Colbeck moves to protect industries from unfounded environmental allegations

23rd September 2013

The Australian newspaper has reported that conservation groups seeking boycotts of products linked to alleged poor environmental practices may soon be liable for prosecution under consumer law.
Parliamentary secretary for fishing and forestry Richard Colbeck told The Australian the move would prevent green groups from holding companies to ransom in their markets.
“We’ll be looking at the way some of the environmental groups work because we are very concerned about some of the activities they conduct in the markets,” Senator Colbeck said. “They have exemptions for secondary boycott activities under the Consumer and Competition Act. We are going to have a complete review of the act”.
“And one of the things I’d be looking at would be to bring a level playing field back so that environment groups are required to comply with the same requirements as business and industry.”
Section 45D of the act prevents action to hinder or prevent a third person supplying goods to, or buying them from, another person. The law restrains business from unfair dealings and trade unions from dragging third parties into industrial disputes via sympathy strikes or trade boycotts. However, section 45DA exempts people from the secondary boycott provisions if their actions are “substantially related to environmental or consumer protection”.

With regard to fishing the Association hopes that a change to the Act would see an end to some of the seafood guides published by some conservation oriented NGOs. These guides tend to be non-scientific, not assess stocks against any published criteria, cover species names simplistically confusing species and are often completely at odds with credible scientific fish stocks reviews like the ABARES stock status report or the FRDC National Snapshot of the top 150 fish stocks in Australia.

In February this year the Victorian Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Peter Walsh, intervened by “dumping” a Zoos Victoria campaign that suggested that not using certified recycled toilet paper would send kangaroos extinct.