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Greens will fight Costello's attempt to stymie dissent.

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Senator Bob Brown Senator for Tasmania

Greens will fight Costello's attempt to stymie dissent

Senator Brown, 22nd February 2007

"Treasurer Peter Costello's plan to make the ACCC into a new McCarthy Committee to put out of action citizens who campaign on ethical issues will horrify Australians who believe in democracy, freedom of speech and a fair go," Greens Leader Bob Brown said today.

"The Treasurer has singled out P.E.T.A. but his aim is at a much wider range of Australian community groups including advocates for the environment, indigenous rights and workplace safety, said Senator Brown.

The Treasurer is proposing to give the ACCC the power to intervene on behalf of corporate Australia in disputes with community groups. In the past, community pressure has highlighted the death of dolphins in the tuna industry and the destruction of old growth logging. Under the Treasurer's plan it would be the deep pockets of the taxpayer and the imprimatur of the ACCC that was deployed against community groups rather than the current situation in which companies have to fund their own actions.

"Today's announcement is a cynical exercise that seeks to turn a well respected watchdog into a political attack dog. The Greens will oppose this move in the Senate. This government is forgetting the common decency that Australians want out of Canberra," said Senator Brown

"These amendments will mean it is the ACCC, not Gunns Ltd, who would be suing community and political campaigners who lobby Japanese woodchip importers to buy plantation timber instead of old growth forest logs."

"These amendments would give uranium miners ACCC protection from Aboriginal groups who seek to protest in order to protect their homelands. It would very likely, under the mooted Japan-Australia Free Trade Agreement, make Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd ACCC targets on behalf of the Japanese whaling industry."

"Unions who go to the aid of exploited immigrant workers or workers on unsafe sites to ACCC could be exposed to action," concluded Senator Brown.

Further information: Ebony Bennett 0409 164 603