find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Corporate Lawyer
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· 12 months fixed term opportunity
View details
Property lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Property Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Impressive client list, national firm · Well-led and high-performing team
View details
Food Plan fails to take on big business

Food Plan fails to take on big business

A prominent agribusiness lawyer has criticised the draft plan of the Federal Government’s National Food Plan for not tackling the power of Woolworths and Coles.

Baker & McKenzie partner David Watson spoke to Lawyers Weekly in the wake of the release of the Federal Government’s National Food Plan draft last month.

The 274-page Green Paper calls for Australia’s food production to double in the next 40 years, greater access to nutritious and affordable food, and greater levels of investment in research and development and bio-diversity.

However, the plan has been roundly criticised for not tackling the market concentration of large agribusiness and retail corporations and Watson said those criticisms are valid.

“The competition law aspects around the power of Coles and Woolworths, another controversial issue, they are just steering away from that really,” said Watson, who worked as a New York-based regional general counsel with Mars before joining Bakers earlier this year. “They are saying they will just hold some sort of forum, which I suspect will just be another talkfest. Really it is just more of the same there, which is interesting and a bit disappointing.”

The other “controversial” topic referred to by Watson is around foreign investment in Australia’s food and agribusiness sector. Watson, who said he thought the Green Paper was “comprehensive, but I was a little bit underwhelmed by it”, said that in the area of foreign investment, the Food Plan provided no new ideas.

“There is nothing in it around policy direction that is radical or looking at things in a different way,” he said.

The Green Paper has been met with a chorus of disapproval from a vast array of groups on the left and  right of the political spectrum.

The conservative National Farmers Federation said that the Green Paper provided no direction on how Australia could better compete internationally, while the leader of the Greens, Christine Milne, bemoaned the lack of regulation around the importation of cheap, foreign foods.

Watson said that while the Green Paper talks about the importance of investment in major infrastructure there is no clear plan as to how those funds should be directed.

“They are making all the right soundings, but it is very vague and indeterminate,” he said.

Focus on GM good for lawyers

An area of the draft National Food Plan that drew praise from Watson was around the treatment of genetically-modified (GM) foods.

The Green Paper encourages the adoption of GM crops to help reach the target of a doubling of food production by 2050.

“The positives out of the plan, which is interesting for lawyers and business, is the greater encouragement of GM foods,” said Watson. “That is controversial in itself, but they have come down on the side of GM foods.”

Watson also praised the Green Paper for its stance on bio-security and for recommending the continued monitoring of industry self-regulation with regard to obesity and health and nutrition.

He said he already had instructions to advise two large clients on the implications of the Green Paper and that it was still to be decided if those clients would seek to make any formal comment on the paper.



Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Food Plan fails to take on big business
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Aug 23 2017
NT Law Society sounds alarm on mandatory sentencing
The Law Society Northern Territory has issued a warning over mandatory sentencing, saying it hasn’...
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, even how we take a...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...