24 May 2013: THE potential health hazards of food being brought in from overseas will be spelled out for consumers if Australian politicians vote for laws being put to Parliament next week by KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter.

Mr Katter is set to introduce the Imported Food Warning Labels Bill 2013 to the House of Representatives on Monday (May 27).

The legislation aims to inform consumers by marking all imported fresh produce and processed food products with the label: WARNING: IMPORTED FOOD. THIS FOOD HAS NOT BEEN GROWN OR PROCESSED UNDER AUSTRALIAN HEALTH AND HYGIENE STANDARDS AND MAY BE INJURIOUS TO YOUR HEALTH, with penalties of $500,000 for non-compliance.

Mr Katter said the private members bill aimed not only to warn consumers of the health risks from food produced overseas, but to influence Australians’ purchasing power in favour of our home-grown agricultural and processing industries, which are being decimated by a flood of cheap imports thanks to an uneven regulatory playing field in a globally competitive free market.

“When people buy Australian caught or farmed fish, they know exactly what they are getting a clean, healthy product. But its a very different story with imported seafood, such as most of the prawns sold in Australian shops being grown overseas in waters contaminated with sewage,” he said.

“The critical importance of consumers being warned about where exactly the fish they are eating comes from is brought sharply into focus when you consider that Australia has gone from exporting $200m a year of fisheries products to being net importers of $200m worth of fishery products.

“In fruit and vegetables we went from being net exporters of $1000m a year to net importers of $250m a year. And its similar with pork.

“Meanwhile, our orchardists are being forced to let their fruit rot on the ground and our iconic manufacturing processors are closing down because of the interminably increasing rivers of imported fruit and vegetables – from Brazilian juice concentrates to overseas tinned fruits that the supermarket giants favour in order to expand their private label range at the expense of Aussie businesses, farmers and jobs.

“How can the supermarket giants continue to import fruit from other countries while the famers and heroes of our great nation watch their fruit rot?”

Mr Katter said he had no faith in Australia’s biosecurity regime to protect our nations agricultural industries from the increased risk of exotic pests and diseases in line with the increasing import approvals precipitated by our governments’ free market obsessions.

New Zealand has fire blight and therefore often sprays with streptomycin, which is quite rightly banned in Australia,” he said.

“But there is currently no warning to Australian consumers, and both sides of Parliament should be ashamed of themselves since both agreed to the apples coming into Australia.

But it was not just apples at stake, said Mr Katter.

No country in the world has to put up with the impossibly restrictive conditions applied to Australian growers. The least we can do is see that consumers get the benefit of such farmer hardship.

“Let the consumer be forewarned.”