On 27th October the Federal Agriculture Minister, Joe Ludwig, announced that his Department was reviewing the submissions made to its Issues Paper for the development of a National Food Plan. At a date yet to be specified, the Government will release a Green Paper, which ‘will outline the government’s vision and approach to food policy and canvas potential changes to policy, programs and governance arrangements’.
In an Open Letter to the Minister, AFSA and 28 co-signatories expressed our continuing concerns about the limited nature of the development of the Plan to date, including the refusal to make the workings of the industry-dominated Advisory Group transparent. This can only lead to misgivings that the main purpose of the Plan will, as the emphasis of the Issues Paper suggested, on making the food industry more ‘competitive and productive’, rather than on delivering a food system for all Australians that is fair, sustainable and resilient. That sort of food system has to be developed in a more directly democratic and participatory way, as opposed to the top-down and narrow nature of the consultation that the Government is presently engaged in.