The story behind George Christenson’s threat to cross the floor of federal parliament recently relates to how off-shore profiteer Wilmar (ex-Malaysia now based in Singapore) was able to persuade Australian politicians to allow it to effectively dominate the sugar industry (esp. in north Queensland). This was and is so that it can freely and with impunity increase its price gouging as well as regulation at not just the expense of local cane-growers – but local communities and beyond. [http://www.cairnspost.com.au/…/cb38c64f4e71c371f92a8feeae47…] As the article below indicates, this has already been a long and bitter takeover battle as Wilmar has attempted to not just intimidate and influence but effectively ‘bury’ the industry’s marketing body Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL). The article here inaccurately suggests (we believe) that the matter is resolved. We we are pretty sure that the real battle for besieged cane-growers is perhaps far from over (and that Wilmar are probably viewing this as a minor hiccup in their larger plans).
I have long been telling family friends who are part of the Qld sugar industry that they should explore and make use of growing international awareness about Wilmar’s dodgy practices in agri-business as well as especially in the palm oil industry. It was just a few years ago that Wilmar was referred to by Newsweek magazine as ‘the worst company in the world’ based on comparing ‘the actual environmental footprints, management (policies, programs, initiatives, controversies), and reporting practices of big companies’…[reflecting also] ‘human rights abuses in Wilmar group plantations’ (including the use of para-military groups to ‘persuade’ locals to just walk off their land), its general lack of transparency and specifically in terms of Wilmar’s systematic rorting in Borneo of a $1 billion REDD deal between Norway and Indonesia] . [http://www.alimenterre.org/…/palm-oil-giant-wilmar-ranked-t… ]
This all suggests that Australian governments (and bureaucrats as well as politicians) have generally failed in their duty of care to do due diligence on many if not most profiteering off-shore companies before allowing them lucrative and perhaps ultimately counter-productive ‘special deals’ to significantly influence Australia’s society as well as key parts of the economy (especially rural industries). They should also have checked out how a major investor in Wilmar (along with figures also associated with ‘Asian godfather’ networks in the region with a long track record of corruption, exploitation of local communities and/or instances of organised crime) is the related company ADM which has been featured in the Panama Papers as an off-shore tax avoider as well as profiteer. It has been reported that “ADM benefits handsomely from its involvement with Wilmar. Just from the earnings on its Wilmar shares, ADM profited by US$133 million in 2015. It also received over US$45 million in dividends from its Wilmar shares that year—tax free because the shares are held in jurisdictions (British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Hong Kong) where dividends are not taxed…” [https://www.grain.org/…/5499-adm-s-offshore-links-to-wilmar…]