FORCING environmental groups to abide by corporate anti- competition laws would clamp down on free speech and the free market, Markets for Change chief executive Peg Putt has said.
The new federal government is reportedly looking into the laws after a proposal by Tasmanian Liberal Senator Richard Colbeck and Bass Liberal MHR Andrew Nikolic received the unanimous support of state and federal Liberal councils.
The move is targeted at Tasmanian-based environmental groups Markets For Change and Code Green, as well as national campaigner Get Up.
Mr Nikolic said the proposed law would see environmental or other groups that engage in "wilful economic sabotage" subject to heavy penalties by removing the exemption in the Commonwealth Competition and Consumer Act that permits environmental and consumer protection groups to legally boycott corporations.
Mr Nikolic said the proposal would only affect groups who target markets with inaccurate and misleading information about Australian-based companies and would not stop them from spreading truthful information.
"To be able to go to our oversees markets and discourage people from purchasing our products is unacceptable, and it needs to be stopped," he said.
Mr Nikolic said the change would prevent "market attacks" like the campaign by Markets for Change against logging in Tasmania's high conservation forests that saw Japanese buyers turn away from Tasmanian products.
But Ms Putt said that campaign was based on facts, not misinformation, and would therefore not be caught in the proposed law.
"We just give them accurate information about what's occurring that they might not get from people who are doing spinning and trying to sell a product," she said.
Ms Putt said the proposal was a Gunns 20 style attempt to silence environmental criticism.
"We're not a corporation that's out ot make profits, and we are certainly not set up for big legal battles," she said.
Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim said the proposal was both unworkable and unacceptable and activist groups had the right to provide information to allow consumers to make informed choices.