Aussie govt to oppose palm oil labelling Bill

Posted on September 13, 2011. Filed under: Forestry/Wetlands |

-The Star-
PUTRAJAYA: The Australian Gov­ern­ment has agreed to oppose a Bill requiring palm oil labelling when this comes up for debate in its federal parliament.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said a delegation comprising local palm oil experts and Malaysian Palm Oil Board officials, who went to Australia last month, had received a favourable response from their counterparts over there.

“The federal government of Australia has agreed to oppose the Bill.

That is its stand. The Govern­ment’s position is very clear on this,” he said here.

The Australian senate had in June passed the Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labelling-Palm Oil) Bill, which would require producers, manufacturers and distributors of food containing palm oil to list it on the content label of their products.

However, Malaysia, the world’s second largest producer and exporter of palm oil, had sent representatives to the country for a committee hearing before its debate at the Lower House of the Australian parliament.

Australia had cited depletion of forests, displacement of orang utan and health as grounds for the Bill, which was mooted by independent senator Nick Xenophon, whom Dompok’s team had met during their trip.

“We met him and told him how misguided he was. At the end of the lengthy discussion, we all agreed to disagree.

“It is already passed in the senate but since he was the one to bring it up, it was good for us to meet him,” said Dompok.

Dompok said there was still a long way before palm oil labelling became law in Australia.

“Even if the Bill is approved by the Australian parliament, they still cannot go around labelling foodstuff because they will have to go through the individual state parliaments for debate. It’s a long process,” he said.

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