Wednesday, 19 June 2013
I rise today to update the House on the progress of my campaign to urge all retailers in Australia to adopt the Australian standard for olive oils and olive pomace oils. I have spoken numerous times in the parliament about the importance of the olive oil standard being adopted so that consumers have a clear picture of what they are consuming. I launched a petition in February this year and I have had hundreds and hundreds of signatures saying yes, residents in my electorate and right around Australia are calling for retailers to adopt this standard. Retailers do have a responsibility to adopt the Australian standard. I know that the industry has worked very hard to create this standard and now the obligation is on retailers to adopt it. If that occurs, local consumers will have more confidence, when they go to the supermarket and they look on the shelves and see extra virgin olive oil, that it does meet an Australian standard. The health implications are big if people are consuming what they think is extra virgin olive oil but it is not.
I have had overwhelming support for this standard, not only from olive growers. Of course olive growers believe that this is important to give them a fair and level playing field with other olive oils that are imported—that is one element of it—but in particular I have had huge support from consumers who have felt that accurate food labelling is critically important. I would urge people to visit my website at www.rishworth.com.au to sign the petition. I will be presenting this to all retailers, but particularly to Coles and Woolworths. While I commend Coles and Woolworths for the work that they have done in adopting the Australian olive oil standard for their own branded product, for it to really be clear for consumers the Australian standard does need to be adopted for all olive oil products on their shelves.
If you are interested in this issue, and I know a lot of people are, please sign this petition. I was very pleased to have launched the petition with the support of Coriole Vineyards and iconic foodie Maggie Beer—one of the member for Wakefield's constituents—who has been very passionate about this issue. In fact, I was pleased to have an olive oil tasting with her, and her passion for Australian produce is huge. This is about accuracy in labelling, about accuracy for consumers, and I urge people to sign the petition and join the hundreds of people who already have signed it. (Time expired)