Costello aims to make protesters pay for boycotts:
The federal Treasurer yesterday announced changes that would leave groups that organise boycotts against companies for moral or ethical reasons at greater risk of prosecution. The changes, described as "McCarthyist" by the Greens, will give the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission powers to initiate legal action and seek compensation on behalf of companies targeted by boycotts.
Mr Costello said the changes were aimed at protecting farmers against groups such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which has called for a global boycott of Australian wool over sheep mulesing. It is targeting designers in Milan during its fashion shows this week.
The Greens leader, Bob Brown, said the move was "a cynical exercise that seeks to turn a well-respected watchdog into a political attack dog".
Taxpayers could end up footing the legal bill for companies acting in an ethically questionable manner, Senator Brown said, and efforts by indigenous groups to protect their land from mining companies could also be stymied.