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Trade restrictions on toilet tissue could drive up costs in Australia

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Trade restrictions on toilet tissue could drive up costs in Australia

August 04, 2010 - 18:29
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MELBOURNE, Australia, Aug. 4, 2010 (PRNewswire) -"Efforts by vested-interest unions, industry and green groups to introduce trade restrictions on toilet tissue will drive up the cost of living for ordinary Australians," said Tim Wilson, Director of the Intellectual Property and Free trade Unit at the Institute of Public Affairs today.

Mr. Wilson's comments follow the release of a new paper, Green Excuses: Collusion to Promote Protectionism?, that assesses the increasingly consistent messages and activities of industry, unions and green groups to use environmental justifications for Australia to reintroduce protectionism.

"Overseas green groups, industry and union collude to argue for green protectionism that will increase the cost of living. It now appears to be occurring in Australia," Mr. Wilson said.

"Green groups want less forestry in the developing world. Industry wants green protectionism to cut the volume of competitive imports. Unions want green protectionism to stop imports to ensure they can keep workers in high-paying jobs. But it will all come at a cost to the consumer."

Examples include:

  • The Wake Up Woolworths! campaign, primarily funded by the CFMEU to get Woolworths to stop using Asia Pulp & Paper imports in its Select private brand tissue products.
  • Legal action taken by tissue manufacturers to have trade restrictions against imports introduced.
  • The CFMEU donating $28,000 to the South Australian Division of the Australian Labor Party around the same time the Party announced it would commit to banning certain timber imports.

"The impact of protectionism is always the same - vested industry interests make bigger profits off consumers because of less competitive pressure."

"Over the past thirty years Australia has been winding back its protectionist walls. Unions, industry and green groups are now trying to use environmental arguments to erect them again."

"Efforts to push for protectionism are a reminder that industry is not always a friend of free enterprise," Mr. Wilson said.