Trench warfare on environmental boycott reform counterproductive on all fronts

By Sarah Barker

The new federal government proposes to conduct a ‘root and branch’ review of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (which replaced the Trade Practices Act from 1 January 2011) to ensure a ‘level playing field’ for big and small business.

The reform agenda was kicked off early, led by parliamentary secretary for agriculture Richard Colbeck. As reported by The Australian’s Tasmanian correspondent Matthew Denholm (Companies to get protection from activists’ boycotts, 23 September), Senator Colbeck has proposed the removal of an exemption to the secondary boycott rules under the act, which, he suggests, impose one law on business and another on environmental groups.

The proposed reform has been met with noisy protest by public advocacy groups such as GetUp and SumofUs. They are concerned that the reform will outlaw grassroots campaigns that pressure business to adopt more ethical practices…

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