Ben and Jerry’s ice cream has been hauled over the coals by the Queensland government for supporting WWF’s “propaganda” save the reef campaign.
Environment Minister Andrew Powell wants Australians to boycott the American company, saying they’ve damaged the reputation of the reef and jeopardised jobs and tourism dollars.
“Another company has signed up to the campaign of lies and deceit that’s been propagated by WWF,” Mr Powell said.
“The only people taking a scoop out of the reef is Ben and Jerry’s and Unilever.
“If you understand the facts, you’d want to be boycotting Ben and Jerry’s.”
The minister says he’d be writing to parent company Unilever to express concerns and brief them on the truth.
Earlier this month, Ben and Jerry’s withdrew popular flavour Phish Food because of its allusion to fishfood, as a way of drawing attention to the potential damage to the reef.
They also embarked on a road trip around parts of Australia, giving out free ice cream to highlight their concerns over damage to the reef.
They say the reef is at serious risk of destruction from intensive dredging and dumping, mega-ports and shipping highways.
The brand has championed environmental causes in its 35-year history, including opposing drilling in the Arctic, and says it’s a proud supporter of WWF’s campaign.
“Ben & Jerry’s believes that dredging and dumping in world heritage waters surrounding the marine park area will be detrimental to the reef ecology,” Australia brand manager Kalli Swaik told AAP.
“It threatens the health of one of Australia’s most iconic treasures.”
The Queensland and federal governments in January approved the dumping of three million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the marine park and World Heritage area to enable the Abbot Point coal port expansion.
The government says 70 per cent of the spoil is expected to settle on the seabed.
WWF fears spoil could get caught in currents and smother or poison reefs just 40km away.
CEO Dermot O’Gorman says Ben and Jerry’s involvement reflects the concern of people around the world about how the reef is being managed.
“Ben & Jerry’s’ tour is a timely reminder that the world expects the Queensland and Australian governments to lift their game,” he said.
UNESCO is due to meet in June to consider the Australian government’s progress in improving the management of the reef.
It’s due to decide this year or next whether to list the reef as a world heritage site in danger.