Mrs Armitage (Launceston)
What is the government doing to address the serious issue of Tasmanian goods being counterfeited in China and other Asian countries, given that food commodities that are so vital to Tasmania’s exports must not have their reputation compromised by lower-quality lookalikes or counterfeits?
Answer from the Leader of Government in the Legislative Council, Dr Vanessa Goodwin:
Counterfeiting is not new, but is an escalating problem in China and other Asian markets such as Vietnam.
Whenever there is a dollar to be made, forgeries and counterfeit products and packaging will appear outside of Australian jurisdictional control. This illegal practice is an ongoing challenge that undermines brand integrity, arising directly from the success of Tasmania’s premium, highly-desirable brand in those markets.
In a way it is a compliment to the hard work undertaken to ensure quality is synonymous with Tasmania, however, if allowed to go unchecked can also undermine the value of the Tasmanian brand.
I am aware the Fruit Growers Association of Australia is investigating legal options, which is hampered by the fact that Chinese and other Asian countries’ legal systems are very different to our own.
Moves are underway at a government-to-government and industry level for authorities in China and other Asian countries to curb the theft of the Tasmanian brand.
We work closely with Austrade and the Federal Ministers for Agriculture and Trade on a ‘Team Australia’ approach to export, so there is a shared understanding across state lines of the increasing scourge of the counterfeiting problem.
The Tasmanian Government is taking a proactive approach to the complicated issue of counterfeiting by exploring the potential of microchip technology with CSIRO.
The prospective use of innovative packaging that incorporates branded micro-sensor technology, which is much more difficult to replicate, is worthy of further investigation.
The office of the Minister for State Growth has also sought the advice of the USA Consul-General in Melbourne about what the United States is doing to mitigate this form of identity theft, as counterfeiters become more and more adept.
Growers, exporters and industry bodies are urged to remain vigilant to the problem of counterfeiting in overseas markets, as they must be at home.