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The Forum > Article Comments > Outlawing eco-based secondary boycotts > Comments

Outlawing eco-based secondary boycotts : Comments

By Mark Poynter, published 9/10/2013

Why should environmental NGOs be above the laws that limit the rest of us?

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This represents a marketing opportunity for the companies in question. Simply disprove the allegations and their reputation is restored. What have they got to hide?

Imagine if we'd had these 'economic sabotage' laws around the time asbestos was on notice. We'd still be breathing clouds of the stuff because criticising it was illegal.
Posted by Taswegian, Wednesday, 9 October 2013 7:25:13 AM
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Well said Taswegian. Companies should be open and transparent about what they do. An economy based on extraction without thought of limits and future production is a dying economy. Customers have a right to know the circumstances in which products are being produced. Communities also benefit when resources are well-managed rather than stripped and wasted.
Posted by lillian, Wednesday, 9 October 2013 9:26:54 AM
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Taswegian, lillian

I'm not convinced that you've fully read or understood the article, and unfortunately the suggested title which I provided hasn't been used and the byline looks like shaping the discussion to be about silencing ENGOs simply because everyone else in silenced.

However, the point the article is making is that ENGOs are abusing the provision that currently allows them to incite consumer boycotts on environmental grounds. They are doing so by blatently misrepresenting the reality to convince consumers to boycott companies or products, and this is unfair where those affected are actually not responsible for the environmental damage they are being accused of.

I would agree that companies need to be transparent and accountable for what they do, but this should also include corporate ENGOs who are making false or misleading allegations to fit their ideological agendas.

The Greens and the ENGOs involved in thes eco-based boycotts are complaining that making them accountable is akin to restricting free speech, when in reality it would restore some integrity to free speech by ensuring it is honest and accurate.
Posted by MWPOYNTER, Wednesday, 9 October 2013 10:13:24 AM
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If lies are told by an NGOs then that should be the basis of prosecution, or legal action by the producer, not the fact that the NGO discourages a product's consumption.

This is draconian law by an ideologically driven government run by big business.
Posted by Luciferase, Wednesday, 9 October 2013 10:46:09 AM
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The author should be commended for exposing the misleading and deceptive tactics that the eco-groups such as MFC use to promote their causes.

These groups invariably mislead by claiming that foresters who go about their logging operations responsibly, are destroying the forests.

It is prudent and sustainable practice in designated areas to harvest mature native forest trees selectively , rather than let them topple to the ground because of old age or lightning strikes or bush fire damage
Posted by Raycom, Wednesday, 9 October 2013 11:33:25 AM
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The exemption currently enjoyed by groups claiming to be campaigning for the environment is to conduct secondary boycotts for the purpose of causing substantial loss or damage, causing substantial lessening of competition and preventing or hindering trade between Australia and places outside Australia. So itís not an issue of freedom of speech but one of taking commercial retaliation against a target.

Normally this action is prohibited for unions, business and even individuals who may have suffered an occupational health issue such as asbestos contamination, but for some reason environmental activists are exempt from the law.

In 2007 Peg Putt, then Leader of the Greens in the Tasmanian Parliament, went to Japan to prevent trade of Tasmanian forest products in her never ending campaign against woodchips exports. This secondary boycott with the support of a Tasmanian Professor and the USA based Rainforest Action Network has resulted in the destruction of thousands of jobs in Tasmania timber industry, and the demise of a billion dollar company and many small family based businesses.

Putt, again in 2010, took secondary boycott action in Japan against PEFC certified regrowth and plantation plywood flooring. Within six months of her visit over 40 Tasmanians had lost their job!

Amazingly Putt in her taxpayer funded retirement is the CEO of Markets for Change. MFC has resorted to secondary boycotts of Harvey Norman, Forty Winks, Snooze, Focus on Furniture, Everyday Living, Sleep City, Domayne, Freedom Furniture, Furniture Court, Furniture One, Bedshed OzDesign, Bunnings, Mitre 10, Home Timber and Hardware, Hudson Building Supplies, Perfect Timber Floors, Decorug, Australian Floor Style, Embelton, Australia Post, Officeworks, OfficeMax, Office Products Depot, Staples, Woolworths, Office Choice, Dick Smith, Target and IGA.

MFC and other green groups use powerful imagery to apply pressure; a decapitated koala torn apart by dogs is represented as a result of harvesting years earlier. A cute orang-utan pictured in a national park is presented as threatened by logging hundreds of kilometres away or even in a different country.

No wonder the new Federal Government is determined to act to remove such an exemption from the law!
Posted by cinders, Wednesday, 9 October 2013 5:47:37 PM
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