FOOD SECTOR LAW BULLETIN 2


MISUSE OF MINISTER’S POWER TO BAN EXPORTS

The Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment controls the export of prescribed goods such as dairy products, eggs, fish, live animals, meat and poultry. The minister responsible for the export of such products is the Minister for Agriculture.

Under the Export Control Act 1982 (Cth), the Minister for Agriculture can take steps to ban or suspend the export of prescribed goods or take action to ban or suspend an exporter from exporting prescribed goods.

The scope of the Minister’s powers is very broad however the Minister’s use of these powers can be challenged.

The Federal Court has recently given judgment in Brett Cattle Company Pty Ltd v Minister for Agriculture [2020] FCA 732. The Federal Court held that the Minister was wrong to ban the live export of cattle to Indonesia in 2011 in response to allegations of animal cruelty. The Court held that the Minister acted recklessly and without proper regard to commercial alternatives. The Minister committed the tort of misfeasance as he placed unnecessary limitations on the common law right of persons to carry on their lawful business. Consequently, the parties affected will be entitled to claim damages from the government.

USING THE RIGHT HALAL CERTIFIER

The word ‘Halal’ means permitted or lawful in Arabic. Food that is Halal indicates that the final product has been prepared, stored, transported and sold in accordance with Islamic law. It is common that food in Australia is produced Halal however many countries will not accept certain imports unless is has been certified as Halal by an accredited Halal Certification authority.

Not all organisations holding themselves out as being able to certify food as Halal are in fact accredited as Halal Certifiers. An organisation is only an accredited Halal Certifier if it is:

  • Recognised by the Australian government Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment as a Halal Certifier; and
  • Certified by the relevant overseas government department or religious

In addition, the management of a Halal Certifier must have the appropriate level of knowledge and experience to successfully be accredited. Accreditation may be withdrawn or suspended at short notice by the governing bodies due to a change in management or poor management. Therefore, prior to selecting a Halal Certifier it is vital that all food producers choose an organisation that evidently has strong and stable management. This is to ensure that the certification of their products is not later challenged or revoked.

MANAGING COVID-19 AT YOUR WORKPLACE

WorkSafe and other State and Territory authorities have not stated that it is possible to totally eradicate COVID-19 from all workplaces. Rather, it has been indicated and emphasised that employers need to adequately manage the risks associated with COVID-19 to mitigate exposure and outbreaks.

It is expected that all employers should;

  • Monitor and implement any expert advice that is being offered including advice from the

Department of Health and Human Services;

  • Create or review infectious diseases policies and practices;
  • Educate employees on what to do to limit the chances of becoming infected and spreading the virus to other employees;
  • Modify work activities and working procedures;
  • Eliminate risks as far as reasonably practicable within the workplace; and
  • Provide adequate facilities or products (including hand sanitizer).

Failure to adequately deal with the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace will leave the business and management open to prosecution under the relevant legislation.

Please note that this bulletin is not legal advice. If you would like more information, please follow the relevant links within this bulletin or seek legal advice pertinent to your business.

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