The Greens want to dump the food labelling regime to protect Australian-grown produce.
TIghter, more specific food labelling laws would encourage consumers to buy Australian, according to Greens' leader Christine Milne, as cheap imported foods and increased input costs made farming more difficult.
"We [must] give people clearer indications of what is grown in Australia, so we can say 'please buy Australian'," Senator Milne said at a Rural Press Club of Victoria breakfast in Melbourne last Friday.
The Greens' proposed changes to labelling laws would see a "Made of Australian ingredients" label available only to products with 90 per cent or more of ingredients originating in Australia, restrict the criteria for the "Grown in Australia" label and remove the use of "made in" as a stand-alone tag for Australian foods.
Current laws allow the "Made in Australia" tag to be applied to any product, including foreign products, if they are transformed and at least 50pc of transformation costs are incurred in Australia.
Senator Milne said importing fresh food product led to greater quarantining costs, which were often borne by domestic farmers.
Recently released Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade figures show the value of imports of processed food and vegetable products increased by $119 million in the past two financial years.
The Greens, who hold the Senate balance of power with nine senators, supported free but also fair trade.
"But [it's] not free trade to allow local products to compete with foreign products if we expect our products to deal with ecological needs and costs of regulation," Senator Milne said.
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