Friday, April 04, 2014

Outlawing consumer choice

The public boycott has a long and honourable tradition in the struggle to make the world a better place. A sugar boycott helped end the slave trade. The Montgomery bus boycott helped bring about civil rights in the US. Boycotts are a powerful tool to mobilise the public, and in a world where governments are captured by corporations and routinely put money ahead of ethics, they are one of the few tools we have to bring about change.

So naturally, Australia's reactionary government wants to ban them:

Coalition MPs and industry groups are using a review of competition laws to push for a ban on campaigns against companies on the grounds that they are selling products that damage the environment, for example by using old-growth timber or overfished seafood.

The parliamentary secretary for agriculture, Richard Colbeck, said the backbench rural committee and “quite a number in the ministry” want to use the review to remove an exemption for environmental groups from the consumer law ban on so-called “secondary boycotts”.

“I do think there is an appetite in the government for changing these laws,” Colbeck said.

Freedom of speech? In Abbott's Australia, that's only for racists. Consumer choice? Sorry, exercising it publicly threatens the profits of Australia's dirty, unethical corporations, so it must be outlawed.