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When Australia Out Wingnuts the U.S.

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This is lovely. The Australian government wants to outlaw the secondary boycott–for everyone. This means that any group calling for a boycott of a company for involvement with an independent contractor engaging in poor labor practices or many other similar situations would be breaking the law:

Even as activists like Akter continue to push for change, the Abbott government is proposing to curtail worker activism. By extending secondary boycott provisions to cover activist groups, it could reduce civil society’s ability to express discontent against big business. Parliamentary secretary for agriculture Richard Colbeck, who wants to curb green activists, says it’s about “levelling the playing field” for business.

But citizens and civil society groups aren’t companies or unions in the industrial relations sense of the word. They are loose and responsive networks, there to give voice to those met with criminal injustice or corruption. Making it illegal for civil society groups like GetUp, Oxfam and Amnesty International to urge consumers to boycott companies for being poor corporate citizens is a type of despotism perpetuated by the executive.

“Levelling the playing field for business.” Love that one. It’s so hard for business to operate in a world where citizens sometimes want them to act with responsibility and not, say, work with the apartheid regime in South Africa or not contract with particularly irresponsible apparel producers. By criticizing corporations for complicity in killing 1138 workers in the Rana Plaza collapse, Amnesty International has created the greatest outrage in Australian history. Really it’s far worse than the genocide against the Aborigines. Not even close.

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