House debates

Thursday, 3 December 2020


Petition: Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code

4:40 pm

Photo of Steve GeorganasSteve Georganas (Adelaide, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to table and present a petition on behalf of the publican, staff and patrons of the Duke of Brunswick Hotel. The petition has been approved through the petitions committee.

The petition read as follows—

The Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code (Code) section 3.2.2 prohibits venues that serve food and beverages from allowing companion animals in areas (other than outdoor dining areas) where food is handled. Handled in this context includes not only the preparation of food, but also its service to customers. The ban applies despite research of Food Standards Australia New Zealand finding little evidence of any risk posed by their presence if away from the areas where food is being prepared (See: Risk assessment – Proposal P1018). We the undersigned request that the Government amend the Food Standards Code so as to permit States and Territories to allow their venues to choose whether or not to allow companion animals in their premises in non-food preparation areas. Venues should not be compelled to allow animals into their premises, but similarly venues that wish to allow for the social benefits of animal companionship should not be prohibited from doing so when the risk to public health is negligible.

We therefore ask the House to pass appropriate legislation or legislative instrument to amend the Code so as to allow venues to permit (if they choose) companion animals in any non-food handling area of their premises.

from 1277 citizens (Petition No. EN2026)

Petition received.

The Duke of Brunswick Hotel is a pub like no other. It is the heart and soul of the local south-western community in the Adelaide city. It's also home for many, whether they're two-legged people or furry four-legged animals. For example, Heather can often be seen relaxing with her pooches, Chanel and Snuffleupagus, or having a chat with Bruce at the bar, with Chloe on his lap, who often pops in after a walk for a beer and a snack. In fact, when Chloe ran away from home once she came straight to the pub, straight to the Duke of Brunswick Hotel, and that's the important role it plays in this community.

Publican of the Duke of Brunswick Hotel, Simone Douglas, and her staff have worked incredibly hard to ensure that their venue is not a drain on the community but actually puts back into the community. For example, Simone personally letterboxed the entire area around the pub, providing people with her mobile phone number if they needed help, food or just a chat during the peak of the corona pandemic. In addition, it is the only deaf-friendly pub in South Australia, with all front of house staff trained in basic Auslan. It's also the only veteran-friendly pub in the state, with staff trained in PTSD and veterans' affairs. And it is the only pub which is accredited as gluten free by Coeliac Australia. This makes the Duke of Brunswick Hotel a destination venue attracting many customers, including people who live with autism because of the important role of nutrition plays for people on the spectrum. Dogs and companion animals also play an important role and they help to create the inclusive and welcoming atmosphere at the pub.

Unfortunately, however, the pub has now been told that it can no longer allow dogs or companion animals in indoor areas where food is handled. This is because it is prohibited by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, even though the food standards agency itself has found little evidence of any risk by companion animals provided they are away from food preparation areas. And this despite it being common practice in many parts of the world, including Europe and the US, for people to bring their dogs with them to venues. So the owners and patrons of the Duke of Brunswick Hotel, and those that have signed this petition, are calling for the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code to be amended so that venues can allow companion animals where food is served, if they choose to.

This is an important petition because, considering the ongoing COVID restrictions and lockdowns coming and going, we must do everything we can to help businesses recover. This petition is about choice—giving the choice to people and to pubs that want to continue this practice. The Duke of Brunswick does not want to make it mandatory that all hotels allow dogs; they just want to ensure that venues and patrons who choose to have a companion animal can do so. Surely that should be possible, especially given important the role that dogs play in our lives. Many of us have dogs; I've have had dogs all my life. They are our friends, we treat them as members of our families, many of them are inside our houses and they grow up with our children. These animals, our companions, are part of our families, and during this time of social inclusion they couldn't be more important.

During the recent bushfires, for example, Simone put out the message that anyone who didn't have a safe place to stay with their pets could go to the hotel. People converged on the Duke of Brunswick with their dogs and their pets because it was a safe place to go. As the bushfire season fast approaches this year, they won't be able to do the same. The owners are only asking for the choice to offer their patrons—all 1,277 of them who signed this petition—the kind of pub they want. This would be good for business and good for the community.

I've got to say, many of us in this place have grown up with dogs. If you speak to every second person, they'll have a pet dog. They live with us; they're inside our homes. There is no danger posed by this. As Simone, the publican of the Duke of Brunswick Hotel, has said: 'It's about choice. We don't want to make it mandatory; it is about giving people the choice to be able to take their pets to the pub with them'.