Queensland Senator Ron Boswell today called on Treasurer Wayne Swan to ensure green groups like WWF could be investigated over possible secondary boycotts.
“I am calling on the Government to take action to amend the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 appropriately to ensure green NGOs can be referred to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) under sections 45D and 45E relating to secondary boycotts.
“Right now, environmental non-government organisations are exempt from the secondary boycott provisions of the Act and they’re getting away with blue murder. It’s hurting the Australian economy. It’s hurting jobs. It’s hurting families. It’s got to stop.
“This is a very serious issue potentially affecting all primary producers and consumers across the country,” Senator Boswell said. “It should be investigated as a matter of urgency.”
Speaking in the Senate today, Senator Boswell said the way NGOs were trying to restrict what products could be sold by Australian producers and bought by Australian and overseas consumers must be open to action by the ACCC.
“As an example, after last week’s collapse of the Tasmanian forest talks between industry and the green NGOs, we saw some of the radical green groups immediately announce they would try to damage sawmillers by targeting their markets. In other words, try to instigate a boycott of these Tasmanian forest products. That’s a familiar pattern.
Senator Boswell said he was also particularly concerned about “sustainability certification” schemes being run or promoted by NGOs like WWF and Greenpeace.
“Under these schemes, the NGOs want the final say on certifying what is, and what is not, ‘sustainable’ in primary production and, in turn, what can, and cannot, be sold to consumers. The ultimate intent of these moves by WWF and other environmental activists involved in certification is to ensure that only goods certified under their schemes are sold through Australian retail outlets, such as supermarkets, furniture retailers, etcetera.
“Of course, to have the products certified in the first place – and then have that certification renewed on a regular basis so those products can continue to be sold to the Australian public – costs producers a substantial amount of money.”
Senator Boswell said that, according to the ACCC definition, secondary boycotts occurred when two persons together engage in conduct that hinders or prevents a third person from supplying to, or acquiring goods or services from, a fourth person. They were prohibited if their purpose is to cause substantial loss or damage to a business or a substantial lessening of competition in a market.
“Isn’t that what is happening when environmental activist organisations collude with others to set up a body or scheme as the arbiter of what is ‘sustainable’?
“We are already seeing these green activists behind bodies like the Forest Stewardship Council, trying to dictate what timber products wholesalers, retailers and consumers should be allowed to buy or sell, and likewise the Marine Stewardship Council wanting to do the same with fish. Next on the agenda is a plan to dictate whose beef products people should be allowed to put on their plates.”