Step by step, conservative forces move to silence NGOs’ voices

By Joan Staples

The Conversation

The federal Liberal Party, government ministers, Coalition MPs, the Minerals Council of Australia and the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) are targeting the advocacy role of Australia’s environmental NGOs. In particular, they are trying to silence debate on climate change. The attacks are significant, they appear to be concerted and they are intimidating.

Under the Howard government, a ten-year campaign of attacks tried to “silence” non-government organisations. An IPA and government narrative sought to change Australia’s long-held idea of democracy – one in which many voices join in public debate. Instead, they spoke of democracy as a market in which NGOs “interfered”.

Twelve months into the Abbott government, conservative forces, both in government and outside, are mounting a new push. It is the same ideology as before and it affects the whole NGO sector. But it is also more focused on silencing climate change debate and protecting corporations that are responsible for emissions and unsustainable practices.

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