Fair trade products - City of South Perth


HON LYNN MacLAREN (South Metropolitan):  I congratulate the City of South Perth in choosing to use fair trade products. Many members will be familiar with the branding known as fair trade. The fair trade label is an independent consumer label and it appears on products as a guarantee that disadvantaged producers in the developing world are getting a better deal.

There is a growing range of products in this area, including coffee, tea, sugar, cotton, rice, quinoa—which is a very nutritious grain—and sports balls, as members might be aware.

Based on overwhelming support for the move, the City of South Perth is a local council that decided to purchase a
range of fair trade products in tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Because of my support for the fair trade ethos, I was
invited to attend the function where people from the City of South Perth tested each of the fair trade products on offer and was able to talk a bit about the fair trade movement.

The mayor, James Best, and the city’s support for fair trade practices is an important local step towards a global solution to directly support fair practices and prices and organic and sustainable farming. By making these choices as local consumers to buy global fair trade products, the City of South Perth is helping to strengthen disadvantaged communities.

Fair trade goods ensure that farmers and growers who form a cooperative are guaranteed a minimum income and a
minimum price for their work. This cuts out the middlemen who sometimes act in exploitative ways. It follows an
international trend for fair trade prices for primary producers in developing countries.

Fair trading practices ban the use of certain chemicals, encourage environmental sustainability and cut out the middlemen. They give farmers the stability that they need to reinvest profits into their communities. Fair trade is about better prices working to create a more stable economy in developing countries.

Consumers have a right to know what they are eating and how their food is being produced. Fair trade branding is an important step in greater food labelling transparency. Members have heard me argue about truth-in-labelling in this house. It allows us as consumers to make informed decisions about the products we buy. Currently, fair trade accounts for less than one per cent of annual coffee sales; however, it is increasing by 40 per cent every year.

I learnt today that fair trade farmers in northern Pakistan are among the 20 million people who are affected by the
recent devastating floods. According to the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International website, there are a
number of fair trade–certified farmers in the Baltistan region in an area known as Gilgit. Hon Liz Behjat, please,
correct me if I am wrong in my pronunciation!

It has been reported that in that area 52 people had died, and there had been a landslide in Gizar region that took
20 lives. Even if they managed to survive the initial flooding and have accessed emergency shelter and rations, these farmers will have lost their crops, farm equipment, houses and all the seeds they have may banked.

United Nations officials say the floods are now covering an area the size of England; the authorities say that as many as 20 million people have been affected by these floods. The UN says that six million people are in desperate need of emergency aid, but most have still not received it. Tens of thousands of villages remain under water.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund has estimated that the cost of providing water to those
in need is $2 million a day—that is $2 million they do not have. Pakistani officials say it will take about five years to
recover from these floods. The scale of the Pakistan floods are, I am sure for all of us, very difficult to fathom, and
these disadvantaged communities are still in mortal danger of continuing flooding, disease and now starvation.

I hope that the Australian government and its people will continue to contribute generously to the emergency response. It is difficult to imagine how a small choice, such as purchasing a Fair Trade product, can possibly assist them, but as the emergency relief effort begins to make an impact, an ongoing commitment to purchase Fair Trade products is one small way to help those struggling in disadvantaged communities to reconstruct their lives.