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Kedgley: PM should keep control of food standards

06 April 2001

Kedgley calls on PM to keep control over food standards

Green MP Sue Kedgley is calling on the Prime Minister to guarantee that proposed changes to the food standards authority will be debated and voted on by the New Zealand Parliament.

"Yesterday in the House, Dr Cullen refused to give that guarantee. I call on the Prime Minister to recognise that this is an issue of sovereignty and control over the safety of our food supply, and to guarantee that the minority Government will ensure a Parliamentary debate and vote on these changes before signing them off via a treaty."

Ms Kedgley said she was surprised by comments from Health Minister Annette King today that no Kiwi politicians had raised concerns about the proposal to disband ANZFA (the Australian New Zealand Food Authority) and replace it with a board which could be stacked with food industry interests.

"The reason no politicians have raised concerns with Mrs King is that both the public and politicians have been kept in the dark about these proposed changes. The Green Party was alerted by Australian consumer advocates."

"The Government has tried to keep a lid on this issue by not informing parties about these proposed changes. Now that the story is out, Mrs King is playing it down by saying that the ministerial council will still have the final decision on food standards.

"However, the new Australian legislation weakens the ministerial council because it allows trade and agriculture ministers to sit on the council, and even to replace health ministers on it. Obviously they will be putting their other portfolio interests before health issues, which is bad news for consumers.

"What's more, the powers of the ministerial council have been weakened. To date they had the power to amend recommendations by ANZFA , but they now will only be able to approve or veto recommendations which drastically limits their ability to have any input into the food standards."

The council will also no longer be required to sign recommendations, but will simply gazette the recommendations, which will automatically come into effect if a ministerial objection has not been received within 60 days.

ENDS

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