WA Food Bill & QLD Food Act: State(s) of Progress

By Joe Lederman
© FoodLegal, March 2006.

The Food Bill 2005 (WA) was introduced into the Legislative Assembly and received its second reading speech on 23 November 2005. The Bill would repeal Part VIII of the Health Act 1911 and other parts of that Act that currently regulate food safety in Western Australia.

Objects of then WA Bill

The stated objects of the WA Bill are:
  1. to ensure the safety of food for human consumption;
  2. to prevent misleading conduct in relation to the sale of food; and
  3. to provide for the application of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code in Western Australia.
The Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill states that implementation of the Food Standards Code in WA is aimed at improving national consistency in the safety of food for human consumption, in line with the 2002 Food Regulation Agreement of the Commonwealth, States and Territories.

Comparison with other States' legislation

The WA Bill adopts the uniform model provisions for food offences and emergency powers but differs from the model in provisions relating to administration and procedural/evidentiary requirements.

Rather than setting up a single authority like the NSW and Victorian Acts,[1] the WA Bill confers power on ‘enforcement agencies’ which comprise local government, persons and bodies prescribed under the regulations, and the CEO of the department responsible for administering the legislation. The CEO’s main functions under the Bill are to ensure compliance with the Act and to provide recommendations to the Minister.

The Queensland Food Act 2006 (which received assent on 22 February 2006 and has not yet been proclaimed) provides a similar regime to the WA Bill. A single authority is not set up by the Act. Instead, enforcement of the Act falls upon the chief executive and State and local governments.

Effects of the WA Bill

The effects of the WA Bill include:

  1. prescribing provisions to prevent misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to food;
  2. providing for the application of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code in Western Australia;
  3. prescribing emergency and food recall powers in relation to food that presents a threat to public safety;
  4. prescribing an offences regime relating to food, including selling unsafe food and false description of food, and providing that "due diligence" would be a defence to these offences;
  5. outlining the entry, inspection and seizure powers of authorised officers, as well as the procedures to be followed when investigating offences under the Bill; and
  6. making consequential amendments to a number of pieces of legislation, including repealing Part VIII of the Health Act 1911 (WA) which currently regulates food safety.
[1] The Food Act 2003 (NSW) sets up the NSW Food authority, which is now responsible for both food and health regulation. Similarly the Food Act 1984 (Vic) establishes the Food Council in Victoria.

This is general information rather than legal advice and is current as of 12 Dec 2015. We therefore recommend you seek legal advice for your particular circumstances if you want to rely on advice or information to be a basis for any commercial decision-making by you or your business.