Free-Range Eggs

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) ( 14:23 :44 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Business Services a question about eggs.

Leave granted.

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY: In September this year the minister launched some logos to identify free-range eggs. The minister said that the new trademark designs would differentiate the eggs that comply with the upcoming voluntary industry code. It is interesting to note that the egg producers, in particular, Mrs Kathy Barnett, said she welcomed the move to develop an industry code but said the logos bear little resemblance to anything the industry had wanted. In fact, she said they don't come anywhere near close to what the free-range producers had requested in the original discussion.

Mrs Barnett goes on to say in this particular article that producers were frustrated that there had been no contact from minister Gago since she took over the Business Services and Consumers portfolio earlier this year. I am also advised by sources within PIRSA that the minister and her agency made no contact with PIRSA either before releasing these particular five designs that they wished the public to vote on. My questions to the minister are:

1.Why did the minister release these without any contact with the industry or PIRSA?

2.Since this release, has the minister now spoken with the industry and representatives of PIRSA to further this design?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) ( 14:25 :20 ): I thank the member for his question. As usual, the Leader of the Opposition comes into this place ill-prepared, ill-informed and distributing misleading statements. They are a lazy lot, the opposition; they are not prepared to do any research at all or double-check any facts or figures.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! The minister has the floor.

The Hon. J.M. Gazzola interjecting:

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: They come into this place making things up and, as the Hon. John Gazzola said, they often leave with egg on their faces, Mr President. The Hon. David Ridgway will leave with egg on his face again today. The government will introduce a new regulatory standard for free-range eggs in South Australia, a voluntary industry code under the Fair Trading Act. The industry code will prescribe a certified free-range system that refers to standards that are commonly accepted as true free range and allow those producers who choose to comply with the code to display branding that they are South Australian free-range egg code certified. Products bearing the logo will allow consumers to identify them as being truly free range.

The Hon. D.W. Ridgway: We know all of that; why don't you talk to the industry?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Well, you do not know anything. Mr President, the honourable member knows nothing. He comes into this place ill-informed, poorly researched—

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Ridgway, you have asked a question and the minister is attempting to answer it. Let her do so in the same sort of peace as you asked the question.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Thank you for your protection, Mr President. The approach by the government is seeking to support free-range egg producers, and we have done a great deal of work in this area. Extensive consultation, I am advised, was undertaken in June last year with the release of a discussion paper. More than 350 submissions were received from the industry, retailers and consumers, with over 95 per cent supporting the concept of the code.

Consumer and Business Services has recently undertaken some market research on proposed logos to inform discussions going forward with the CBS, as the CBS works with industry to finalise the code and certified trademark. We remain committed to ensuring that the industry is consulted appropriately and included in the process of finalising the code and trademark. As we are still in the consultation phase we welcome feedback from the industry regarding the proposed trademark designs which will identify those South Australian producers who are free-range egg code compliant.

I understand that the ACCC has clear requirements for certification of trademarks, and this has taken us some time to sort through—slower than we would have liked—but we must comply with the ACCC. These requirements include things like the appearance and design not being easily confused with other logos or certified trademarks. So it goes to that question of the industry's issue of there being little resemblance, and it is because the trademark is not able to resemble existing trademarks.

We are working with the industry, we have provided that feedback to the industry, and we are working with the industry because it has to be a unique type of design, rather than incorporate aspects from other design logos. For instance, one of the things we looked at was the tick, and that was believed to be too close to the health tick given in relation to other foods in terms of other logos.

We have had to go back to that space on a number of occasions to try to design something which is unique and which the industry supports, and we are still in the process of doing that. The commissioner, I am advised, has been in contact with the egg producers. He is continuing to liaise with them to work through those ACCC issues to make sure that we can land on a logo that everyone is happy with, or at least most people are happy with.

Obviously, we are committed to providing a code and a trademark which do make it easier for South Australian consumers to purchase free-range eggs with confidence, including both the industry and also consumers. We have done some market testing at the Showground this year, and that has helped us to refine some of our concepts and, as I said, we continue to consult and engage with the industry to land on a final logo.

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