Eggcellent

This would be a great change.  Environmental groups should be constrained from putting out misleading and deceptive information.  They should also be bound by the laws related to secondary boycotts, which need tightening in any case.

By the way, I think I am developing a bit of crush on Richard Colebeck, Tasmanian Coalition member and Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture.   I had to drop Angus Taylor after he took that ridiculous position on GrainCorp/ADM.

Here is the story:

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.

The exemption also applies to campaigns related to “consumer protection” but Colbeck said he would not be seeking to change that provision.

The government announced last week a “root and branch review” of competition policy headed by the economist Professor Ian Harper.

Groups including the Australian Forest Products Association and parts of the seafood industry are also preparing submissions to the review arguing that environmental campaigns against companies selling products made from native timbers or “unsustainable” fishing amount to a “secondary boycott” and should be unlawful.

Colbeck said the change was aimed at campaigns like the “NoHarveyNo” campaign by GetUp! and Markets for Change, which is demanding the furniture retailer Harvey Norman stop selling products made from native forests.

“They are saying the forest industry in Tasmania is destroying native forests and that is clearly a dishonest campaign,” Colbeck claimed.

Markets for Change campaigns against companies it says are marketing products, like flooring, made from “unsustainably logged native forests”. As well as Harvey Norman it has targeted Forty Winks, Fantastic Furniture, Freedom and Boral.

Tasmanian campaigners also successfully lobbied international customers of logging companies Gunns and Ta Ann during the long-running dispute over the state’s forestry industry.

But the new state Liberal government intends to undo the forest “peace deal”, expand sawlog production and stop environmental campaigns through tough new state laws aimed at protesters. It is also lobbying the federal government for a change to competition laws to stop market-based campaigns.

Colbeck said he would be suggesting a further change to competition law to increase the power of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to police general claims made by environmental groups about particular types of products “to ensure that they are truthful”.

He denied his views contradicted the government’s stand in favour of freedom of speech.

“They can say what they like, they can campaign about what they like, they can have a point of view, but they should not be able to run a specific business-focused or market-focused campaign, and they should not be able to say things that are not true,” he said.

“If businesses make a claim they can be challenged. If someone makes a claim about their products there needs to be some recourse to enforce accuracy.”

The Greens leader, Christine Milne, said it would “shock Australians to see the lengths that the Abbott government will go to to cover the fact that they intend to log forests listed as world heritage areas”.

“Freedom of speech seems to be a very selective tern for Tony Abbott, it doesn’t apply to trying to silence people trying to tell the truth in international markets about the sourcing of timber.

“He is trying to silence the messenger in order to create a market that would otherwise have none.”

A spokesman for AFPA said the organisation would be making a submission to the competition review because “as a matter of principle we believe Australian businesses should have the right to conduct their lawful business, both here and overseas”.

Groups like GetUp! and Markets for Change are currently exempt from section 45D of the Consumer and Competition Act which prohibits actions that stop a third person buying goods from another.

Section 45DA provides the exemption from the so-called “secondary boycott provisions” if their actions are “substantially related to environmental or consumer protection”.

Grahame Turk, chairman of the National Seafood Industry Alliance, said his industry would make a submission to the competition policy review arguing both that market-based environmental campaigns should be considered secondary boycotts and that the ACCC should police the veracity of what green groups say about particular industries.

“We need a level playing field to stop these environmental groups promulgating misinformation about seafood industry. The truth is most of the Australian seafood industry is highly sustainable … but they are still able to make these claims without any recourse,” Turk said.

“I don’t believe that there are any unsustainable fishing practices currently approved by federal or state legislation in Australia.”

A spokesman for the minister for small business, Bruce Bilson, said: “The government is aware of the view in Tasmania that the secondary boycott provisions, and some other provisions of the competition law relating to false and misleading representations, should more readily accommodate campaigns involving non-government organisations.

“The ‘root and branch’ review of competition represents an opportunity for those views to be put forward and considered in an objective way, mindful that there are differing legal opinions about the reach of the current provisions.”

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95 Responses to Eggcellent

  1. Driftforge

    Boys down here are going to be taking a big stick to the Greenies. Be nice to have a little back up this time around.

  2. H B Bear

    An outstanding development. As Getup, ACF and others increasingly seek to use the courts to block development through spurious court cases, they and more importantly their office holders, should face ASIC-like responsibilities for their actions.

    One of the great shames was that Bob Brown wasn’t bankrupted and expelled from Parliament as a result of the judgment against him.

  3. SteveC

    How would you plan to stop campaigns by non-organisations, like change.org or simply facebook, without encroaching on Catallaxians love of free speech. Go to facebook and search for boycott nestle, or just boycott. A pointless exercise doomed to failure.

  4. DaveR

    One of the big problems in trying to make Green organisations responsible for their often deliberately misleading and dishonest campaigning is that most of them are international organisations, often domiclied in jurisdictions that protect them from any such action. The Australian-based arms of these groups are often in name only, with no real local formal registration of their organisation or assets.

    In case anyone wonders, this type of structure is deliberate; used to avoid the effects of local jurisdictions, including financial reporting and yes – taxation, for those that are not registered as charities – the biggest scam of all.

    In fact it reminds me of the corporate structures of groups like Google and Starbucks who base themselves in a country that affords them the best tax deal, and then transfer price their profits out of every other country they operate in. I thought Australia made this illegal in the 1970s?

  5. Driftforge

    Anybody have any objections if we reintroduce exile as a punishment? It will probably mean you get a few of your ferals back.

  6. SteveC

    I’m not a lawyer, so happy to have someone clear this up, but if I start a campaign, say on Facebook to ask people to boycott “X”, am I actually engaging in a secondary boycott? The law S45D says:

    ” a person must not, in concert with a second person, engage in conduct:
    (a) that hinders or prevents:
    (i) a third person supplying goods or services to a fourth person”

    Is saying something “hindering or preventing”. Wouldn’t I actually have to DO something?

  7. Joe Goodacre

    The Act is another example of government restricting free speech – an inappropriate imposition of government in the first place.

    A liberal government should be getting rid of the whole Act, not exemptions to the Act.

  8. Joe Goodacre

    I would argue that there are higher priorities for a liberal government to be focusing on than increasing regulation (which is effectively the outcome when exemptions to regulation are removed).

  9. Joe Goodacre

    Further, isn’t one of our primary objections to what happened to Bolt based upon the belief that government shouldn’t be decided ‘truth’.

    So we don’t want government deciding ‘truth’ when it comes to global warming or race facts, but we’re happy to let government take that role when it comes to deciding whether environmentalism is engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct? Yep – there’s no way that can be construed as if we only don’t want the government involved when coincidentally people are saying we’re racist, bigots or deniers.

  10. Joe Goodacre

    Driftforge,

    Anybody have any objections if we reintroduce exile as a punishment? It will probably mean you get a few of your ferals back.

    I like what Tim Blair referred to recently – bring back outlawry.

  11. The Pugilist

    Maybe the greens might gain an understanding of the term ‘regulatory compliance burden’. Tie them and the bureaucracy up in knots and see how they fucking like red tape then.

  12. Rabz

    if I start a campaign, say on Facebook to ask people to boycott “X”, am I actually engaging in a secondary boycott?

    That is an entirely spurious example.

  13. The Pugilist

    Joe, the only way these cretins gain an understanding of the havoc they impose on others is to use their weaponry against them. Just watch them become freedom fighters then. That would be an excellent outcome.

  14. Joe Goodacre

    The Pugilist,

    Joe, the only way these cretins gain an understanding of the havoc they impose on others is to use their weaponry against them. Just watch them become freedom fighters then. That would be an excellent outcome.

    Good in theory, doesn’t seem to work that way in practice.

    Take marriage. I’m sure some conservative thought that it was a really bright idea to get the government involved in marriage – ‘look at us protecting the welfare of women and children’. Look where that has ended up. Everything government is involved in appears to eventually get hijacked for different purposes.

  15. Cold-Hands

    Ahh the secondary boycott in action. Brilliant.

    Brilliant? So much for free speech and diversity of views. Scratch a progressive and find a totalitarian.

  16. Mr Rusty

    Joe Goodacre
    #1251684, posted on April 4, 2014 at 10:49 am
    Ahh the secondary boycott in action. Brilliant.

    Except that is not a secondary boycott. If they were boycotting www pages they accessed through Firefox then that is a secondary boycott.
    As a side note; Mozilla clearly didn’t consider the fact that the silent majority might well now boycott Firefox for bending over backwards to the fascist gay marriage lobbyists. I bloody well hope this happens then other corporations will not be so quick to cower in the face of the shouty douchebags.

  17. Bruce of Newcastle

    How would you plan to stop campaigns by non-organisations, like change.org

    Why would we do that Steve? We have been supporting Aliice’s campaign on that site.

    The point of the post is there are businesses who have completed all their environmental permits, are operating within the law and are employing people, yet they are catastrophically impeded in their business by people who are protesting.

    The protest is not the problem, the impeding of lawful business is. If the ACF maintained reasonable protests on the side of the road rather than across it, or used Change.org or other legal means there would be no action like this.

    Illegality must not be allowed unchallenged since that lay lies loss of the rule of law, and thereafter chaos.

  18. SteveC

    Rabz, it’s not a spurious example at all. I’m asking if I have to physically prevent the third party from doing business. If a get-up campaign is purely web based information, is that even a secondary boycott? That’s a genuine question.

    I think a good example was the Alan Jones campaign (I think it was on Change.org), that resulted in lots of advertisers dropping the Alan Jones program. Was that a secondary boycott? Did change.org prevent or hinder advertisers advertising on the Alan Jones program? But who is change.org anyway? It’s a totally unorganised protest – who would you prosecute?

    My point is the idea of removing an exemption sounds good in principle, but I can’t see how you would get a successful prosecution anyway. If someone damages by business by posting lies about me on social media, I can’t see how S45D would help. I guess I could sue for damages – very costly. Am I right that corporations can’t sue for defamation?

  19. SteveC

    Bruce of Newcastle, I think we are in agreement. The OP refers to the NoHarveyNo campaign, which is a public media campaign. (and possibly not a very good one, because I hadn’t heard of it until this post!). I wasn’t aware there were physical pickets in place. A public media campaign can be very damaging, but I can’t see how S45D could apply in that case.

  20. Joe Goodacre

    Mr Rusty,

    People are threatening to boycott Mozilla unless Mozilla boycott the labour of the CEO – so it’s a secondary boycott of the CEO’s business. Perhapsit’s a primary boycott as opposed to a secondary one.

    Nothing wrong with that though – people are free to stop using Mozilla’s product if they want to object to their treatment of the CEO. Unfortunately I suspect that many people won’t care enough.

  21. ugh

    “I’m asking if I have to physically prevent the third party from doing business. If a get-up campaign is purely web based information, is that even a secondary boycott?”

    Hard to tell without seeing the actual legislation, but web-based information/misinformation could potentially be a secondary boycott, subject to the below @SteveC.

    “the power of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to police general claims made by environmental groups about particular types of products “to ensure that they are truthful”.”

    If a web campaign said “Hardly Normal uses wood from native forests” that seems to indicate it would be fine (assuming HN does, I’ve never checked). If the campaign says “HN uses native forests which are unsustainable and are responsible for killing Orangutans” you better have some damn solid evidence of that.

    Businesses are required to be truthful in their claims on products, why not green businesses on their counter-claims? Heck, why not pollies? – yeah I know I’m dreaming on that one :-)

  22. Toiling Mass

    What they are looking at preventing is analogous to defamation.

  23. .

    My point is the idea of removing an exemption sounds good in principle, but I can’t see how you would get a successful prosecution anyway. If someone damages by business by posting lies about me on social media, I can’t see how S45D would help. I guess I could sue for damages – very costly. Am I right that corporations can’t sue for defamation?

    Why don’t you use google?

  24. J.H.

    Absolutely. Good stuff. As an ex commercial fisherman for 30 years who watched with dismay as my industry and all its associated support industries in Queensland were utterly destroyed by ecofascism, rampant bureaucracy and pseudo science masquerading as marine biology…. I am heartened by this change in political attitude.

    However proof of any pudding is in the eating….. When I see the Queensland fishing industry returned to the vibrant industry that it once was by the repeal of most of the ecofascism that today crushes the life out of it, only then will I acknowledge that any real change has occurred.

    Sustainability, is nothing but a ecofascist, Orwellian term for destroying enterprise….. not sustaining it.

  25. thefrollickingmole

    See me and big Vinnie here, were from Mafiapiece, we notice none of your products are certified through any approved Mafiapiece organisation.
    So heres what we do, we will hire a group of Mafiapiece people to protest outside your shop that you CANT PROVE you are selling Mafia-sustainable products. Sure a lot of customers will leave rather than go through our little blockade, but thats freedom of speech, capeesh?
    Or you could buy a certification from us for just a few dollars on every product, All Mafiasustainable approved, and we will move on to your next biggest rival…
    But because you are a fine upstanding citizen we will charge him a little more for coming second to the party…

    90% of greenwash “sustainability” is a massive shakedown and revenue stream for the players involved.
    http://www.independentsciencenews.org/environment/way-beyond-greenwashing-have-multinationals-captured-big-conservation/

    This particular article puts the cart before the hose on the corruption side of things, blaming the “big polludahs” (thanks Julia) for seeking out enviro groups to pay money to for endorsements.

  26. .

    Australian fish stocks are under exploited. The fishing rules are a joke.

  27. michaelfstanley

    Good to see so many people enthusiastically endorsing the government curtailing people’s right to choose and inform each other about the choices they make in a free market.

  28. Mr Rusty

    Nothing wrong with that though – people are free to stop using Mozilla’s product if they want to object to their treatment of the CEO. Unfortunately I suspect that many people won’t care enough.

    Yep, and then people wonder why the left has been so successful in smashing freedom of speech and expression.

  29. thefrollickingmole

    michaelfstanley

    Boycotts are hugely effective in crippling businesses.

    Just ask organized crime.

    Do you think greenpeace etc should be exempt from 45D of the Consumer and Competition Act just because they claim they are environmentalists?

  30. conrad

    Wow, suggestions that average the dictator would be proud of here — what other entirely voluntary behaviors don’t you like.

  31. thefrollickingmole

    conrad

    Individuals are quite free to network and choose to buy/not buy what they want.

    “Charitable” organisations and ones devoted to a particular issue are on shakier ground.

    Eg: The BDS idiots and their Max Brenner boycotts. No-one thinks they should be made to buy Brenner goods, but they take a complicated issue (50 years of complication and rising) and reduce it to attacking one company to punish it for something it has no control over.

    And as Ive alluded to above, boycotts are the weapon of choice for crims, literally give us what we want or we will put you out of business.

  32. .

    michaelfstanley
    #1251770, posted on April 4, 2014 at 12:26 pm
    Good to see so many people enthusiastically endorsing the government curtailing people’s right to choose and inform each other about the choices they make in a free market.

    You think you should be able to lie about firms and products and damage them?

    Of course, you are free to say as you like and gagging people is anthiethical to everything we believe here.

    The dick who tried to fuck over Whitehaven Coal deserves a kick up the arse. Do you think free speech gives you a right to cause economic damage as a corollary?

  33. Bruce of Newcastle

    Wow, suggestions that average the dictator would be proud of here — what other entirely voluntary behaviors don’t you like.

    Well I’d voluntarily boycott the ABC, but it wouldn’t change the fact that I involuntarily have to pay for that pack of communist wankers through my taxes.

    Voluntary removal of patronage is fine except the people who do things like the BDS and forestry crap also require me to pay for their favourite media services. When the ABC is a smoking radioactive hole in the ground (alert: metaphor zone entered!) I might be prepared to accept your point.

  34. .

    This would be a great change. Environmental groups should be constrained from putting out misleading and deceptive information. They should also be bound by the laws related to secondary boycotts, which need tightening in any case.

    Somehow the usual leftist idiots have taken this to mean that the RDA is a just document and Bolt was rightly persecuted. You cretins.

  35. michaelfstanley

    If people are telling lies about corporations there’s the avenues of defamation that they are free (and often quite happy) to use.

  36. conrad

    Well I’d voluntarily boycott the ABC but it wouldn’t change the fact that I involuntarily have to pay for that pack of communist wankers through my taxes.

    If we apply the same logic here, then I imagine you would be rather pissed off if somebody tried to stop you organizing a boycott for giving funding for the ABC. This is why you shouldn’t deny people things like this, even if you don’t happen to like it — because everyone dislike something, and there always people wanting to ban things they don’t happen to like.

  37. Rabz

    it’s not a spurious example at all. I’m asking if I have to physically prevent the third party from doing business. If a get-up campaign is purely web based information, is that even a secondary boycott? That’s a genuine question.

    I think a good example was the Alan Jones campaign (I think it was on Change.org), that resulted in lots of advertisers dropping the Alan Jones program. Was that a secondary boycott?

    As far as I’m concerned these actions are entirely legal calls for voluntary boycotts argued on the basis of alleged dodgy practices by a particular party. The reason I don’t have a problem with them (as opposed to various actions that might include physical intimidation, illegal physical denial of access, etc) is that they are just as likely to end up backfiring than succeeding.

    I always keep an eye on these particular types of ‘campaigns’ as I’m likely to support a boycotted party as a result of my instinctive, undying hatred of leftist douchebags. Some salutary examples include my patronage of Max Brenner and Soda Stream (both of whom I’d never heard of until lobotomised, totalitarian leftist shitheads (BIRM) started screaming about them).

    Lastly, I’m not sure that the Jones advertiser bullying campaign worked out particularly well in the end, either.

  38. .

    michaelfstanley
    #1251812, posted on April 4, 2014 at 1:06 pm
    If people are telling lies about corporations there’s the avenues of defamation that they are free (and often quite happy) to use.

    What if it is malicious? Should that be criminalised?

    If we apply the same logic here, then I imagine you would be rather pissed off if somebody tried to stop you organizing a boycott for giving funding for the ABC.

    We’re not trying to cause economic harm by spreading lies. We’re trying to cut them off at the knees so they can no longer freely lie and deceive. Quite the inverse.

  39. James

    I would also like to see tax reform – international political environmental activists should not have charity tax free status.

  40. Bruce of Newcastle

    I imagine you would be rather pissed off if somebody tried to stop you organizing a boycott for giving funding for the ABC.

    Conrad – That is a meaningless statement. I can organise a protest asking for the ABC to be defunded. I cannot organise a boycott of the ABC’s funding because nothing I can do would affect their funding, since it comes from Canberra. Yet I am forced to pay for them.

    I have no philosophical problem with the BDS people demonstrating so long as they do not materially impact upon people’s’ financial lives. I think they are green-progressive wankers who will be first against the wall when the Islamofascist revolution comes. I disagree with the political pressure they impose upon people and their physical impedance of access to Max Brenner shops. Such action is illegal and should be prevented by surgical removal of their reproductory organs (since removing their brains is not possible as they don’t have one).

  41. Rabz

    Calm down, Connie. We don’t want to ban the ALPBC, we just want it shut down and all the useless tax hoovering leftist scumbags that turn up there jobsacked.

    And then we might also engage in some harmless fun where we fire the ex ALPBC employees out of a cannon into bodies of water such as the Pacific Ocean or Bass Strait.

    So hey, relax, you might even enjoy it!

    :)

  42. Leigh Lowe

    This could extend to banks who negotiate in good faith to fund, say, a legal pulp mill, then withdraw because their PR Department wets their pants over a 10 minute Twitter campaign by lefties.
    Governments could create a list of “Approved Funding Institutions” and exclude any such Institutions from participating in funding Government projects which have a PPP component.

  43. conrad

    “I have no philosophical problem with the BDS people demonstrating so long as they do not materially impact upon people’s’ financial lives”

    I don’t see why boycotts shouldn’t be able to materially affect people’s financial lives — if I (or you) can influence the way people act voluntarily within a legal manner, I really fail to see what’s wrong with that. This happens legally any number of different ways. Most of them are called marketing.

    If I like whales, for example, and organize a boycott of Japanese fishing companies because whales and big and happy looking (which costs you nothing), I don’t really see why you have any right stop me. This might materially hurt those companies. (obviously the governnment organising it is a different story).
    Similarly, if you don’t like the ABC and organize a boycott against it, I don’t really see why I have any right stop you. This would materially hurt them, because if they have no viewers, there really would be no obvious reason to keep them going.

  44. Rabz

    because if they (the ALPBC) have no viewers, there really would be no obvious reason to keep them going

    They don’t and there isn’t.

  45. Bruce of Newcastle

    I don’t see why boycotts shouldn’t be able to materially affect people’s financial lives — if I (or you) can influence the way people act voluntarily within a legal manner

    You didn’t read what I wrote. The word I used was ‘protesting’, which in the case of the Max Brenner shops went quite a way past simple boycotting to physical intimidation. I hope you are consistent enough to abrogate such behaviour.

    And advocating the boycott of Max Brenner shops, who have no link to the political question the boycott is supposed to be about, constitutes libel and defamation. It therefore is illegal. Go to Israel and demonstrate outside Ariel if you want, but do not harm the innocent.

    Similarly, if you don’t like the ABC and organize a boycott against it, I don’t really see why I have any right stop you.

    How would that save me from paying taxes to support them, hmm? I don’t have any choice in that.

    In short, if you allow me to legally not pay taxes to support the ABC then I will accept your right to boycott Max Brenner shops. Otherwise you are a hypocrite.

  46. Dan

    people can boycott just as much as people have a right to purchase whatever they like.

    when these groups use intimidation, violence, tresspass, economic threat, vandalism etc. then those rights are lost.

    in your whaling example, it has been proven conclusively that the sea shepard deliberately rams other ships and generally endangers the seaworthiness of the ship and the lives on board.

  47. Dan

    Similarly, if you don’t like the ABC and organize a boycott against it, I don’t really see why I have any right stop you. This would materially hurt them, because if they have no viewers, there really would be no obvious reason to keep them going.

    spurious garbage

  48. conrad

    “And advocating the boycott of Max Brenner shops, who have no link to the political question the boycott is supposed to be about, constitutes libel and defamation. It therefore is illegal.”

    There’s two things going on here which you confounding — Dan notes the same above. One is protesting, and one is doing illegal things. Unless you want an authoritarian state, the first should be legal under more or less any circumstances. Thus you want laws against violence etc., not laws again boycotting things.

  49. johanna

    There are two separate issues here. A voluntary consumer boycott is quite a different animal to an organisation such a Greenpeace blackmailing corporations by approaching other companies that do business with a target company and pressuring them with threats of bad publicity and organised boycotts, or demanding that companies pay a fee to get a “tick of approval.”

    Consumers are free to boycott any company, and so they should be. Thaey are not, however, free to break laws about harrassment and intimidation, or about spreading lies like that dickhead did about Whitehaven, to the detriment of its share price. Note that he was prosecuted for that.

    Organisations using standover tactics and false information to bully companies is a different matter, and NGOs currently get a free pass on that just because they claim to be concerned about the environment or consumer protection. That is indeed a glaring omission – any other organisation that does does that can and should be prosecuted, no matter what they claim their motives to be.

  50. .

    There’s two things going on here which you confounding — Dan notes the same above. One is protesting, and one is doing illegal things. Unless you want an authoritarian state, the first should be legal under more or less any circumstances. Thus you want laws against violence etc., not laws again boycotting things.

    No shit, we’re against the illegality and criminal/economic damage. We are not for gagging anyone.

    Why you couldn’t work this out is an insult to all and sundry.

  51. Wozzup

    I tend to agree. I no longer think we can defend ourselves against a tidal wave of ignorance, disinformation and outright lies propagated by the left. Was it Stephen Colbert the American commentator who talks about the overwhelming tendency in politics today to promote not truthfulness, but truthiness.

    He defines truthiness as the misuse of appeal to emotion and “gut feeling” as a rhetorical device in socio-political discourse. In other words, there is a preference for propagating nonsense that SOUNDS truthful and to regard this as vastly preferable to hard truths that are real. According to Colbert, “We’re not talking about truth, we’re talking about something that seems like truth – the truth we want to exist”

    The left in particular now does this as a matter of course. Its constant and it appeals greatly to that side of politic’s love of focus groups and surveys to shape its messages. And to its constant willingness to pervert truth and truthfulness in the interests of short term political tactical advantage.

  52. DrBeauGan

    Michaelfstanley is correct in saying that the behaviour is defaming a company and wrong in saying they can and do sue for defamation. The CEO and others can sue only if they are named. A company, desite being a legal person cannot sue under the uniform defamation act. This makes it currently legal to say anything you like about a company including outrageous lies that damage it to the point of destruction. A change to the current defamation act is urgently needed. It would solve a lot of problems. I am thinking of relocating my company overseas for this and other reasons.

  53. Joe Goodacre

    Do you think free speech gives you a right to cause economic damage as a corollary?

    Yes.

    The chain of causation in the assessment of damages is broken by the failure of the party on the receiving end of the speech from verifying. It was within the power of the person receiving the speech to mitigate the loss.

    I.e. no one forced the people in Whitehaven Coal to sell. They chose to believe a press release that from ANZ that said…

    We want our customers to be assured that we will not be investing in coal projects that cause significant dislocation of farmers, unacceptable damage to the environment, or social conflict

    In most reasonable people that would have rung alarm bells. A more likely story is that speculators playing the market on short timelines tried to profit from the hoax and make some money. There’s many ways a fool and their money are separated, and legislation won’t fix that.

  54. .

    I.e. no one forced the people in Whitehaven Coal to sell. They chose to believe a press release that from ANZ that said…

    You don’t think this is actionable? Why not legalise vandalism?

  55. conrad

    “Why you couldn’t work this out is an insult to all and sundry.”

    Could it be because the proposed laws are for banning speech and boycotts, rather than stopping illegal activities, which is evidentally confounded by a number of posters here, and appears to be thought of as quite a reasonable thing to do by the main poster herself.

  56. .

    Could it be because the proposed laws are for banning speech and boycotts

    No.

  57. Driftforge

    Could it be because the proposed laws are for banning speech and boycotts

    You do realise that if stuff is banned by law it become illegal?

    rather than stopping illegal activities

    It’s sort of a definitional thing.

    More generally, we’ve got a multitude of problems to sort out in Tasmania. A goodly proportion of them are due to a small number of people who actively work against the furtherance of the state. Some of this activity is through organising secondary boycotts, which is what this particular legislation seeks to resolve, and which is only possible because of an arbitrary exclusion in the current legislation. Other issues with people who actively cause financial damage to legal operations will have to be dealt with separately.

    Understand that this issue is a bit like the issues regarding asylum seekers nationally, the bikies thing in Queensland, and the issue with multiculturalism that is still to boil over; actions may well have to be taken that would not have been necessary if, along the way, people had made the hard choices required to prevent momentum building up in these areas. Because they not been addressed, these problems have grown to be issues of order, not issues of law. And thus the talk about exile and outlawry — hard responses made necessary because of a lack of hard decisions over an extended period of time.

  58. Joe Goodacre

    Dot,

    You don’t think this is actionable? Why not legalise vandalism?

    They are not comparable issues.

    Vandalism is actual damage to private property.

    A hoax only damages someone’s economic interest if they act on the basis of the hoax being true. ‘Belief’ is an active process – it’s a choice we make. To make a third person liable for our own choices seems to me to be wrong.

  59. Joe

    I always thought that incitement to a criminal act was a criminal act.
    A libertarian would say that your right to free speech is absolutely extinguished by my right to use my property. In other words if you advocate to prevent me from using my property as I wish and someone prevents me from using my property, then you have infringed on my right to property and as a party to the infringement should be subject to sanction.
    The excuse of separation of action from incitement to action has never been recognised.

  60. .

    Why is this different to fraud? Regardless of the gain to the liar, third parties suffer loss.

  61. Joe Goodacre

    Good question.

    The difference appears to me to be the presence of a contract – both parties have indicated to the other that their representations can be relied upon. It is an acceptable role of government to hold people to the bargains that they make.

    It would appear to me that there are no grounds that a contract exists in the case of a hoax.

  62. Joe Goodacre

    An argument could be made that people are capable of protecting themselves without government enforcing contracts – i.e. in contracting developers pay on 30 day terms (which effectively means that when one claim is due, they have received 60 days worth of plant, labour and materials before payment. They also take 5% of the contract sum as security as well. In contrast, a kitchen builder normally takes a 50% deposit. This would suggest that people can work out their own arrangements without courts enforcing contracts.

  63. Joe Goodacre

    Without courts, trust would be a marketable commodity.

    Just as the existence of government involvement in charity kills dignity and gratitude, the ability of courts to enforce people’s promises dilutes the value of trust.

    If people knew that they were on the hook themselves for fraud, there would be a shift towards, and a premium paid for a good reputation.

  64. Cato the Elder

    This would suggest that people can work out their own arrangements without courts enforcing contracts.

    No. This suggests that people can make their own contracts without nanny setting the terms. Enforcing the contracts is a whole different ball-game.

  65. Cato the Elder

    Enforcement either calls for courts of law of some sort, empowered to adjudicate and make orders which can then be enforced by the power of the State.

    Or my mates Vinnie and Luigi will come round and pay a visit to enforce the contract. And if we go down that path, how long before they decide to do that collection process even though there is no contract to enforce?

  66. Joe Goodacre

    Cato the Elder,

    Enforcement of contracts is only necessary if someone is going to breach the contract.

    Firstly from personal experience, the protection of courts enforcing an agreement is worthless. A company can go belly up due to poor cashflow if a client doesn’t pay or hits with counter claims which may take years to resolve.

    People protect themselves by choosing who they work with – hence my comment that trust becomes a marketable commodity if there is no enforcement mechanism.

    A business who values their reputation won’t screw over a client because that will get out. For the business to protect their own interests, they can either be selective with their clients (as we are), or take upfront payments or security to ensure performance).

    It doesn’t appear to me that upholding agreements requires government interference given parties have many means available to protect themselves. If anything, government involvement devalues characteristics like trust and honesty which possibly make a society less moral.

  67. Joe Goodacre

    Cato the Elder,

    Or my mates Vinnie and Luigi will come round and pay a visit to enforce the contract. And if we go down that path, how long before they decide to do that collection process even though there is no contract to enforce?

    That logic could extend to other scenarios:

    a) we need consumer protection law otherwise products won’t be safe;
    b) we need OH&S laws otherwise workplaces won’t be safe; or
    c) we need government in control of aviation standards otherwise flight won’t be safe.

    The counter argument to all those positions is that the market is self enforcing because a reputation is a valuable commodity. If you don’t think that is true in the case of people enforcing their own contracts, on what basis would you be against regulation in the other areas mentioned above?

  68. Greg James

    And so should academics.

    I say that with particular emphasis after listening to David Karoly on 774 radio last week, where he stated that although there might be some debate in the general population about AGW, there was no debate amongst climate scientists.

    I repeat, according to Karoly, there was “NO DEBATE”.

    This was a grotesquely untrue statement, and there can be no doubt that Karoly knew this when he made the statement; or should have known it if he had even followed the debate at all. [And he will have of course because his future income stream depends on the never ending rivers of government gold that flows from this Leftoid fantasy.]

  69. Greg James

    One of the great shames was that Bob Brown wasn’t bankrupted and expelled from Parliament as a result of the judgment against him.

    One of my own personal great shames is that I never got to see Gillard frog-marched out of Parliament between the arms of two FP Officers, to later face criminal charges for her role in the AWU affair.

  70. johanna

    Joe Goodacre, you goose, the dickhead who damaged Whitehaven by spreading lies about it was prosecuted under the Corporations Law. What a bloviating windbag you are – so you think it is acceptable for people to bring a company to its knees by falsely and knowingly claiming that its food products poison babies, for example? It is just like the industrial sabotage of nutters who put harmful substances into food, with potentially catastrophic impact on the innocent manufacturer. And, damn right it is illegal – what nonsense to say that it is OK to do this because it all comes down to the gullibility of consumers.

    WTR secondary boycotts, there is no excuse for any exemptions. Unions used to be notorious for doing this, and I note that the CFMEU is still getting away with it against Boral, whose concrete business in Melbourne has mysteriously dried up completely. There is absolutely no reason why, just because an organisation claims to be acting on behalf of the environment or consumers, they should be legally permitted to use standover tactics against companies that are utterly illegal if anyone else uses them.

  71. Cato the Elder

    Joe

    Over 99% of contracts are never enforced, they are just performed. Even when there is a breach of contract, there is rarely any need for enforcement. Example: I buy a burger at McDonald’s. I ask for no pickles; but there are pickles on it. I take it back and complain, so they give me a new one. Contract, defective performance, complaint, rectification of performance. No enforcement required.

    However, I think that we still need government backed courts for the high value cases where a desire to protect reputation is not enough and the consequences to the wronged party are too great to just walk away from.

    Example: I buy a house. I do all the usual checks and everything seems okay. 2 years later it turns out that the builder skimped on the foundations. The builder no longer cares about his reputation, which has been trashed anyway by previous complaints. If there are courts and insurers then I have a chance of recovering my loss. Under your system, I’m just screwed.

  72. Joe Goodacre

    johanna,

    you think it is acceptable for people to bring a company to its knees by falsely and knowingly claiming that its food products poison babies, for example?

    Yes. You’re basically advocating for the nanny state, which is based on the premise that people aren’t capable of looking after themselves.

    If you don’t trust people to work out whether an assertion is true or not, then that’s a pretty fundamental characteristic you think they need hand holding on.

    It would appear to me that free speech can go right out the window once laws are premised on the basis that we can’t think for ourselves. Should people not be trusted with working out the truth of political assertions? Do you strongly support the right to vote, or is that also something to onerous for us?

  73. johanna

    Joe, spreading lies about a company or sabotaging its products is a crime against private property. It’s a concept that most people here consider to be one of the few things that the State should be very much involved in protecting.

    Using standover tactics against a company is also a crime against private property.

  74. .

    you think it is acceptable for people to bring a company to its knees by falsely and knowingly claiming that its food products poison babies, for example?

    Yes. You’re basically advocating for the nanny state, which is based on the premise that people aren’t capable of looking after themselves.

    Look. It is great you think about this but off the planet. You have only half finished this internal argument. Keep going when it is stronger and logically consistent.

  75. Joe Goodacre

    Cato the Elder ,

    It doesn’t appear that you’ve addressed how trust becomes a valuable commodity where enforcement is uncertain.

    It appears to me that the only difference between performance and enforcement is that a third party becomes involved to subsidise the poor choice of the person seeking to enforce performance. Said another way, the harm was preventable if the person had paid a higher premium for trust and guaranteed performance. Anyone is free to pay a lower price for trust, but why should other taxpayers subsidise that risky choice by providing an enforcement mechanism when the cheaper contractor doesn’t perform?

    I’m not sure the logic is changed by the value of the transaction. For instance, do you believe that taxpayers should be guaranteeing bank accounts? People put hundreds of thousands of dollars in bank accounts, trusting that the bank is not lending that money to risky endeavours. If you believe that the guarantee should not be in place, because people can either take out insurance or would take more care with their choice, then why doesn’t that logic extend to the performance of any contract? If taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidising the poor choices of savers, why should they be subsidising the poor choices of other people by enforcing contracts that they didn’t take enough care to ensure that they were enforced themselves.

    Example: I buy a house. I do all the usual checks and everything seems okay. 2 years later it turns out that the builder skimped on the foundations. The builder no longer cares about his reputation, which has been trashed anyway by previous complaints. If there are courts and insurers then I have a chance of recovering my loss. Under your system, I’m just screwed.

    Correct – that’s what buyer beware is. That is why there is a market for building inspectors. Other people who were more risk averse than you, may not have paid as much for the property because they were unwilling to take the risk that you were. Why should they have to subsidise your gamble? The logic that you are using (that people need to be protected from their choices), is the same that the Left uses to justify other forms of government intrusion, i.e. welfare, socialised medicine, minimum wages…

  76. Joe Goodacre

    johanna,

    Spreading lies about a company or sabotaging its products is a crime against private property. It’s a concept that most people here consider to be one of the few things that the State should be very much involved in protecting.

    This is the same logic as defamation law.

    A reputation is the opinions and beliefs of others. The problem that one runs into with an argument our reputation is our property, is that we are implictly making a claim on the thoughts, opinions and beliefs of others. I don’t believe that my thoughts are your property, or anyone elses. Sure we may hold opinions that benefit a particular company, but it is not that company’s loss if we no longer hold those opinions (whether irrationally or otherwise), because the company is unable to be compensated for that which it never owned.

    If we can own the opinions and beliefs of others, why can’t we own other forms of intellectual property such as their inventions. Essentially government is appropriating private property through defamation law and laws designed to prevent hoaxes.

  77. Bronson

    Goodacre nice try but Arlene Composta has sadly left us and you sir/madam are no Arlene!

  78. Dan

    Joe

    Yada yada….People can’t be sued for acting on their ideology

    Fruit case stuff

  79. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    Preach it, Sister!

    Superb idea.

  80. DrBeauGan

    Joe, you sound like an academic or a fourteen year old. Either way, you’ve led a sheltered life. There is no point arguing with someone having as little life experience as you. Go and get some.

  81. Cato the Elder

    Joe

    As it happens, I think that I have addressed the idea of trust as a valuable commodity. People go to McDonald’s because they trust the “brand”. People choose a plumber based on trust, either their own past experience or the experience of someone they know (and trust).

    Your suggestion is that trust would have “increased value” if there was no independent enforcement mechanism. You’re quite right. However, there are already real world examples what you are describing. Examine any Third World shit-hole, where rights cannot be enforced at law: people only deal with their family or clan members; and the stranger is open slather for fraud.

    Part of the reason why relatively “high trust” societies (such as Australia) can operate on that basis is that they are both social and legal adverse consequences to screwing people over. Your idea that legal consequences are unnecessary and that we can rely on reputational damage and due diligence is, in my view, pie in the sky.

  82. Robert O.

    Unfortunately , the whole basis of locking-up eucalyptus forests for preservation is a classic oxymoron since it will result in their eventual demise. If one walks from the Parks Office to the Russell Falls in Southern Tas. (about 12 minutes walk) you are in so-called Old growth forest, mainly Eucalyptus regnans with an understorey of rainforest species mainly Nothofagus cunniinghamii. My point is this: you will not find one eucalypt seedling on the walk simply because eucalypts do not regenerate under these conditions because they require both light and freedom from competing trees. That is the fate of the protected Old growth forests unless they are either logged and regenerated, or burnt during an intense wildfire. The so-called regrowth forests in southern Tasmania relate to the wildfires of 1934, 1936 , 1938 and 1967. In Victoria it was the 1939 fire, and of course more recent ones.
    The Forest Industry and government was out manoeuvred by the greens simply because Bob Brown was a very capable three star general and others a few half colonels, majors, and lots of privates in Army parlance. He realised that political power resided in the city electorates and that city voters think they are doing something for environment by supporting the greens whilst enjoying their café lattes and the amenity of city life.
    There were a few luminaries who understood the ecology of the forests , Max Gilbert, Bill Jackson and Horace Newton Barber were the pioneers, but they were scientists and not politicians. A useful reference on the subject is Max Gilbert’s Ph.D. thesis which was written in the early 1960′s and is located in Tas. University library. It’s a pity that Ms. Milne has probably not read it , but certainly does not understand it.

  83. Joe Goodacre

    Cato the Elder,

    However, there are already real world examples what you are describing… where rights cannot be enforced at law: people only deal with their family or clan members; and the stranger is open slather for fraud.

    If you have a society with ethnic violence or a society where the strong dominate the weak then it is irrelevant what the laws say. You could insert a legal framework enforcing contracts in the third world tomorrow and it probably wouldn’t make a difference. The third world is not a Libertarian society, where the strong band together to protect everyone’s personal and private property rights under the subjective belief that everyone is equal. The third world mess you describe isn’t a failure of Libertarianism because it isn’t an example of Libertarianism.

    It’s quite possible that our legal framework would have no difference in Africa because there may be differing views as to the role of trade as a means of gaining wealth vs conquest, or there may not be a shared belief that everyone is equal and has a right to life, liberty and their property. You can’t legislate trust – you can only subsidise those who fail to recognise or value it correctly. I’m pointing out that subsidising poor choices is inconsistent with the morality that used to govern our social contract – that the role of the strong was to protect the life, liberty and property of all.

    Your idea that legal consequences are unnecessary and that we can rely on reputational damage and due diligence is, in my view, pie in the sky.

    It appears to me that your idea that legal consequences are what creates a liberal society is not supported by reality.

  84. Tel

    As far as I’m concerned a free people should be able to boycott anything and everything for any reason or for no particular reason. Secondary boycott seems as fair as any other, if you can’t trust people to spend their own money, then what exactly do you trust them with?

  85. johanna

    Hi Joe. Are you still arguing that it is OK, when you are trying to sell your house, that I take out a full page ad in the paper saying that it is infested with termites and dry rot, plus was the scene of a gory mass murder, when it is not?

    You have about as much credibility as Sarah Sea Patrol.

  86. Joe Goodacre

    Further,
    The majority of people don’t use the courts.
    Courts are only used by people who inadequately protected interests they had every opportunity to protect.

    Secondly – how can we say it’s inappropriate for the government to legislate civility (hence no 18c), yet it’s ok for the government to legislate trust.

  87. Tel

    Your idea that legal consequences are unnecessary and that we can rely on reputational damage and due diligence is, in my view, pie in the sky

    If we are dealing with violence then recourse to protection makes sense. A boycott in simple form does not seem like violence to me. Trying to bully someone else into non-association might involve violence, but peace fully advovating non-association should be acceptable.

  88. Joe Goodacre

    Johanna,
    There is a difference between what people are allowed to do and what people should do.

    Are you allowed to take out a full page ad saying that I’m a white skinned person that is falsely claiming Aboriginal benefits? Yes. Would I be happy about it? No.

    The world would be an unhappy place if the only regulation of our behaviour was whether we were allowed to do it. You can’t legislate morality and neither can you have a government or laws based on liberal principles without a shared morality.

  89. Pyrmonter

    Three observations:

    (a) this mainly matters because companies can no longer sue for defamation after the Ruddock defamation reforms (contra michaelfstanley). Defamation is a well-developed area of law which balances free speech and the public interest in topical discussion. M+D conduct on the other hand throws the burden of proof (in particular in relation to “future” events, something encompassed by a lot of political discussion, which are presumed to be misleading until proved otherwise) on the publisher to prove the truthfulness of his or her statements; it is a per se prohibition, whereas most defamation requires proof of loss. Why not simply reverse the (slightly ridiculous) restriction on corporate defamation – something which seems to have arisen in response to the Left’s campaign after the so-called “McLibel” matter, and brought to account by the then Labor state governments in the context of national “co-operatively federal” law reform.

    (b) Section 18C should go: it provides for “group” protection, encouraging identity politics; and the PM is right that the best argument against a bad argument is a good one. Furthermore, it is selectively enforced, in ways that tend toward perniciousness. How is it different to this issue?

    (c) consumer boycotts – freely engaged in – are the bedrock of a libertarian approach to politics. Proscribing them as secondary boycotts is as much an act of socialist interference as any bit of union thuggery.

  90. johanna

    Pyrmonter – I don’t think that anyone here has said that consumer boycotts, freely entered into, should be proscribed. That is just a strawman put up by disruptive elements on this thread.

  91. JohnA

    “They can say what they like, they can campaign about what they like, they can have a point of view, but they should not be able to run a specific business-focused or market-focused campaign, and they should not be able to say things that are not true,” he said.

    Here is the nub of it.

    Truth and facts are no longer an adequate defence in a lot of soft-law areas – like freedom of speech.

    If we could restore the primacy of truth or facts (however it needs to be expressed) as a sufficient defence against allegations, as a prima facie defence against bias and so on, we might be getting somewhere.

    Truth is a prima facie defence in defamation (hence the Bolt case was never going to be a defamation argument), and it needs to be widened to other areas, so that it becomes a general principle of lawfare.

    It also need to be a basic and powerful weapon of attack against word-twisting lobbyists, activists and general nut cases (aka ALPBC, BIRM) who have such a demonstrably cavalier attitude to the facts.

  92. Rob MW

    Ah at last…… “we the (little) people……” should have always had the ‘right’ to challenge those particularly factually-flawed and secretly ‘commissioned reports’ produced for and on behalf of the environmentalists and that give the “Green Light” to our stupid policy makers to make laws only based on a fact-free “Precautionary Principle”.

    The ‘Principle”: – Why do I get out of bed in the morning ? – I get out of bed so I can go to work, this means that I COULD get a piece of toast caught in my throat and die…….then I COULD trip over and hit my head getting into my car whilst trying to get to work and die…….then I COULD have a car accident on my way to work and die……shit…..the elevator MIGHT break and fall down and kill me……….holy shit the cool-aid MIGHT be spiked with poison and put me in hospital………bloody hell………my doctor told me not to worry and that hard work never killed anyone…………fuck it……… why take the risk………..so I’ll just stay in bed that way I’ll safe as long as I don’t fall out of bed…….shit ….I had better sleep on the floor………fuck, what happens if the floor gives way and the house falls on me…………..bloody hell…… no house should be built out of “Unsustainable Forrest Products” because there MIGHT be crooked “Unsustainable” nails holding the “Unsustainable Forrest Products” together.

    Yep……….staying in bed is no good either so I’ll just go to the club all day and put MY “precautioned” taxpayer living expenses thru the pokies.

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