Queensland Senator Andrew Bartlett has called on the federal Labor government to set up a public inquiry into allegations of bribery and intimidation by Australian government and wool industry officials.
Newspaper reports say many large clothing retailers in Sweden have banned Australian wool products; Sweden’s Minister for Agriculture Eskil Erlandsson has urged consumers to boycott Australian wool and there are alleged bribes by a representative of the Australian Wool and Sheep Industry Taskforce, accompanied by an Australian Embassy official.
"These are serious allegations which need to be openly investigated," Senator Bartlett said.
"It is bad enough that people from taxpayer backed bodies and industries are alleged to be trying to silence animal welfare activists who want to expose cruelty to Australian animals. But the allegation that an Australian Embassy official in Sweden has also been involved is extremely serious.
"Australian Wool Innovations has a history of intimidating those who try to highlight the cruelty involved in mulesing of sheep and the live export industry, including trying to misuse the Trade Practices Act to run drawn out and expensive legal action against ordinary Australians.”
"The live export industry has also used disinformation as a regular tactic for many years to try to deflect repeated evidence of immense cruelty.
"Despite these practices and the continuing animal cruelty, both major parties have continued to support government resources being put into maintaining and growing these industries.
"These industries and the federal government have the right to put an argument as to why the cruelty involved in the industries might be justifiable. But they should not be trying to silence those who disagree, particularly at the taxpayers’ expense," Senator Bartlett concluded.