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Bid to stop anti-palm oil bill

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok and Malaysian timber and palm oil officials have met several Australian lawmakers in Canberra to lobby against a parliamentary move that could threaten Malaysia’s palm oil industry.

The Australian Senate last month passed “The Truth in Labelling Palm Oil” Bill which is now on its way to the House of Representatives.The Bill has been pushed by the independent senator Nick Xenophon with the support of the Greens, Zoos Victoria, the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace.

Xenophon, with votes from the Liberal-National Party Coalition, was successful in having the Bill passed while the ruling Labor party opposed it.

If the three pro-government independents vote with the Gillard government, then the Bill will be defeated in the House of Representatives preventing it from becoming law.

Xenophon had earlier said he wanted consumers to know if their food contained palm oil, now generally labelled as “vegetable oil”.

Dompok met Xenophon at the Parliament House on Monday and gave a detailed explanation as to how palm oil was safe and that orang-utans were protected in Sabah and Sarawak.

“I have invited Senator Xenophon and other concerned legislators to visit Malaysia to see first-hand that oil cultivation had not endangered the orang-utans,” Dompok told Bernama. “I told them the orang-utan is a far more protected species now than before because our government and the palm oil industry have done a great deal of work to protect their welfare and existence. “Wildlife and Green groups have fed the Australian public a lot of misconception and misinformation about oil palm and the orang-utan.”

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