Daniel Wild On Big Corporations Trying To Cancel Australia Day Mornings 3AW – 12 January 2024

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12 January 2024
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The Institute of Public Affairs’ Daniel Wild joined Heidi Murphy on 3AW Mornings to discuss IPA research on Australians’ attitudes to the involvement of big businesses in politics.

All media posted onto the IPA website are directly related to the promotion and dissemination of IPA research.

Below is a transcript of the interview.


Heidi Murphy:

I mentioned before the break I’d be speaking to a free market think tank, get their view on this boycott business. I know there are some in the business community who are upset that Peter Dutton has made this call, that he is saying boycott a supermarket chain. Aldi as I’ve said has joined in on refusing to stock anything to do with Australian-themed merchandise at this time of year. Is it that we’re not buying it like we used to? So should businesses be compelled to sell things, to stock things that we aren’t going to buy? And is it a distraction? The real issue being the outrageous costs that the supermarkets are imposing on us?

There is a chance, as Murray Watt said, the real thing we should be focused on is the prices that are being charged, the behaviour of the supermarkets and how they’re dealing with their suppliers. You tell me, 133-693. Daniel Wild joins me now. He is the deputy executive director at the Institute of Public Affairs, a free market think tank, and generally should be on the side of big business I would’ve thought. Daniel, where are you on this boycott business?

Daniel Wild:

Well, good morning Heidi. I support the boycott and Peter Dutton is spot on in calling for it. As Peter Dutton rightly said, when businesses start taking political positions to oppose Australia Day, it goes against our national interest and the national spirit. Well, that’s exactly right, and I think Australians had an absolute gut full.

Every single time we roll around to Australia Day every year, we have the usual suspects in big business and the activists who are seeking to divide us and diminish our national day, and they want to cancel Australia Day. We’ve just gone through the Voice to Parliament, where 60% of Australians voted no. And it’s time for Woolworths and other corporates to get the message that we want them to back Australia rather than dividing us.

Heidi Murphy:

Isn’t it up to them what they sell in a free market? They are there to make money, they’re there to do business. Why should they stock things that they say aren’t going to sell?

Daniel Wild:

Well, of course they can stock it if they want, that’s not in question. But let’s not pretend that this is a commercial decision, this is a political decision that they’ve made. Yes, it’s true that in a statement they said it was due to declining demand. But that very same statement also said this. “There’s been a broader discussion about the 26th of January and what it means to different parts of the community.”

That’s not a commercial consideration, that’s a political assessment. And to me, it seems that it’s lost on Woolworth’s management that the only broader discussion taking place is in the boardrooms of these corporations and among the other elites. Mainstream Australians want to celebrate Australia Day. They’re proud of our nation, because they understand that it marks modern Australia which is based on democracy, freedom, tolerance and egalitarianism, and those are things that we should celebrate.

Heidi Murphy:

I genuinely thought you’d be on the side of business here. Free market, free market economy. Let them charge what they like, what they like. They’re there to run a business, they’re there to make a profit, they’re there to do their thing. It’s their right.

Daniel Wild:

Well, I think the issue is we don’t just live in an economy, we live in a society. And we’ve just gone through a very divisive period in our nation’s history, which is through the voice to Parliament which Woolworths supported. You only have to look at their board of directors to see that many of the board of directors, as well as being on the board of Woolworths, are on other companies such as Qantas, Telstra, Origin Energy, NAB, ANZ, all of whom supported or funded the Voice the Parliament.

So we have this issue where we have the elites and big business on one side, and mainstream Australians on the other side of the equation, and I think mainstream Australians deserve a voice in this debate. And the big corporates need to understand that there is a price to be paid for dividing our nation.

Heidi Murphy:

And what about Aldi’s decision that we’ve learned of today, Aldi not getting involved at all. Are they in the same boat? Do you put them in the same boat as Woolworths?

Daniel Wild:

Well, I think it’s disappointing. Aldi is not as big a player as Woolworths obviously, but it reinforces the point that it’s not just Woolworths. There are many big corporations that for years have been seeking to either change the date or cancel Australia Day altogether. And this is just another example of why trust in the community with big business is at an all time low.

You mentioned prices that they’re charging, there’s issues relating to farmers. We undertook a survey earlier or late last year, and what it found was that 64% of Australians agreed that big businesses’ engagement in political issues does not represent their values. It’s almost two in three Australians are saying that what big business is doing is wrong and they want it to stop.

Heidi Murphy:

Daniel, do boycotts work?

Daniel Wild:

They certainly can work, and I think-

Heidi Murphy:

Will a boycott work on something like this?

Daniel Wild:

Yes, I think it will send a message, not only to Woolworths but to other corporates that there will be a political consequence to their actions. This is why what Peter Dutton has said is so important. It’s not just about paper plates and straws, it’s about our Australian way of life. That is why this is so important. It’s the day where modern Australia was set up. Now that doesn’t mean we cannot or should not recognise and celebrate our very proud and important indigenous heritage, but let’s not pretend that those values I just mentioned aren’t worth celebrating, because they are.

Heidi Murphy:

All right, Daniel, thank you for your time this morning.

Daniel Wild:

My pleasure, thank you.

Heidi Murphy:

Daniel Wild there, deputy executive director at the Institute of Public Affairs.

This transcript from 3AW Mornings with Heidi Murphy from 12 January 2024 has been edited for clarity.

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