16 May Seafood sector sold out by Labor’s decision on KAP Bill
The Palaszczuk State Government looks set to deny the Queensland seafood industry a much-needed boost, with the Labor-stacked committee responsible for reviewing Katter’s Australian Party Leader Robbie Katter’s Seafood Labelling Bill recommending the Bill not be passed.
Mr Katter said the Committee’s refusal to support his Food (Labelling of Seafood) Amendment Bill 2021 had been disappointing.
The Traeger MP, who also sits on the State Development and Regional Industries Committee that reviewed the draft legislation, issued a dissenting report that argued the Bill should be passed.
The Committee’s two LNP members also issued a dissenting report, meaning the Committee was split down the middle as to whether the Bill should gain the support of the Parliament when it is debated.
However Labor has the numbers on the floor of the Queensland Parliament, and no legislation can pass without its support.
“I am of the view (the Committee’s recommendations) do not align with a genuinely supportive approach to the world-class seafood that Queensland industry produces, and men and women who work within it,” Mr Katter wrote in his dissenting report.
“Instead it passes up a golden opportunity to assist this sector in a very non-intrusive way.
“This Bill was drafted in direct consultation with the Queensland seafood industry and, as demonstrated during the consultation process, has its universal support.
“It is disappointing the Committee has been unable to support the industry on one of their key governmental requests, and has also been unable to support a measure that would directly improve and assist consumer awareness and choice when it comes to the purchasing of seafood products in the food service sector.
“Overall, I believe the Committee have failed to acknowledge the overwhelming and evidence-based benefits of the Bill, which far outweigh its costs.
“The Queensland seafood sector, and consumers, have been let down by the Committee’s refusal to support this Bill and I express my strong disappointment in their recommendations.”
Mr Katter said that all hope was not lost.
“This is a typical disappointment from this Labor State Government, but anything can happen in the Parliament,” he said.
“I implore all Government, Opposition and crossbench MPs who support the growth and success of our local seafood sector to support this Bill when it’s debated and voted on in a few months times.”
Mr Katter’s Bill would introduce mandatory country of origin labelling (CoOL) for all seafood sold in the hospitality sector.
This would bring hospitality in line with retail, which is already required by Federal law to label seafood products with their origins at the point-of-purchase.
During the Committee consultation process, the Bill garnered overwhelming support with around 80 per cent of submissions received urging for it to become law.
During the public hearings, fishers and seafood retailers spoke of their support for the Bill and outlined the benefits it could provide local industries and economies.
In Townsville, Mark Partland from Ingham Seafood said: “I am very vocal about supporting the local industry, which is under huge threats from government implementing quotas and that type of thing.
“The labelling or identification of seafood in pubs, clubs, restaurants and the like should have been done years ago when it was implemented into our retail sector.
“This needs to be brought into line with that so that people have a choice and people are aware of what they are buying.”
In Cairns, Shawn McAtamney from the Independent Seafood Producers said: “At the end of the day, the crux of this Bill is about allowing the consumer to make the choice at the dinner plate, which is no different to what they do at the retail counter. It is overdue.
“This bill is vital for Queensland. Obviously it has been in place in the Northern Territory for a number of years…. I think it will have far-reaching ramifications and not just in terms of consumption levels.
“Certainly from my perspective, we are second generation and have 40 years in the industry and this Bill is vital.”