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LABOR BACKFLIPS ON SEAFOOD LABELLING LAWS

Dec 1, 2023

Queensland Labor’s disdain for local seafood producers has been highlighted in a backflip by the party which at the Federal level has now agreed to introduce national seafood labelling laws.

Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter, who last year waged war with the Palaszczuk Labor Government over the issue, said the move was long over-due and reflected incredibly poorly on the credibility of the Queensland Government.

Last year Mr Katter’s Food (Labelling of Seafood) Amendment Bill 2021, which sought to introduce country-of-origin-labelling (CoOL) for all seafood sold in Queensland’s pubs, cafes, restaurants and take-away outlets, was voted down by the Palaszczuk Labor Government on the basis of it “possibly costing too much to re-print menus” among other vague reasons.

This was despite similar legislation having operated successfully in the Northern Territory (NT) for more than a decade.

Mr Katter said the news that last Friday the Albanese Commonwealth Government had locked in a requirement for Australian seafood to be labelled on menus in restaurants, cafes and clubs was welcome[1].

He said CoOL laws would undoubtedly lead to increased demand for Queensland produce, which was ironic given the systematic way the Palaszczuk Labor Government was undermining the viability of the State’s wild-caught seafood sector.

“The perverse thing here, however, is that given the growing imbalance between supply and demand thanks to government policies, only the wealthy will soon be able to afford local seafood,” Mr Katter said.

“Here in Queensland the gill net industry has been ripped out of the east coast and they’re attempting to do the same up in the Gulf.

“Spanish Mackerel commercial quotas have been wiped out meaning that’s now off the menu as well, which can only lead to more imports.

“They’re now also trying to pass laws that require commercial fishers to have camera monitoring systems installed in their vessels and to be able to revoke fishing licences if fishermen encounter endangered species.

“Soon we might be able to see the country-of-origin of the seafood on the menu, but none of it will be Australian anyway.”

Mr Katter said Queensland could have joined with the NT in leading the way on CoOL laws.

“The legislation that the Albanese Labor Government will enforce nation-wide is essentially identical to what I attempted to pass in the Queensland Parliament last year, but was denied,” he said.

“If that doesn’t tell the Queensland public how politics works and government is run in this country, I don’t know what will.”

Mr Katter warned both the Palaszczuk and Albanese Labor Governments who – upon direction from UNESCO – are proactively shutting down sections of Queensland’s seafood industry, that consumers would show them the degree of support that exists for local seafood producers.

He said Labor needed to “get out of the way” of the industry and consider whether their loyalties lie with global authorities or with the Australian people.

Tonight the KAP will move a disallowance motion in the Queensland Parliament to protect the continued viability of North Queensland’s Spanish Mackerel industry and delay any regulatory changes until complete and satisfactory interrogation of the Fisheries Department’s scientific modelling relating to the fishery can be completed.

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