Ben & Jerry's Referred to ACCC

Senator-elect Matthew Canavan has asked the ACCC to investigate the American ice-cream company, Ben & Jerry's, for a potential breach of Australia's consumer laws. 

The request follows revelations last week that Ben & Jerry's have been conducting a promotional "Reef Scoop Tour" campaigning against coal port developments in Queensland.

"Ben & Jerry's can campaign on whatever issue they like but as a company they have an obligation to tell Australians the whole truth and nothing but the truth" said Senator-elect Canavan. 

"Australia has strict laws to protect consumers against misleading and deceptive behaviour. 

"It's clear that Ben & Jerry's have been conducting a PR stunt not a political campaign. Free ice-creams have been handed out and the Ben & Jerry's logo is prominent on all campaign materials."

Senator-Elect Canavan says that many of the American ice-cream company's claims are exaggerated, lack context and are clearly likely to mislead people. 

"These mistruths could cost jobs and development in regional Queensland. It's irresponsible behaviour from a company that should know better.

"Ben & Jerry's make claims that the reef is at "serious risk" from "intensive dredging, mega-ports and shipping highways". None of these statements are supported. 

Abbot Point will not involve "intensive dredging". The Abbot Point proposal involves the dredging of just 3 million cubic metres of materials, compared to the 52.5 million cubic metres that has been approved for dredging in the reef during the last five years.

Abbot Point will not be a "mega port". If Abbot Point is developed it will not even make it into one of the top 30 ports in the world.

Abbot Point will not make the Great Barrier Reef into a "shipping highway". In 2012, there were around 4500 ship movements through the Great Barrier Reef. Abbot Point accounted for just 174 of these movements. Even after development, Abbot Point will only represent a fifth of ship movements through the Great Barrier Reef.

Section 18 of Australia's Consumer Laws states that "A person must not, in trade or commerce, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive."

Senator-elect Canavan wrote to the Chairman of the ACCC, Mr Rod Sims, on Tuesday asking him to investigate Ben & Jerry's for a potential breach of section 18. The ACCC has confirmed that it is considering this request.  

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