Free Range Eggs

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:58): My question to the Minister for Business Services is about the state government’s free-range eggs certification scheme to commence in 2015. How will the scheme be funded and will an independent body oversee and monitor this scheme, or will it be done in-house by government?

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) (14:58): I thank the honourable member for her most important question and her ongoing interest in this particular policy initiative. As you are aware, Mr President, the government has committed to introducing a new regulatory standard for free-range eggs, a voluntary industry code under the Fair Trading Act. It will prescribe a certified free-range system that refers to standards that are commonly accepted as true free range and allows those producers who choose to comply with the code to display branding that they are South Australian and that they are free-range egg code certified.

Products bearing the logo will allow consumers to identify them as being free range, produced in accordance with the particular regulatory standard, and also as a premium South Australian product. This approach by the government seeks to support true free-range egg production while not disadvantaging the broader egg producers, given that it is a voluntary scheme and that only those who choose to opt in will do so.

Costs associated with the certification under the industry standard and use of the trademark are yet to be finalised, but I cannot imagine that it is going to be a very costly operation. Most of the work that is required is around authorising a trade logo, and that has been no easy feat, I can tell you, Mr President; there are a lot of requirements about that. Anyway, that is well advanced, and I have spoken on that in this place before. We think that the seeking out of a suitable trademark that is accepted by the regulators has almost been completed. I cannot imagine that the costs of this are going to be significant.

There are issues around enforcement but, again, I do not believe that they are going to be significant costs, but discussions are still underway. We are committed to making the code and trademark cost-effective to benefit producers and obviously the broader community. We will continue to work with the industry going forward to finalise that voluntary industry code and associated trademark, including the establishment and administration of an accredited scheme.
I know that the Hon. Tammy Franks has been a fierce advocate in this area, and I understand her level of frustration. We have also been disappointed at how difficult this has been to roll out. It appears, at least on the surface, to be a relatively simple thing, but it hasn’t been, and that has been frustrating for us and my officers, and I know that it has been particularly frustrating for the Hon. Tammy Franks, but I can assure her that we are very much committed to completing this project. We think that it will be an important industry point of distinction for those particular egg producers, and we think that it is good policy.

FREE RANGE EGGS

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:02): Supplementary.

The PRESIDENT: Supplementary, the Hon. Ms Franks.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Will those egg producers who fit the criteria for certification and what I would call true free range be able to be part of this scheme if they are not from South Australia?

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) (15:02): I am not absolutely sure about that. I am happy to take that on notice and bring back a response. My immediate thoughts are that this accreditation is linked to South Australian produce, particularly showcasing our premium primary products, so I doubt very much that it would apply to other jurisdictions.

The Hon. T.A. Franks interjecting.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: No, I didn’t think it was. I have always assumed that it wouldn’t be, but I will clarify that and will make that very clear.

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