Australian Prime Minister Slams Environmental Groups Targeting Businesses With Selfish Secondary Boycotts
November 1, 2019 - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has railed against "progressives", accusing them of denying people's liberties in a speech that slammed environmentalists for targeting businesses that invest in non-renewable industries.
Scott Morrison also vowed to outlaw the "indulgent and selfish" practices of environmental groups who campaign against Australian businesses that work with companies and industries they are opposed to, such as coal.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison
"I am very concerned about this new form of progressivism ... intended to get in under the radar but [which] at its heart would deny the liberties of Australians," he said.
In a lunchtime speech to the Queensland Resources Council, Morrison argued that so-called "secondary boycotts" can have serious consequences for the Australian economy.
"Environmental groups are targeting businesses and firms who provide goods or services to firms they don't like, especially in the resources sector," he said.
"They are targeting businesses of all sizes, including small businesses, like contracting businesses in regional Queensland.
"It is a potentially more insidious threat to the Queensland economy and jobs and living standards than a street protest."
'It Gives You a Warm Glow'
The Prime Minister spoke in Brisbane in the wake of anti-mining protesters clashing with police outside a mining conference in Melbourne.
Morrison said he wanted Australia to have the world's most advanced, innovative and successful resources sector in the country.
"I hear a lot about progressivism at the moment," he said.
"It sounds like a lovely word. It gives you a warm glow. I will tell you what it means.
"Those who claim the title want to tell you where to live, what job you can have, what you can say and what you can think — and tax you more for the privilege of all of those instructions that are directed to you."
Morrison lamented that Australian businesses, under pressure from environmental groups, are increasingly refusing to provide services like banking, insurance and consulting to coal mining companies.
"There are two inevitable outcomes … Australian business does less business … and Australian business is forced to acquire goods or services from an alternative or overseas supplier at a higher price," he said.
'Testing the Limits of the Right to Protest'
Morrison said whilst he accepted the Government cannot force one company to provide services to another, the Coalition was looking at ways to prevent such boycotts from spreading to other sectors that have a significant carbon footprint — including gas projects, abattoirs, airlines and the sugar cane industry.
"Let me assure you, this is not something my Government intends to allow to go unchecked," he said.
"Together with the Attorney-General, we are working to identify mechanisms that can successfully outlaw these indulgent and selfish practices that threaten the livelihoods of fellow Australians, especially in rural and regional areas, and especially here in Queensland."
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In an apparent reference to recent protests in Queensland by Extinction Rebellion, Morrison said "radical activism" and "absolutist environmentalism" were "testing the limits of the right to protest".
"The right to protest does not mean there is an unlimited licence to disrupt people's lives and disrespect your fellow Australians," Morrison said.
The Prime Minister used the speech to reaffirm his Government's commitment to jobs in traditional industries by announcing an expansion of the Skills Organization Pilot program to include the mining industry.
"We know that mining is a high-skill, high-wage industry and this is a further statement of confidence in the industry's future," he said in his address.