Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Government Whip) (17:34): Increasingly we are seeing synthetic things—made mainly from oil—being passed off as vegan leather and fleece and we are seeing laboratory grown or plant based products being labelled as meat, beef, vegan sausages, hamburgers and even vegan bacon, for goodness sake. These claims are not true. They are misleading. It’s time that we stand up and put a stop to it. There’s nothing at all wrong with plant based alternatives to animal products and people should be free to eat whatever they want, but marketers should develop their own names for laboratory grown, cell based or synthetic products and not give the impression that they are a variation on the theme.
There is increasing pressure around the world to eliminate animal based products from our diet. Some organisations, such as the World Economic Forum, have claimed that animal products are making us sick and their production is causing major environmental degradation. Such organisations are intent on the elimination of livestock production. I make the point that, if we get rid of the consumption of cattle, there won’t be any reason to have cattle in all the paddocks for people to drive past and look at. In fact, they will probably face extinction. It would be the same if we got rid of sheep and we didn’t use the naturally grown wool products. There will be no reason to sustain these populations. An environmentalist once pointed out to me that, if you want to guarantee the survival of a species, you should start eating it and farming it. That guarantees that it is going to survive. If we eliminate animals from our diet and eliminate their fibres from what we wear, we will be left in a very interesting space.
I convene the rural and regional Liberal caucus here in Canberra. We have become increasingly concerned about the misleading marketing threatening the livelihoods of Australian farmers, fishermen and those who work in the supply and marketing chains. Others have already begun to act. In 2007 the EU banned the use of dairy related items for non-dairy products, such as oat milk and soy yoghurt. More recently they have expanded the terms and images banned for use for non-dairy products like ‘dairy’ and ‘creamy’, prohibited packaging that imitates dairy products, and made statements about the climate impact of dairy by non-dairy products illegal.
In the US some states have legislated to protect animal products. The US Congress is considering legislation. Here in Australia perhaps the best pathway to eliminating this action is through the Trade Practices Act. I certainly prevail upon the parliament to start thinking about this issue seriously.