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Coopers' advice to SA businesses: 'beware religion and politics'

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The chairman of Coopers has advised SA companies to be wary of getting involved in religion and politics following the Bible Society controversy which threatened to dent the Adelaide company's sales.

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Glenn Cooper was the keynote speaker at a breakfast event for South Australian exporters at the Adelaide Convention Centre this morning, telling exporters it was important to understand the laws of foreign countries if you want to sell your products internationally.

“In Japan, for example, [where] we do do-it-yourself beer, you can only manufacture to three per cent alcohol, by law,” he explained.

“So all the Japanese come up to me and say: ‘ho Mister Cooper, only thwee per cent, only three per cent’.”

The latter phrase was delivered in an attempted Japanese accent.

He added: “It’s normally about eight or nine per cent, but don’t worry about that; but those are some of the hurdles you have to get over”.

Earlier this month, Coopers was the subject of some criticism after the Bible Society released a video showing a “light-hearted” debate between two Liberal MPs over marriage equality, featuring Coopers beers.

Coopers also released beers branded with Bible Society logos and biblical passages.

The campaign led to some bars and pubs publicly boycotting the company, before Cooper’s offered an apology and withdrew funding from the Bible Society. Coopers, which has been a long-term sponsor of the Bible Society, denied having anything to do with the video.

Glenn Cooper told the audience today to be very careful traversing the “minefield” that was religion and politics.

Asked by emcee and ABC Lateline presenter Emma Alberici what the company had learned from the Bible Society affair, he said: “Be very careful when you get into religion, politics and I’d stay out of it, alright?”

“Be careful, because it’s just a minefield.”

Cooper said his company had been “unwittingly” drawn into the debate over marriage equality by the Bible Society video, which he said the company knew nothing about until it exploded on social media.

He conceded that: “We didn’t particularly handle it that well to start with”.

“We were drawn into it unwittingly,” he said.

“We learned that social media moves so quickly … it is a strong beast.”

He added that Coopers “gave some money to the Bible Society to buy Bibles for our armed services” as part of its arrangement with the organisation.

Alberici asked whether the company came out in support of marriage equality because that was what it truly believed, or it did so because it thought it should.

Cooper responded that the company decided to make the public declaration because all of its directors were “quite comfortable” with marriage equality.

This morning’s breakfast was hosted by export finance agency Efic.

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