFA can demand payment for its services is when an `exclusive, capturable benefit is conferred upon a party seeking amendment to the Food Standards Code'. [33]

3.19 ANZFA emphasised that it is `committed to ensuring that consumer protection is improved and not reduced'. It argued that the proposed amendments to the objectives of ANZFA in developing food regulation measures would improve consumer protection. [34]

3.20 In relation to the work program and charges, ANZFA responded that the establishment of a work program would allow it to better manage its work flow `so that we do not get forced into compromising the quality of the work by trying to do everything that we are required by legislation to do on a fixed budget'. Applications will be prioritised, based on the degree of public good and will be scheduled over a three-year period. Fees will be charged where there is capturable commercial good from an application, or where an applicant wishes to have the priority of their application raised. The charging arrangements will be set in regulations. ANZFA advised that `the fee will be based on the amount of work that the Authority has to do in making its decision, not on the outcome. They will not be buying the outcome; they will be buying the process'. [35]

Transparency and public reporting of decision making

3.21 Amendments proposed to Part 3 of the Act will change ANZFA's notification requirements and will also provide for ANZFA's Board to deal with less significant applications and variations of standards. This will only occur where the Ministerial Council has approved a general approach to be taken in relation to the matter that is the subject of the application. Any member of the Council may disagree with the Board's decision within 28 days.

3.22 ACA submitted that the theory of ANZFA's transparency, public reporting and public consultation is not matched by practice. It claimed that `on some occasions the input made by consumers or consumer organisations has simply been ignored; on others, no attempt at consultation has been made; on still others, consultation has been tokenistic'. [36] However, ACA conceded that the situation has been exacerbated by ANZFA's heavy workload.

3.23 Some submissions referred to ANZFA's decision not to recommend the full labelling of genetically engineered foods in face of widespread consumer calls for full labelling. [37] Other submissions also argued that ANZFA had used its fast-tracking powers for the folate fortification pilot to ensure that it did not have to conduct consultations with consumer groups and the public and that industry needs had overridden those of the public. [38] It was argued that the proposed amendments in relation to notifications and the inclusion of discretions in relation to the manner in which consultations are carried out will further reduce ANZFA's accountability to consumers. [39]

3.24 Several groups expressed concern about the proposal to allow ANZFA to make recommendations on matters of minor significance. It was argued that approval by Ministers was part of the consumer protection mechanisms. [40] Many submissions pointed to ANZFA's recommendation relating to genetically modified food which was rejected by ANZFSC as an example of the problems devolving decision-making to ANZFA. [41]

3.25 In its submission ANZFA stated that it `is proud of its high level of transparency and public reporting of decisions'. ANZFA noted that it used a wide variety of tools to keep interested parties informed including maintenance of a `public register' of all working documents relating to applications and proposals; an extensive website; and publication of notices on a variety of matters in newspapers and in gazettes.

3.26 ANZFA noted that the amendments will retain the requirements to notify in relation to all the matters but will reduce the prescriptiveness of notification in relation to newspaper and gazette notices. It stated that `at the moment there is a requirement at several stages in the process for ANZFA to place very expensive newspaper advertisements in both Australia and New Zealand, and often these result in no further interest from stakeholders than we already had'. [42] Public notification will still occur at the commencement of each application. Thereafter greater flexibility will ensure a cost effective notification process.

3.27 In relation to the amendment of decision making procedures, ANZFA noted that there was some confusion about what the amendments will achieve. It confirmed that `it will not be decision making by ANZFA; it will still be decision making by the council … It requires the ministers to have agreed to a strategic direction or an umbrella decision and for the issues to be of minor significance'. The new arrangements will `improve the timeliness and also remove some of the administrative work for ministers'. ANZFA advised that these arrangements would only be used in limited circumstances and all the other provisions of the Act would apply in terms of consultation. [43]

Adequacy of public participation in ANZFA's decision making

3.28 Several submissions argued that the amendments to notification and consultation provisions would weaken public participation. They noted that consumers are not resourced sufficiently to fully participate in ANZFA's decision making processes. In contrast, industry has the financial resources and staff to consult and advocate their position. It was also argued that special food needs groups were not adequately consulted and that there was difficulty in accessing documents. Other submissions raised concerns about amendments allowing for the fast-tracking of assessment of some proposals by removing the current requirement for two rounds of public consultations. [44]

3.29 ANZFA emphasised that it was committed to consulting with its industry, consumer and government stakeholders in Australia and New Zealand. Further, through its consultations, it aims to invite stakeholder involvement in its decision making. ANZFA stated that the proposed amendments to the Act `are aimed at improving the efficiency of the consultation process by reducing the prescriptive nature of the current process and allowing the Authority a greater degree of flexibility especially where matters are considered insignificant and of minor public interest or concern'. [45]

3.30 ANZFA also noted that it is currently preparing a policy document for public consultation on consultation arrangements. Included in the document is a suggestion that at the start of each application, ANZFA will publish a consultation plan on that particular application. ANZFA stated that `this will make ANZFA's work more transparent and accountable'. [46]

The Bill's place in the overall Government legislative framework relating to food standards and regulation

3.31 Several submissions argued that a more nationally integrated approach to food regulation was needed. Submissions noted that responsibility for food standards and regulation is currently divided between ANZFA and several other agencies as well as the Commonwealth, State and Territory departments of Health, Agriculture and Industry. It was argued that this creates overlapping responsibilities and can lead to confusion as to the responsible agency in certain circumstances. [47] Consumer and other groups argued for the establishment of a national food regulatory authority responsible for co-ordinating enforcement of food regulation on a national level and that such an authority needed to have a clear consumer focus. [48]

3.32 ANZFA noted that its core business created under the Act is to develop national, and now bi-national, food standards in cooperation with the Australian Commonwealth, New Zealand and State and Territory governments. ANZFA submitted that this Bill would `facilitate the cost effective development of food standards to keep pace with the high rate of technological and policy change, including industry and consumer demand for greater uniformity of regulation'. The Authority also noted that the amendments will allow it to play an active part in assisting national harmonisation of food laws, for example, developing a model Food Act. In addition, the Authority stated that the amendments allow for the implementation of uniform food safety standards throughout Australia. [49]



4.1 The Committee reports to the Senate that it has considered the Australia New Zealand Food Authority Amendment Bill 1999 and recommends that the Bill proceed.

Senator Sue Knowles

August 1999




1. Introduction

This Report reflects the views of the undersigned Senators who attended the Community Affairs Legislation Committee hearings into the Australia New Zealand Food Authority Amendment Bill 1999 on 25 June 1999. These Senators do not agree with conclusions and recommendations contained in the Committee majority report.

The majority report fails to adequately reflect and address the body of evidence in the submissions and presentations to the Committee. While the report outlines evidence from submissions that oppose both the thrust of the Bill and specific matters of detail, it does not meaningfully respond to these arguments and concludes by supporting the Bill without amendment. The submissions of the ANZFA are the only significant evidence cited by the majority report in response to the many opposing arguments from numerous consumer and industry groups.

The strong message from the submissions and witnesses to the Inquiry is that public health and consumer safety must be the primary concern in Australia's food regulatory system and that the system should be regulated by a clearly independent authority. The majority of witnesses did not think this is currently the case, or that the Bill in its current form would improve the situation.

2. The Adequacy of the Legislative framework

The final term of reference asks the Committee to consider the Bill's place in the Government's overall legislative framework relating to food standards and regulation.

Although the Bill deals with fundamental questions such as the Objects of the Act and the main procedures used by ANZFA it is not based on any overall analysis of the best mechanisms for food regulation. In fact the Bill consists of an amalgam of amendments drawn from various sources.

The Bill should have taken a more global approach. The Blair Review into the food industry completed in October 1998 was an important document that canvassed many critical issues about food regulation. Unfortunately the Government has not made a full response to this report and this Bill is not drawn from such an overall analysis that takes into account the impacts on the economic, agriculture, public health and consumer safety.

It is understood the Government has flagged that the Blair report will be discussed at COAG in the future, and that other amendments to the ANZFA Act will be developed after that. It is difficult to properly assess this Bill without having a broader response to Blair to give the strategic framework.

Opposition Senators are concerned that many aspects of this Bill do not work to achieve the sort of independent food regulatory system that Australia needs to give confidence in our own food supply and assure overseas customers that our agricultural products are clean and wholesome.

Indeed there was considerable evidence presented that the Bill will in fact weaken rather than strengthen the current system.

There is widespread public concern about food standards fired by the current controversy over genetically modified food and a string of deaths and illness caused by poor food hygiene. In this context it is vital that the reputation of ANZFA be restored and public confidence in food regulation strengthened.

It is thus wrong that the objectives of Australia's national Food Authority be watered down or for its operating procedures to be adulterated by financial considerations that put public health a poor second.

ANZFA is an interesting attempt to achieve common standards with New Zealand on an important issue of shared importance in trade. There are advantages in both countries sharing the burden of regulation and benefits for producers, processors and consumers in devising a common set of standards. Likewise there are benefits from removing avoidable variations from international standards by harmonising the wording of our own Standards.

However these advantages should not come at the cost of reducing food standards to a “lowest common denominator”. The process of “harmonisation” may involve some countries putting in place more stringent food safety laws. There is significant scope to simplify the way regulations are written and enforced (and thereby reduce compliance costs) without lowering food quality and purity standards.

Deregulation and moves toward Codes of Practice will not maintain public confidence unless they occur within a clear framework that is transparent to the public and independent of the food industry. The major players in the food industry recognise the particular sensitivity of food safety and the crucial role of maintaining public confidence in the regulatory system. It is clear from the submissions to this Inquiry that in its current form this Bill will not help achieve that goal.

However, if the issues raised by those submissions are addressed by way of amending this Bill and the Government recommits itself to a strong and independent Food Authority the outcome would be a boost in public confidence.

3. Introduction of overall Objects for the Act

A prime concern in the submissions was the new Objects proposed to be inserted as section 2A of the Act. A number of submissions regarded the proposed Objects as a reduction in the level of emphasis given to consumer interests and public health. Specific issues raised by consumers included:

In response to these concerns, ANZFA raised Australia's obligations under the WTO Agreements. The Authority's statements to the Committee suggest that by stipulating that Australian standards would not be lowered, we would stand in conflict with WTO provisions. [53]

Against this, the view of several witnesses was that harmonisation with international standards would almost inevitably mean lowered standards.

The authors of the Minority report do not accept that the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) necessarily requires that Australia's food standards be reduced. The SPS Agreement merely encourages harmonisation and requires standards that exceed the international benchmarks to be based on a scientific justification or an appropriate risk assessment.

ANZFA itself acknowledges that there are means by which Australia can retain stronger standards than in Codex without breaching the SPS Agreement. [54] Accordingly, adopting the object of harmonisation should not be unqualified. Rather, the concept can be expressed in a neutral fashion by adding to ANZFA's functions along the following lines:

Harmonisation should be achieved by redrafting which does not significantly weaken the Australian standard or by encouraging other countries to incorporate the desirable aspects of Australia's standards.”

4. The Objectives to be followed in Developing Food Standards

The Bill proposes that the existing objectives for developing food regulatory measures, contained in section 10 of the ANZFA Act, should be replaced. Witnesses to the Inquiry argued the effect of this would be to reduce the focus on consumer interests. [55]. These concerns included:

The proposed objectives need to be substantially re-drafted if a case is to be made out that the existing objectives should be changed.

5. Refund of application fees and the Independence of ANZFA

The Bill provides for ANZFA to refund applications fees to unsuccessful applicants in a number of circumstances. This was viewed by witnesses as creating a threat to the independence of the Authority, which would become financially dependent on outcomes favourable to applicants. There would be a clear incentive for the Authority to accept some applications that might otherwise be considered unfavourably in order to meet its budget requirements. [58]

The Monash Centre for Population Health and Nutrition noted with concern the `no risk advantage' to industry organisations whose applications to ANZFA are unsuccessful, coupled with the incentive to ANZFA to approve applications in order to secure its budget. [59]

The Organic Federation of Australia regarded these factors as having dangerous implications for the independence of ANZFA and for public health and safety [60].

In addition the submission from the Australia Food And Grocery Council (received 4 August 1999) expresses “grave concerns with a food regulatory system which is inadequately funded to meet its public good function while remaining inefficient, imposing significant costs on industry, and governments”. [61]

Clearly, the public good to be protected is several orders of magnitude greater than the running cost of the Authority which has the responsibility for regulating food standards. Core funding for ANZFA should be assured from general revenue. Application fees are an appropriate source of revenue but they should be realistic and provide a predictable income stream not influenced by the favourable or unfavourable outcome on each decision. There should not be a financial incentive for ANZFA to approve a potentially risky product to secure its own budget when the cost to the community could be far greater.

6. Substitution of enforceable `food standards' with less stringent `Codes of Practice'

The Bill proposes to introduce Codes of Practice as a supplementary form of food regulation to the existing `food standards'.

A Code of practice would provide a lower level of regulation under which the Authority would have little or no enforcement power and the requirement on industry to report compliance would be diminished. There was strong concern that things, which had previously been subject to food standards, would come within the more flexible and less enforceable Codes of Practice and that this would greatly reduce or remove the requirements on industry to abide by the regulations.

Witnesses before the Inquiry also indicated their concern that the enforcement of Codes of Practice as proposed by the Amending Legislation is likely to be less stringent than the current capacity to enforce food standards. [62]In particular, the Public Health Association of Australia addressed the problem of ANZFA having no clear mechanism or requirement for the regular review and development of Codes of Practice. [63]

Most importantly, it was noted that such Codes appear to have no legally binding effect on industry, and no enforceable jurisdiction. [64] It was suggested that to get redress, in legal effect the codes would be useless and consumers would have to rely on State fair trading legislation, Trade Practices Act or the ACCC which would prove administratively difficult, costly and time consuming.

ANZFA has responded that Codes of Practice are already developed to help with administration of the Act and that by bringing them into a statutory framework, as proposed by the Bill, there would be statutory consultation requirements which are not required under current arrangements. [65]

The Minority report agrees that Codes of Practice have a role to play but they should not come to substitute for food standards. ANZFA has indicated that this is not its intention.

The Bill should therefore be amended to clarify how extensively the Codes of Practice provisions are to be applied and how enforcement of such Codes is to be achieved. A Code of practice should not be permitted to substitute for a Standard containing measures that protect public health or consumer safety. Rather they should be used to articulate industry best practice in processing to minimise the chance of non-complying food being prepared.

7. Fast-Tracking of Applications.

The Bill proposes a new discretion for ANZFA to deal with matters of `minor significance'. This includes the removal of the existing requirement for publication of proposals in the National Press.

Witnesses particularly emphasised the recent food-labelling situation involving genetically modified foods as an indication of the need for continued Ministerial monitoring and review of food standards [66]. The lack of any criteria for what the Authority might think was a minor matter was the root of this concern. There are no doubt circumstances where avoidance of delay in re-approval is desirable and the full cost of wide public consultation is not justified.

A current proposal to allow caffeine in carbonated drinks other than Cola was also raised as an example of something that might look to be minor but which had important ramifications for national dietary behaviour. (In this case, excessive caffeine intake by young children and a skewing of drink preferences away from more healthy alternatives.)

ANZFA maintains that decision-making will still be made by the ANZFSC. The Authority indicates that Ministers will need to have agreed to a strategic direction and that the issues relating to the food regulatory measure are of minor significance. Further, ANZFA argues it would only take such decisions in limited circumstances [67] - however these circumstances are not spelt out.

This intention should be reflected in the Bill by removing the open-ended nature of the provision allowing discretion over matters of minor significance.

A safeguard against the misuse of the “minor significance” exception could be to provide that it did not apply where a third party had raised concerns. This would ensure that if a circumstance arose where there was a controversial matter being considered it could be elevated to the level of the Council and not approved administratively by the Authority without broader public debate.

8. Policy development

FICA raised concern that the ANZFSC would be charged with the responsibility of developing policy, while ANZFA would be relied on for the development of rules. FICA viewed this as an undesirable division of responsibilities in food regulation [68]. The boundaries of what is policy and what is administrative practice are very grey.

The arrangements for delegation of decisions should be more explicit so that there is a clear definition of what is a Council policy and what broad guidelines or directions the Council has set. It should be possible to examine the Guidelines and policies that ANZFA use to underpin their decision making.

9. Notification provisions

The critical need for public participation was raised in relation to the removal of notification/ publication requirements and also the involvement of ministers in rejecting food standards or labelling requirements [69]. The proposed watering down of notification provisions does not seem justified and will reduce the scope for the Authority to do its consultation properly.

10. Recommendations

The strong message from the submissions and witnesses to the Inquiry is that Australia's food regulatory system must retain as its first concern the maintenance of public health and consumer safety, regulated by a clearly independent authority.

The Bill is unacceptable as it fails to maintain a regulatory framework which will ensure public confidence in food standards.

Some of the proposals have the potential to undermine public health and consumer safety.

It is recommended that the Bill be amended to address many of the specific concerns raised during the Inquiry, which the Majority Report has largely ignored.

The Government is also encouraged to bring forward a full response to the Blair Inquiry and recommit itself to a strong and independent Food Authority.


DISSENTING REPORT - Australia New Zealand Food Authority Amendment Bill 1999

1. Summary

1.1 The Australian Democrats assert that the Australia New Zealand Food Authority Amendment Bill 1999 (the Bill) as proposed is unacceptable and requires amendment to give public health and safety, and consumer interests appropriate consideration in the formulation of food regulation.

1.2 The Australian Democrats call for a comprehensive definition of public health within the Bill to encompass the broader aspects of public health in terms of nutrition and environmental factors.

1.3 The Australian Democrats maintain that `equivalent' public health is an inappropriate qualifier of the ANZFA's objective to ensure public health protection. Maintenance of the 1991 objective, `the protection of public health and safety' is recommended.

1.4 The Australian Democrats maintain that public safety should be an essential objective for Australia's primary food regulatory body as should the provision of adequate food product information to consumers.

1.5 The definition of food under the Bill requires clarification so that nutriceuticals are placed under the jurisdiction of the Therapeutic Goods Administration and that the delineation of what is a food and what is a drug is not left to the discretion of the Minister to determine.

1.6 Consistency between domestic and international food standards (as proposed in Section 2a) is desirable only in cases which do not undermine Australia's current standards. The Australian Democrats assert that the Bill should give effect to Australia's and New Zealand's international treaty obligations and national cooperative arrangements only when it will not lead to a reduction in Australia's current domestic food standards.

1.7 The Australian Democrats oppose the wider regulatory shift towards cost-benefit and cost recovery measures. Cost recovery should be left as it is presently, that is, unused. Public health considerations should be paramount in the construction of food standards. However, the Bill in its current form gives primacy to acknowledging business costs. [70]

1.8 In conclusion, the Australian Democrats believe the Bill in its current form is unworkable for the above mentioned reasons. The proposed Bill must be amended as outlined in the following dissenting report to ensure the ANZFA places appropriate emphasis on public health and consumer interests.

2. Background

2.1 The Australian New Zealand Food Authority, then named the National Food Authority, was established as a `regulatory experiment' 1991.

2.2 The body was renamed the Australian New Zealand Food Authority in 1996 after Australia and New Zealand undertook joint food regulation.

2.3 Food regulatory responsibilities are fragmented across several Commonwealth agencies in Australia. Commonwealth Agencies which possess food regulatory responsibilities include:

2.4 The ANZFA:

2.5 Currently, the ANZFA does not have the ability to implement or enforce food standards. Instead, the ANZFA recommends food regulations to the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Council (the ANZFSC) who either approve amend or reject recommendations outright, or until further research and refinement has been undertaken. The ANZFA's recommendations can not become regulation without the approval of the ANZFSC. The ANZFSC consists of the State and Federal Health Ministers of Australia and New Zealand.

2.6 Six years after the ANZFA's establishment a food regulation review was deemed appropriate and was announced by the Prime Minister in his March 1997 statement More Time for Business. The ensuing review of the ANZFA has occurred in fragments.

2.7 Food Regulation under the ANZFA have been considered in:

2.8 Recommendations of these reviews form central portions of the proposed Bill, though some consequential changes have been made from the Blair Report recommendations. [73] Recommendations of the Blair Review, however provides the basis for the majority of the amendments which the Bill proposes.

2.9 The key objectives of the Blair Review were:

`while protecting public health and safety, to:

2.10 The Blair Review undertook a strategic assessment of concurrent government review activities to ensure a coordinated and consolidated approach to food regulation across all three spheres of government and across the agricultural and health portfolios. It combined:

2.11 Therefore the regulatory review of the ANZFA was undertaken with primary consideration to economic efficiencies rather than public health and safety considerations. This inappropriate focus is reflected in the Bill as currently proposed.

3. Current Practice

3.1. Australia's Current Food Regulatory System

3.1.1 Currently, Australia's food regulatory system is complicated and fragmented. [76]

3.1.2 Responsibility for enforcing and administering food standards developed through the ANZFA system rests with the States and Territories, which have transferred a large percentage of this jurisdiction to local government.

3.1.3 The ANZFA's current objectives, as defined in the Australia New Zealand Food Authority Act 1991 are that it develops food standards in accordance with the following objectives, decreasing in priority:

3.1.4 Conflicts between responsibilities to represent the interests of consumers and that of industry in the ANZFA are apparent. It has been documented in the press that staff of the ANZFA have admitted to being too close to industry, despite the primary objective of the ANZFA protect public health and safety. [77]

3.1.5 The fact that there are no laboratories at the ANZFA and that the ANZFA does not undertake any independent testing makes it questionable that the ANZFA can fulfil its commitment to the health of the community under its' objectives. This is compounded by the usage of data predominantly provided by food companies and overseas agencies and has implications for the grounds on which the introduction of charges by the ANZFA are substantiated as discussed below.

3.1.6 The Sydney Morning Herald reported that staff of the ANZFA admitted to defending and promoting genetically modified foods during the labelling and regulation debate of these foods. [78] This is despite prestigious scientific reports in academic journals stating the possible public health risks associated with genetically modified food consumption. [79] Therefore, demonstrating that industry and consumer interests are inadequately reconciled under the ANZFA at present.

3.2 International Obligations

Conflict between the ANZFA's objective to ensure public health and safety and to adhere to international trade obligations is also problematic.

3.2.1 The ANZFA complies with Australian and New Zealand's international obligations under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements and the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement.

3.2.2 The WTO recognises the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Codex standards have significant impact on Australia and New Zealand. The ANZFA contributes to food standards debates at Codex meetings and takes account of Codex principles in the Food Standards Code.

3.2.3 Australia is obliged under the WTO's agreement to be consistent with international standards whenever a standard is developed. An exception is made when it can be demonstrated on good scientific principle that a change would undermine protection of public health and safety in Australia. However, this qualification of international standardisation is not reflected in the Government's proposed legislation and, therefore, could lead to a greater risk to public health and safety.

3.2.4. Specifically, consistency between domestic and international food regulatory measures opens up the risk of a situation of standards of the lowest common denominator. For example, the ANZFA's and the ANZFSC's recent approval of Proposal P144 (which sought to raise the permitted cadmium level in Australian foods from 0.05 to 0.1 mg/kg in peanuts in Standard A12 of the Food Standards Code in keeping with standards of the Codex Alimentarius) demonstrates this risk.

3.3 The United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency

As acknowledged in the Australian Consumers Association's (ACA) submission to the Senate Committee's inquiry, the government of the United Kingdom (UK) has frankly acknowledged the incompatibility of consumer and industry interests in relation to food regulation [80].

3.3.1 Paragraph 1.12 of the UK Food Regulation White Paper states that:

3.3.2 The United Kingdom has established the United Kingdom Food Standards Agency to achieve separation of wider consumer and business interests. The United Kingdom Food Standards Agency is to be a statutory body with a clear focus on protecting the public and the possessing statutory authority across the whole food chain. Its objectives include:

4. Issues Within the Bill

4.1 The ANZFA's Objectives

The Bill introduces an objective section for the Act and recasts ANZFA's

objectives. Under the Bill as proposed health, safety and the protection of the community are no longer objectives and have been demoted instead to

`priorities' of the ANZFA. Such amendments produce a weak and inadequate charter for Australia's primary food regulator.

4.1.1 `equivalent public health protection' The Australian Democrats object to the term `equivalent' which qualifies the ANZFA's objective to ensure public health protection in relation to food throughout Australia and New Zealand. In response to questions on notice at the Senate Committee inquiry, the Minister for Health and Aged Care stated that the wording of objective (a) in the proposed Section 2A of the Bill refers to equivalent public health protection across Australia or New Zealand. [83] The Chair's Draft acknowledges `the ACA and other groups (who) expressed concerns about the use and potential misuse of the concept of equivalent public health protection' in Australia and New Zealand. The Australian Democrats share this concern as the term `equivalent' can be interpreted as a formalised move towards lowest common denominator standards between the two countries.

4.1.2 Safety The Bill omits public safety from the ANZFA's objectives and thereby eliminates public safety from the ANZFA's regulatory considerations and responsibilities. The Australian Democrats deem public safety to be a fundamental aspect of a food regulatory body's responsibility. The inclusion of public safety in the ANZFA's objectives can only strengthen the most important charter of a food regulatory body, that is, the objective to public health protection.

4.1.3 Public Health Though the Objectives of the Act specify that the ANZFA must ensure equivalent public health, public health is not defined. This is problematic. Ms Susan Cassidy, Professional Service Dietitian, Dietitians Association of Australia stated at the Committee inquiry that the:

4.1.4 Consistency of Domestic and International Food Standards Pursuit of consistency between domestic and international food regulatory measures will lead to food regulation of the lowest common denominator and will risk the Australian environment. Australia's food standards are generally more stringent than that of the international food regulatory body Codex Alimentarius and Australia can produce foods with relatively high purity compared to trading partners. This ability should be preserved and promoted rather than undermined by lower international food standards. Consistency is generally desirable, but not when it requires a lowering of Australia's present standards. Health risk analyses may conclude that increasing food standards poses an insignificant risk to consumers, however, the ANZFA does not consider the impact that these increased thresholds may have on the environment.

4.1.5 Inconsistency of Objectives stated in Section 2A and Section 10. Under Section 10 of the Bill, the provision of adequate consumer food product information is demoted from an `objective' under Section 2A of the Bill to only a point that the ANZFA must `also have regard to'. This demotion is a notable and problematic inconsistency. The provision of adequate information on food products is essential for ensuring public health and safety and should be given equal weighting to these objectives.

4.1.6 Consumer Information Many consumer groups voiced concern at the Senate Committee's Public Hearing of the incongruity between the objectives in the proposed Section 10 and those in Section 2A. The Bill's objective in Section 2A that the ANZFA ensures adequate consumer food product information enable informed choice is not reflected in the proposed Section 10.

4.2. Voluntary Codes of Practice

4.2.1 The proposed amendment to Item 1 (replacing `food standards' with `food regulatory measures') reflects a wider move towards voluntary codes of practice as an alternative to prescriptive standards. The term `food regulatory measures' includes voluntary codes of conduct for industry in addition to enforceable standards.

4.2.2 The Bill, as proposed, acts to introduce voluntary codes of practice as an alternative and substitute to enforceable regulation.

4.2.3 The Bill's Explanatory Memorandum states that the ANZFA can only make codes of practice in relation to areas in which it has expertise. Proposed Section 9A of the Bill provides that voluntary codes of practice can only deal with matters that can be the subject of standards. The fact that codes and standards can address the same subject matter may encourage the ANZFA to see codes of practice as less costly substitute to legally binding standards. [85]

4.2.4 The Australian Democrats consider the general shift of food regulation to voluntary codes with concern. Industry managed codes of practice should not be considered as a general alternative to standards as lapses can lead to food spoiling and life threatening illness. The South Australian Garibaldi Small Goods food poisoning incident and the estimated 2.5 billion dollar cost to the community of food poisoning per annum should be ample impetus to establish codes of practice as an extra precaution not a substitute to food standards.

4.2.5 Food safety must not be economised and downsized. Consumer health and confidence can not be risked.

4.3 Nutriceuticals

4.3.1 The Bill inserts a new definition of food in Item 8 delineating between the therapeutic goods administration and the ANZFA. This inclusion of any substance or thing capable of being used for human consumption et cetera does not account for the emergence of nutriceuticals in Australia's food stores, that is, food stuffs which claim health benefits (eg: the successful foliate fortification pilot [86]).

4.3.2 All nutriceuticals should undergo independent testing. This is not current practice in the ANZFA therefore, as a therapeutic substance, nutriceuticals should be placed under the jurisdiction of the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

4.3.3 Furthermore, considering the immense market success and further potential for nutriceuticals on our supermarket shelves, the demarcation between food and drugs should not be at the discretion of the Minister. The food versus drug demarcation should be legislated to avoid any undesired lobbying by food manufacturers.

4.4 Cost-Recovery Assessment Charges

4.4.1 The Bill as proposed allows the ANZFA to charge for services and assessments. The Bill requires that those applying for food regulation must be charged for the preliminary assessment and notices given in relation on the application. Under Section 15, a fixed charge is required before an application can be assessed.

4.4.2 The magnitude of the charges has not been determined however. The probability that such an up-front fee will pose a deterrent to community groups to participate in the development of standards and making regulation applications could be quite considerable. The Current Act (Section 66) sets out circumstances in which the ANZFA can waive fees. This is not included in the proposed Bill. [87]

4.4.3 The Bill also requires that the charge be refunded if an application is rejected (Section 13) opening up the risk of the ANZFA approving applications for monetary motivations.

4.4.4 The Bill also reflects a move toward cost-recovery (Item 63) allowing the ANZFA to charge for use of its facilities, providing that charges be paid directly to the ANZFA rather than the Commonwealth.

4.4.5 Cost-recovery was deemed undesirable by both consumer and industry interests in submissions to the Senate inquiry. Coles supermarket stated that cost-recovery `may lead to distortions in setting of the working program [88]'.

4.5. Cost-Benefit Analysis

4.5.1 The Bill as proposed introduces cost-benefit analyses in the consideration of food regulatory measures, thereby codifying the ANZFA decision-making procedures which have been in operation over the preceding five years.

4.5.2 In response to a question on notice on the ANZFA's cost-benefit analyses the Minister for Health and Aged Care stated that:

4.5.3 The Australian Democrats are opposed to the `ranking' of the net economic and social benefits of food regulatory options under the Regulation Impact Statements (RIS). Such systems may be influenced by political agendas and powerful stakeholder interests. The risk that under the RIS system easily gauged quantitative factors are given inappropriate weight to qualitative factors such as consumer social, ethical and environmental concerns is considered too great.

4.5.4 The Australian Democrats can not support the codification of a decision-making process which deems segregation and full and comprehensive mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods inappropriate and too costly and approves the doubling of acceptable cadmium levels in food sold in Australia.

4.6 Increased Regulatory Power of the ANZFA

4.6.1 The Bill extends the ANZFA's powers to make food regulations independent of the ANZFC in certain circumstances.

4.6.2 The Bill allows for the ANZFA to implement regulation in situations which are considered to be of `minor significance', though what is minor is not specified. The ANZFA decision will become regulation in 28 days of the decision if the ANZFSC do not object.

4.6.3 Though the ANZFA would have undertaken public consultation as it deemed appropriate by this time, the 28-day window leaves little time for community interests to be organised and activated before the decision is regulated. However, the current system is also inappropriate as decisions can be postponed by the Council, as was the case with labelling of genetically modified foods, thereby allowing the Health Ministers to pursue a non-labelling position without appropriate approval for an extended period of time.

4.7 Public Consultation.

4.7.1 The proposed Bill intends to grant the ANZFA the power to determine what public conferral and consultation is appropriate in food regulation matters.

4.7.2 The Bill grants the ANZFA the discretionary judgement to consult `in any manner it considers appropriate and effective', removing the requirement to carry out two rounds of public consultation where `a proposal raises issues of minor significance' or where `omitting to consult will not have a significant adverse effect on the interests of anyone'. [90]

4.7.3 This increased regulatory powers of ANZFA is inappropriate, considering the current lack of consumer consultation expressed in submissions to the Senate inquiry into the proposed Bill and the disregard that the ANZFA demonstrated for public sentiment on the issue of labelling of genetically modified foods.

5. Conclusion

5.1 In conclusion, the Australian Democrats believe that the Bill in its current form is unworkable for the above mentioned reasons. The proposed Bill must be amended as specified above to ensure the ANZFA places appropriate emphasis on public health and consumer interests.

5.2 The Bill currently imposes in-built inequalities on access to food assessment and regulation, particularly with respect to proposed cost implementation and increases in regulatory autonomy of the ANZFA.

5.3 The Australian Democrats recommend that the Australian New Zealand Food Authority Amendment Bill 1999 be amended to ensure the adequate protection of consumer interests and public health.

Natasha Stott Despoja
The Australian Democrats

Andrew Bartlett
The Australian Democrats

9 August 1999


APPENDIX 1 - Submissions received by the Committee

The Committee received an 80 page petition relating to the banning or labelling of all genetically engineered foods and food products.

The Committee also received correspondence and form letters from 53 people relating generally to issues of food regulation and labelling.


APPENDIX 2 - Public Hearing

A public hearing was held on the Bill on 25 June 1999 in Senate Committee Room 2S3.

Committee Members in attendance

Senator Sue Knowles (Chairman)
Senator Chris Evans
Senator Michael Forshaw


Dietitians Association of Australia

Ms Sue Cassidy, Professional Services Dietitian

Public Health Association of Australia

Ms Lynne Flemming, Executive Director
Ms Julie Woods, Secretariat, Food Legislation and Regulation Advisory Group

Australian Consumers' Association

Mr Matt O'Neill, Senior Policy Officer, Food and Nutrition

Consumers' Federation of Australia – Consumer Food Network

Mr Dick Copeman, Coordinator

Food Industry Conference of Australia

Mr Terry Mott, Chairman
Mr Graeme Taylor, Executive Director

Organic Federation of Australia

Mr Scott Kinnear, Chairperson

Monash Centre for Population Health and Nutrition

Ms Maggie Niall, Public Health Nutritionist

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union – Food Division

Mr Noel Treharne, Federal Secretary
Mr Max Ogden, Industrial Officer, ACTU
Mr Tony Webb, Consultant

Australia New Zealand Food Authority

Dr Simon Brooke-Taylor, Program Manager, Food Standards
Ms Claire Pontin, General Manager, Monitoring and Operations
Ms Fiona Jolly, Program Manager, Legal


[1] Minister's Second Reading Speech, p.2.

[2] Minister's Second Reading Speech, pp.2-3.

[3] Australia New Zealand Food Authority Amendment Bill 1996 and Australia New Zealand Food Authority Amendment Bill (No.2) 1997, Report by the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee, June 1997.

[4] Explanatory Memorandum, p.8.

[5] Submission No.16, p.3 (ACA); Submission No.4, p.1 (Consumers' Federation of Australia).

[6] Submission No.4, p.1 (Consumers' Federation of Australia).

[7] Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA26.

[8] Submission No.11, p.3 (Organic Federation of Australia).

[9] Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA14.

[10] Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA13.

[11] Submission No.11, p.3 (Organic Federation of Australia).

[12] Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA38.

[13] Submission No.5, p.1 (South Australian Food Alliance); Submission No.7, p.1 (Dietitians Association of Australia); Submission No.11, p.3 (Organic Federation of Australia).

[14] Submission No. 16, p.4 (ACA). See also Submission No.1, p.21 (AMWU).

[15] Submission No.25, Attachment 2, p.7 (AFGC).

[16] Submission No.19, p.5 (ANZFA).

[17] Submission No.19, p.6 (ANZFA).

[18] Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA2.

[19] Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA46.

[20] Submission No.10, p.6 (Public Health Association of Australia).

[21] Submission No.3, p.5 (Monash Centre for Population Health & Nutrition); Submission No.4, p.3 (CFA); Submission No.7, p.1 (Dietitians Association of Australia); Submission No.10, p.7 (Public Health Association of Australia); Submission No.11, p.4 (Organic Federation of Australia); Submission No.15, p.2 (Allergy, Sensitivity & Environmental Health Association Qld); Submission No.16, p.5 (ACA); Submission No.21, p.10 (Beale Management Consultants).

[22] Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA8.

[23] Submission No.19, p.6 (ANZFA).

[24] Submission No.19, p.7 (ANZFA).

[25] Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA1.

[26] Submission No.4, p.2 (CFA); Submission No.10, p.8 (Public Health Association of Australia).

[27] See for example, Submission No.4, p.4 (CFA); Submission No.12, p.3 (National Council of Women of Australia); Submission No.15, p.4 (Allergy, Sensitivity & Environmental Health Ass Qld).

[28] Submission No.4, p.4 (CFA); Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA40.

[29] Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA17; Submission No.4, p.4 (CFA); See also Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA40.

[30] Submission No.2, p.2 (Coles Supermarkets Australia).

[31] Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA26.

[32] Submission No.14, p.3 (FICA).

[33] Submission No.25, pp.9, 11-12 (AFGC).

[34] Submission No.19, p.7 (ANZFA).

[35] Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA44.

[36] Submission No.16, p.5 (ACA).

[37] Submission No.10, p.8 (Public Health Association of Australia); Submission No.11, p.5 (Organic Federation of Australia).

[38] Submission No.4, p.4 (CFA); Submission No.7, p.2 (Dietitians Association of Australia).

[39] Submission No.16, p.5 (ACA).

[40] Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA11.

[41] Submission No.1, p.25 (AMWU); Submission No.4, p.4 (CFA); Submission No.10, p.8 (Public Health Association of Australia); Submission No. 11, p.5 (Organic Federation of Australia). See also Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA41.

[42] Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA2.

[43] Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA43.

[44] Submission No.4, p.5 (CFA); Submission No.5, p.4 (SA Food Alliance); Submission No.10, p.9 (Public Health Association of Australia); Submission No.15, p.4 (Allergy, Sensitivity & Environmental Health Association Qld).

[45] Submission No.19, pp.9-10 (ANZFA).

[46] Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA2.

[47] Submission No.1, pp.25-27 (AMWU); Submission No.4, p.6 (CFA); Submission No.5, p.5 (SA Food Alliance).

[48] Submission No.1, pp.26-27 (AMWU); Submission No.3, p.1 (Monash Centre for Population Health and Nutrition); Submission No.4, p.6 (CFA); Submission No.15, p.6 (Allergy, Sensitivity & Environmental Health Association Qld); Submission No.16, p.2 (ACA); Committee Hansard, 25.6.99, p.CA36.

[49] Submission No.19, p.12 (ANZFA). See also Submission No.17, p.1(DHAC).

[50] Consumer Food Network of the Consumers' Federation of Australia Submission at 1; Australian Consumers Association Submission at 3.

[51] Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (hereafter `AMWU') Submission, at pg22.

[52] Public Health Association of Australia, Food Legislation and Regulation Advisory Group Submission at 8.

[53] Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee Public Hearing, Committee Hansard, 25 June 1999, at 46.

[54] Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee Public Hearing, Committee Hansard, 25 June 1999, at 46.

[55] Supra note 4, Australian Consumers Federation, at 19.

[56] Ibid, at 16.

[57] Food: a growth industry. Report of the Food Regulation Review, August 1998, Recommendation 25(2)(b) at 126; see also supra note 4 at 19, 20.

[58] Submission 11, Organic Federation of Australia at 5.

[59] Submission 3, Monash Centre for Population Health and Nutrition at 4.

[60] Submission 11, Organic Federation of Australia at 5.

[61] Submission 25, Australian Food and Grocery Council at 3

[62] Supra note 4, Public Health Association of Australia at 7.

[63] Supra note 4, Public Health Association of Australia, at 10.

[64] Ibid; Submission 3, Monash Centre for Population Health and Nutrition at 5.

[65] Supra note 4, ANZFA, at 44.

[66] Supra note 4, Dietitians Association of Australia & Public Health Association of Australia, at 11.

[67] Supra note 4, ANZFA at 43.

[68] Submission 14, Food Industry Conference of Australia, at 3.

[69] Supra note 4, Consumer Food Network at 15.

[70] `The philosophy underlying the Bill is that the Act currently gives primacy to the benefit of protecting of public health without acknowledging costs imposed on business'. Tapley Mark, Bills Digest No. 206 1998-99 Australia New Zealand Food Authority Amendment Bill, Law and Bills Digest Group, Department of the Parliamentary Library 28 June 1999 at page 8. The Australian Democrats maintain that the Act currently does not protect public health adequately and that the Bill as proposed shifts the balance of interests further in the favour of industry.

[71] The Auditor General, Food Safety Regulation in Australia-Australian New Zealand Food Authority Follow-up Audit, Audit report No.45 1998-1999 Performance Audit at page 10.

[72] The Australian New Zealand Food Authority Service Charter 1998 at page 2 of 8 at

[73] See Submission No.16, Australian Consumers Association, at page 1 & attachment 2. The Blair Review recommended that decisions be based on the best available scientific information, yet the amendment in the Bill changed the wording to standards on `risk analysis and sound scientific principles', opening up the risk of `junk' science versus `sound' science stand-offs.

[74] Food Regulation Review Committee, Food: a growth industry, Report of the Food regulation Review, August 1998 at page x.

[75] Ibid.

[76] Submission No. 19, The Australian New Zealand Food Authority at page 6; citied in Chair's Draft at pages 5-6.

[77] Ragg Mark, Mastications: Taste of a food fight to come, The Sydney Morning Herald, July 25 1999.

[78] Ibid.

[79] Research from the Netherlands show that antibiotic resistant marker genes from genetically engineered bacteria can be transferred horizontally to indigenous bacteria at a substantial rate of 10-7 in an artificial gut. MacKenzie D, (1999) Gut Reaction, New Scientist 30 January at page 4;Researchers in the US found widespread horizontal transfer of a yeast parasite to the mitochondrial genome of higher plants. Cho Y, Qui Y-L., Kuhlman P., Palmer J.D., (1998) Explosive invasion of plant mitochondria by a group I intron.. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA 95, at pages 14244-9.

[80] Submission No.16, Australian Consumers Association, at page 2.

[81] United Kingdom Food Regulation White Paper 1998 at paragraph 1.12.

[82] Ibid. at paragraph 1.2.

[83] In response to a question placed on notice by Senator Stott Despoja inquiring: What does ANZFA understand `The wording of objective equivalent public health to mean in section 2A which states that the Authority ensure that people enjoy the benefit of equivalent public health protection? The Minister for Health and Aged Care upon notice on 25 June 1999 stated:The wording of objective (a) in the proposed section 2A reflects that the body that is now ANZFA was established with the aim of achieving uniformity in food law through out Australia (and now New Zealand). This is an appropriate objective for a national body such as ANZFA which worked in partnership with States and Territories and New Zealand to develop law that adequately protected public health but because of the inevitable differences that would occur citizens of one jurisdiction may be less well protected than others in another jurisdiction. Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee, Australia New Zealand Food Authority Amendment Bill, 25 June 1999.

[84] Cassidy, Susan, Professional Services Dietitian Dietitians Association of Australia, Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee Hansard: Australia New Zealand Food Authority Amendment Bill 1999 Friday 25 June 1999 at page CA 7.

[85] Tapley Mark, Bills Digest No. 206 1998-99 Australia New Zealand Food Authority Amendment Bill, Law and Bills Digest Group, Department of the Parliamentary Library 28 June 1999 at page 5.

[86] See Submission No. 4. Consumers' Federation of Australia Inc at page 4 (cited also in Submission No. 5, The South Australian Food Alliance):`The folate fortification pilot is, presumably, a model of how such a system will operate. In that case, certain companies paid large amounts of money to ANZFA to develop guidelines and approval processes, without any public consultation, for a process that was more about promoting sales of those companies' processed food products than about promoting public health. The token inclusion in the guidelines of a requirement to promote the value of a balances diet of fresh unprocessed foods has been largely ignored by the companies in the labelling and promotion of their fortified products.'

[87] Ibid. at page 7.

[88] Submission No. 2 Coles Supermarket Australia, at page 2; cited in the Chairs Draft, at page 5.

[89] Minister for Health and Aged Care, in response to question on notice by Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee, Australia New Zealand Food Authority Amendment Bill, 25 June 1999.

[90] Tapley Mark, Op. cit.