The Green Campaign in the Antipodes

The Green Campaign in the Antipodes
Special Edition on Australia / New Zealand; Examining the Greenpeace-WWF Anti-Business Campaign

Greenpeace Increases Activity in the South Pacific and Australasia

Greenpeace has significantly ramped up activity in Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG).  New Zealand can also expect attention since the New Zealand authorities recently removed Greenpeace’s charitable status on the obvious grounds it was a political organization.New Zealand Affected by Threat of Australian Green Trade Barriers

The Australian Government is committed to adopting legislation to ban imports of illegal timber.  This is part of a global environmental campaign run by Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Friends of the Earth to limit forestry in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia.  Ironically, it may be New Zealand timber producers who are most affected.

Attacks on Asian Paper Imports Likely to Extend to New Zealand

Australian environmental groups have allied with unions and uncompetitive paper producers to greenmail companies not to take products manufactured in Asia. Greenpeace has indicated it will move this campaign to New Zealand.

Australia’s Conservative Opposition Supporting Food Labelling of Palm Oil

Another Green campaign running in Australia is to demand that any product containing palm oil be mandatorily labelled.  Australia’s Liberal/National Opposition parties are supporting the bill to stir trouble in Australia’s bilateral relationship with Malaysia.

Undermining Growth in Papua New Guinea

With funding from the EU and European aid agencies, environmental activists are using first world tactics to restrict forestry and plantations in PNG by challenging the legality of development permits.

Greenpeace Increases Activity in the South Pacific and Australasia

Greenpeace has significantly ramped up activity in Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG).  New Zealand can also expect attention since the New Zealand authorities recently removed Greenpeace’s charitable status on the obvious grounds it was a political organization.

Greenpeace has formed a new NGO in Australia – “MarketsforChange.org.”  It is clearly part of a strategy to bring an end to all native forestry in Australia.  Hot on the heels of apparent agreement in Tasmania between the State Government, Greens and the Federal Government to severely restrict native forestry, Greenpeace has launched a campaign to bring forestry in native forests in the rest of Australia to a close.

The campaign includes dedicated use of broad scale email attacks well as threats to damage brand names. It has attacked the retail group Harvey Norman for selling any timber products which are not approved by the Forest Stewardship Council, a group of which Greenpeace is a member and of which World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has major influence.

“Markets for Change” looks like a trial of a strategy supported by WWF’s announced global campaign to “Transform Markets.”  It has announced it intends to control the supply chains of a dozen global industries by pressuring companies to adopt its sustainability standards.  Of interest to farmers in Australia and New Zealand, dairy, sugar and beef are on its list.

Greenpeace has announced it is ramping up its organization in Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand, evidently to carry out these new strategies.

New Zealand Affected by Threat of Australian Green Trade Barriers

The Australian Government is committed to adopting legislation to ban imports of illegal timber.  This is part of a global environmental campaign run by Greenpeace, WWF and Friends of the Earth to limit forestry in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia.  Ironically, it may be New Zealand timber producers who are most affected.

The Australian Government is struggling to put together legislation to meet its commitment two elections ago to impose legal bans on imports of illegal timber.  The government knows an outright ban on imports breaches World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.  It also breaches the bilateral free trade agreement with New Zealand, ANZCERTA and its free trade commitments with Pacific neighbors.

The Australian Federal Department of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries has been misadvised that if it imposes similar restrictions on domestic producers (as has been done in the EU) that it will obviate the WTO problem.  Advice from academic trade experts in Australia says it won’t.

While this is targeted at imports of supposedly illegal timber from Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, of which there is very little according to research commissioned by the Australian Federal Government, it will also impact on imports from New Zealand.  The New Zealand Government has politely expressed its concern to Canberra, but this will have little effect.

The Australian Labor Government needs the support of the Greens to hold power.  It will impose this restriction unless neighbors warn they will take action to protect their trade rights.

Attacks on Asian Paper Imports Likely to Extend to New Zealand

Australian environmental groups have allied with unions and uncompetitive paper producers to greenmail retailers and producers not to take products manufactured in Asia or made in Australia from native hardwood. Greenpeace has indicated it will move this campaign to New Zealand.

Environment NGOs are moving their strategies for “Green Protectionism,” well developed in Europe and North America, to the antipodes. There are two elements.

The first is to greenmail retailers, like Woolworths, Harvey Norman and OfficeWorks in Australia, not to stock products which they consider unacceptable, whether or not suppliers can demonstrate product is sustainable.

The second is trade restrictions.  In Australia they recently sued, unsuccessfully, for anti-dumping penalties to restrict imports.

In Australia, Greenpeace launched a web-based campaign showing a Sumatran tiger dying in a trap, claiming this was the result of commercial forestry practices.  Material easily accessible on the web shows the trap was set by local people, not the forest producer.

This campaign is likely to move to New Zealand.

Australia’s Conservative Opposition Supporting Food Labelling of Palm Oil

Another Green campaign running in Australia is to demand that any products containing palm oil be mandatorily labelled.  Australia’s Liberal/National Opposition parties are supporting the bill to stir trouble in Australia’s bilateral relationship with Malaysia.

Food labelling laws in Australia and New Zealand are uniquely managed by a joint body of the Australian Government and the New Zealand Government.  The guiding principle is that labelling should only demonstrate compliance with health and safety standards.

It has been a long standing goal of environmental NGOs to extend this to environmental issues.  In Canberra, the Greens and the Independent Senator Nick Xenophon are pressing for this to include labelling of palm oil, supposedly to protect orang-utans in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Malaysian authorities have presented material to the Australian Parliament that this is wrong.

The Australian Government does not support this.  However, the conservative opposition is supporting the bill because it opposes a recently announced deal that illegal asylum seekers be processed in Malaysia rather than Australia.  The Australian Food and Grocery Council has pointed out this will cost millions as there are many products which use palm oil in small quantities.

This matter will be ultimately resolved in the Australia New Zealand Joint Ministerial Council on Food Standards.  In Australia, state governments set food standards.  With conservative governments now in three Australian States and New Zealand, the prospects for agreement to this labelling law are slim, regardless of the opportunist position of the Liberal and National parties in Australia’s national parliament.

Undermining Growth in Papua New Guinea

With funding from EU and European aid agencies, environmental activists are using first world tactics to restrict forestry and plantations in Papua New Guinea (PNG) by challenging the legality of development permits.

This is a wrong-headed and futile campaign.  Landowners in PNG control property rights and are strongly opposed to these strategies.  But these spoiling tactics can delay decisions and hold back investment.

Greenpeace has run a long running campaign based on unsupportable allegations about widespread illegal logging to halt forestry and plantation development in Papua New Guinea, disregarding national policy which sets nearly half of PNG’s land aside.

Reputable parties like SGS, the inspection agency responsible for checking export tax is paid on log exports, as well as other consultants, consider allegations of widespread illegal logging in PNG are exaggerated.

Unlike many developing countries, local people control land rights in PNG and they are hostile towards efforts to halt forestry from which they receive significant royalties.

Nevertheless, NGOs, with funding from Western donors, private and public, challenge in the courts the propriety of decisions to grant forestry permits in full knowledge they will be imperfect in developing countries.  This strategy is being used to impede investment not only in agriculture but mining.  It is a strategy to hold economic development hostage to Western environmental goals.

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