« September 2008 »
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30
Entries by Topic
All topics  «
about editor
aust govt
big media
contact us
donations to SAM
election nsw 2007
election Oz 2007
free SAM content
human rights
independent media
local news
nsw govt
nuke threats
publish a story
zero waste
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
official indymedia
ecology action Australia
ecology action
Advertise on SAM
details for advertisers
You are not logged in. Log in

sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Bob Carr in $1 Billion play for privatised plantations in NSW mini budget?
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: nsw govt

Picture: poster in increasingly marginal seat of Marrickville on Carrington Road in the 2005 by-election won by then upper house MP now Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt in move to the NSW Lower House.
Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 2008 10:52 AM
Subject: forests: mini budget is the dynamic? Re: [chipstop]

Carr's posturing is likely about the mini budget in say 4 weeks re BIS Shrapnel valuation of nsw plantation assets at $1 billion which annual revenue income cross subsidises the native forest woodchipping industry:

More here

Plantation sell off in NSW for $1 billion in public revenue?

He's very manipulative like that. Carr like Keating is a master of conflicted self interest, as consultant to Macquarie Bank.You can't privatise the plantations asset without a political framework for curtailing or shutting down native forest woodchipping.

One ought not get too polly anna about Carr's environmental credentials as Ian Cohen seems to be doing here  below in the attached media release to create some space for a mediator/profile role for himself as a deal maker.

Here is a quite accurate history of Bob Carr on the environment when it mattered:

  • Carr ALP dodges 1999-2003
  • Carr ALP dodges 1995-99

  • as well as Carr logging legacy for south east NSW (let alone East Gippsland):

  • Having said all that I do support implementation of the bipartisan 1990 Public Accounts Committee report to sever financial ties between plantation and native forests, further that the only likely way that can be done is through an asset sell off process where the public actually gets something for their plantation assets instead of being bled dry by the native forest/woodchipping/conversion sector in a cross subsidy.

    I know The Greens, academic Judith Adjani, TWS and no doubt the CFMEU and nominal Lefties like minister Carmel Tebbutt don't agree but then I don't think they've consulted or understood the 1990 bipartisan PAC committee report recommendations (which TWS elder Rod Knight showed to me in 1992), or in Adjani's case understood the land baron political economic dynamic of state forest agencies - a critique the former chief of CSR wood products made about her Forest Wars book - on stage at the launch of her book at Gleebooks in Sydney.

    In any case I would say it's all about the mini budget process - not Bob Carr's commitment to the environment per se. Just as his seed donation to the Climate Institute was about the real politik of wedging the Libs and Nats on Kyoto for election of the Rudd Labor govt, then backsliding on coal mining after that. If his politiking on the environment is seen as virtuous then that's just an added bonus as far as Carr is concerned as one of the 4 amigos with Brereton, Richo, Keating.

    Also of interest is that Rudd recently stiffened his resolve on climate re Garnaut modelling here:
    SMH 20 Sept 08 Rudd delivers a low blow on Garnaut modelling Stephanie Peatling
    KEVIN RUDD has told industry and environment groups it is necessary to support an ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target, in an apparent reference to the more cautious approach advocated by his climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut.

    Mr Rudd's statement was made after a briefing of industry and environment groups on the Federal Government's plan for a $100 million international institute to spearhead research on capturing and burying greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

    Mr Rudd nominated the lowest level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere modelled by Professor Garnaut as "necessary" but did not say any more.

    That level was 450 parts per million, which scientists say offers a chance of avoiding dangerous levels of climate change but which Professor Garnaut said "reluctantly" this month was almost impossible to reach.

    Maybe the PM is getting really scared about the implications of all this, as he should be.

    Yours truly,

    Tom McLoughlin principal ecology action sydney, editor

    4 attachments

    ................................. Attach #1

    Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 2008 8:44 AM
    Subject: [chipstop] penny wong on bob carr letter

    From Senate hansard for yesterday. Note that Penny Wong does not answer either of Christine Milne's questions other than with platitudes about the RFAs.

    QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE - Emissions Trading Scheme
    Emissions Trading Scheme

    Senator MILNE (Tasmania) (2:27 PM) ­My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Water and relates to the large volumes of carbon captured and stored in Australia’s native forests and vegetation. Does she agree with former New South Wales Premier Bob Carr that protecting native forests is fundamental to fighting climate change and that keeping carbon locked up or sequestered in Australia’s native forests instead of logging them not only will slow Australia’s rising greenhouse gas emissions but will also have biodiversity benefits?

    Senator WONG (South Australia) (Minister for Climate Change and Water) ­I thank Senator Milne for the question. I know that this has been an issue that the Greens have previously raised. As you would be aware, the government does recognise the importance of Australia’s forests in terms of both their biodiversity values and also because they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as part of a comprehensive effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We are committed, and this is something that was made clear prior to the election, to maintaining a robust system of regional forest agreements.

    Senator Bob Brown ­They destroy forests.

    Senator WONG­I understand, Senator Brown, that that is not a position with which your party agrees, but that is the position that was made very clear prior to the election. The 2008 State of the forests report shows that there has been a 1.5 million hectare increase in the area of forest added to the reserve system since 2003. I am advised that 23 million hectares of native forests are now in formal reserves. We welcome the ANU research on carbon storage in intact natural forests in south-eastern Australia. The government’s national carbon accounting system does draw on Australian research from peer reviewed scientific studies and encourages research in these fields.

    The senator would also be aware that the government’s proposal in the green paper is for a voluntary opt in for forestry which would enable landholders who wish to enter the CPRS to do so subject, obviously, to the maintenance and permanence of such forests. That is currently the proposal in the government CPRS green paper. I do understand that Senator Milne and Senator Brown may have a different set of views on this issue.

    Senator Bob Brown ­Well, you are wrong.

    Senator WONG ­I meant from the government, Senator Brown, not between one another. As I said, we do recognise the importance of Australia’s forests. We have a clear commitment to maintaining a robust system of RFAs and I again reiterate through the green paper that the government is proposing in its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme a voluntary opt in for forestry. That is important and it is predicated upon the recognition that forests can form an important part of our fight against carbon pollution and our fight to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. The proposed opt in through the green paper would enable landholders to voluntarily opt into the system to establish a forest and to generate a credit as a result of entering the system. That obviously creates an incentive for sequestration where it is appropriate for forest activity for the establishment and maintenance of forests. I make the point that once landholders are in the system then in accordance with the Kyoto accounting rules they would have to remit a permit to remove those forests.

    Senator MILNE (Tasmania) ­Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for her answer although I noticed that she studiously avoided answering whether or not she agreed with former New South Wales Premier Bob Carr. I also note that in her answer she focused on the opt in for plantation forestry, not talking about native forest as standing stores. So I ask: can the minister explain why the forests of Indonesia and PNG are carbon stores and must be protected from logging to save the climate, but the forests of Australia are not? Is this a case of Australia hypocritically saying to the world, ‘Do as I say on the protection of your forests, but do not do as I do on the logging of ours’?

    Senator WONG (South Australia) (Minister for Climate Change and Water) ­I reiterate, Australia, as the senator knows, does have a system of management of forests that has been through an extensive process. Obviously there is the matter of historical record and I note that this is not actually my portfolio, but we have been very clear about our support for the Regional Forest Agreements. I understand that some in the chamber have a different view about this. But very clearly, we do have not only forest management practices and regulation in Australia, but also extensive land clearing legislation at a state level and the green paper goes through that in detail and explains that we do believe there is regulatory management there in terms of land use, which is appropriate. In terms of the senator’s question about Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, the government has made it clear that we do see­(Time expired)

    .................................Attach #2

    Sent: Monday, September 22, 2008 4:13 PM
    Subject: [Greens-Media] Tebbutt has a lot to learn from Carr

    Media Release from Ian Cohen MLC                                       
     22 September 2008
     Tebbutt has a lot to learn from Carr
    Greens MP Ian Cohen has today recognised Bob Carr for his role in
    supporting the environment movement when he was Premier and his
    continuing support for the environment. 
    “Bob Carr was the first Labor premier to work well with the Green
    movement,” says Mr Cohen.
    “He took environmental and greenhouse issues seriously.  When he was
    Premier, Bob Carr acknowledged the importance of environmental issues and persued parliamentary pressure on his government to achieve
    “This was reflected in his strong conservation initiatives but people
    may remember Carr for his relationship with Milo Dunphy, one of
    Australia’s leading conservationists.  Carr also pioneered the
    permanent protection of forests under his premiership.”
    “It is a relief to hear Bob Carr’s comments after dealing with a
    Labor government that has turned decidedly brown", said Mr Cohen. 
    “Carmel Tebbutt could follow in the footsteps of Bob Carr and lead
    the charge against climate change.  The federal government isn’t going
    to make the changes and take the necessary risks in order to avert
    dangerous climate change”, said Mr Cohen.
    ‘Why can’t the NSW government set the standard for all state
    governments and put laws in place that protect old growth and previously logged forests.  Every time a tree gets logged under the existing regional forestry agreements we are a step closer to disastrous climate change”, says Mr Cohen.
    “The new Minister for Climate Change Carmel Tebbutt would do well to
    listen Bob Carr”, said Mr Cohen.

    .............................Attach #3

    Sent: Monday, September 22, 2008 8:44 AM
    Subject: [chipstop] Fwd: [forest_alliance] SMH: Carr targets PM on logging

    How many years did Bob Carr have to do something about the forests?

    To: forest_alliance

    They're logging at Bermagui? wtf?

    Carr targets PM on logging

    ...................................................Attach #4

    Sent: Sunday, September 21, 2008 9:09 AM
    Subject: [chipstop] chipmill vigil and truck count this thursday

    Walk Against Woodchips Chipmill vigil and truck count this Thursday
    To mark Keri and Clover's passing through Eden, the birthplace of woodchipping in Australia, we will hold a one day vigil and truck count at the chipmill corner (Edrom Road/ Princes Highway approx 20 kms south of Eden) on Thursday 25th September.
    A few of us will roll out our swags there overnight on Wednesday 24th so that we don't miss the first trucks going in from 4.30am.
    Keri, Clover and supporters will spend some time with us before heading on down to East Gippsland. If you can spend all or part of the day with us, you will be most welcome.
    The trucks counts are an extremely useful exercise. We record the type of load, companies, the direction from which they arrive and various other useful data. This information has been immensely valuable over the years , allowing us to follow trends in the and counter some claims of the industry (eg; they do not take logs over 60cms diameter).
    This is a great opportunity for East Gippsland forest supporters to meet Keri and maybe walk for a time with her along the difficult stretch between Eden and Orbost.
    We have had an excellent weekend with the Walk Against Woodchips arrival in Bega on Friday, successful public forums on native forests and climate change in Bega and Bermagui and a fantastic music/ fundraising gig in the Tanja Hall last night.

    Between 2,500 and 3,000 trees from SE NSW and East Gippsland are cut down every working day to supply the Eden chipmill
    CHIPSTOP campaign against woodchipping the SE forests, 02-64923134, PO Box 797 Bega NSW 2550 Australia, http://www.chipstop.forests.org.au
    CHIPSTOP on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vJuZya1X00

    Posted by editor at 12:52 PM NZT
    Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2008 1:28 PM NZT
    Costa resigns after the SAM blowtorch!?
    Mood:  on fire
    Topic: nsw govt

    Well we wish. Here was our derivative wrap on the weekend which did indeed look grim for the infamous blatherskite:

    [21 Sept 2008 Posted by editor at 10:27 AM EADT] Ex treasurer's '$500M risk' to AAA rating for NSW is stupid say Walkers
    Mood:  irritated
    Topic: nsw govt

    Here is the big news media reference today of Costa's resignation by fax to the Governor NSW:

    23 Sept 08 Costa resigns from NSW parliament - Breaking News - National ...

    Certainly Costa already made it clear he would quit soon enough, and he suggestively passed his qualification time for a cosy pension for life recently. (Accrues at 55 years of age according to colleague Peter Primrose on abc radio just now.)

    But we would like to think that Stateline work last Friday ventilating the Walkers' financial expertise building on their work earlier this year in cooperation with such as Greens MP Dr John Kaye including citizen's right of reply, finally finished the guy's political career:

    There is a big big difference between $500M and $14M in annual interest exposue in a AAA to AA+ credit rating and a NSW Treasurer has to know that difference or to quote Costa look "like a joke".

    Posted by editor at 10:42 AM NZT
    Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2008 1:32 PM NZT
    Turnbull an AFL 'rooster', League 'swan' .... and an everyperson 'goose'?!
    Mood:  cheeky
    Topic: aust govt

     Grand Final 2008 - Match report and scores

    winners are grinners

    Funny to hear Mal Turnbull with Fran Kelly abc radio national just before 8 am this morning in the shadow of the higher rating 7.45 am local radio news on sister abc station.

    After cutting strips with a sharp box cutter blade off the Rudd govt "bungling" over timing of bans on naked versus broad short selling vis a vis international market bans on some or all of these, he gets the usual September festival of the boot question.

    If he had not been saturated with media engagements all this week he might have had the energy to listen to Barry OFarrell his NSW Liberal Party counterpart answer the same question only half an hour earlier on 702 abc Sydney.

    And sure enough Big Mal stuffed it saying he barracked for the Roosters in the AFL which are actually a League team. And Swans in League which is actually an AFL team and then fully correcting himself.

    Proving what exactly? That like most mature minds he doesn't give a stuff about big business sport anyway unlike say the amateurs above? That he never earned his sporting component of the Rhodes scholarship after all and he's faking it? That he is only an everyman like bookish Bob Carr isn't? That questions about sport is stupid for political leaders worried about a financial meltdown comparable to the 1930ies great depression. And dangerous climate change comparable to nothing else in recorded history?

    Anyway we just wanted to use swan, rooster and goose in the same headline.


    Posted by editor at 10:05 AM NZT
    Sunday, 21 September 2008
    Sunday Political talkies: PM Rudd 'concludes visit to Oz', returns to UN. Turnbull sharpens axe
    Mood:  chatty
    Topic: aust govt

    There’s talk on the street, it sounds so familiar.
    Great expectations, everybody’s watching you.
    People you meet they all seem to know you,
    Even your old friends treat you like you’re something new.

    Author’s general introductory note

    This is not a well packaged story. It’s a contemporaneous traverse of the Sunday television free to air political talkies indicating the agenda of Establishment interests: Better to know ones rivals and allies  in Big Politics and Big Media.

    For actual transcripts and/or video feeds go to the programme web sites quoted including Riley Diary on 7. And note transcripts don’t really give you the image content value.

    Media backgrounders

    10 Meet the Press:  8- 8-30 am

    Golf. Waste of broadcast airtime.

    Meet The Press - Watch Political Video Online - Channel TEN.

    Riley Diary 7, 8.35 am

    Missed the first section. About Nelson getting a duck in bowling picfac with Kevin Rudd to adopt our cricket metaphor about Nightwatchman Man Nelson batting too long without making any runs. Food theme regarding ALP (poor) judgement re priorities.


    9 Sunday newshour Laurie Oakes interview 8.40 am

    Interesting interviewing with new Opposition Leader Turnbull on 28% preferred PM already. Tone of interview is most noticeable thing. MT feels the love and is deeply gratified and relaxed about where he has arrived.

    Opening question says it all – how does it feel to not have blood on your hands. Exactly. [He didn’t pull on the vote, he didn’t actively undermine while Costello appears to have done so even if unintentionally. He won on merit and he is actually humbled by the choice freely made by majority of his Party.] Hence the picture here.

    Not a harsh pose, rant or acid gibe. Quite a gracious presentation.

    Prime Tourist rather than Prime Minister. Cute line LO takes him to task on this but in mild tones.

    Turns to economics, confusing “motion with action” is a cutting line. Doing the spade work on need to consult and accept the wisdom of others in a complex very challenging world.

    LO tests him out on problematic Nelson policies re cut in fuel excise and pension boost etc. Says it all fits into the lower tax philosophy of the govt while arguing less than .5 of 1 % of Govt revenue, or something like that. Only vaguely convincing.


    Insiders 2: 9- 10am

    Press roundup Panel is KA Walsh, Meglogenis, Milne.

    Chris Bowen assistant treasurer is talent. Funny comment Greens more economic responsible than Liberal Party in the last week. Who is more arrogant Rudd or Turnbull – suppresses a smile gives boilerplate answer about in touch.

    Every person segement – the famous pole dancing in suburbia. Distracting. All about who is better Lib leader.

    Lots of footage about MT taking and Nelson conceding Lib leadership. What folks who think the Eastern Suburbs are so rich and privileged should check out country town Warrnambool. Air is cleaner. House blocks as big or bigger. Little traffic. In short it’s all an illusion folks based around social tribalism.

    Home page is http://www.abc.net.au/insiders/

    Posted by editor at 12:33 PM NZT
    Updated: Sunday, 21 September 2008 12:47 PM NZT
    Ex treasurer's '$500M risk' to AAA rating for NSW is stupid say Walkers
    Mood:  irritated
    Topic: nsw govt

    Bob and Betty Con Walker, public finance champions have revealed the truth about the bogus interest claims of ex treasurer Michael Costa. All the tub thumping, posturing, positioning and stampeding by Costa has turned out to be economic rubbish according to the Walkers.

    Here was the claim paraded in all the 'serious' press courtesy of loud mouth Costa:

    Quoting AAP here 5 Sept 08

    "The loss of the AAA credit rating would add $500 million to NSW's interest costs over the next few years, he warned, and called for a "push out" in major projects to prevent the need for savage cuts to health and education budgets." at LIVENEWS.com.au > National > Rees rules out returning Costa to cabinet

    5 Sept 08 Business Spectator - NSW credit rating future hangs in the balance

    On NSW Stateline last Friday 19 Sept 08 had the reality - a AAA rating which is very atypical for a sub national government to a AA+ rating would amount in NSW case with our low debt levels to a mere $14M increased interest payments per year.

    To put that in context that is 1/10 of the money thrown at the World Youth Day corporate welfare for the Catholic Church earlier this year.

    Here is the referencing:

    19/09/2008 Saving NSW  Is it true the AAA rating is endangered?

    Over the last two weeks, Premier Rees has been warning of the consequences of that in these terms: a massive cost in interest payments on borrowings of $500 million extra a year.

    DAILY TELEGRAPH EXCERPT (voiceover); The main priority was to avoid losing NSW's triple A credit rating, which would mean an interest payment blowout of $500 million a year, Mr Rees said.

    QUENTIN DEMPSTER: Are you saying that that figure is inaccurate?

    BOB WALKER, SYDNEY UNIVERSITY: That figure is wrong and I think it's unfortunate that Mr Rees was advised in that manner. It's even more unfortunate that he was - repeated it three days later. The NSW Treasury has got a lot to answer for for not intervening and correcting him and giving him the proper advice. I think they've left him exposed in making somewhat exaggerated statements. Now he's the new boy on the block. He needs time to get on top of those facts. But it's the responsibility of the public service to protect their minister, not leave him exposed.

    QUENTIN DEMPSTER: Professor Bob Walker is Professor of Accounting at Sydney University and a former chairman of the council on the cost of government, appointed by the Carr-Egan Government. What would it cost the state if the credit rating was downgraded?

    BOB WALKER: The standard reference to this is a publication of NSW Treasury by former assistant secretary Don Nicholls who estimated that the cost of a downgrade from triple A to double A plus would be 20 basis points - that's 20 per cent of one per cent. Now, the interest rates currently being paid by the state are only six per cent, roughly. So if we increased that modestly to 6.1, it would have a very minor impact on the state budget. In fact, not all the debt in the state would rollover at once; about $7 billion might rollover in the next year or so. That would increase the interest cost to the state of a modest $14 million, not $500 million, as has been popularly reported.

    QUENTIN DEMPSTER: Fearing the public was being misled by the Costa analysis and rhetoric about the state's possible loss of the triple A, Professor Walker's wife Betty Con-Walker, an economist and former State Treasury official, has extracted the budget figures on net debt of the state.

    At June 2008, the net debt was $22 billion, or 6.2 per cent of gross state product.

    With infrastructure borrowings, including the north west metro, net debt was projected to rise to $41.76 billion, or 9.1 per cent of gross state product, by 2012.

    BETTY CON-WALKER, FORMER TREASURY OFFICIAL: And remember, it compares with international developed countries at more than 40 per cent. Some of them are as high as 80 per cent of their gross state product. It's going to rise to, according to the budget papers, to $41.8 billion over the next three years. Now, that will still only be nine per cent, 9.1 per cent of the gross state product. Still a very modest indebtedness ratio for the state. And these figures have been there and available to the credit rating agencies.

    QUENTIN DEMPSTER: We've got a cash flow problem with declining property tax revenues and a blow out in the health budget.

    BETTY CON-WALKER: Well we have Mr Costa's word for that because he's claiming that on the basis of two months figures - that's July and August - figures that have not been published, not available to anyone to analyse, and he's projecting those two months figures to the whole year, and we're still talking about less than $200 million in a budget of $48 billion.

    QUENTIN DEMPSTER: The Walkers believe State Treasury has a responsibility to the public to publish accurate figures about the state's fiscal position and a realistic assessment of risk to the triple A. They say the Treasury website, usually giving monthly status reports, has not been updated since May.

    Under the Iemma Government, the north west metro became a showpiece of propaganda designed to show everyone the Government's new found commitment to borrow money for much-needed public transport. At his exit new conference, Michael Costa confirmed there'd been an almighty row in Cabinet over the north west metro; he'd been rolled.

    MICHAEL COSTA: We've got to push out our capital program and it's no secret that I'm not a fan of the north west railway.

    QUENTIN DEMPSTER: So we have to wait to see if the north west metro survives the mini-Budget process. There's no doubt Michael Costa has softened up the public for its axing or radical modification.

    Bob and Betty Walker believe that while some reprioritising of capital works projects may be necessary along with some economic stimulus, the state's triple A credit rating is not at risk.

    You, I take it, would be surprised if the state does lose its triple A credit rating?

    BOB WALKER: I'd be rather shocked because there doesn't seem to be any justification for it and nor have the credit rating agencies indicated that is even a likelihood.

    QUENTIN DEMPSTER: So, what do you think's at play here?

    BOB WALKER: Oh, it's a common practise when there's a change of government, change of minister for some bureaucrats to wheel up their pet projects and their pet scare stories. I mean, a case in point is this talk about a decline in state revenues. The fact is the Government publishes monthly figures about its revenues, but for some reason, nothing's been published since May.


    Back on 24 June 2008 we notice this Citizen's right of reply to Michael Costa then Treasurer of NSW who has the smell of dead cat about him now in the politics of NSW, via largish PDF file off the parliamentary website (at least with Explorer brower if not Firefox):

    Citizen's Right of Reply (Prof Bob Walker and Ms Betty Con Walker ...

    Appendix 1

    Response by Professor Bob Walker and Ms Betty Con Walker, agreed to by

    Professor Bob Walker and Ms Betty Con Walker and the Committee, according to standing order 203(4)(b)

    We seek a Citizen’s Right of Reply regarding comments made by the Hon Michael Costa MLC in the

    Legislative Council on 6 March 2008 regarding the proposed privatisation of the State's electricity industry and issues relating to public sector financial management.

    We believe that Mr Costa’s statements under privilege are wrong and that they have adversely affected our reputation; and have the potential to injure us in our occupation and/or trade (Bob Walker as a Professor of Accounting with expertise in government finances; Betty Con Walker as an economist with experience in both the public and private sectors).

    Mr. Costa was asked a question by Dr John Kaye on the basis of the contents of our jointly authored book, Privatisation: Sell off or sell out? released with a New Introduction that morning at Parliament House.

    Dr Kaye specifically referred to two pieces of information contained in the New Introduction, namely:

    the more than 25 per cent rate of return on equity of the six electricity agencies being considered for privatisation, and the 93 per cent of the electricity retail market served by the three Government agencies with 7 per cent being served by privately owned retailers.

    Dr Kaye asked Mr Costa why the Government’s submission to the Unsworth Inquiry referred to a much lower rate of return of 5 per cent and a much higher proportion of 20 per cent of electricity customers as being served by privately owned retailers.

    The rate of return on equity of 25.2 per cent rate, reported in the New Introduction, was calculated on the basis of detailed analysis of the audited financial statements of the six agencies for 2006-07. Data regarding the market share of state-owned retailers (Energy Australia: 44.1%, Integral Energy: 25.0%, and Country Energy: 23.8%) and of privately owned retailers (7%) was sourced from the Standard & Poor’s, Industry Report Card: After Weathering A Stormy Year, Will Valuations Hold Up For  Australian Government-Owned Energy Utilities Facing Privatization?, 12 February 2008.

    Mr Costa did not answer Dr Kaye’s questions. Instead he attacked the content of our book, and did so by referring to one of the authors – Bob Walker. Since the book is a joint publication, we believe that any attack on its content is an attack on both authors.

    In particular, Mr Costa accused Bob Walker of being wrong on four separate times without providing a single example. He stated variously:

    Bob Walker is wrong.

    Bob Walker has been wrong on a number of issues.

    Bob Walker is consistently wrong.

    Bob Walker gets these analyses wrong because he assumes that State governments and some national governments can borrow at some preferential rate.

    Mr Costa also stated:

    One problem Bob Walker has regarding his economic and financial analysis … is that he thinks that governments can borrow for nothing. That is his fundamental problem.

    These statements are false. Neither of us has ever made such claims. A reading of our book or of several submissions prepared to various Parliamentary inquiries will show that to be the case. The differential between the cost of public sector and private sector borrowings and the impact of that differential are reviewed in our book at Ch 5 and elsewhere, while a 22 page technical appendix examines the related concept of the 'cost of capital'.

    Mr Costa also asserted a lack of understanding on our part of key financial management issues (which are our areas of expertise) on a further four occasions. The assertions focused on our understanding of credit ratings, and their impact on interest costs.

    In response, we note that that the use of credit ratings began in NSW in the 1980s. Before then, governments were able to borrow without the benefit of credit ratings.

    Contrary to Mr Costa's assertions that we believe that government borrowings are 'cost free or at a very low cost', our book provides an extended discussion of yield differentials between differently-rated securities. That discussion was based (among other sources) on information presented in the 1994-95 NSW Budget Papers, which reported that during 1993-94 the average yield differential was only 0.25 to 0.35 per cent, and that a downgrading of the NSW credit rating by two notches - from AAA to AA - would have added less than $20 million to the NSW Government interest bill in the first year (at a time when Gross State Debt was reported to be almost $31 billion).

    Further, our book acknowledged that governments with high levels of borrowings relative to Gross National Product or Gross State Product, may have to commit a high proportion of their expenditures to interest costs. However it also pointed out that this was not relevant to Australian federal or state governments, because of their relatively low (and historically low) levels of debt.

    We also noted that on 11 October 2007, the credit rating agency, Moody’s Investors Service, in confirming its Aaa credit rating of the State and describing the outlook as ‘stable’, reported that the State has the capacity to take on more debt, and that State Owned Corporations, such as water and electricity utilities, are capable of funding new infrastructure investment since their debt is selfsupporting.

    In summary, each one of Mr Costa's defamatory statements is contrary to evidence.

    Posted by editor at 11:27 AM NZT
    Updated: Monday, 22 September 2008 2:38 AM NZT
    Activist nostalgia for mainstream ...rich ..... contemporaries
    Mood:  lyrical
    Topic: culture
    Sold for $47m .... this house in Vaucluse.

    Sold for $47m .... this house in Vaucluse.
    Photo: Louie Douvis

    Well it takes all kinds.

    In the last several months we have been noticing our cohort in the news. Yesterday (p3 Sydney Daily Telegraph) it was the rather beautiful kind hearted Marina Ritossa of tall slender Croatian extraction and wife of rich man Ivan Ritossa even back then in 1990-91. Marina started out in the local property section of multinational Baker & McKenzie lawyers same year as us in litigation. We remain eternally grateful for her helping carry a brutish bill of costs up Phillip St in 3 copies by 4 volumes we had to file by a deadline one Friday for senior partner Keith McConnell.

    We won that one against a Hong Kong developer but the firm gave moi the flick soon after in the property crash of 91, while she is the rich patron of the Royal Flying Doctor Service today as well as purchaser with Ivan of a $47M pad in Vaucluse. Phew.

    17 years back Marina knew all about how the "Title deeds" column in one of the property newspapers indicated who was on the way up and who was going down and now she's in the story herself.

    Then there is Gordon Plath, class of 1989 ANU law school now manager of environmental litigation at the NSW Dept of Environment and Climate Change in charge of 15 or 20 bods after starting out in criminal prosecutions. He doesn't look any different to 20 years ago to his picture in the professional pages of the Weekend Australian Sept 13-14 08. Just hope Mr Plath is nailing the white collar polluters and rednecks according to his mandate (?).

    Then there is Shane Barber, another lawyer starting out at Bakers in 1990 who turned up in the legal pages of the The Australian as some high power IP and technology lawyer as partner at firm Truman Hoyle. Nothing exceeds like success.

    We wrote in our penultimate post about whipper snapper at 36 Kirsty Ruddock on her altruistic and acclaimed trajectory in the public eye as principal of the EDO - not strictly this writer's cohort but a contemporary of sorts.

    Other sundry folks - Tom Baddeley from the ANU law school in the eighties on abc tv there in WA, or was now some Economic think tank, and handy Aussie Rules player too. We might even have noticed a relative Chris McLoughlin as reporter on abc Adelaide tv news last night.

    Then there's the discovery of grandfather we never met Eric McLoughlin, journo, and confidant of Robert Menzies famous founder of the Liberal Party of Australia, not quite my politics but there you go. I do suspect we express alot of his genes - the good ones!?

    Bete noire of HIH corporate criminals is another ANU lad Robert Beech Jones now at the Sydney Bar. Tragically we learned of high school contemporay Brendan Keilar's successful legal career in Melbourne only to hear of his foul murder. 

    Which in aggregate reminds of a collectivist radical academic in the USA who said it's hard sometimes in the hippie herbal food co-op when your peers are so financially successful and embraced by the Establishment and you are down in the humble grovel as undoubtely the SAM operation is.  Yet it is the life we choose, and that's the point really that constantly reinforces our sense of self. We've done a few things so far and it ain't over yet!

    Time stands still for no one so best to play the long game:

    Posted by editor at 8:42 AM NZT
    Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2008 11:35 AM NZT
    Kirsty Ruddock a saving grace in Turnbull era as old guys trade sledges
    Mood:  a-ok
    Topic: human rights
    No tension … Kirsty Ruddock, now the principal solicitor in the NSW Environmental Defender's Office, and her father.

    No tension … Kirsty Ruddock, now the principal solicitor in the NSW Environmental Defender's Office, and her father.
    Photo: Dallas Kilponen

    Declaration: We regularly beg and borrow legal advice from environmenal lawyer/EDO principal Kirsty Ruddock regarding public interest litigation, who we understand duly records such phone or in person inquiries as proof of service to the Legal Aid Commission of NSW.


    Big bad ex Howard minister Phillip Ruddock is in the press this weekend on his 35 year slog for the Liberal Party as a federal MP. No doubt he is in legacy mode and maybe even pre-selection postures too for his successor. There he is in colour coded tie to t-shirt image with professional daughter and bleeding heart Kirsty: And we can happily say KR is generous with her time and clear in her advice God bless her socks.

    We understand on the domestic front she is quite colour blind too.

    Being an escapee from a DLP ultra Catholic family history we can sympathise with her situation and wrote to her earlier this year "you can't choose your family ... especially mine" referring to old boozer Eric McLoughlin a confidant of Big Bob Menzies himself as political journo for the Sydney Morning Herald in the 40ies and 50ies. So it's interesting she seems to be in the forgiveness mode in these pictures here in Fairfax SMH and Age:

    Time to reflect: Philip Ruddock yesterday with his daughter, Kirsty.

    Time to reflect: Philip Ruddock yesterday with his daughter, Kirsty. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

    The political synergies become clear in her past role as legal officer with Cape York Land Council led by Noel Pearson not afraid of some tough love on welfare policies in the Howard era. It's not betraying a confidence to mention her anecdote recently of crunching a developer in Cook Town - the same place on the Flannery, Roy Slaven tour of northern Australia on abc tv this week - over impertinent impacts on her blackfella clients heritage interests. She even got a pro bono deal with big firm Freehills and the Local Council folded in 2 days. Yay!

    As for the past we notice the human cannon fodder on the other side of the detention centre locked doors in Fairfax here and 4 Corners (which we couldn't bare to watch being of a delicate disposition you know).

    This is what Malcolm Fraser says in a piece on wisdom in the Good Weekend/Fairfax colour mag this very same weekend, just so we don't forget, and ask yourself which lawyer Howard or Ruddock he might be referring to:

    "We begin to understand a person's wisdom based on what they do, what they stand for. If you take some examples out of recent times, there are people who train to believe in the rule of law, due process, equal application of the law to all people regardless of race, colour, religion; and then you look at what they do and you find they don't mean a word of it." [a page 36 GW 20 Sept 2008]

    For his part Ruddock gets some attempted pre-emption on Big Mal (who used to be my local MP in Warrnambool) in too:

    "Elected in 1973 in a byelection, he has served eight Liberal Party leaders. For him there are two standouts: Sir Robert Menzies and Howard. Ruddock has little time for Malcolm Fraser, who, he believes, shied away from major reform and stirred up bad feeling.

    "The Dismissal changed all the cross-party camaraderie, personal relationships became very acrimonious. It was not until Hawke was elected that the situation in Parliament returned to normal."



    And just in case there was any confusion about the values system of older and younger Ruddock about a meaningful career as a opposed to a 'successful' one, old man Phillip says this in The Age this weekend too (in bold):

    Much has been made in the past of an apparent rift between the former attorney-general and Kirsty, his 36-year-old lawyer daughter, who held opposing views on immigration. In an episode of the ABC program Australian Story, it was said that Ms Ruddock was so at odds with her father's policies that she left Australia to work overseas.

    Mr Ruddock laughs when reminded of the program, saying it was a beat-up because his daughter had already been offered a good position overseas.

    "The program exaggerated the situation. There are no tensions between us, there are differences of view, but as I said on the program I didn't bring up my kids to be parrots. I have two daughters, they are exceedingly bright, real achievers, and we are close."

    Kirsty Ruddock is the principal solicitor in the NSW Environmental Defenders' Office and appeared against the Federal Government in an anti-whaling case. "Kirsty believes in what she is doing and it's almost charitable work for her because she could be working in the first tier of a law firm on a big salary."

    Ms Ruddock will attend a Liberal Party fund-raiser tonight to celebrate her father's 35 years of public service.


    This is what Kirsty Ruddock had to say in an ABC Law Report show 31 October 2006 about the issue of our century:

    Kirsty Ruddock is the principal solicitor with the New South Wales Environmental Defenders Office. I put it to her that the New South Wales government is current pushing through changes to legislation which will render any challenges, like those of Peter Gray, largely irrelevant.


    Kirsty Ruddock: Yes and no. I guess there'll always be innovative lawyers out there looking for ways to challenge things, but essentially what they're doing is, they're amending some of the requirements of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, to ensure that when the minister looks at approving a project, they're removing a requirement to comply with the environmental assessment requirements of the Act. And just requiring the project to ensure that they've made an application and the Director General of the Department of Planning is giving the report to the Minister as the only requirements before the Minister makes a decision.


    Damien Carrick: So essentially, the decision-maker can choose to decide OK, the project hasn't necessarily complied with the conditions of the environmental assessment, ie. to lodge some kind of assessment of the potential climate change consequences, but that's OK, I can give you the go ahead anyway.


    Kirsty Ruddock: I mean I guess yes, strictly speaking looking at that section in isolation it has taken away the environmental assessment requirements, but there's nevertheless other objectives in the Act they'd still probably need to comply with.


    Damien Carrick: This isn't the only case where there's been an attempt by environmental lobby groups to use climate change arguments in environmental planning processes. There was in fact a Federal Court decision earlier this year on this very point.


    Kirsty Ruddock: Yes, there was. It was in relation to a challenge that was launched in relation to two coal mines that were in the Bowen Basin in Central Northern Queensland, and it was launched by a group called Wildlife Whitsundays, who are a branch of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland. And they challenged approval decisions of the Minister for Environment, for his refusal to I suppose assess this mine under the Commonwealth legislation. What they argued is that the Commonwealth Minister for Environment should have considered the greenhouse gas implications of these two coalmines as they affected matters of national environmental significance, in particular impact from the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics World Heritage area. And the Minister, in his decision had said No, he hadn't – or his delegate had said no, we haven't actually considered those matters, and that was how the challenge started.


    Damien Carrick: And what did the Federal Court say?


    Kirsty Ruddock: Essentially what happened, it was kind of a difficult case because originally when the statement of reasons came out from the delegate of the minister, it was quite clear that greenhouse gas implications hadn't been considered, and he had left that out of the statement of reasons altogether. But during the course of the court proceedings, the decision maker clarified that he had in fact considered them and he didn't think they were significant enough to trigger the Act, and the Federal Court accepted that; they said obviously the climate change impacts from these particular mines were not significant enough.


    Damien Carrick: In other words, I think the argument was that sure the Great Barrier Reef is a protected area under Commonwealth legislation, but the impact on the Great Barrier Reef of climate change resulting from these particular coal mines and the CO2 emissions which might go into the atmosphere as a result of the coal mines, wouldn't be significant?


    Kirsty Ruddock: That's right, yes.


    Damien Carrick: And I believe there was also a case in Victoria involving the Hazelwood coal fired power station; what happened there?


    Kirsty Ruddock: Yes, there was. There was a decision that was challenged down there in relation to the terms of reference that were given by the minister to look at this particular rezoning application in relation to the coal mine and the power station. Essentially the minister gave a direction that the panel that were assessing it shouldn't look at the greenhouse gas issues relating to greenhouse gas impacts I suppose from the mining operation, and they did that and they ignored submissions that were made and that was challenged before the tribunal down in Victoria, and subsequently the tribunal found that the panel had created an error because they needed to consider all environmental impacts, and the matter was then remitted back to the panel to do considering those submissions.


    Damien Carrick: So at the end of the day though, they considered those submissions and then rubber-stamped the project anyway?


    Kirsty Ruddock: Yes, that was I guess the more unfortunate long-term result, that they did actually then consider the impacts, said that they were going to be quite significant, but then recommended the rezoning go ahead.


    Damien Carrick: It would seem to me that the legal system isn't particularly receptive to arguments about climate change, because even where you have a victory, and the decision-makers are forced to look at the issue of climate change, they can nod to it, and then choose to ignore it, and proceed?


    Kirsty Ruddock: Yes, that is one of the consequences I guess, of a lot of large-scale projects, and also Commonwealth environmental decisions are not subject to what's known as a merits review in most cases, so you can't actually argue I guess about the merits of the decision and the science behind some of these things, it's merely about the process and whether the correct processes were followed. And in a judicial review sense. So that does obviously limit some of the outcome that you can seek in relation to large projects.


    Damien Carrick: Kirsty Ruddock, principal solicitor with the New South Wales Environmental Defenders Office. And in case you're wondering, yes, she's the daughter of Federal Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock.

    Big Malcolm Turnbull could do alot worse than a pre-selection of KR scion of Berowra given the issue of the century facing all us.

    Posted by editor at 7:02 AM NZT
    Updated: Sunday, 21 September 2008 8:05 AM NZT
    Friday, 19 September 2008
    Gosford Council road tragedy: Subpoena skirmish on planning a partial insight into systemic problems?
    Mood:  sad
    Topic: legal

    Gosford City Council are in for a legal and PR hammering after the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald and other press today on the the awful tragedy of a family of 5 including 3 children killed after driving into a road collapse:

    * 19 Sept 2008 Tears as council blamed for deaths Sydney Morning Herald.

    Ken and Gaye Holt MALCOLM BROWN | Coroner finds that Gosford City Council had failed in its duty of care to keep the Pacific Highway at Somersby safe.

    * 19 Sept 08 Road collapse: Council neglect caused death Sydney Daily Telegraph

    Recent legal skirmishing over a subpoena into water and land assessment processes in the context of planning and DA processing at Gosford Council may possibly reveal some insights into how that council is performing, or not, on the related issue of hydrology/erosion affecting roads.

    The subpoena to the external auditor consultants retained by Gosford namely Internal Audit Bureau was lodged by the applicant in Diamond v Birdon & Hawkesbury City Council 40733 of 2008 but ruled out on legal grounds of irrelevance to that litigation recently (but only just given the Crown Solicitor filed their strike out documents out of time and were accepted in good faith, perhaps naively). Another similar subpoena to Gosford City Council itself seeking the IAB report(s) was withdrawn for similar reasons of potentially being legally misconceived.

    However in the process of the Crown Solicitor's counsel successfully striking out the subpoena to IAB they in turn confirmed in their affidavit the existence of their external auditor's report(s) into Gosford Council staff and systems regarding planning assessments. Which staff are adversely named, if any? Is the IAB report probitive of systemic failure in the organisational culture of Gosford? Is it also of relevance in the coronial inquest on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald and other press today given the common issues of assessment of hydrology and watercourse management? Does it say anything about the State Government department(s) assessment of watercourses and hydrology in the local government area?

    Of potential interest regarding the collapsed road tragedy is that the integrity of environmental assessments might just overlap into this other policy work of safety and maintenance issues: Hydrology, and water flow analysis (say in sand mining or bottled water extraction) involves very similar issues of erosion and sedimentation control. Is it the same staff involved in the assessment process? 

    We don't really know how probitive the external auditors report(s) are to the collapsed road tragedy but we think it's in the public interest for the IAB reports into Gosford on DA assessments regarding planning assessment of hydrology and watercourses to be in the evidentiary mix in light of the coroner's finding against the Council in the news today.





    Posted by editor at 9:20 AM NZT
    Updated: Sunday, 28 September 2008 12:23 PM NZT
    Thursday, 18 September 2008
    Coca Cola water bottling legal case: Commissioner Tim Moore reserves judgement
    Mood:  quizzical
    Topic: legal


    We appearend pro bono as court agent on 3 and 4 Sept 2008 under s.63 of the Land & Environment Court Act 1979 sitting up at the bar table with the big kids barristers Peter Tomasetti for Coca Cola Amatil, and Matt Fraser counsel for Gosford City Council. The case was Kettle [agent for Coca Cola Amatil] v Gosford City Council and Diamond (as intervenor) 10429 of 2005, which has taken many twists and turns over the last 3 years with this being only the lastest chapter.

    We have lots of straight legal reportage of the experience which is appropriate given the judgement has been reserved for several weeks. We notice this report by community objector Peter Campbell not so happy post hearing, pre council elections, with the impact of the GCC legal team which was the thinking behind getting myself to bolster things with an intervenor party participation:

    11 Sept 2008 Water extraction row drags on - Local News - News | Express ...

    We may return to this web item with some extra reportage of how the the 2 day case unfolded: Some highlights at this stage:

    - the inspection at our insistence on the first half of the first day went ahead despite some preliminary diplomatic skirmishes suggesting it should be delayed (or even cancelled?) by GCC's lawyer for some curious diplomatic reason to do with an LEC's judge's ceremony promotion to the Federal Court. My objector Neville Diamond said his piece a bit nervy and disjointed but always doing his best. We saw the monitoring bores tracking water from the chicken farm next door and the watercourse which used to support substantial native flora. We heard from local farmer Mr Hitchcock who acquitted himself very well.

    - When it came to the court expert Anthony Lane's evidence Gosford's counsel Fraser quietly suggested to us we didn't need to ask any more questions as he had covered our concerns already. We declined his overture evoking a frown. Cie la vie.

    As Fraser finished up his 'xxm' of Lane and the Commissioner's prompting revealed that 30 years ago Mr Lane's first job was working for the original Mt Franklin bottled water company which we understand was taken over by Coca Cola Amatil later on. Commissioner Moore stated 'this was too long ago' to matter now [in terms of actual or perceived bias]

    - we questioned expert Anthony Lane on what he understood were the credentials of another expert he actively consulted, namely Dr Noel Merrick of the UTS national centre for groundwater management. Our question: 'He's not a hydrologist is he? Ans: Is he not?" The clear implication of Mr Lane's evidence - who is based in Melbourne - thought he was consulting a hydrologist. [Our advice has always been that he is an expert computer programmer (?!).] Ironically we were the ones who insisted Dr Merrick's 170 page report go into evidence, but then his later verbal advice be read down for working on a joint venture proposal with Coca Cola Amatil.

    [What didn't get into evidence is that we are advised the local Catchment Manageement Committee are quite shy of any involvement with any study driven by CCA over concerns of independent auspices such as via the state department DWE.]

    - The Commissioner(s) were both quite sympathetic to consideration of climate change as a real factor under a recent decision by the Chief Judge in the Taralga Case (about wind power apparently). Our tendering of a report by the CSIRO of July 2008 - which otherwise would have never been produced - indicating much greater extreme heat and drought events (in fact once every 2 years up from every 20 years) was accepted as important.

    Rainfall at Peats Ridge would not be drastically affected argued the counsel for CCA but it didn't seem to cut through as much. Perhaps because we submitted a meteoroligist report for May 2008 as driest month for NSW and Sydney and local Mangrove Mountain on record.

    And then there is the extreme heat - demand factor even in good rainfall given the springs feed the local creeks to the local water supply for Gosford/Wyong: People drink more bottled water and for crops and for local water supply when it's hot.

    Indeed we asked expert Lane why no data provided to him by CCA to analyse regarding the hot high demand period of Dec 2005 to Feb 2006? He couldn't answer for CCA of course. Point made.

    - There was much debate from CCA counsel over whether the hallowed Precautionary Principle was a valid concern in this case. Lane in his report said this:

    - The Corporate Affairs Manager Alex Wagstaff was asked in my cross examination if he supported standard bush regeneration principles on the watercourse - putting aside whether it is permanent-intermitent versus ephemeral. He said emphatically "no" but he did still support the idea in principle. Mmm.

    - We did our best to press the limitation of CCA to bottled water not bulk tanker export from the site and rehabilitation of the water way under the Pittwater precedent case. Even though strictly speaking only a court agent we were chuffed to be referred to as a "legal practitioner" by Commissioner Moore.

    Overall it was a very educational experience and a pleasure consulting with and supporting the concerns of the local landholders and objectors. Crossed fingers. Mr Tomasetti as counsel for CCA said goodbye with "see you next time". If I had to hazard a guess I would say team work won on the day.

    Interestingly CCA counsel mentioned as a "public company" they had to make provision if their DA approval for 66 ML/YR was cancelled leaving only 25 ML/YR which would run out in only 3 weeks or so. While at 35ML/YR they could get to November.

    Here is a copy of our extensive submissions of which only some sections (eg F1, F2, F3 and documents referred to there) were progressed in the hearing for jurisdictional reaons: Nevertheless they all remain educational to the general public:

    25 July 08 Outline of submissions on Coca Cola legal appeal to delete 66ML/YR Trial at Peats Ridge

    By the end of the case even CCA agreed there needed to be a formula for discipline on their water use as per their preferred single parties expert Anthony Lane formula here presented to the court:

    The trouble with Lane's somewhat academic regime is that it relies on the state dept DWE for its efficacy and there is real tension between the LEC court and DWE state agency over who is really the decision maker. The LEC under the law, the DWE under political masters.

    Indeed evidence was given by local community leader and farmer Margaret Pontifix that DWE in the past at least cannot be trusted to be objective over discretionary licensing decisions.

    Nor is this saga over with Ian Cohen MP having submitted questions on notice in the state parliament late in August 2008 asking how Coca Cola Amatil got a 41ML/YR increase while local farmers are routinely refused. What was the assessment process, asks Cohen MP on behalf of local objectors. Further we have learned of a secretive external auditor consultancy called Internal Audit Bureau into both Gosford City Council and DWE South Coast Office commissioned by the respective levels of government ... but that's another story on SAM (next).

    Posted by editor at 8:53 PM NZT
    Updated: Friday, 19 September 2008 9:33 AM NZT
    Wednesday, 17 September 2008
    Oops: Coca Cola pushing their non green product in SMH* eco pages
    Mood:  sharp
    Topic: big media

    Oh dear, how did a  celebrity profile of all good green things get Coca Cola's controversial, arguably greenwashed bottled water product into the Eco pages of the Sydney Morning Herald today? Especially when it's inserted under an article about ... greenwashing?!:

    17 Sept 2008 Time to learn what's in a name When 'free range' is free for all, green claims can be dubious, writes Keeli Cambourne.

    This is what the SMH said about bottled water and cross subsidy to Landcare earlier this year:

    23 Feb 2008 Message on a bottle labelled as greenwash - Environment - smh.com.au

    Ethics ... Nanette Lamrock has attacked the Landcare Australia and Coca-Cola Amatil deal.

    Ethics ... Nanette Lamrock has attacked the Landcare Australia and Coca-Cola Amatil deal.
    Photo: Paul Mathews

    The story reads (bold added):

    Mount Franklin dominates the $544 million bottled water market and is an expert in marketing campaigns that tap into community issues: its pink lid campaign to pledge $1 for cancer research for every wish made through its website is one of the most successful marketing campaigns in recent history.

    The chief executive of Landcare Australia, Brian Scarsbrick, said he was aware of "some" concerns about the deal but that the positives outweighed the negatives. "We are a middle-of-the-road environmental organisation and we like to work with big companies to influence them to a more sustainable position," he said.

    Its spokeswoman, Sally Loane, said Coca-Cola Amatil was an industry leader in saving water, citing beverage industry figures showing bottled water accounts for just 0.01 per cent of aquifer reserves. "Any individual who claims we 'rape the environment' is speaking from the depths of ignorance. The facts reveal a very different picture. Can we do better? Of course, but we are committed to being a good corporate citizen, particularly when it comes to water," she said.

    But the organiser of the Bottled Water Alliance, Jon Dee, said: "One has to ask the question whether Coke has done this deal to distract attention away from the serious environmental questions that are now being asked of the bottled water industry. In particular the issues of water sourcing and the climate, waste and litter impact of bottled water, as well as the extremely low recycling rate for plastic water bottles.

    "Given the current level of criticism being levelled at the bottled water industry, even the less cynical could be forgiven for thinking that this is just a greenwash exercise."

    And this is what USA based 'Brandweek' had to say about the bottled water market as financial turmoil crosses the land (bold added):

    Has the Bottled Water Well Finally Run Dry?

    Sept 7, 2008

    -By Kenneth Hein

    The market for bottled water may be drying up. Despite massive discounting, brands like Aquafina and Poland Spring are experiencing a sales drought unlike any the category has ever seen.

    After almost a decade of triple and then double-digit growth, sales volume grew less than 1% for the first half of the year, per Beverage Digest, Bedford Hills, N.Y.

    The chief culprit: the economy. Shoppers are less interested in paying for a product that they can get for free.

    A secondary reason is that green-minded consumers have become active in railing against buying plastic bottles in bulk because many will end up in landfills. The fact that gallons of fuel are used to transport a product that is available through the plumbing is another concern. Finally, there is a widespread belief that PET bottles leech toxins into liquids if frozen or heated up, a claim which is widely disputed.

    "The category has felt the impact of the negative publicity it has been receiving lately," said John Rowan, editorial director at Beverage Marketing, New York.

    In addition, the industry's sheer size has made such a slowdown inevitable, he said. "Bottled water is No. 2 in volume behind soft drinks. Something that big can't grow forever."

    The industry's response so far has been deeper discounting. The average price of bottled water was down 6.6% at supermarkets for the four weeks through Aug. 10, per IRI. Dasani led the way with a 10% decrease.

    A recent report by Brand Keys, New York, based on responses from 26,000 consumers in the first quarter, shows "value" was the No. 1 attribute consumers were seeking in a bottled water, beating out "purity." Such findings, coupled with the widespread price cutting, has raised fears that the category has fallen victim to commoditization. "I was walking home last night and saw a sign with 'water 99 cents' crossed out and replaced with '89 cents.' So there it is. How much is water worth?" said Brand Keys president Robert Passikoff.

    One beneficiary of the commoditization has been private label. Sales for such brands rose 17.2% for the first half, per Beverage Digest.

    There is considerable trading down to private label and tapping into the cheap 24-bottle case segment, said Gerry Khermouch, editor of Beverage Business Insights, West Nyack, N.Y.

    Khermouch said Coke and Pepsi have no one to blame but themselves."To a certain extent, Coke and Pepsi decided not to chase that unprofitable business. This, of course, is ironic as even basic bottled spring water was premium priced until Coke and Pepsi entered and turned it into the latest front of the cola wars."

    Coke and Pepsi's solution has been to shift its resources behind enhanced water brands. Ad spending in the U.S. for Coke's Glacéau Vitaminwater was $39.5 million in the first half (excluding online), per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. This exceeded the spend behind all of the regular bottled water brands combined.

    Of the top regular water brands, Aquafina led the pack, spending $5 million on media for the first half of the year. Its efforts are directly aligned with its sponsorship of Major League Baseball. PepsiCo more than tripled its budget for SoBe Life Water, compared to the first half of last year, spending $22 million. "Consumers are seeking variety. Flavored and enhanced waters are a great answer to that demand," said a Pepsi rep.

    The enhanced water category grew 18.4% in the first half.

    Kim Jeffrey, CEO of Nestlé Waters, Greenwich, Conn., acknowledged bottled water was "experiencing slow growth compared to historic levels. Nielsen data shows our category is highly susceptible to an economic downturn."

    Jeffrey is confident it will rebound: "Seventy percent [of bottled water consumers] came from other beverage consumption. They didn't come to our category from tap water."

    John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest, agrees. "If the economy improves and consumers begin to feel better, we're going to see at least some increase in the growth rate of bottled water again," he said.

    Nevertheless, Mark DiMassimo, co-founder of Tappening.com, which promotes drinking tap water, said a cultural shift has occurred: "Instead of being a badge for health and status, bottled water has now become a badge for environmental wastefulness. And, cost sensitivity is coming up fast. It's caught in the same storm as Starbucks is. It felt good to be a little extravagant a few years ago. Now, it doesn't feel good to waste money. [Especially considering that] being charged for water is like being charged for gravity."

    * Postscript #1 18 Sept 2008

    We left a message yesterday for the SMH environment editor Marian Wilkinson (who we hold in high regard too) about the apparent contradiction above. Today we noticed this in the Business pages media and marketing Thursday page by Paul McIntyre

    18 Sept 2008 Steps on the green scale | smh.com.au


     waxing lyrical again about the issue of greenwashing and quoting Jeff Angel of Total Environment Centre on 'the need for a high level of rigour'.

    We found this profoundly ironic given Angel was prominent in 2008 in arguably greenwashing - via support for the Iemma Govt's Unsworth Committee Inquiry Report - of a proposal to privatise this state's energy industry. Angel would say it was only qualified support but Angel having been in the lobbying business for 30 years we say he well knew he would be used as a green figleaf, and the conditions he proposed would likely be duly shelved (and they were at least as we understand it).

    Dr John Kaye MP of the Green Party famously issued a press release repudiating Angel for collaboration with the Iemma sell off alleging airbrush of climate change policy implications of an otherwise anti green Govt led by ostentatiously brown ex treasurer Michael Costa.

    This mainstream Big Media coverage of the green washing issue just gets more weird by the story.

    Posted by editor at 3:35 PM NZT
    Updated: Thursday, 18 September 2008 2:54 PM NZT

    Newer | Latest | Older