Thursday, 20 September 2018

 Food contamination penalties pass Parliament

Media release

Tougher penalties to deal with acts of food contamination have been passed by the Australian Parliament.

Attorney-General, Christian Porter, said the tougher penalties send a strong signal to those who put the safety of individuals and the livelihoods of our farmers at risk that their actions will not be tolerated and will be dealt with severely.

"I thank Members and Senators across all parties who have facilitated the speedy passage of this important bill today," the Attorney-General said.

"The Morrison Government has acted quickly and decisively to introduce these penalties in response to the recent food contamination issue that has spread rapidly across the country.

"Of particular concern has been the rapid escalation in copy-cat offences and hoaxes.

"This behaviour is not a joke. It is not funny. It is a serious criminal offence which the Morrison Government, and now the whole Australian Parliament has denounced.

"As a consequence of this bill offenders will face serious consequences."

The Attorney-General said the bill:

  • Strengthens existing offences by increasing from 10 to 15 years the maximum penalty for contaminating goods, threatening to contaminate goods and making false statements about contamination of goods
  • Introduces new offences to apply where a person contaminates (or threatens to) contaminate goods or makes a false statement about contaminating goods in circumstances where the person is reckless as to whether their actions will cause public alarm or anxiety, economic loss or harm (or risk of harm) to public health
  • Expands the application of the Division 82 sabotage offences in the Criminal Code by expanding the definition of 'public infrastructure' to include food and services and utilities relating to food.

"The Morrison Government's top priority is to keep Australians safe and the bill passed today backs that commitment with firm action," the Attorney-General said.

"We will continue to work with industry as well as states and territories to ensure that we protect consumers and our farmers."