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NZ must keep sovereignty over food standards

5 June 2001

New Zealand must keep sovereignty over food standards

"The New Zealand Government should take a strong stand and refuse to accept any changes to our food standards system, that have been voted by the Australian Senate, until our own parliament has debated and voted on the proposed amendments," Green MP and Safe Food Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.

"It is totally unacceptable for the Australian Government to make fundamental changes to our food standards authority without the sign-off of the New Zealand parliament, on behalf of the New Zealand people," she said.

Ms Kedgley said it was time for New Zealand to reassert our sovereignty over decisions about what is in the food we eat and how it is labelled. "What is going on in Australia right now is seriously undermining our national sovereignty," she said.

"The trans-Tasman arrangements governing our food are not based on an equal partnership between New Zealand and Australia. The ANZFA Treaty established a profoundly unequal partnership which gives New Zealanders the same rights as the province of Tasmania," she said.

ANZFA is an Australian organisation which is based in Canberra, staffed by Australians and set up under Australian legislation which New Zealand presently has no power to amend.

"The Australians are debating legislation which will fundamentally change the way the organisation operates. Under the present rules, we have no right to even debate those changes in our Parliament. This is absurd."

The Australian Government has already agreed that Trade and Agriculture Ministers can replace Health Ministers on the Council of Ministers which makes final decisions about ANZFA recommendations.

Ms Kedgley said the time had come to re-establish a more equal Australia - New Zealand partnership, which gives New Zealand the same rights as the Australian government.

"We should have the right to vote on any proposed changes to ANZFA in the New Zealand parliament, and to opt out or over-rule decisions which we do not believe are in the best interests of New Zealanders."

ENDS

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