Victorian Government asks ACCC to investigate Max Brenner boycott campaign

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 9th August 2011

The Victorian Coalition Government wrote yesterday, August 8, 2011, to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) asking it to investigate calls for a consumer boycott of the Israeli-owned Max Brenner chocolate shop.

On July 1 2011, people from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Group gathered outside of the shop in the Queen Victoria building, in the Melbourne CBD, preventing potential customers from entering the store.

The action was part of a campaign to impose a boycott on the commercial activities of businesses with Israeli ownership and which carry on business with the Government of Israel.

The campaign is said by the Victorian Government to be supported by the Maritime Union of Australia, Geelong Trades Hall Council, the Green Left Weekly, Australians for Palestine and the Palestine Solidarity campaign.

Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs, Michael O’Brien, has asked the ACCC to investigate if the campaign to impose a secondary boycott is in breach of Commonwealth law.

“I am concerned that the persons and organisations who caused these disturbances may have engaged in secondary boycotts for the purpose of causing substantial loss or damage to Max Brenner’s business,” said O’Brien.

“Such conduct could, potentially, contravene section 45D of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).

“I have written to ACCC Chairman Rod Sims asking that the ACCC urgently investigates this matter and considers seeking injunctive relief preventing further disruptions to Max Brenner’s business.

“I have also suggested that the ACCC may also wish to consider seeking pecuniary penalties against those organisations who participated in the secondary boycott activity, said O’Brien.

The Green Left Weekly has rejected the Victorian Government’s call for an investigation of the boycott, said Green Left Weekly co-editor Stuart Munckton.

“O’Brien’s threat is an attempt to silence those who support the rights of Palestinians. This is an attack on the rights of free speech,” said Munckton.

The BDS Group is part of a long tradition of using consumer boycotts to pursue justice, said Green Left Weekly co-editor Simon Butler.