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Greens: Recommendations by Auditor General for improved biosecurity must be ramped up

Findings released in a performance audit by the Auditor General have confirmed community concerns that processes for checking imported products, like frozen berries, into Australia are not working properly and must be re-evaluated.

“The audit of the Imported Food Inspection Scheme has confirmed that the system for checking imported products are ‘incomplete and inconsistent’, this must prompt a shakeup of the sector”, says Australian Greens spokesperson on Agriculture, Senator Rachel Siewert.

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Government has no formal criteria whilst building Ag White Paper

Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has today said it is a major concern that the Government is still going through the approval processes for the well overdue Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper with no clear end in sight.

“Questioning in estimates this morning confirmed there is no final date set yet and that the White Paper was still going through the approval process.

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Increased checks for contaminated berries is a step in the right direction but more must be done

Australian Greens spokesperson on Agriculture Senator Rachel Siewert said today that increased checks on imported berries are welcome but more must be done to strengthen the response to potentially contaminated products entering the country.

“With the recent Hepatitis A scare it is clear that the Department of Agriculture has its hands tied when it comes to ramping up consignment checks for products that continue to come in once a potential contamination has been identified.

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Biosecurity Bill passes without Australian Greens amendments that would have strengthened the much needed legislation

Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has said the passing of the long anticipated Biosecurity Bill through the Senate today is welcomed but could have been strengthened by 51 amendments proposed by the Australian Greens that weren’t supported.

“The Australian Greens welcome the much needed upgrade of Biosecurity legislation in Australia, this Bill will strengthen biosecurity nationally.   

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Delay in Country of Origin labelling reform hurts Victorian farmers and food manufacturers

Delay in Country of Origin labelling reform hurts Victorian farmers and food manufacturers

With reports that the Abbott government will not move to change country of origin food labelling laws until at least the end of the year, the Greens say there’s no reason for the delay.

“Victoria's farmers and food manufacturers are under pressure right now, and right now we’ve got a bill in the Parliament to help consumers give them support,” said Australian Greens Senator for Victoria Janet Rice.

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Speech: Biosecurity Bill 2014 et al Second Reading

Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (18:24): I rise to speak on the Biosecurity Bill 2014 and four separate but related bills. My colleague senator Rachel Siewert has set out in a detailed way why this bill does need to be supported but it needs to be strengthened to gain that support. The majority committee report has a number of very useful recommendations regarding the bill, and the Greens amendments detail why we need to protect our environment, our industry and our economy. Biosecurity issues go to the very fabric of society. They are just so important.

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Country of Origin Labelling Timeline

Senator Bob Brown moved amendments to the 'Made in Australia' legislation, and not one Labor or Coalition Senator supported move to make 'Made in Australia' labelling mean just that - 100% made in Australia.

August 2005
Senator Bob Brown introduced food labelling legislation to require all packaged and unpackaged food placed on the market in Australia must have a label identifying its country of origin

September 2005
Coalition and Labor oppose the Greens' Truth in Labelling Bill in the Senate

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More professional mental health workers needed in country areas

I move that the Senate:

1.      notes the study by Melbourne's Monash University which shows less people in rural, remote  and disadvantaged areas accessing mental health services;

2.      acknowledges that rates of severe mental illness are higher in the most disadvantaged areas;

3.      recognises that people in wealthier areas access psychologists and psychiatrists up to three times as much as those in the most disadvantaged areas; and

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