Activists’ Bid For Ban Puts Jobs At Risk

Written by:
17 February 2024
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In this article, Saxon Davidson contextualises and disseminates the findings of the IPA’s research into the economic cost of net zero, conducted as part of the IPA’s Net Zero Program.

The IPA’s Net Zero Program aims to research the various ways net zero policies negatively affect Australia’s energy security, national security capabilities, and household electricity prices.

Don’t let Tasmania’s salmon industry be the one that got away

More so than many other parts of the nation, environmental activism has been an entrenched part of the Tasmanian political way of life.

What has changed is the veneer that once cloaked it, conservation, has been worn away and in its place, the anti-growth, anti-jobs ideology has shone through.

There is no better example of this than in the case of Tasmania’s world-leading salmon industry.

The salmon industry in Tasmania is substantial, generating some $1.3bn in economic activity, and it is vital for the future of the state. Tasmania’s seafood sector is the most economically valuable seafood industry in the nation, with salmon underpinning this economic success.

Early in 2024, other parts of Australia have likewise not been immune to environmental activism, where our political and, increasingly, our legal systems are being leveraged to delay and cancel the very industries which we rely on most for our prosperity.

This has most recently been seen with legal challenges launched by activists against two pivotal gas and energy projects – Barossa and Scarborough – in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

The common thread between Tasmania’s salmon industry and these resources projects in Northern Australia is the environmental activists that seek to stop them, particularly the so-called Environmental Defenders Office (EDO).

It was these very activists that successfully lobbied the federal Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek, into conducting a seemingly open-ended review into the salmon industry at Macquarie Harbour.

The question mark that now hangs over the salmon industry’s operation smacks of yet another opportunistic hit-job by activists on the industry.

Salmon Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin appears to think so, and he points out the cherrypicking of reports by activists who know that when it comes to tying up productive industries with lawfare in our courts, the process is the punishment.

What is clear is that activist groups are not interested in having the industry exist side-by-side with the maugean skate, this is part of their long campaign to ban the industry for good. And with it, the destruction of the jobs of many hundreds of hardworking Tasmanians.

And these activists will stop at nothing to make it happen. Last month, the EDO had its challenge against the Barossa Gas Project thrown out of the Federal Court in disgrace. In dismissing the matter, Justice Natalie Charlesworth stated the evidence the EDO provided was “so lacking in integrity that no weight can be placed on them”, and the group was “distorting and misrepresenting” what witnesses had said.

Tasmanians set to be most affected, likely through unemployment, have every right to be concerned that governments are using taxpayers’ money to fund this sort of activity. In the past five years, the EDO has received more than $7m from state and territory governments.

The election of the current federal government was profitable for the EDO, with the Albanese government awarding an extra $8m in funding over four years. On top of this, it will furnish the EDO with $2.6m in annual, ongoing funding to be shared with its fellow travellers, Environmental Justice Australia.

Amazingly, the federal government has also announced that it is conducting a review into the EDO after claims it coached witnesses and made up evidence – all while relying on its word to review salmon farming in Macquarie Harbour.

Kade Wakefield, assistant national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, was right when he told this masthead the “callous and wholesale abolition of hundreds of blue-collar jobs” should not be on the table.

As Wakefield rightly points out, the federal Environment Minister will ultimately need to make a decision about what is more important; is it the jobs of Tasmanians, or the concerns of the cosseted, inner-city activist with a long-term dream to shut this industry down?

The question is, will the federal government fall hook, line and sinker for the activist’s bait?

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