The Oil Palm

Australian Government Aid Funding Anti-Palm Oil Activists

“End political use of Aid money” says Australian Institute of Public Affairs

Following the recent publication of a report exposing taxpayer funding of Western environmental NGOs (WENGOs) by Italian think tank Libertiamo, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) has conducted its own research into the use of Australia’s aid budget.

IPA’s report finds that Australian aid dollars are also funding activities and political campaigns – waged by WENGOs and other non-governmental organizations – that run counter to the development goals of Australian foreign aid. Tim Wilson, the author of the study explained that, “NGO political campaigns against forestry, mining and the agriculture sector in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia directly undermine long-term sustainable economic development in these countries”. He finds that organizations like WWF have continuously engaged in activities that undermine the ability of developing countries to leverage their comparative advantage in natural resource-based sectors.

Upon learning that public money was being used to fund environmental campaigns, local organizations like the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance voiced their outrage and launched a petition to end foreign aid for Green activist groups. The petition collected nearly 1,000 signatures on the first day the petition was launched.

Citing the recent campaign against palm oil as an example, IPA found that environmental NGOs have become key players in Australian political debates thanks to millions of dollars of government funding. In the case of palm oil, they have supported the introduction of legislation that would harm imports of this primary commodity from developing countries and have pressured companies like Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurants to stop using Indonesian and Malaysian palm oil ( can we just say palm oil and leave the country)  – replacing palm oil with other less efficient, higher cost vegetable oils.

As more developed countries find themselves dealing with shrinking budgets and more money is being asked from taxpayers, perhaps they will start applying greater scrutiny to the allocation of monies and demand greater accountability. In light of the IPA’s report, Libertiamo’s finding and the recent WWF scandal in Tanzania, where staff were caught embezzling Norwegian and US aid money, it is clear that aid and NGO funding is in desperate need of a thorough review. It is time that developed country governments and their taxpayers put an end to their money being ‘misused’ to fund anti-development and protectionist campaigns that hurt producers in the developing world, and their own consumers.