Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Government Whip) (10:59): Today I’m very pleased to hear the news that Minister Littleproud and Minister Frydenberg have announced an inquiry by the ACCC into the supply chain costs of fresh food, or perishable food, into our supermarkets. It is quite right that on one hand we applaud the fact that we have a very competitive system in Australia which delivers low-cost and super high quality food to consumers, but on the other hand we also have to make sure that we achieve balance, because it is no good at all if our food producers are driven to the wall and then we end up surviving almost solely on imported perishable products, I must say. I’m hoping that the ACCC is able to broaden its inquiry—or take a very broad look at the inquiry, because it expressly mentions supply chain costs—because there are many other things in there besides bargaining ability with the supermarkets.
One of the things that I focus on is what I call ‘ fake news advertising’, where supermarkets have used what I think are questionable tactics, such as when they talk about ‘sustainably-caught Australian fish’. I’d make the point that all Australian fisheries are managed in a sustainable manner, so they’re all sustainably caught. When they talk about ‘hormone-free beef’ or ‘stall-free eggs’ or ‘free-range eggs’ or ‘permeate-free milk’—for goodness sake, permeate is a natural part of milk—all of these things have very little scientific basis to back them up as being superior products or better for animal welfare across the board. So, I hope the ACCC can have a look at that, because that puts production costs back on growers and almost invariably never delivers a higher price to them.
There is so much more in the path to market. If you look at inspection costs or licensing costs within processing works, a single processor might have anything up to seven or eight different streams of inspectors coming into their workplace to give them the licence to continue that workload. I think we need to streamline that system. We need more single-point inspections—multiskilled inspections, if you like. If you look at the road transport industry, overzealous transport inspectors are repeatedly pulling up a company’s trucks, even though it might have a very clear track record of being completely on the ball. There are many, many points that the ACCC inquiry could look at. If they find that it’s too complex and wideranging, I hope that they ask for more time to complete the inquiry.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Zimmerman ): Order! In accordance with standing order 193, the time for members’ constituency statements has concluded.