Melbourne Law School - Research Publications

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    Lawyers, Confidentiality and Whistleblowing: Lessons from the McCabe Tobacco Litigation
    Parker, C ; Le Mire, S ; Mackay, A (Melbourne University, Law Review Association, 2017)
    In 2006, Christopher Dale leaked information about Clayton Utz’s internal investigation into the events surrounding the destruction of documents that would have been relevant and damaging to their client, British American Tobacco, in the 2002 McCabe litigation. This article uses this case study to examine whether lawyers can and should act as whistleblowers against colleagues and clients who abuse the administration of justice. We argue that although lawyers must have strong obligations of confidentiality to clients and others, their role as gatekeepers of justice also demands that they be allowed to blow the whistle when they have information about clients or other lawyers using legal services to subvert the administration of justice, and be protected when they do so. The article evaluates the circumstances in which such whistleblowing is appropriate and makes suggestions about how the law should be reformed by reference to three touchstones: the nature of the relationship between the lawyer and the wrongdoer; the nature of the wrongdoing itself; and, the process used to disclose the wrongdoing.
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    Who has a beef with reducing red and processed meat consumption? A media framing analysis
    Sievert, K ; Lawrence, M ; Parker, C ; Russell, CA ; Baker, P (CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS, 2022-03-01)
    OBJECTIVE: Diets high in red and processed meat (RPM) contribute substantially to environmental degradation, greenhouse gas emissions and the global burden of chronic disease. High-profile reports have called for significant global RPM reduction, especially in high-income settings. Despite this, policy attention and political priority for the issue are low. DESIGN: The study used a theoretically guided framing analysis to identify frames used by various interest groups in relation to reducing RPM in online news media articles published in the months around the release of four high-profile reports by authoritative organisations that included a focus on the impacts of high RPM production and/or consumption. SETTING: Four major RPM producing and consuming countries - USA, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. PARTICIPANTS: None. RESULTS: Hundred and fifty news media articles were included. Articles reported the views of academics, policymakers, industry representatives and the article authors themselves. RPM reduction was remarkably polarising. Industry frequently framed RPM reduction as part of a 'Vegan Agenda' or as advocated by an elite minority. Reducing RPM was also depicted as an infringement on personal choice and traditional values. Many interest groups attempted to discredit the reports by citing a lack of consensus on the evidence, or that only certain forms of farming and processing were harmful. Academics and nutrition experts were more likely to be cited in articles that were aligned with the findings of the reports. CONCLUSIONS: The polarisation of RPM reduction has led to a binary conflict between pro- and anti-meat reduction actors. This division may diminish the extent to which political leaders will prioritise this in policy agendas. Using nuanced and context-dependent messaging could ensure the narratives around meat are less conflicting and more effective in addressing health and environmental harms associated with RPM.
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    What's really at 'steak'? Understanding the global politics of red and processed meat reduction: A framing analysis of stakeholder interviews
    Sievert, K ; Lawrence, M ; Parker, C ; Baker, P (ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2022-08-22)
    Multiple reports from international organisations and expert groups call for reductions in production and consumption of red and processed meat (RPM) to attenuate associated health and environmental harms. Policymakers have given limited attention to the issue and public discourse on the topic is contentious. The framing of RPM as a policy issue by influential actors may be contributing to inertia and confusion. We investigate the political challenge of RPM reduction by analyzing how relevant actors interpret and portray the issue. Thirty-two participants from academia, civil society, intergovernmental organisations, and industry were interviewed. We find that food systems stakeholders do see value in continued RPM production and consumption in the food system, but that the current status-quo is untenable. RPM reduction was perceived as a polarising concept. Participants cited a lack of nuance in public discourse, with framings on harms and benefits of RPM being over-simplified and lacking context. Some participants noted that intensive RPM production and high consumption levels reflected corporatized/globalised supply chains, and power relations were the most critical factor to address the harms of RPM. Participants also viewed the preference for technology-driven responses (i.e., novel proteins) as reinforcing corporate power in the food system. This study shows that despite polarised public discourse, more convergence on the issue across food systems stakeholders exists. Furthermore, powerful actors such as the meat and 'novel protein' industries are perceived to be a driving influence in maintaining the market-driven status-quo and are a likely obstacle in achieving healthy and sustainable consumption of RPM.
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    Integrating nutrition and obesity prevention considerations into institutional investment decisions regarding food companies: Australian investment sector perspectives
    Robinson, E ; Parker, C ; Carey, R ; Foerster, A ; Blake, MR ; Sacks, G (BMC, 2022-11-08)
    BACKGROUND: There is growing recognition that current food systems are both unhealthy and unsustainable, and are increasingly shifting toward the supply and marketing of unhealthy, ultra-processed foods and beverages. Large food companies hold substantial power within food systems and present a significant barrier to progress on addressing issues related to nutrition and obesity prevention. Institutional investors (such as pension funds) play a key role in influencing corporate governance and practices, and are increasingly incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations within investment decisions. By considering nutrition and obesity prevention, institutional investors present a potential avenue for driving increased food industry accountability for their population health impact. This study investigated views of stakeholders in the Australian investment sector on the incorporation of nutrition and obesity prevention considerations within institutional investment decision-making regarding food companies. METHODS: Fifteen in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted in 2020-21. Participants were predominantly Australian-based, and included representatives from asset management companies, superannuation funds, ESG advisory/consultancy firms, ESG research providers, and relevant advocacy groups. Interviews examined challenges and opportunities to the integration of nutrition and obesity prevention considerations within institutional investment decision-making. Interviews were analysed using deductive thematic analysis, informed by a theoretical change model. RESULTS: Several participants reported that their institution factored nutrition and obesity prevention considerations into their investment decisions; however, attention to nutrition-related issues was limited, generally perceived as 'niche', and not yet institutionalised. Key challenges and opportunities were identified at the employee, investment organisation, investment sector, government and non-government levels. These challenges and opportunities centred around experience and knowledge, quality and availability of ESG data and benchmarks, importance of investor coalitions, and demonstration of financial risks related to nutrition and obesity. CONCLUSION: There are a range of steps that could be taken to help ensure more systematic and effective consideration of issues related to nutrition and obesity prevention within institutional investment decision-making in Australia, including: (1) improved nutrition-related reporting metrics and benchmarking criteria for food companies; (2) better articulation of the financial risks that unhealthy diets and obesity pose to investors; (3) enhanced investor advocacy on unhealthy diets and obesity through investor coalitions and; (4) detailed guidance for investors on how to address unhealthy diets and obesity. Better engagement between the Australian public health community, institutional investors and government regulators is critical to drive changed investor practice in this area.
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    Are Banks Responsible for Animal Welfare and Climate Disruption? A Critical Review of Australian Banks' Due Diligence Policies for Agribusiness Lending
    Parker, C ; Sheedy-Reinhard, L (Cambridge University Press, 2022-11)
    Abstract This article argues that banks should adopt animal welfare policies in the light of the growing acceptance of the need for ‘responsible banking’, which incorporates environmental, social, and governance analysis into credit risk and due diligence processes. The responsibility of banks for animal welfare is underscored by the drive towards greater investment in animal agribusiness, and the vicious cycle through which animal agribusiness can both contribute to, and be impacted by, climate disruption. The article evaluates, through a desktop review, how leading Australian retail banks and agribusiness lenders are addressing animal welfare and climate disruption in animal agribusiness lending. We find that although most banks have made a commitment to animal welfare and climate policies, these often amount to little more than greenwashing. We call for an ecosystem of industry, regulatory, and civil society action to address this danger.
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    An Impossible Task? Australian Food Law and the Challenge of Novel Meat Analogues
    Johnson, H ; Parker, C (SAGE Publications, 2022-09-01)
    This paper asks what the regulatory assessment of the novel processed meat analogue products reveals about the nature of food regulation in Australia. We analyse Food Standards Australia and New Zealand’s (‘FSANZ’) assessment of the recent application by Californian technology company Impossible Foods Inc to sell its proprietary burger products which contain a genetically modified protein that is said to make their burger ‘bleed’. We show that FSANZ’s assessment process has little capacity to engage with broader and longer term, social, ecological and public health implications of novel foods and changing food markets. FSANZ’s regulatory pre-approval process focuses almost exclusively on the safety of individual ingredients rather than the impact of novel foods on the food supply as whole and leaves broader issues to the market and consumer choice with limited support from laws addressing misleading labelling and marketing of foods. Extending the capacity of Australia’s regulatory regime for food to deal with more than the safety of individual ingredients will become more urgent as other novel foods, such as cell-based meats, enter the marketplace.
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    An Ecological Approach to Regulatory Studies?
    Parker, C ; Haines, F (Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2018)
    Regulatory studies has been mainly occupied with addressing the social and economic crises of contemporary capitalism through instrumentally and responsively rational approaches. This article asks how regulatory scholarship can better respond to the ecological crisis now facing our world and our governance systems alongside social and economic crises. There are both possibilities and problems with instrumentally rational regulatory approaches that see human ecological impact as an externality or market failure and socio-legal approaches to regulatory studies that emphasize the need to attend to the social and political aspects of regulation using a responsively rational approach. A third big shift towards an ecologically rational approach to regulatory studies is needed to comprehend our embeddedness within ecological systems. An ecologically rational approach also calls for an understanding of how multiple, diverse ways of sustainable being can intersect with and challenge current regulatory regimes dominated by an instrumentally rational approach.
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    Responsible investing for food system sustainability: A review of current practice in Australia
    Parker, C ; Carey, R ; Boehm, L ; Sacks, G ; Robinson, E (Thomson Reuters (Professional), 2021)
    This study investigates what role if any responsible investment by the finance sector is playing in promoting sustainable food systems in Australia. We report the findings of a preliminary desktop review of environmental, social and governance reporting by 35 of the most prominent responsible investment funds managers in Australia. Only one responsible investment fund had a comprehensive policy in relation to food system themes and 16 did not specifically mention the environmental, social and governance issues raised by food systems at all. Some addressed labour rights and intensive animal agriculture issues in the food system, and a few mentioned the climate change, biodiversity loss and water impacts of food. We conclude that a more comprehensive and holistic approach to consideration of sustainable food systems in responsible investment is required to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development Goals and other environmental and human rights frameworks.
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    Promoting a healthier, younger you: The media marketing of anti-ageing superfoods
    MacGregor, C ; Petersen, A ; Parker, C (SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2021-05-01)
    The growing availability of products labelled ‘superfoods’ has been a major marketing success story. While little scientific evidence supports the claims regarding the health-enhancing, age-defying benefits to be derived from the consumption of superfoods, marketers have been able to effectively promote these products for what they promise. This article explores the pedagogic role performed by media in marketing ‘superfoods’ in the contemporary context of food normlessness (‘gastro-anomy’). Using Foucault’s ideas on the workings of power and governance and drawing on data from an analysis of Australian media items on superfoods published between 1995 and 2014, the article reveals the techniques by which superfoods are promoted as the means for fashioning a healthier, younger self. It is argued that ‘superfoods’ is an ill-defined, ambiguous category, whose marketing is assisted through the confounding and confusing of news and advertising in media coverage, and the extensive use of promissory statements, scientific claims and personal forms of address that connect directly with audiences. We conclude by observing that while citizens may seek to live their lives according to the ideals of healthism, the media serves as a platform to promote neoliberal norms and values, such as consumer choice, accountability and the anxiety that goes along with them and that feeds the pursuit of ‘superfoods’.