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Retailer Harvey Norman has rejected claims it is contributing to the destruction of Australia’s forests by using native timber to make its furniture.


Chairman Gerry Harvey said the retailer was doing its best to source sustainable timber materials as environmental group Markets For Change announced plans to campaign against the company.

MFC is an environmental organisation that aims to investigate and expose companies and products “driving eco-destruction”, according to its website.

“I’m an environmentalist,” Mr Harvey told ABC radio.

“I’m doing my best to use recycled timber or timber from plantations … but every now and then (timber from native forests) will slip through.

“(Often it’s) timber the government has told sawmills they can take.

“We are trying really hard to change and also to keep an industry going in Australia … it’s difficult for (the sawmills) to survive, and without us they just wouldn’t.”


MFC chief executive Tim Birch said on Sunday the group, which has teamed up with political activist organisation GetUp!, had undertaken a year-long investigation into Harvey Norman’s timber usage.

It claims to have tracked timber from native forests in Australia to Harvey Norman’s shipment to China for processing into furniture and final sale in Australia through its stores across the country.

“As one of the largest retailers in the country, Harvey Norman has a unique opportunity and responsibility to ensure Australia’s native forests are protected,” Mr Birch said.

“They currently have no publicly available procurement policy that ensures they are not selling furniture products coming from native forest destruction.”

MFC and GetUp! had planned to launched a 60-second television commercial targeting Harvey Norman, which is a major TV advertising client.

Here is the advertisement (not available on iPhone app – sorry!)

But the groups said the ad had been refused classification by industry body Commercials Advice – which provides classification and information to advertisers, agencies and production houses – on the basis that it might expose free-to-air TV stations to legal action.

The ad was due to be shown during this week’s State of Origin rugby league decider.

GetUp! national director Simon Sheikh said the classification decision amounted to corporate censorship.

“The reason given to us for the refusal was that running the ad may expose networks to lawsuits from Harvey Norman, but this assessment is beyond (Commercials Advice’s) mandate,” he said in a statement.


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