Multinational with history of corruption turns the screws on Tasmania


A media release today from NOFF highlights the aggressive approach of the salmon industry to the Tasmanian government.

The company behind for the world's biggest corruption scandal has turned its sights on Tasmania's government with dangerous consequences.

Brazilian giant, JBS, which owns Atlantic salmon producer, Huon Aquaculture, is openly bullying the state government to bend to its will. Reported in the Mercury, 25 May, Henry Batista, the new CEO of Huon, which was acquired by Brazilian meat giant JBS Foods for $425m in 2021, says the company is prepared to ­invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the island's ­aquaculture industry, on the proviso that the government commits to reviewing ­regulations.

"This is blackmail and it constitutes nothing less than a frightening attack on democratic government," says Peter George, president of Neighbours of Fish Farming. "JBS has a global history that shows it allows nothing to stand in the way of its profits – not government, not workers, not the environment.

"Fined a world-record $3.2 billion for bribing hundreds of politicians in Brazil, JBS is now turning its sights on the fragile minority Tasmanian government demanding concessions with barely concealed threats.

"The timing is not coincidental – and it's just what we feared and we warned about when JBS bought Huon Aquaculture in 2021. Like the other multinationals that bought-out the local salmon industry, they're here to exploit weak regulation, give-away leases for public waterways and pliable politicians that ensure maximum profits to send home. This is a genuinely frightening moment for Tasmanian democracy when a multinational powerhouse bares its aggressive intention to impose its will on Tasmanians and their marine heritage.

"JBS-owned Huon, led by a scion of the Batista family whose founding brothers were jailed over the bribery scandal, is turning the screws, demanding Premier Jeremy Rockliff deliver on the undertaking he reportedly gave in November last year at a private Liberal Party fundraiser that salmon executives paid more than $4,000 to attend.

"Mr Rockliff has never denied promising the salmon companies to deliver on their demands, no matter that it would be unpopular with Tasmanians.

"The multinationals all bid aggressively to buy-out the Australian-owned salmon business – Huon Aquaculture and Tassal (bought by Canadian Cooke Aquaculture) – with full knowledge of costs, wages and profits.

"They now make it clear what the plan was all along – buy the business and then threaten, bully and blackmail the government into making them even more profitable by reducing safeguards on Tasmania's precious, unique waterways.

"Primary Industries minister Jo Palmer has already admitted the companies have lost their social licence and claimed they were "desperate" for Tasmanians' approval.

"Now it's clear the companies don't give a damn about social licence, about Tasmanians' approval or even about Tasmania's waterways. They care only about profit and Tasmanians will not stand for it."