Fighting Back for Strawberries

Senator Amanda Stoker, Andrew Wallace MP, Jane Prentice MP and Ted O'Brien MP

MEMBER for Fairfax Ted O’Brien is urging Sunshine Coast people to have a strawberry-filled weekend to support local growers.

Mr O’Brien spoke in Federal Parliament today (Thursday 20 September) in support of legislation to invoke tougher penalties for contaminating food.

He warned that the reckless behaviour of criminals was affecting not only consumers and farmers but jeopardising Australia’s international reputation for food safety and quality.

Mr O’Brien said he was horrified at the chain of events that had led to the closure of farms, the destruction of mountains of berries and fear among consumers.

“Like many people I am a parent with a six-year-old girl and a seven-month-old boy at home,” said Mr O’Brien.

“Sabotaging a piece of fruit that could be swallowed by a child or anyone for that matter is horrific.

“The increase in penalties that this bill represents is needed. We need to ensure that, particularly children who might be vulnerable are protected.”

Mr O’Brien said he had spoken to local farmers who have suffered economically this season and as a direct result of the strawberry sabotage and urged consumers to support the struggling growers.

“The impact to farmers is not only local but it is affecting their export opportunities,” said Mr O’Brien.

“We are known around the world for food safety and quality and that reputation is being severely tarnished by the unthinking behaviour of criminals.

“This bill will hopefully act as a deterrent to any other idiots and cowards out there who might contemplate putting things in our food.”

The Criminal Code Amendment (Food Contamination) Bill 2018  will increase jail time for existing federal offences from 10 to 15 years and introduce a new offence relating to “reckless” behaviour when it comes to contaminating goods.

“Nobody will be able to escape conviction just because they didn’t intend to cause public harm, anxiety or economic loss,” said Mr O’Brien.

“Recklessness will be enough for significant jail time.”

Mr O’Brien urged people to get adventurous with strawberry recipes and show how much we love our berries.

“We need to eat more strawberries. Put them on your yoghurt, blend them up in a smoothie, or how about a strawberry shortcake?

“Surprise that special someone with strawberries and champagne or indulge in a heavenly chocolate dip.

“Let’s show that we are no longer going to cop some idiot contaminating our strawberries.”

Listen to Ted's speech in support of the Criminal Code Amendment (Food Contamination) Bill 2018 to toughen laws against those who contaminate our food.