The Biggest Threat to the Great Barrier Reef is . . . Ice Cream?

Ben and JerryOn the political front, things have been rather ridiculous in Queensland for some time now, but as Kate O’Callaghan writes, it’s just got even more ridiculous.

The Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell yesterday urged Australians to boycott the much loved American ice cream company, Ben & Jerry’s. What is this lunacy, you ask? What possibly could these old, smiling purveyors of frozen goodness have done to become the focus of such political vitriol? Well, they like the reef. They like it a lot.

Ben & Jerry’s recently teamed up with WWF (the World Wildlife Fund) to raise awareness of the threats facing the Great Barrier Reef, particularly from industrial projects being approved by the current government. Together, they embarked on an Australia-wide free ice cream tour urging fans to “Scoop Ice Cream, Not The Reef”. The company has a history of championing social and environmental causes, so this is hardly surprising. They have previously protested against oil drilling in the Arctic, support mandatory GMO labelling, and promote the use of Fair Trade ingredients.

Minister Powell lashed out at the company for their anti-dredging, pro-conservation stance on the reef. Powell argued that Ben & Jerry’s is damaging the reputation of our national treasure, jeopardising jobs and the tourist industry which is so crucial to the Queensland economy. This is interesting, given that these are the exact same arguments conservationists and opposition groups are using against the government’s development plans. According to Powell, “another company has signed up to the campaign of lies and deceit that’s been propagated by WWF”,and he’s not happy about it, warning that parent company Unilever will be getting a strongly worded letter very soon. Despite the political controversy, Ben and Jerry’s Australian spokesman stood by their position on the reef stating that “dredging and dumping  . . . threatens the health of one of Australia’s most iconic treasures”.

Ben and Jerry 2One has to laugh at the Liberals promoting a secondary boycott against Ben & Jerry’s, given that they’ve been chomping at the bit to ban environmental secondary boycotts since they came into power. It seems that boycotts are fine, as long as the targets are not the Liberal Party’s mining and logging mates.

The government is clearly feeling the heat of the global spotlight on the reef and their environmental record. Along with the Ben & Jerry’s campaign, the poor health of the reef was also the focus of Earth Hour 2014. In June, UNESCO will release their report on the Heritage Status of the reef which may be downgraded to ‘In Danger’. The government is also fighting multiple lawsuits against the proposed dredging projects at Abbot Point, ushering in a new era of conservation though legal means.

With such international attention, the government and fossil fuel industry are using increasingly desperate measures to defend their actions. Mining Australia’s failed ‘Australians For Coal’ campaign became the focus of online ridicule and the ice cream boycott is sure to meet the same fate. The Queensland Government’s ‘Reef Facts’ website has been deemed a misleading “political document” by scientists and are sure to contain similar misinformation.

If the government and mining industry are trying to gain public support for fossil fuels, they are in desperate need of new PR people. Their anti-reef/anti-ice cream stance is alarming. Saving the reef and ice cream versus coal and environmental destruction? Tough call . . .

This article was first published on Kates’s blog and reproduced with permission.

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Categories: Politics

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19 replies

  1. Are we sure that the makers of Ben & Jerry’s didn’t bribe, coerce or beg the Queensland government to issue this statement? Just about everyone I met today stated their intention to load up on the product and consume it until their stomachs were bulging! It’s rather like getting a book banned – suddenly, sales go through the roof!

  2. Since when is it “Australian” to be told we’re not allowed to speak up and take a stand and since when should Politicians who take donations from these polluters, sorry – mining companies, be able to tell us what we should and shouldn’t eat?
    Ben & Jerry’s just got added to my shopping list

  3. Where can I buy some Ben & Jerry’s?

  4. hey B&J, why not send some free ice-cream to the QLD gov , where else will you get such cheap advertising????

  5. The guy is a damn idiot. Good lord who the hell does he think he is the Minister of truth and pomposity. His head is so big his ego has burst out and dripped all over his shoulders. The surprising thing is that there was anything there to start with.

    Queensland’s Toxic, oops I mean Environment Slasher er I mean Andrew Runny Bowels fraidy cat is so mature, cool and sophisticated that he can, with calmness and maturity, ride over criticism by a couple of ice cream salesmen.

    Fortunately for us the power of vanilla rides forth shooting all and sundry in their path.

    Don’t say bad things about me you corporate traitors or I will telly mummy Mr Snivels bikey bashing Bumbles Newman and big daddy refugee torturing, deficit fearing; media paranoid floppsy the Rabbit Holy man.

    Preschoolers have more sense than this bunch of authoritarian, ice cream whipping, big issue avoiding, fearful, cringing silly billy culinary cowards.

    The world is going to end because Ben & Jerry said I am bad. The Crunchy Cones are coming to get you, you naughty boys so better watch out for a fate worse than death.

    Criticism.

    Looks like we all need to go on an ice cream diet.

  6. I’m gonna buy a big tub of there ice cream tomorrow

  7. My choice of ice creame for now on.

  8. It could only happen in Queensland …….. and may-be Canberra.

  9. <

    This is a classic example of climate warming and the brains of the LNP newman government …………

    melting at a rapid rate.

    And nothing will reverse it.

  10. I’m disgusted with the government ‘s Great Barrier Reef TV ad. How much do they cost? Our “leaders” behaving like bunch a bratty teenagers. Time to fill my freezer with Phish Food. Yum yum.

  11. From Moliere to Shakespeare, Vince Gilligan, Alan Ball or Barry Humphries – no writer could capture the parody that is both the Federal and State LNP governments.
    As Kate points out, here we have a bunch of pin-heads who are determined to legislate against secondary boycotts while calling for one themselves.
    The hypocrisy is breath-taking but like all Neo-libs they seem oblivious to the obvious; ‘don’t listen to what I say, rather, listen to what I’m saying!’
    Not to worry, eventually they will breed in fewer numbers and the gene that makes them such fuck-wits will die out because that’s how natural selection works!

    In the meantime, the hardworking staff at The Post have sent the work experience kid out to buy every litre of Ben & Jerry’s that they can find and every can of industrial strength Bullshit Repellent on the shelves at the supermarket. With only two weeks until No-dough Joe delivers the Budget, we figured that we may as well settle in, fill our faces with ice-cream and keep the repellent within close reach. Ahh…Winter in Melbourne.

    http://mugwumpost.wordpress.com/whenever-i-hear-the-words-we-have-to-get-the-budget-back-in-surplus-i-reach-for-my-bullshit-repellent/

  12. Does anyone know if it’s possible to organise an ice cream delivery in Brisbane? I couldn’t find anything on the web. I’d like to send Mr Powell a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Half-Baked flavour ice cream (that really is a flavour).

  13. The Project did an excellent report on Ben&Jerry’s Icecream last night. QLD government claimed there is nothing wrong with GBR.

    http://www.greatbarrierreef.org.au/gladstone-stingray-govt-says-nothings-wrong/

  14. Couple of weeks back they where giving out very generous sample here in Brisbane. Excellent tasting Ice-cream.

  15. Watch for Newman and Abbott passing legislation to redefine words in the Macquarie Dictionary…..words such as “environment” and “sustainable plus numerous other words that appear in environmental reports.

    Given that Abbott is cutting funding on anything that favours the Australian environment….be prepared for ANYTHING!

  16. Andrew Powell, government scientists and the Gladstone Ports Corporation (GPC) are still pushing the old fairy story that “the floods dun it” in relation to a widespread disease outbreak across many marine species including fish, turtles, dolphin, dugong and corals back in 2011 after they started dredging previously undredged areas in Gladstone Harbour and dumping toxic spoil containing acid sulphate soils and heavy metals behind a leaking bund wall in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
    But oops, in its annual report that year, the GPC stated the flood had “minimal impact” in Gladstone.
    Labor was in power then, but the present cash- strapped LNP administration wants to perpetuate the flood myth.

  17. mmmmm i feel like some BEN AND JERRYS

  18. Goodness what a lot of self centered comments zzz Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is off my list forever

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