Environmental activists want control of primary industry
Senator Ron Boswell -
Environmental activists plan to control the way all Australian primary produce is harvested and marketed, Queensland Senator Ron Boswell has warned.
Senator Boswell said environmental non-government organisations like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) wanted all primary producers to pay for “sustainability certification” before their products could be marketed.
“It is by no means far-fetched to say that WWF and other ENGOs fully intend that all food and fibre products harvested in Australia will be forced to go through one of their cash-producing sustainability certification schemes,” he said.
“Last year, WWF International stated it was focusing on commodities including beef, bio-energy, cotton, dairy, farmed fish, palm oil, pulp and paper, soy, sugar cane, timber and wild-caught fish. It intended to target companies such as commodity traders, manufacturers, retailers and banks, insisting they deal only with producers endorsed by WWF.
“In Australia, we have already seen WWF sustainability certification bodies established or projected in a number of primary production areas: for example, forestry, fishing, and now beef.
“I believe these schemes raise issues of fundamental importance about how Australia will be governed in future – certainly about how food, fibre and timber products will be harvested.”
Senator Boswell said a common tactic by ENGOs involved environmental blackmail, commonly referred to as “green-mail”.
“This involves action to devalue the public perception of the brand name or reputation of producers and retailers to pressure them to adopt certification systems developed by ENGOs. That way, ENGOs are able to control the supply chain.”
Senator Boswell made these statements today while speaking on the Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill, which he said could force timber producers and processors to join a sustainability certification scheme.
“The growth of ENGO-controlled certification bodies highlights an apparent abdication of responsibility by the current federal government for making important decisions about primary production.
“It represents a direct attack on science and the role of scientists in decision-making in primary production and other areas. It also belittles the role of experienced resource managers and potentially sidelines them.
“It highlights the growing power of ENGOs – especially their financial power – and their ability to exert influence over government decisions. Australia’s four largest ENGOs reportedly spent $70 million in 2009 alone, much of it on lobbying and promotion.
“Under this Labor government, we have seen ‘big environment’ grow more and more powerful and influential – to the point where environmental activists now seem to be orchestrating much of Labor’s policy on primary industries and natural resources.
“The ENGOs can do that because – while the current government continues to insist on stringent environmental standards from our primary producers – Labor says and does nothing to defend them.
Senator Boswell said government should take urgent action in four areas:
• speak out on behalf of Australia’s primary producers and the sustainability of their farming, forestry and fishing practices;
• re-examine the exemption of ENGOs from the secondary boycott provision of the Consumer and Competition Act, for example where ENGOs encourage the boycott of products not carrying the “sustainability certification” label they prefer;
• examine what looks to be a free ride for activists who take apparently illegal actions but use the excuse they were doing it to protect the environment; and
• review the tax-free charity status of ENGOs spending millions of dollars lobbying government and running advertising, PR and social media campaigns to influence public opinion.
“I believe the tactics of these ENGOs should alarm all Australians,” Senator Boswell said.
“Their tactics raise questions fundamentally important for the way government operates, for the maintenance of a genuine, informed democracy, and for the role of science in guiding and informing decision-making.”