Senator tells it like it is
Sen. Ron Boswell, retiring from his role next month after 31 years’ service to his beloved Queensland state, gave a strong warning to Australian primary producers (and consumers who value them) to work together, and with the Australian Government, to retain the influence they should have — and deserve to have — over the way their industries operate.
The Senator said: “What I want to do is leave all Australian primary producers with a warning: take action now to maintain control over the production and marketing of your product. Primary producers are under threat from a long-term strategy by a powerful and sophisticated combination of environmental zealots and major corporations that would effectively control primary production practices worldwide.”
Stirred into action by his recent knowledge of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, an organization created by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and dominated by non-producer bodies, Sen. Boswell stressed, “I regard WWF and other environmental activists teaming up with major corporations to impose conditions on producers as a dangerous development.”
“Management of primary production is being taken away from producers and from elected governments by environmental non-government organizations. They are doing it via environmental conditions enforced by corporations. This was encouraged during the six years of the previous Labor Government. That government was in effect a Labor-Greens alliance, and Labor surrendered to environmental lobbyists time and again. It is time the Australian Government re-asserted its legitimate role in management of primary production.
“I regard WWF and other environmental activists teaming up with major corporations to impose conditions on producers as the “privatization” of primary production. WWF and other environmental activists are increasingly trying to dictate what can and can’t be caught, harvested, grown or mined in Australia. WWF is an organization with a turnover in the hundreds of millions of dollars and 5,000 staff spread across offices in 60 countries.
It is a huge multinational business with enormous resources. What’s more, it is handling the likes of roundtables and stewardship councils on a daily basis.
“By contrast, producers are often developing responses on the run, responding as best they can to a sophisticated, well-rehearsed strategy from WWF. Let’s not pretend that, individually, any single commodity or industry representative body can handle an organisation as powerful and sophisticated as WWF.”
“Producers have a fundamental knowledge of how their operations should be conducted; Government has the scientists, economists and resource managers to assist producers. Together, they can guarantee sensible, rational, sustainable management of this nation’s natural resources.”
Sen. Boswell has long been seen as a defender and promoter of Australian primary producers highlighted that they are under threat. In the Senate he referred to Australia’s fisheries, being some of the best managed and most sustainable in the world, but WWF has been signing them up for expensive third-party certification schemes through its Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and WWF’s Forest Stewardship Council, designed to force forestry companies into third-party certification which requires expensive assessments and auditing, again paid for the producer.
Boswell told the Australian Government Upper House “I have been told time and again there will never be any certification scheme under the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. Sustainability will be “verified” somehow but not “certified.” Let me ask sensible cattle producers a simple question: proof of sustainability requires expensive third-party auditing and certificates in the WWF schemes for the forestry industry, for the fishing industry, for the aquaculture industry and for the palm oil industry. Why would it be any different for the cattle industry?”
“There is a co-ordinated campaign by WWF and other NGOs to coerce industries into certification schemes. They use a “good cop, bad cop” technique — where someone like Greenpeace is the bad cop and WWF is the good cop. That behaviour has been well documented.”
He highlighted the plight of JBS, the world’s largest meat processor — with around AUD 40 billion (USD 37.5 billion, EUR 27.4 billion) a year in sales worldwide — which he says ‘was savagely attacked by Greenpeace over the source of some of its cattle in Brazil. Have a look at a Greenpeace report called “Slaughtering the Amazon” from 2009. After another attack in mid-2012 — claiming JBS was buying cattle from deforested regions in the Amazon, a claim the company denied — JBS said it would take Greenpeace to court for defamation. However, urged on by Greenpeace, the UK grocery chain Tesco cancelled its meat contract with JBS, and five other European JBS supermarket customers threatened to do the same. The IKEA furniture chain threatened to cancel its contracts for leather.”
Boswell continued, “JBS dropped its legal action against Greenpeace, deciding it was easier to side with these environmental activists than sue them, and is now also working with WWF on its Global Roundtable scheme for beef.”
This is a common story. For example, in 2008, Greenpeace protestors dressed in orang-utan suits stormed Unilever’s headquarters in London and factories in Rome and Rotterdam, protesting about the sources of palm oil. They climbed buildings, occupied production lines and unfurled banners. It’s all familiar Greenpeace tactics. However, Unilever quickly promised to use only verifiable sustainable palm oil and has become one of the companies involved in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. And so it goes.”
At his resilient best the Senator said, “This is a dangerous development. Management of primary production is being taken away from producers and from elected governments by environmental non-government organisations. They are doing it via environmental conditions enforced by corporations. It is time the Australian Government re-asserted its legitimate role in management of primary production.”
“In 2012-13, minerals, oil and gas contributed AUD 75 billion (USD 70.4 billion, EUR 51.3 billion) to the economy of Queensland alone, some 26 percent of the State’s gross domestic product, of which coal contributed more than half. These resources were responsible for more than 430,000 jobs in Queensland, in fact almost one in five jobs in the state. Mining is a very important industry to Queensland.
“WWF has launched a campaign directly opposing development of port facilities that will allow coal and other minerals to be exported efficiently. Its current ‘Fight for the Reef’ campaign is the usual WWF anti-development, anti-jobs campaign, with wildly exaggerated claims about dangers to the Great Barrier Reef. This is another example too of WWF enlisting corporate organisations to get involved. Unilever (There is a track record between Unilever and WWF as they were the original partners in MSC), which is the world’s largest ice cream manufacturer — with a turnover of AUD 7 billion (USD 6.6 billion, EUR 4.8 billion) a year worldwide — has run a campaign through its Ben and Jerry’s ice cream brand that directly supports the WWF Barrier Reef campaign. If this campaign was successful, it would severely restrict the ability of the Queensland and Australian governments to generate vital earnings from coal and other minerals.
“WWF is hardly subtle or secretive about its strategy. It is spelt out on WWF’s own website. It says that, rather than trying to educate 7 billion consumers or improve the practices of 1.5 billion producers, the most efficient way to effect change is to work with the world’s largest companies.
“Internationally, WWF has identified about 100 businesses that together buy and sell 25 percent of the commodities with the greatest impact on WWF’s priority products. They estimate this demand can shift 40 to 50 per cent of global production, and so those are the companies they are targeting. But, as WWF says, these are not the producers but the middle-men. They are the companies that take the product from the producer to the consumer, like McDonald’s and Unilever. Beyond this, it also targets banks and other financiers of major projects.
“WWF says it targets these businesses ‘to change the way global commodities are produced, processed, consumed and financed worldwide.’ By contrast, producers are often developing responses on the run, responding as best they can to a sophisticated, well-rehearsed strategy from WWF.
“Producers have a fundamental knowledge of how their operations should be conducted. Government has the scientists, economists and resource managers to assist producers. Together, they can guarantee sensible, rational, sustainable management of this nation’s natural resources.”