Green racism – plotting against the Third World
Three global environmental organisations are on the war path against legitimate wood-based businesses and New Zealand companies are a particular target.
This week, two of those organisations, Greenpeace and the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), supported by the Greens, called for a retailer and consumer boycott of products marketed by tissue paper company Cottonsoft,
World Growth, an advocacy group supporting enterprises in the developing world as a means to reduce poverty, warned about ramped anti-business activity in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
World Growth says Greenpeace, WWF and Friends of the Earth are working on several fronts to:
• ban all forms of native forestry in Australia
• ban imports of illegal timber and limit forestry in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia
• greenmail retailers and producers not to take products manufactured in Asia or made in Australia from native hardwood.
• demand mandatory labelling of palm oil in all food and other products
• restrict forestry and plantations in PNG by challenging the legality of development permits.
World Growth says the campaign includes broad scale email attacks well as threats to damage brand names. It has attacked Harvey Norman for selling any timber products that are not approved by the Forest Stewardship Council, a WWF-linked organisation.
Another part of the campaign is to “transform markets” through the Markets for Change website, which pressures companies to adopt its sustainability standards.
Dairy, sugar and beef farmers are on this hit list, which also names Officeworks and Woolworths, among others.
Hardball on Cottonsoft
Cottonsoft was targeted for allegedly using mixed tropical hardwood in its toilet paper, a claim the company denies, saying the sources of its fibre is “PEFC-certified or certified as non-controversial by PEFC, and backed up by verification from international audit organisation SGS.” (PEFC is Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, the world's largest forest certification organisation, while SGS is the world's leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company.)
The campaign uses emotional tactics such as claiming forestry activities in Indonesia and elsewhere destroy the natural habitats of animals like the Sumatran tiger and the orang-utan.
Greenpeace, for example, has posted a Youtube video, “Tiger dies for Cottonsoft toilet paper,” showing a tiger dying in a trap in an area of rainforest allegedly controlled by Cottonsoft’s owner, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP). APP says the trap was set by a local villager and not the company.
Furthermore, Cottonsoft’s director of corporate affairs, Steve Nicholson, says:
"APP sets aside 40% of total forestry concessions for conservation, supports a tiger protection scheme, and recently moved an at-risk tiger from an area of animal and human conflict to a nature reserve."
The Greenpeace tactics employ xenophobia and come close to racism in accusing Indonesian and other Asian companies of flouting international agreements.
Nevertheless, the campaigns are successful; The Warehouse has suspended orders of Cottonsoft products.
World Growth says while [the campaign]
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.
Passing the buck
A two-page spread (“Reaping the Past” – not available online) in Fairfax papers last weekend purports to link billions of dollars of losses from finance company failures and leaky buildings, as well as coal mine deaths, to deregulation of the economy in the 1980s and 1990s (“Rogernomics”).
Most of the first part of the article is based solely on the views of Brian Easton. Fair enough, he has consistently opposed the reforms.
The second part is more interesting; it links the Act-backed and Roundtable-supported Regulatory Standards Bill with an ideological push for more "extreme" deregulation.
Supporters of the bill, including economist Bruce Wilkinson, say in fact it is a transparency and accountability measure. Law-making proposals should be tested against sound principles and reasons for departures explained and personally certified to by those responsible.
This includes a good lawmaking principle that requires unintended consequences to be considered and potential compensation issues identified.
Wilkinson notes Easton does not appear to have noticed that he is criticising earlier deregulation for not properly considering such matters and now he is opposing a bill that would require them to be considered and certified, too.
The article quotes the Maxim Institute’s opposition to the bill (first published in NBR) while Geoff Bertram argues (wrongly) that proponents of the bill think all regulation is bad.
Wilkinson save his last riposte for Maxim’s Alex Penk:
Maxim seems to support the need for bringing greater rigour to legislative and regulatory proposals, yet it also seems to be trying to oppose a transparency and accountability measure on spurious grounds. So is it for greater rigour, transparency and accountability or not?
Handwashing in the White House
Among the potential tailpieces of the week – Kim Il Jong’s long train trip to Moscow, US economists being split 50-50 over the need for more stimulus or more austerity, and the search for Muammar Gaddafi – I have selected President Obama’s stance on free trade.
According to a Wall Street Journal editorial,
On his three-state tour in the Midwest [last] week, Mr Obama repeatedly told audiences that the Korea, Colombia and Panama free-trade deals would all be law by now if not for an obstructionist Congress. Passing the deals is something Congress "could do right now," he said.
Except that's not true. Congress can't pass the agreements "right now" because it doesn't have them. They are still sitting on the President's desk. Seriously.
If you are surprised to learn this, you are not alone. White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest only learned the news on Friday during a press conference. Asked why the FTAs haven't been sent, he responded, "We have not sent them over?"