This web site is as much about the exercise of power as it is about the unethical, immoral and criminal, behaviour of business owners, corporate and instiution executives, politicians, political party executives, public servants and union officials
Do we have Australian role models that we can admire in any sector?
Do crooks abound in every arena of Australian economy, politics, institutions and society?
Do a majority of descion makers and employees lack knowledge, awareness and competency?
Why do good people do bad thing?
Is ethics outmoded as a concept in the cut throat competitive world of today?
Could it be that people do not see ethics as part of their role at work or over riding the imperatives of their job?
If ethics is not outmoded is it simply too costly and/or dangerous to embrace ethics? I propose that displaying ethics is too dangerous when the boss is unethical and vindictive in decison making. When caught out yying is the first response. There is no contrition.
a global network created by
Kevin Roy Beck
from 2011- to present day
In a mature, and sophisticated nation, Government Ministers, Political party Leaders and Senior Party Members, Corporate Boards, CEOs, middle management and staff, heads of state and federal government public service agencies and major institutions invite constructive criticism in order to engage in improvements and good governance. This is not the case in Australia. They have become insular and defensive. Perhaps they are frightened by a world that is violent, by a threatened loss of position and power or loss of job? Maybe it is just ego or a refusal to admit they do not know what to do? I now think twice before expressing a controversial opinion. Sanctions can be devastating in terms of income, and livelihood, as I have experienced.
In Australia the reaction to criticism, or questioning, of people in positions of power, authority and office, is hostile, they attack rather than engage with the critic, turning perception and attitudes to a favourable mutual respect. These are not always uneducated people many are in positions of influence particularly in political parties, institution such as the medical profession (where harrassment, bullying and victimisation is endemic) and in corporations.
The Australian Industry Report to Parliament on the nation's management skill, KPGM's report to the NSW government on business capacity and the transcripts of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) meetings held in Australian cities and the articles and references below collectively demonstrate that Australia's corporate and political leaders, middle management along with critiques on poor ranking of Australia's SME owner's level of knowledge, skills and abilities. Australia's managers are not rated among the world class nations. Lacking enquiry, innovation and ideas.
Ethics is a casualty of modern management practice in Australia's governments, corporations, businesses and institutions which are focused on the short term and maintenance of their power, position profit and benefits. Ego clouds their judgement and most are unaware of the negative ratings. Those who are aware may not believe, or care, about the world rankings of developed nation's management. They are focused on dealing with the day to day problems and demands of their world of work.
Corporate Board Members and Company Executives, are engaging in caveat emptor, exercising their perecived commercial rights to exploit, sell dangerous, unhealthy even deadly products, to behave as they like. It appears they beleive that their requirements to make a profit at any cost, and under any circumstance, trumps all public interest rights and the rights of individuals, consumers and employees. They use corporate tools to avoid scrutiny, accountability and responsibility.
Click here for a list of cartel criminal behaviour and case studies in Australia
Consumer Laws by Country
Influencing techniques for programming you
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission publishes a range of brochures, fact sheets, reports, consultation papers, research findings and other publications for consumers, businesses, regulated industries and other stakeholders
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Publications
Australian Banking and Finance Consumer Association
The Commonwealth Bank has been accused of "serious and systemic" breaches of anti-money laundering and terrorism financing laws that could leave it exposed to massive civil penalties.
The Australian Transactions Reports & Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) today launched civil proceedings in the Federal Court alleging that the Commonwealth Bank failed to comply with the law on 53,700 occasions. Source and Article "CBA risks massive fines over anti-money laundering, terrorism financing law breaches By senior business correspondent Peter Ryan, ABC News Australia"
"Gaping holes in the anti-money laundering systems of Australia's big banks are being exploited by crime groups to wash up to $5 million in drug cash a day, according to confidential briefings by federal and state policing agencies.
New details of police investigations reveal that the big four banks – Westpac, ANZ, NAB and CBA – have all been used by money laundering syndicates to launder drug funds offshore....Syndicates are also suspected to have infiltrated the franchises of mid-tier banks." (Extract source: Sydney Morning Herald, Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker, Georgina Mitchell, Septemver 15, 2017)
Cold callousness, profit and corporate ego
Accusations of bullying have been levelled at the managing director of one of Australia's biggest nursing home chains. He also offered money after one family complained about the abuse and death of their loved one. Source ABC Australia watch and enlightening video of the CEO here
K Beck comment: Australia's Accreditation Agency performance and audit standards seem to be inadequate and highly questionable. How is it that aged care facility managers know when the auditors are coming? What is the relationship between this particular CEO and the Australian government's Aged Care Ministry and the Minister?
"Any family with a loved one in a nursing home wants to know that their standard of care is up to scratch. A Government accreditation system is supposed to provide that reassurance. But 7.30 can reveal that even if a home has dozens of complaints against it, it still gets top marks." Watch the expose by Australia's ABC, 7.30, here
Is this another example of a greedy unethical owner & executives running an Australian company?
Aveo: Exploitation of the elderly rife in retirement villages Four Corners By Adele Ferguson, Klaus Toft, Sarah Danckert
Residents of the multi-billion-dollar retirement village industry have described buying into a retirement village as a "financial sinkhole". A joint investigation by the ABC's Four Corners and Fairfax Media into retirement village company Aveo has uncovered exorbitant fees and complex contracts. One former resident describes Aveo's business practices as "totally rapacious, I don't know how they get away with it". Fairfax Media and Four Corners spoke to current and former residents, their children, lawyers, former Aveo staff and lobby groups and found several alarming business practices at Aveo — including safety issues, misleading marketing and advertising and property sales. The joint investigation obtained numerous Aveo contracts, which included clauses some lawyers described as complex and draconian. Chief executive of the Consumer Action Law Centre Gerard Brody described some of Aveo's contracts as among the worst he had seen.
Read more here
Australia's Labor and Liberal Politicians have failed to protect the aged in Australia
There have been numerous enquiries, media exposes and complaints to federal regulators, parliamentary members and Ministers of successive governments. 2007 parliamentary committee recommendations to improve residents' protection were never implemented As the ABC and Fairfax expose the rapacious greed and unethical practices of many aged care operators the current federal Aged Care Minister, Ken Wyatt mopuths the platitudes and the promises that we have heard form all of the past Government Ministers.
Ken Wyatt promises action on regulating retirement villages after 'exploitation' exposed by Four Corners, By the National Reporting Team's Meredith Griffiths
Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt has said he was "disappointed" to see the "exploitation" of some residents of retirement villages on last night's Four Corners. "I now want to revisit that report, look at what the detail was and then look at what options I can take forward, and certainly have discussions with colleagues — because I'm very keen and have always been committed to looking after an ageing population," he said.
Mr Wyatt says no need to wait another 10 years for action, he will revisit report Retirement villages "would be more effectively regulated by ASIC", COTA head says The program highlighted how some retirees have been stung by complicated contracts, oppressive rules and crippling fees."" (end of source)
Sure Ken, whatever you say (Kevin Beck)
BACKPAGE.COM OPERATES IN AUSTRALIA
LEGAL TO TRAFFIC FEMALE CHILDREN ON CLASSIFIED ADS IN USA
Netflix has just released a documentary called "I am Jane Doe" which every parent in the world should watch.
It is the current story of how members of the US Congress (passing USC regulation 230 under the Federal Comunications Decency Act) give immunity to web site companies for 3rd party ads and the support of criminal activity is upheld by US Judges putting a perversion of the US Constitution by business men, and women, ahead of the welfare of children.
"THE layout of Backpage.com is as basic as it gets but behind the bland black and blue text is a sophisticated operation. What at face value appears to be a website trapped in the 1990s is in fact leaps and bounds ahead of those chasing it. It’s advantages are two-fold. First, it has gained and maintained a reputation as the one place where, at any time of day or night, young women can be found “seeking sex with men”. Most of those women are actually girls who have been abducted, recruited or seduced into a world they never wanted to be a part of."' (Source:news.com.au February 2017)
READ FULL STORY
The US Supreme Court won’t hear a case brought by three sex-trafficking victims in Massachusetts who accused the website Backpage.com of helping to facilitate the abuse and exploitation of children. The decision, announced Monday, leaves in place a lower court’s ruling that federal law protects websites from being held liable for content its users publish on the sites. Like Craigslist, Backpage.com is a place where users can post classified ads selling things like bikes and children’s toys. But since Craigslist pulled the plug on its “adult” advertising section in 2010, Backpage has become a de facto hub for online prostitution, with a USSenate report saying the website now hosts 80 percent of all online sex ads. (Source: High court rejects case by sex-trafficking victims against Backpage.com, Janelle Nanos, Boston Globe, January 9, 2017)
More stories on Backpage and its association with murder, trafficking and prostitution in May 2017. here
Theft croneyism and fraud in NSW RSL
Not the brightest lot
15 May 2017. Decline in ethics, integrity and morals is spreading like a virus across Australia and it seems no institution, company or icon is immuane.
GLENN KOLOMEITZ: Look, I was shocked with what I found to be totally honest. Many people in that state council would not know the difference between a balance sheet and a form guide, and for a $500 million organisation, that's disgraceful.
There is a culture of entitlement, undoubtedly. We've had sub-branches in the past which flew their executives and executives' wives to Thailand to visit the factory which was making their blazers.
We had a subbranch which was giving $500 beer cards to each member when they renewed their membership each year. Enough's enough, we need to have a forensic audit into all expenditure, not just of the state council but of the executives, the CEOs and CFO across the board. (Sacked CEO of the News South Wales Returned Servicemen's League (RSL). Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Broadcast: 15/05/2017, Reporter: Dylan Welch and Rebecca Le Tourneau Recently sacked CEO of RSL NSW, Glenn Kolomeitz, reveals details of allegations of fraud and theft within one of Australia's most venerable institutions.)
It would appear to me that the members of the State Council of the NSW RSL are not all that bright and may be full of hubris or simply unaware. In sacking the CEO they triggered their downfall and humiliation (Kevin Beck)
The NSW RSL will be the subject of a royal commission-style inquiry with powers to compel witnesses to appear and seize evidence, with state Charities Minister Matt Kean today announcing the Government will create the most wide-ranging probe ever to hit the venerable institution. Key points:
Probe will run as NSW Police fraud investigators and Australia's charity watchdog continue their inquiries
Whistleblower welcomes probe, says culture of entitlement out of control
Scandals anger veterans, young veteran involvement aims to make way for new era
The inquiry, to be headed by former NSW Supreme Court justice Patricia Bergin SC, follows allegations of rorting and embezzlement at the RSL's NSW branch.
Those allegations have already sparked a NSW police fraud investigation and an inquiry by Australia's charities watchdog.
"We will get to the bottom of these allegations once and for all," Mr Kean said.
"These are serious complaints and the fact that they've allegedly been committed in the name of one of our oldest and most respected institutions is totally unacceptable. "We want to clean up the mess and make sure it never happens again."
The announcement also comes a fortnight after RSL NSW's governing body, the state council, sacked chief executive Glenn Kolomeitz, who blew the whistle on the alleged frauds. (Source: ABC News, 15 May 2017: NSW RSL to undergo institution's largest-ever probe into fraud allegations, 7.30 By Dylan Welch and Rebecca Le Tourneau
High Ranking Public Servant Betraying Trust
Employees of the Australian Public Service (APS) occupy a position of trust. They are entrusted by the Government and the community to undertake important work on their behalf. With this trust comes a high level of responsibility which should be matched by the highest standards of ethical behaviour from each APS employee. Together the APS Values, the APS Employment Principles and the APS Code of Conduct set out the standard of behaviour expected of agency heads and APS employees. They provide the public with confidence in the way public servants behave, including in their exercise of authority when meeting government objectives. (Extract: APS Values and Code of Conduct in practice, 2016)
"Australian Taxation Office Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston will be charged in connection with an alleged $165 million tax fraud syndicate following what police have described as one of the biggest white collar fraud investigations in Australian history. His son, Adam Cranston, 30, and his daughter, Lauren Anne Cranston, 24, have also been charged following an eight-month investigation, codenamed Operation Elbrus. The announcement came after nearly 300 police officers on Wednesday carried out raids across Sydney, Wollongong and the Southern Highlands, arresting nine people. Adam Cranston, from Bondi in Sydney, and Lauren Cranston, from Picton, NSW are among six people alleged to be members of a tax fraud syndicate that netted $165 million. (Extract: Sydney Morning Herald, MAY 18 2017)
Australian Professionals Real Estate Businesses Facilitate International Money Laundering Through Real Estate Purchases
Property is purchased through anonymous shell companies or trusts without undergoing proper due diligence by the professionals involved in the deal. The ease with which such anonymous companies or trusts can acquire property and launder money is directly related to the insufficient rules and enforcement practices in attractive markets. The countries analysed in this study – Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States – have committed in different forums, such as through the FATF and the Group of 20 (G20), to do more to prevent and curb money laundering and terrorist-financing, including by regulating gatekeepers, such as real estate agents, lawyers and accountants, who may act as facilitators in transactions that can enable money laundering." Extract from Transparency International Report 29 March 2017
Is Australia now the world capital of money laundering? It might just be, according to last week's Transparency International (TI) report: Doors Wide Open: Corruption and Real Estate in Four Key Markets.
Along with the UK, the USA and Canada, Australia's real estate market was identified as a money laundering hotspot. 10 weaknesses were identified as making it easier for property to be bought so to hide stolen money:
Inadequate anti-money laundering provisions
Identification of the beneficial owners of legal entities, trusts and other legal arrangements is still not the norm
Foreign companies have access to the real estate market with few requirements or checks
Over-reliance on due diligence checks by financial institutions leads to cash transactions going unnoticed
Insufficient rules on suspicious transaction reports and weak implementation
Lack of proper checks on politically exposed persons and their associates
Limited control over professionals who can engage in real estate transactions: no "fit and proper" test
Limited understanding of, and action on, money laundering risks in the sector
Lack of sanctions
Of the four countries analysed, Australia was the worst, deficient in all 10 areas.
Australia performed this poorly because of inadequate legislation and weak implementation of existing rules. Real estate agents, lawyers and accountants are not subject to the provisions of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Act 2006. This means that properties can be bought and sold without any due diligence from these parties. Customer due diligence on real estate transactions is left to financial institutions. This creates an environment where large cash transactions can go unnoticed.
TI reports that, in Australia, Chinese buyers often pay in cash. These transactions represent an increased risk of money laundering. According to Global Financial Integrity, between 2004 and 2013, China1 led the world with USD1.39 trillion in illicit outflows. In 2013, China had the largest such outflows of any country: nearly USD260 billion.
The TI report concludes that Australia has failed to meet its international commitment to tackle corruption and money laundering as a member of the Financial Action Task Force ('FATF'), the global regulator against money laundering. Australia's failings in this sector are not new, and these concerns have been previously raised by the FATF2 and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac).
Not all the news is bad. There are some encouraging signs, including:
The introduction of a Deferred Prosecution Agreement scheme to encourage greater self-reporting of bribery and corruption by companies; and
Strengthened whistle-blower protections.
But the deficiencies discussed above and Australia's poor score on the Corruptions Perceptions Index show that we're still behind where we should be. Why? Footnotes
1 Followed by Russia and Mexico at USD1.0 trillion and USD528 billion respectively.
2 See top of page 7 under 'Risk and General Situation'.
3 See section 7 – Developments in Australia.
(Source: 9 April 2017, Article by Alex Viniarsky, Kordamentha)
Commentary by Kevin Beck on AML/CTF in Australia
I have authored several responsss to Australian government enquiries on AML/CTF during the past two years. My knowledge of the technology that facilitates likely money laundering is borne out of my work in the identity, credit card and other technology industreies and observations of banking and their supplier's management and attention.
Production of financial instruments (credit and debit cards) takes place in private bureaus that are under contract to Australian banks and other financial institutions. The development of automatic deposit, and transaction, machines, available to the public (24 hours a day), with international transfer capability would open the door to facilitation of money laundering and terror financing.
Australian law requires banks, and others, dealing in money transfers to monitor and report suspicious transactions to Austrac. I believe the cavalier manner of disreagrd within these institutions by executive management should be of concern. Their arrogance before the Australian parliamentary enquries should be a cause of deep concern.
Australian supermarket retailers Coles and Woolworths excel at mediocrity
"Australian businesses are making do with mediocre senior executives because they can't find enough with the right skills to motivate and get the best from staff. Most just don't have what it takes to be leaders, according to a survey by LinkedIn of human resource managers." (Chris Pash, September 5, 2016, Business Insider Australia)
With the end of the mining boom comes reality. Our policy makers and corporate leaders wasted decades of wealth. Our manufacturing has been decimated through the tacit acceptance of our state and federal politicians of the forces of globalism. Similarly consecutive governments have failed to capitalise on our agricultural assets and know how. In comparison New Zealand produces 30% of the world's milk and its economy exceeds ours in terms of agricultural initiative. Coupled with failed energy policies and lack of coordinated control and investment Australia is facing a crisis on many fronts.
Australia has pockets of expertise and achievement but our policy makers are myopic, risk averse and short term thinkers. They are focused on winning political office and retaining personal power and position. Our venture capital market is small, our banks are mortgage sellers and our superannuation funds are risk averse.
We are a nation dependent on building houses, consumerism, government handouts and subsidies. In terms of being consumers the goods we buy are largely not manufactured in Australia.
With a housing price that is dangerously unstable and household debt rising retail is of significant importance. When we fail to consume Australia's economic wellbeing falls. Our retail is strangled by poor management and a failure to show imagination and innovation.
"Australian retailers have not had a great track record of anticipating changes in the retail environment, for example they have been late in getting on board with e-commerce, underestimated globalisations impact, focused inwardly rather than looking to take advantage of overseas expansion opportunities and when they do targeting traditional markets of the UK and USA or the safety of Singapore rather than China and large emerging markets. So who is to blame? You can't go past the CEO's, boards and other retail executives who have continually lacked vision and courage to step outside their comfort zone." (Bill Rooney, Inside Retail, March 16, 2017)
Yes as Mr Ronney says you cannot go past the CEOs and the Board, just look at Woolworths, it reported a full-year loss of $1.235 billion and a 40.8 per cent decline in underlying earnings from its Australian food and petrol business. The supermarket giant's net profit for the 52 weeks to June 26 slipped from last year's $2.146 billion profit as it took $2.628 billion of write downs mostly related to its ongoing exit from the hardware sector and its underperforming Big W stores. But earnings before interest and tax from Australian food and petrol also dropped to $1.76 billion, from $2.97 billion in the prior corresponding period, due to lower prices and a decline in items per basket. The result marks Woolworths' first loss in its 23 years as a public company. (August 25, 2016, news.com.au)
Their solution, get rid of 1,500 jobs.
Australian executives running our retail sector do not invest in research and development or innovation in products and services. They focus on new business models, systems integration, and high performance work and management practices. They seem to have self belief that they are consummate retail mangers.
"For decades, Woolworths and Coles have been in a dominant position in the supermarket arena. For a long time, Coles was on top and Woolworths was struggling. Then fortunes changed: it was Woolworths on top and Coles struggled. In the process both companies developed an arrogant management style that took advantage of their dominant position. Suppliers suffered. It was a culture that did not transplant easily to other retail forms, so when Coles expanded into Kmart in the 1960s and took over Myer in the 1980s, both non-supermarket retailers struggled.
Coles' supermarket mentality did not transplant into running Myer. For a time, Kmart was successful, but as the years went by, it too fell into disrepair. At the time the generally held view was that the Coles management was simply not up to standard. But in fact they had defeated Woolworths in supermarkets, which is why they will be looking to expand into other retail areas.
When Woolworths reversed its fortunes and took the top supermarket spot, it found itself running Big W, Dick Smith and later Masters. It made a hash of all three of them. Once again, we blamed the hubris of the Woolworths management for the mistakes. But I think it was just another example of how the skills in supermarkets do not necessarily transplant into other forms of retailing." (Robert Gottliebsen, Australian Business Review, January 6, 2016)
They are technocrats.
"The Australian Business Foundation found that Australia continued to rank poorly in management capability, and that our managers were "good at solving tactical and operational problems in a creative way, but lacked the ability to sustain innovation in a strategic way". The Business Council of Australia and Society for Knowledge Economics argued that, "the emphasis of economic reform will need to evolve to a new stage - the leadership and management of Australian organisations, and the educational infrastructure and programs required to support the development of innovative capabilities within organisations". (Innovation in Australia, How We Measure Up, Professor Roy Green and Dr Danielle Logue, University of Technology Sydney Australia)
I think this is evident in our retail sector. I believe that our two major retailers Coles and Woolworths are process and systems driven. They spend their days studying consumer purchasing data and engaging each other in price wars. They produce dull, boring and uninspiring shopping experiences.
Rows of shelves with a few "kitch unimaginative market spaces" which are supposed to tap into our liking of the market stalls we find in regional Australia.
"There has been a lack of imagination, a decided lack or absence of new product. That is one of the reasons why this Christmas is going to be a very flat, uninteresting situation. It is relatively dull, boring, repetitive - and that is not the sort of thing that will capture the imagination or stimulate the emotion."(Australian retailers urged to lift their game after nightmare year, December 17, 2016, News.com.au)
In my local shopping centre Woolworths has renovated adding a small café with a sushi bar and a large long deli with big signs and a small limited butchery. One can ask for a bigger cut of the same meat product wrapped in plastic packaging in the rows of fridges. Woolworths like Coles has bought up the meat pipeline from paddock to plate effectively creating a duopoly that can set the price through the supply line rather than through collusion or monopoly.
The senior managers of Woolworths come from state head office and gather together looking at the small butcher's precinct (and I mean small with no capability to actually cut up beats) or they gaze at the long glass, quite ordinary, deli counter congratulating themselves on the new supermarket.
I have a view that they are people in pursuit of new heights in mediocrity.
Back in head office people remote from the coal face make decisions on mass for the stores, adding and deleting products based on their "technical assessments" and study of big data. I wonder how much decision making authority a local store manager has to stock other products or create a new service?
For people sitting in the hive without real context all that big data is just data in the hands of detached analysts.
Next to the supermarket is a liquor store owned by Woolworths. But you cannot combine the buying of groceries and liquor because they are separate business entities with separate systems.
Across the aisle is a shabby older Coles, with minimal floor space and less stock but still rows of goods presented as they were decades back. There is a fruit and vegetable section which is similar to Woolworth's attempt at a market presentation.
Coles has a liquour store inside the supermarket but one cannot pay for liquor and groceries together. Like Woolworths they are separate businesses with separate systems.
Both companies make the customer fit their systems and their processes. Not the other way around.
Coles and Woolworths are focused, not on offering variety and imagination with a single shopping experience for everything one might want but on using old methods of psychology and manipulation which are failing.
The two companies see saw in the gladiatorial contest of sales but for me they demonstrate no vision as to what is possible.
This occurs because together they control 80% of the grocery market. There is no real competition. They have been in this duopoly since they were created. There has been no major entry of a competitor on scale to take this share off them. Second tier competitors nibble at the turnover. They have built end to end pipelines of products and they dominate liquor and wine sales.
Aspects of their store presentations are similar to the more imaginative European hypermarts, with stacks of discounted items, probably closer how Aldi is setting up its stores in Australia. Aldi unashamedly promotes itself totally on price. It has taken maybe 13% of the market predominantly from other smaller chains. It too is bound in a technocratic model of operation, not surprisingly since it is a German company. Aldi carries a small range of goods and is not a shopping experience offering choice and atmosphere. A no frills service.
The focus on price begs the question as to why people go shopping and do they prefer the social experience of malls? Shopping centres rely on anchor tenants and they are forced to provide the consumer experience, not Woolworths or Coles.
In my case I have the choice of all three within the same precinct. Price is often a determinant. At Aldi one can buy liquor and groceries at the same time. The choice of liquor and wine is very limited.
Coles and Woolworths are working to match Aldi on price.
Australian retailers tend to all congregate with smaller stores than the European models which tend to be destinations along a highway. Here we have Cosco and DFO who have large stores but they are in metropolitan areas.
In late 2017 Amazon will purportedly open in Australia.
"MIKE SEGAR / REUTERS
Only a small minority of Aussie retailers have a plan to challenge Amazon down under.
It's official -- Amazon delivery services are coming to Australia in 2017 and the majority of local retailers don't have a plan to be able to compete with them in the consumer market.
In fact, almost half of the 505 Australian retailers surveyed in new research from Commonwealth Bank were unfazed about the giant online goods distributor's arrival down under, which is tipped for late 2017. Almost a third were unaware they were coming at all and, of those who did know, only 14 percent currently have a business plan in place to be able to compete with Amazon.
He told HuffPost Australia the innovativeness of retailers surveyed was measured on a scale between minus 100 and 100, where a score of minus 100 suggests no innovation at all and 100 suggests multi-focused innovation that results in business strategies and products consumers have not seen before.
"What we found with retail on average, if you took all of the retailers in our survey, is [the score] comes down to 26.2 percent on our innovative scale, so only just innovating," he said.
· "What we did find is that, if you're in retail, you're more likely to be innovating, but you're innovating in small ways rather than in a strategic multi-dimensional method. (Luke Cooper, Associate Editor, HuffPost, Australia 24 March2017)
· "We have this very high performance in discovery, research, inventiveness, universities and medical research institutes. For the size of this country we rank very high on that test."
"Where we don't rank nearly as highly is in the transfer of that knowledge and its translation into actual marketplace outcomes in better products and services. Why is that? We have no chance of becoming a top tier innovation nation until we fix that challenge/problem, in my view," he says. (Bill Ferris on Innovation, in Australian Financial Review Weekend, December 16, 2016)
BELOW ARE THE REASONS I PERSONALLY BELIEVE COLES AND WOOLWORTHS' BUSINESS MODELS ARE SUBSTANDARD
" Top down pressure driven and thuggish cultures, unstable organisations with limited, if any, employee training and development.
When I observe how these two employers treat their people, the lack of training beyond teaching them how to use the register, the casualisation and manipulation of employment awards. There is no public evidence of a company wide training and development programme. The Human Resources Division operates behind the walls of a robo application employment system using NO REPLY emails to send the bad news. Front line staff in stores are not given time to see how the competition is doing things, receives no briefings on consumer law or explanation for fines levied by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or in the case of Woolworths an explanation of the company's appeal to the High Court. No debriefing on the outcome, that the company won on technical grounds. No explanation as to why they appealed an unconscionable conduct charge whilst Coles apologised and paid $10,000,000.
The aloofness of Coles and Woolworths senior management from walking the aisles talking to customers regularly. The arrogance of Woolworths in the Masters exercise. The fines for misleading advertising, they manner in which they treat their suppliers. They use their market power like a sledge hammer because ingrained in their middle management DNA is thuggery to meet the monthly sales and profit margins. Woolworths to be the most aggressive in this regard.
"In his former years, the nursery man was a supplier to Woolworths and, as was the practice of both Woolworths and Coles at the time, Woolworths gave him and all nursery people a hard time by changing the orders, delaying the payments and making life miserable....(Robert Gottliebsen, Australian Business Review, January 6, 2016)
Both retailers are uninspiring. The colours of the store, and lighting set the mood. Neither Coles or Woolworths exhibit design sense. Research indicates that consumers prefer stores with a large square footage and minimal fixtures and fittings. People like space and room to browse. If you enter a store where there is hardly room to move without fear of knocking over displays or bumping into other shoppers most people will swiftly head for the exit.
Products and Marketing Both retailers have adopted the private label strategy. These are not world class brand products. Consumers know that they are designed to maximise the retailer's profit and their control over suppliers. There is a minimal nod to local or regional suppliers in the stores. A small cabinet at Woolworths Chirnside Park Victoria is hidden in the back and has small range of the fine foods of Victoria's Yarra Valley. In Coles these products, if they stock them, are buried in the normal shelves.
Both companies have to my mind substandard marketing talent using a scatter gun approach which they no doubt would describe as "targeting". They rely on the Loyalty Card data for much of their intel. They probably use Facebook tools and services. There is no evidence of extensive study of competitors other than perhaps price matching.
If either store wants to claim that they are fresh food suppliers let them display when the product was delivered from the farm gate to the logistics centre or the store. But they will not because they use an elastic interpretation of fresh. No matter how they bend the truth to suit fundamentally without evidence to prove otherwise I view their claim as misleading and a lie.
Training of employees in this important factor is non existent as far as I can tell. Both retailers have suffered shocks when they have been publicly outed for poor customer service and ignorant management. Both seem to rely upon their loyalty schemes rather than their front line personnel.
They Appear Not To Know How To Let The Products Sell Coles and Woolworths supermarkets are very in using products to attract. I think they are fundamentally staple suppliers, that is bread and butter items. They have no high quality capture products. There is a minimal stock of alternate non grocery items.
Unlike the hypermarkets of Europe and Aldi they segregate non grocery products into other retail shops they own under different brands, all of which are failing or have failed.
Both are insular price focused companies, and the prices are not cheap compared to international supermarkets. Australia should be able to produce high quality agricultural products for the stores and they do, except Coles and Woolworths use their market power, screwing the supplier down, and taking the profit.
Solving problems is really at the heart of their retail mission. Taking problem solving to the next level is a challenge. It appears to me that these two retailers will use email or text rather than face to face. They are much like the telcos who put you through hoops. There is no centre of excellence in any of these retailers facilities where customers are engaged. Apple call have a genius bar in their stores to engage customers. This would require an intellectual leap by Coles and Woolworths' management to conceive what they might be able to do. A leap too far.
It seems to me that Coles and Woolworths management appear to rely upon loyalty programmes and targeted offers via email or on line rather than by human interface. It is a rare employee of these retailers who will walk up and ask what can I do today to make your shopping here a pleasure? That might require more staff, on better salaries in the stores, than these two retailers are willing to entertain.
Keep it simple: less is more
I believe that Woolworths carries something in the order of 31,000 items, Aldi has maybe 1,700. Coles might be in the mid 20,000s.
Point of sale
The technology at the checkout in both enterprises is outmoded. Unfortunately it appears that over 30% of Australians who use self-check outs are thieves.
THE ART OF THE POSSIBLE
I wonder whether Australia's major supermarket retailers conceive the art of the possible or even how to imagine it?
They have examples here in Australia too gain ideas from and even emulate such as the iconic Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne. A tourist draw card.
The bosses of Coles and Woolworths could travel to Europe and see how it's done.
DO CROOKS ABOUND OR IS IT MORE LIKELY TO BE POOR KNOWLEDGE & INCOMPETENCE?
23 March 2017
The Australian Vocational Learning Centre Pty Ltd (AVLC) has agreed to cancel enrolments and repay VET FEE-HELP funding to the Commonwealth for students affected by certain marketing practices that breached the Australian Consumer Law, following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
In a court-enforceable undertaking, AVLC has admitted that between 1 July 2014 and 30 April 2015, through the conduct of certain marketing agents, it:
made false or misleading representations to consumers, including that the VET FEE-HELP courses were free, government funded or specifically for low-income individuals
engaged in unconscionable conduct, including pressuring certain consumers into enrolling into courses that were not suitable for their education levels and personal backgrounds, and appearing to target disadvantaged and vulnerable consumers, and
entered into unsolicited consumer agreements with some consumers without disclosing certain information required for such agreements, such as the consumer’s right to terminate the agreement within a cooling off period. “AVLC has admitted that its conduct breached the Australian Consumer Law. (Source: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission)
HOME BUILDING INDUSTRY
13 March 2017
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Aveling Homes Pty Ltd (Aveling Homes), a Perth-based home building company, for alleged misleading conduct and false or misleading representations.
The alleged conduct is in relation to review websites Aveling Homes created for its businesses, Aveling Homes and the First Home Owner’s Centre.
The ACCC alleges that Aveling Homes created review websites that represented they were independent of Aveling Homes, and that the appearance, layout and features gave consumers the overall impression that they were affiliated with an independent third party consumer review website, Product Review, when this was not the case. The ACCC also alleges that the review websites were deliberately managed by Aveling Homes to ensure a favourable overall impression, by obscuring or removing unfavourable reviews.
“We believe the potential for harm from the conduct alleged in this case is significant, as buying or building a home is one of the biggest purchasing decisions for Australians,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said. “Online reviews are increasingly being relied on by consumers and they should be able to trust that those reviews are independent, unbiased and accurately reflect the range of consumer feedback received.”
The ACCC also alleges that Aveling Homes's marketing manager, Sean Quartermaine, was knowingly concerned in Aveling’s conduct. The ACCC is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties, injunctions, corrective notices, a compliance program, findings of fact and costs. (Source: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission)
BIG COMPANIES SEEM NO DIFFERENT
7 March 2017
Hoyt Food Manufacturing Industries Pty Limited (Hoyt’s Food) has paid a penalty of $10,800 following the issue of an infringement notice by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Hoyt’s Food is a distributor of oregano and supplies to major retailers across Australia. The ACCC issued the infringement notice because it had reasonable grounds to believe that Hoyt’s Food had made false or misleading representations in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law, after it tested the composition of a sample from a batch of the 25g net variety of “Hoyt’s Oregano Leaves rubbed” (batch number 28615). The ACCC considered that by including the statements ‘Oregano Leaves’ and ‘Oregano has a strong aromatic camphor like scent’ on product packaging, Hoyt’s Food misrepresented that its oregano product was only oregano, except for trace ingredients, when testing commissioned by the ACCC indicated that the product contained approximately fifty percent olive leaf.
“Suppliers of food products must ensure the accuracy of representations about the ingredients on labelling and any other packaging,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said. “Consumers use labelling on food products to make their purchasing decisions and are entitled to expect accurate labelling.”
Upon being notified by the ACCC of its concerns, Hoyt’s Food took steps to change its supply arrangements and indicated it would test its oregano products in the future. The payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws. (Source: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission)
3 March 2017
The Federal Court has ordered the corporations trading as SoleNet and Sure Telecom (the SoleNet/Sure Telecom Companies) and Mr James Harrison pay penalties totaling $250,000 and be restrained from carrying on a business or supplying services in connection with telecommunications for a period of two years.
The Court also disqualified Mr Harrison from managing corporations for three years. The orders take effect 1 April 2017. “The disqualification of Mr Harrison as a director sends a clear message that directors have responsibility to ensure their businesses comply with the Australian Consumer Law,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
In delivering his judgment, Justice Moshinsky noted “the contravening conduct was serious, deliberate and extended over a period of about two to three years” and “was not ad hoc, but systemic and planned”. His Honour also noted “Mr Harrison, the sole director of the companies, was ‘hands on’ in managing their day-to-day operations and was intimately involved in their conduct”. In delivering his judgment on relief, His Honour also made orders that the SoleNet/Sure Telecom Companies and Mr Harrison: take all reasonable steps to make refunds within 60 days to customers whose contracts were transferred or purportedly transferred from one SoleNet/Sure Telecom Company to another without their knowledge or informed consent and had paid early termination or cancellation fees; and pay the ACCC’s costs.
The ACCC acknowledges the assistance of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in its investigation. Background
The SoleNet/Sure Telecom Companies provide telecommunications services to residential and small businesses customers.
In December 2016, the Court found the SoleNet/Sure Telecom Companies had engaged in unconscionable conduct in connection with the supply of telecommunications services. The Court also found:
the sole director of the SoleNet/Sure Telecom Companies, Mr Harrison, was involved in the unconscionable conduct; and
in the cases of four of the six customers who gave evidence in the proceeding, the SoleNet/Sure Telecom Companies engaged in undue harassment in connection with the supply of services and payment for services.
The Court found that, between 2013 and 2015, the SoleNet/Sure Telecom Companies were restructured in part to avoid regulatory sanctions and unpaid debts to regulators.
As part of this process, customers were transferred from one SoleNet/Sure Telecom Company to another without their knowledge or informed consent, and were then subject to unjustified demands for payment of early termination or cancellation fees, when there was no legitimate contractual basis for the SoleNet/Sure Telecom Company that was seeking the payment to demand payment. (Source: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission)
Australia's Bad Managers
Australia's major bank CEOs were asked to appear before federal government enquiries into their culture and behaviour in 2016. They came though with veiled recalcitrant attitudes. They give no recognition that the Australian government gave the banks a deposit protection guarantee during the Global Financial Crisis. This guarantee has made the Australian banks the most profitable and secure in the world.
Australia's big 4 banks are very profitable because they have no real competition. They have employed financial advisers who breached rules and some who stole investor's funds, and lifetime savings, through misinformation. The banks have implemented commissions and put pressures on counter staff to maximise what is sold to customers. The banks have gouged customers with credit card and interchange fees, subjected them to poor technology and low grade service at every turn.
Australian mining companies pay royalties to state governments on top of normal corporate taxes. If the banks keep up their attitudes, poor ethics and behaviours, then I would expect sone form of populist political retaliation. It will not be, in my view, in the fomm of a Royal Commission. My research and listening to the drums in parliament house indiocates it will be in the form of a tax similar to mining companies, not a royalty but some form of a levy which will appear in the May 2017 federal budget. (Kevin Beck)
Ethics can be dangerous to a person's career. The danger may come not from tehir own ethical compass but from the ethics of people around them and the organization of which they are a part. And from their employers.
At work, you may be called upon to do things that turn out to be unethical or even illegal. What should you do if that occurs?
According to the old adage, “The best defense is a good offense.” And the best defense against involvement in wrongdoing is being prepared for organizational challenges that will inevitably test your personal values, moral beliefs, and commitment to doing the right thing.
I believe that most people use a faulty model of determining unethical behavior because they think that only “bad” people do “bad” things.
In many cases wrong doing is done by people who are viewed as good employees, good managers, and even good leaders. Much of the pressure to do bad things comes from competition, from fialing businesses, loss of livelihood, failure to meet onersous quotas and simplt being goood people.
The real challenge is understanding why “good” people do “bad” things. One reason is that they fail to recognize that the problems they are confronting have an ethical component and is not solely a compliance with the targets and KPIs, with marketing, finance or other kind of problem. As a result, they often lack the ability to analyse the problem from an ethical perspective. They have had no training. Many are oblivious of the law. Many are unaware that they can now be personally prosecuted.
The goal of ethics training is not to change people’s ethics — that is, make bad people good — but, rather, to enhance people’s sensitivity to ethical issues and provide them with tools for resolving ethical dilemmas effectively.
This has to be coupled with 'whislteblower protection" whihc is sadly lacking in Australia. The Australian government resists royal commissions, the creation of an anti corruption body, and is secretive in its dealings. Too many senior Ministers in Australia's federal, and state, governments often exemplify the Australian trait of "bully" and in some respects they are role models for the rest of society.
"Over the past three years, my stories at Fairfax Media and the ABC's Four Corners, covered serious failures and misconduct from our biggest companies. Household brands such as Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, Macquarie, IOOF and 7-Eleven have broken our trust and ruined the lives of thousands of people. Sadly, such things will continue to happen without a serious change in the culture of these companies, better laws and penalties and a stronger backbone from our corporate regulator to use the powers that it has.
None of these stories would have come to light without the brave contribution of whistleblowers. Without them, the bright light we shone on the financial planning arm of CommBank, systemic wage fraud at 7-Eleven and misconduct at CommBank's life insurance arm CommInsure, could never have taken place. We and the public owe them an immense debt of gratitude. But for some perverse reason, whistleblowers are often portrayed as lonely and disgruntled employees who spilled the beans out of malice."(Adele Ferguson: Adele Ferguson on the cost of whistleblowing and need for a bank royal commission, may 6, 2016)
Why Australian whistleblowers deserve better
Whistleblowers who call out corporate corruption in America receive government payouts, but those in Australia face unemployment and an uncertain future. The US system also allows the corporate watchdog the Securities Exchange Commission to pay bounties to whistleblowers if their tip leads to a fine of more than $1 million being issued.
Despite the high profile examples of executuve ethhics failure most Australian individuals and companies probably do not set out to make a defective product or to engage in massive fraud. They start a business, are under capitalsed and do not carfeully judge the costs of operating a business. Very often, these situations begin in small ways, with very small steps that seem inconsequential. It is also important for people to understand that most ethics scandals typically involve a number of people who are included in the decision-making process at each stage. As a result, responsibility becomes diffused among these individuals, making it difficult to attribute blame to or impose accountability on any particular person.
Although people may feel uncomfortable with what is happening as they move down the “slippery slope,” they convince themselves that “so long as it is legal, it is ethical” or that they are doing what is expected of them.
Rationalization — the ability to justify our behavior — is one of our greatest moral failings. (John R. Boatright, Raymond C. Baumhart Professor of Business Ethics at Quinlan School of Business, Loyola University Chicago. It was published in the September/October 2013 issue of the Financial Analysts Journal)
What the franchisee didn't know was that the caller, Jon, a Chinese student on a visa, was working undercover for Fairfax Media. This kind of visa fraud has emerged as part of a wider investigation by Fairfax Media into country's biggest pizza chain that has uncovered a business model in which many franchisees struggle to survive and workers are underpaid. The price varies from $30,000 to $150,000 depending on the visa, the job on offer and the worker's nationality. For franchisees engaging in this illegal practice the scheme offers lucrative sideline revenue to prop up low-income stores. (Source: Domino's scandal: franchisee selling visas Adele Ferguson, Mario Christodoulou, February 13, 2017. The Canberra Times Australia)
"Associate Professor Theresa Jacques is a pioneering intensive care specialist. She's the director of a major ICU. She's tough, passionate, incisive, and if your loved one needs life-saving medical treatment she's someone you'll want to have around. So why would her male colleagues ever have thought it was appropriate to tell her to fetch their tea and sandwiches?
Apology over 'toxic culture' among surgeons
October 10, 2015: After a survey finds nearly half of all surgeons have experienced discrimination, bullying or sexual harassment, RACS President apologises for the 'devastating impact' on surgeons and trainees. "It's the classic anecdote you'll hear from female intensivists," Professor Jacques said, who copped her fair share of sexism as she rose through the ranks almost 20 years ago. "We're talking about senior medical officers. Qualified doctors tasked with taking lunch orders and told to perform menial, secretarial tasks." (Source: One third of ICU doctors bullied, survey finds, prompting crackdown by College of Intensive Care Medicine, January 29, 2017)
Report by Australian state of Victoria Auditor General
but little changes when the culture is randic and the Victorian State Government Minister for Health is demonstrably ineffective, along with senior bureaucrats and the leadership of the Health and Medical Professional Bodies.
Franchise Headquarter Human Resource manager ignored regualtor's advice given some time back
A SWEEPING audit of Pizza Hut stores has uncovered “widespread” exploitation of young delivery drivers, including underpayment and sham contracting arrangements. According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, which investigated 34 franchisees in November 2015, 24 out of 26 completed audits so far have uncovered noncompliance with workplace laws. Out of the 24 non-compliant franchisees, seven were found to have misclassified delivery drivers as independent contractors rather than as employees, and three were found be underpaying staff, with more than $12,000 in underpayments owed to workers. Some underpayments were a consequence of the franchisee applying the wrong award or failing to increase rates in line with Fair Work Commission minimum wage decisions, the FWO found. (Source: News.com.au JANUARY 27, 2017)
Pizza Hut is the latest franchise found to be underpaying its workers by the Fair Work ombudsman. The ombudsman has found 24 of the 26 franchisees it has investigated so far were breaking the law. Most of the workers were young and some were from overseas. (Source: Samantha Donovan, ABC News, Australia)
Australia's second-biggest pizza chain, Pizza Hut, is under fire as evidence emerges that its franchisees are using "sham" contracts to pay delivery drivers as little as $12 an hour without super or WorkCover. It comes as the franchise giant is fighting its franchisees in the Federal Court after they launched a class action against head office alleging unconscionable conduct under the franchising code.
The revelation comes after a joint investigation by Four Corners and Fairfax Media revealed systemic worker exploitation at 7-Eleven. Workers at a range of fast food chains, nail salons, restaurants and retail stores have also been caught out underpaying and mistreating workers, many of whom are international students. One worker in a northern suburb of Melbourne said the franchisee was paying cash. "There is no paperwork and neither there is proof. But the biggest proof is employees, who are working there, who are exploited and have no other option apart from working and supporting them selves."
(Source: Wage fraud: Pizza Hut franchisees using 'sham' contracts to underpay drivers Adele Ferguson, Sarah Danckert, Sydney Morning Herald, November 23, 2015)
"The hugely popular Paul Sadler Swimland, which provides 30,000 swimming lessons a week to children across Australia, has been caught underpaying hundreds of young instructors over six years. A Fairfax Media investigation can reveal that the franchise network, which operates more than 15 swimming schools in Australia and overseas, underpaid staff hundreds of thousands of dollars by breaching conditions and entitlements in the company's enterprise agreement. ...
Staff say the original enterprise agreement – which includes no penalty rates for weekend work and has staff classified as seasonal part-time instead of casual – has left some workers worse off than they would have been under the award. The underpayments, which date back to 2010, are the result of some employees not having their rates increased as their age went up and the incorrect application of grades for more experienced teachers."(Source: The Age Newspaper, December 27, 2016: Adele Ferguson and Sarah Danckert)
HE WAS once one of the most powerful men in the NSW Government, holding senior ministerial positions and having vast amounts of influence over large swathes of the state Labor Party. But today former politician Eddie Obeid was sent to jail for a minimum of three years for misconduct. He has been denied bail with his jail term beginning immediately meaning he will spend Christmas behind bars. Obeid’s lawyer has already launched an appeal.
Premier Mike Baird savaged the former minister, saying his “crimes are the most serious instance of official corruption we have seen in our lifetimes”. The Government announced they would look to amend the law to prevent Obeid from accessing his superannuation and attempt to claw back $280,000 in legal fees."(Source: DECEMBER 15, 2016,News.com.au)
After a string of scandals at the Commonwealth Bank, the CEO's appearance was perhaps the most hyped, as the first of four chief executives from Australia's biggest banks to be grilled as part of a banking inquiry set up by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. "It is very important to have a change to the culture of accountability, so that appearance before the people's representatives, in the people's house in Canberra, is part of the banking calendar,"
I do not hold out much personal hope of instilling accountability and integrity into Australia's banking executives at any level.
Australia’s ANZ and Macquarie Bank have been hauled into the Australian Federal Court over alleged attempts to manipulate the benchmark rate of the Malaysian ringgit.
· ANZ admits to 10 instances of alleged cartel conduct, fined $9m
· Macquarie faces a $6m fine
· Macquarie trader regularly contacted ANZ traders about submissions for Malaysian ringgit fixing rate
The action taken by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) alleges traders at both banks engaged in cartel conduct in attempting to influence the daily rates used for currency trading. The allegations date back to a series of trading days in 2011.
ANZ has admitted to 10 instances of attempted cartel conduct and has submitted to the court to pay a penalty of $9 million and contribute to the ACCC's costs, while Macquarie is facing a $6 million penalty and costs. Both banks have accepted a series of facts the ACCC has put before the court.
Ego and hubris is among the elements that commentators point to when critiquing Australia's business executive behaviour and performance.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and Woolworths are in the High Court (appealing a Federal Court decision) over allegations the retailer engaged in unconscionable conduct after it demanded $60 million in extra payments from suppliers. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleges the supermarket demanded extra payments at short notice as part of its Mind the Gap program and any supplier unwilling to pay was seen as "not supporting" Woolworths.
The FTSE 100 giant RIO TINTO has terminated the contracts of Alan Davies, chief executive of the mining giant’s energy and minerals unit, along with Debra Valentine, legal and regulatory affairs group executive. Earlier this month Mr Davies was suspended and Ms Davies stepped down from her role after Rio contacted authorities about an investigation it was running into $10.5m of payments made to a consultant relating to the Simandou iron ore project in the West African country. The company said it discovered the existence of the payments three months ago from email correspondence. The money was allegedly paid to a consultant for his help assisting in negotiations about Simandou with Guinea’s president. Announcing the sackings, Rio said: “The board’s decision does not pre-judge the course of any external inquiries into this matter. However, the board concluded that the executives failed to maintain the standards expected of them under our global code of conduct.”
The Australian Federal Court has fined NRM Corporation Pty Ltd and NRM Trading Pty Ltd (together, NRM) $350,000 for contempt of court. NRM owns and operates the business known as the Advanced Medical Institute (AMI). This decision follows an earlier finding by Justice Moshinsky that NRM had failed to comply with court orders made by Justice North on 22 April 2015 in previous proceedings brought by the ACCC. In imposing the fines for contempt against NRM, Justice Moshinsky said, “NRM continued to engage in the conduct after it was warned by the ACCC’s solicitors that it was in breach of the orders. NRM has not provided any explanation of how the breaches of the orders came about. NRM’s behaviour does not indicate contrition.”
“This decision reinforces the importance of compliance with any Court orders the ACCC obtains, and makes it clear that the ACCC will take steps to pursue businesses which fail to comply,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said. “The ACCC considered that substantial fines were necessary in this case to deter NRM from further non-compliance with Court orders, as well as to send a more general deterrence message to other businesses and individuals.” In those previous ACCC proceedings against NRM, Justice North had found that NRM had engaged in unconscionable conduct and used unfair contract terms in the way it promoted and supplied medical services and medications to men suffering from sexual dysfunction. Justice North made orders permanently restraining NRM from making representations about the efficacy of AMI treatments, except where they were made by a duly qualified medical practitioner during face-to-face consultations.
The Australian Fair Work Ombudsman has launched a fresh investigation into scandal-plagued convenience store chain 7-Eleven after new evidence emerged franchisees were still exploiting workers. The Fair Work Ombudsman is investigating "serious allegations of breaches of workplace laws" at the franchise giant just months after it completed its inquiry into rampant wage fraud at the company.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against MSY Technology Pty Ltd, MSY Group Pty Ltd, and M.S.Y. Technology (NSW) Pty Ltd (MSY Technology) alleging that MSY Technology has misrepresented consumers’ rights to remedies for faulty products. MSY Technology entities operate 28 retail stores across Australia and an online site which sells computers, computer parts, accessories, and electronic goods. The ACCC alleges that between January 2013 and February 2016, statements made by MSY Technology Pty Ltd and/or MSY Group Pty Ltd on the MSY Technology website, and similar representations made in store to some consumers in New South Wales and Victoria by employees of MSY Technology Pty Ltd and M.S.Y. Technology (NSW) Pty Ltd, misrepresented consumer rights by claiming that: MSY Technology had discretion over whether a customer was entitled to a remedy for a faulty product
It was up to MSY Technology to choose which remedy it would provide customers
MSY Technology would only provide a remedy for products returned within seven days
MSY Technology may require the customer to pay an administration fee to receive a remedy for a faulty product that is out of warranty
MSY Technology would provide no remedies in relation to faulty software products.
“The ACCC alleges that MSY Technology breached the Australian Consumer Law by misrepresenting consumers’ rights to a repair, replacement, or a refund when they have purchased faulty products,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Meriton Property Services Pty Ltd, trading as ‘Meriton Serviced Apartments’ (Meriton). The ACCC alleges that Meriton engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct in connection with the posting of reviews of its properties on the TripAdvisor website. TripAdvisor offers a service called ‘Review Express’ where participating businesses provide TripAdvisor with email addresses of recent customers who have consented to passing on their details. TripAdvisor then emails the customers, prompting them to submit a review of their recent experience with that business. The ACCC alleges that from November 2014 to October 2015, Meriton took steps to prevent guests it suspected would give a negative review from receiving TripAdvisor’s ‘Review Express’ email to avoid them posting potentially negative reviews. It is alleged that this was done by inserting additional letters into guests’ email addresses provided to TripAdvisor so that the email addresses were ineffective, and not sending other guest email addresses to TripAdvisor.
Criminal charges have been laid against Japanese-based company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K-Line) in relation to alleged cartel conduct concerning the international shipping of cars, trucks, and buses to Australia between July 2009 and September 2012. The matter was before the Downing Centre Local Court for a first mention today, 15 November 2016.
This is the second matter in which criminal charges have been laid against a corporation under the criminal cartel provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. K-Line is a global organisation with offices in Europe, Africa, Northeast Asia, South East Asia, Japan, North America, Central America, South America, India, the Middle East, and Oceania (including Australia). It has over 7,000 employees and its headquarters is in Tokyo. It also has an Australian subsidiary, K-Line (Australia) Pty Ltd. The ACCC’s investigation into other alleged cartel participants is continuing.
AUSTRALIAN INSURANCE COMPANY YOUI
Horror stories about alleged Youi scams and frauds have flooded in after Fairfax revealed allegations of wide scale illegal conduct at the major insurer.
Since the story was published on Sunday, August 28, Fairfax has been contacted by more than 140 Youi customers claiming the company took their money without authorisation, or signed them up for fraudulent policies.
Many people only discovered the alleged frauds when they checked their bank accounts and insurance policies after reading of Fairfax's investigation. The company meanwhile maintains the allegations are wrong. On Sunday night it released a statement rejecting the assertions. RELATED CONTENT Does Youi owe you? Insurer accused of billing without consent Calls for Senate inquiry after Youi accused of fraud, theft "We vehemently deny that management condoned any such behaviours. We reject the assertion that 'potentially thousands of people [who] have had money taken from their accounts by insurance giant Youi without authorisation or notice'. We also confirm that where we have enough information about the customers whose complaints are noted in the article, we have ensured that they are resolved." (Source:Youi customers share their worst horror stories, Liam Mannix, AUGUST 30 2016, The Age Newspaper, Melbourne Australia)
FUNCTIONAL STUPIDITY - SMART PEOPLE WITH STUPID IDEAS
"We are constantly told that to be competitive we must be smart. We should be knowledge workers employed by knowledge-intensive firms that trade in the knowledge economy. Our governments spend billions on trying to create knowledge economies, our firms brag about their superior intelligence, and individuals spend decades of their lives building up fine CVs. Yet all this collective intellect does not seem to be reflected in the many organisations we studied. Much of what goes on in these organisations was described – often by employees themselves – as being stupid. ...
Far from being "knowledge-intensive", many of our most well-known chief organisations have become engines of stupidity. We have frequently seen otherwise smart people stop thinking and start doing stupid things. They stop asking questions. They give no reasons for their decisions. They pay no heed to what their actions cause. Instead of complex thought we get flimsy jargon, aggressive assertions or expert tunnel vision. Reflection, careful analysis and independent reflection decay. Idiotic ideas and practices are accepted as quite sane. People may harbour doubts, but their suspicions are cut short. What's more, they are rewarded for it. By avoiding careful thinking, people are able to simply get on with their job. Asking too many questions is likely to upset others – and to distract yourself. Not thinking frees you up to fit in and get along. Sometimes it makes sense to be stupid. Perhaps we live in an age where a certain type of stupidity has triumphed."(Extract: Why smart people buy into stupid ideas: The Stupidity Paradox, Australian Financial Review June 17, 2016. Read more: http://www.afr.com/leadership/why-smart-people-buy-into-stupid-ideas-20160613-gpi56s#ixzz4CM4pi3cc
I worry in that writing these articles I will offend people. I also know that in writing these articles i will be closing the door to opportunities not that there are already so many closed by bias and agism. However unless we engage in critical analysis and thinking, challenging the status quo and demanding a modicum of professional behaviour from our decision makers Australia will progressively slide into decline. We will not achieve our true potential, we will not unleash our peoples'talents and creativity.
It is as if many of our corporation executives, managers and vested interests in politics, and elsewhere, are acting as if they exist in silos, in isolation of a wider responsibility dictaed by laws, morality and ethics. Do they not know of these imposts on their bahviour or do they not care thinking they are above them?
To bring about a sea change it may require purging some from their senior corporate office or breaking up anti-social duopolies and the market manipulators. It may require prosecuting the corporate executives, trade unionists, politicians and others, personally to promote ethics and moral management and behavioural practices.
It appears that instead of being at the frontier of experience with a bright shining future many Australian organisations are in the grip of functional stupidity. The inclination to reduce the organisation’s activity to a narrow set of specified technical functions or the creation of the illusion of a creative enterprise that really is just ordinary. Employees are required to do the job correctly and as required but do not think deeply about why the job is required at all.
Australian Government of all persuasions, and “us too” enterprises, and institutions, have embraced the jargon of the creative smart society. Making mundane things is no longer the future, it is about the knowledge nation and the promise of technology and the Internet. We are in an impatient greedy age where we live in a world of new knowledge, “five things” that brighter people, and smarter leaders, do that they did not do before or that we did not know they did.
Our commercial enterprises, public services, institutions, small, large and medium businesses, are full of clever people doing ordinary things. Most jobs advertised today are narrowly specified (the recruiter will tell you you did not make the cut because the employee was very specific) and most Australian jobs do not actually require deep higher education, a mere high school qualification or a lower level certificate will suffice but many job advertisements require a degree. But that degree is likely to be underutilised. If we look at the newspapers every day, we see exposes of stupidity, lack of ethics and the reprehensible nature of many of our larger enterprise executives, and in businesses such as franchises, underlying all of these is the engine of stupidity. Idiotic ideas flood society, many of which are considered to be novel, enlightening or even achievable. The most common being the start-up valued in the millions or even billions of dollars. The Australian Stock Exchange has indicated such a proposition of an engine of stupidity in banning music streaming business Guvera from listing on our exchange stopping a company that has no commercial prospects from seeking millions from investors after rewriting its original prospectus at the direction of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission. It might be that people at work, at all levels even into the Boardrooms and in our governments, public services and political parties, do stupid things because they are focused on short term objectives and do not want to be seen to be questioning, slacking off or even worse thinking. It could be that they do not know, have no experience or are narrowly educated. Some have never heard of the Trade Practices Act, Competition laws or even Employment Law.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lauds the creative class of entrepreneurs. To my mind the creative class are researchers, biochemists, scientists, farmers & miners, people who invented the Boeing Jet, radio, television, wireless and a host of things that add value. They are not app developers, disruptive technology creators nor people doing BIG DATA or working in data centres ringing people up to ask inane questions late in the evening or trying to sell some get rich quick scheme via Twitter or LinkedIn. Creative people do not run Australian corporations such as Woolworths, Coles or 7-Eleven. Most of our Australian executives and managers are copy cats drawing on tried international methods and practices. It is a rare executive who is not hierarchical in style and centrally motivated fearful of people below who may be more talented. Rather every day we observe an inordinate number of people, working in Australia's major corporations, and governments, engaging in egregious behaviours. and practices. Ripping off employees, consumers, suppliers, small companies, investors and other hard working people, bullying and threatening for monetary gain, As I travel Australia I like to visit retailers and talk to employees, small businesses, newspaper editors and people in regional communities.
There is a common thread of their stories regarding the big retilers particularly Woolworths. One told me that they will discount and keep up the pressure of a small business down the road has a better price than they do. The Woolworth's manager will continue teven if they are losing money till the other retailer gives up. There is a widespread belief in our communities that these people do not care. They are so big raking in so much money that they pay the fines and move on. There will be no deterrent to this until egregious behaviours attract personal criminal penalties and jail time. Is this smart? It must be in their minds because they keep at it. But it is not smart it is functional stupidity implemented by smart people with dumb perceptions.
Many people in the marketing divisions of companies, the social media whizz kids who are passionate about eveything, the incumbents in politics have an enthusiasm for showy things, the Internet of Things and Silicon Valley (various country) tech parks as a panacea for their lack of knowing what to do when the world, and the economy. does not function as it should. AirB&B and Uber impress those who do not think deeply about the underlying truths. These two enterprises play to the greedy or the get rich who do not want to invest in the industry but they have an asset, an apartment, a car and human nature kicks in. There is no thinking through to the end result. Technology in this case is not disruptive, it is destructive just as down down down in retailing is destructive. Despite talking innovation the choir follow the same script, the same tune, the models and processes fulfilling Einstein's theory.
In amongst this we have the big Australian enterprise or multinational entity, run from overseas, with a focus on discipline, order, compliance, the CRM, and conformity. Americans are exceptionally polite but American businessmen, behind their masks, are suspicious and untrusting of others particularly those of other nations. They are focused on short term (measured in months) returns This makes working for the long term difficult. By comparison German business executives take a longer term strategic view. C
onsumerism is not simply marketing and buying stuff it is now an intellectual asset industry and apparently the primary engine of our economy. We do not make things we consume them. If people are not buying and getting into debt on credit cards the nation is stuffed and as a result governments have no money. A downward spiral waiting for the endless growth theory of the economies to kick back in. Selling widgets, endless varieties of technology, in fact anything now requires a "customer centric mindset". One of the many inane examples of jargon put about by the new age experts of social media and business.
According to this new enlightenment we are at a crossroads of synchronicity and delusion, the very refining of our existence where apparently we can now discover the world of endless possibilities where everyone possesses the internals to succeed. If they can but locate them. We are now learning common sense is a novel thing to be reduced to a 140 word tweet. On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit: source: http://journal.sjdm.org/15/15923a/jdm15923a.pdf
The Ridiculous Business Jargon Dictionary: A-words
Do you wonder where your co-workers picked up all the ridiculous things they say? From fresh-faced interns to top management, everyone drops one of these gems occasionally. We can only hope that you're not here to actually add buzzwords to your vocabulary. http://www.theofficelife.com/business-jargon-dictionary-A.html Psychobabble is the nonsense jargon applied in the new age economy justifying corporate, and individual indulgence in a cult of self esteem, It has been around for decades. A weasel word (also, anonymous authority) is an informal term for words and phrases aimed at creating an impression that a specific and/or meaningful statement has been made, when only a vague or ambiguous claim has been communicated, enabling the specific meaning to be denied if the statement is challenged. The market place is full of drivel, worthless mission statements and lies, hyperbole and glossy over statement all bound up in misleading representation. We are not in a world of rising innovation, we are in a world of pseudo science, a decline of intellectual capacity and critical thought, where the ordinary is now extraordinary.
Twitter is now the repository of all things
Just about every commercial entity of medium or large scale, governments, public services and institutions are focused on public relations, not innovation. Negativity must be avoided at all costs. Preferable to spin the story and the truth. They engage in hiding reality and their conduct or their objectives. Twitter and LinkedIn have provided the people in their lounge rooms, in small business, in every part of the world the opportunity to present themselves and to take their ideas and their aspirations global. However most if not all, are stupid in their approach. They do know research and pump out their get rich schemes to whomever links to them or follows as a courtesy on their social media platform of choice. I reciprocate to share and look at what the world has to offer. I look at each account and decide, Do they? Hardly if ever. They insult me with get rich quick schemes and offers that will change the world, they are keen and persistent driven by a culture that obsesses with success. Their knowledge of world beyond their suburb is imperfect. This is what technology in all of its wonder has also given the world.
Smart people with stupid ideas. How did they come to be in charge and so influential? They now exist in every sector of Australian commerce, industry and government. Is Australia, America and every other nation with this similar endemic doomed to mediocrity?
All of this cacophony builds an impression that much is being done that there is a bright future under the management and administration of enterprise and government. Every three or four years, after an election we face repetitive change syndrome where filed policies and vested interests are resurrected. Corporations engage in repetitive change syndrome where failed Board and executives, politicians and individuals claim to have learned lessons and have found enlightenment. It is a con. They want to create the image of being busy, doing things, creating a new future without actually wanting to embrace change, it still stays the same but wears a different uniform.
The incessant re-branding of sameness to produce illusions of newness.
There are armies of experts. Professional firms all about persuading the client they are smart. In actual fact they are no smarter than any other organisation that consults or does the same type of work. They are probably no smarter than their clients. However they succeed in taking large sums of money because gullible (risk averse) management buys them in. Boards and Executives of organisations, who are incapable of extracting smart from their employees or engage some process of discovery.
Australian state, federal and territory public services have to buy in consultants because these institutions have been denuded of policy and knowledge through politicisation, winnowing of talent and mismanagement, They may be run by Ministers of governments, Secretaries and Directors General, who believe they are CEOs rather than public servants and who have a mandate conferred on them by someone somewhere, but not the people of Australia. The big four professional firms have created the external illusion of excellence. When they stuff up they quietly pay the price but manage the perception. They are one of the inventors of functional stupidity. Everyone is now excellent at everything even though they may have had only a few years in the workplace. Everything they do they approach passionately desperate to avoid being seen as stupid or inexperienced. If they do not know it Google is there to save them. They create a self and ability that is not only delusional they publish it on social media showing the world they are stupid.
Our governments make big noises and policy statements about a new economy a knowledge society. It is a mantra without deep foundation. Organisations doing ordinary everyday things are now incubators of our knowledge society. The bulk of our employment has always been in small business yet apparently Australia has a new economy.
The majority of people in Australia’s workforce are doing routine ordinary things. They are very good at their jobs but also they are often are clueless to a wider mosaic of interconnections. Intelligence and reason are discarded for ideology, gut feeling and perception. We can observe how the media has to put things out in 30 second grabs because the audience is apparently incapable of comprehending or being interested in complexity. Unfortunately, small business does not create economies of scale or sustain towns and states in Australia. Submarine building, power stations, energy and industry do and these are disappearing at the hands of dreamers of a knowledge society and an Internet of Things coupled with the arrant stupidity of decision makers, executives and managers.
Management is by least common denominator process, cut employee, cut costs and be rejuvenated with the bottom line manufactured through a process of smoke and mirrors and accounting techniques. Work harder, work smarter, the workforce must deliver productivity whilst too often those at the top are immune from such appraisal or requirements. Occasionally a CEO or a Board Chair gets a red card. Rarely if ever do Ministers of our state, federal or territory governments get a red card. It appears to me that today’s managers, and the systems within our Australian organisations and the effects of continually harping on about a so called new economy along with ambiguity, the collapse of capitalism legitimacy and capabilities, is denuding Australia of the ability, or maybe just willingness, to think critically and to look beyond our narrow little spectrum of individualism and aspiration. We want it all without having to do much to get it other than play the game. But what game is it?
This article briefly looks at the ethos, management style and behaviours of two of Australia's largest corporations. I ponder what the values of the two entities are or rather what are the values of the people who direct, manage and work in them are?
If I were to ask someone shopping in either of these who is the CEO of the company I believe they will not able to tell me. Yet many people, by comparison, will know who Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are. Perhaps this is not a valid or relevant point in the context of this article. Apple and Microsoft may have human faces compared to Australia’s two largest retailers that have a reputation for dealing with people in an arrogant and dominating manner. We speak and write of corporations as if they are living entities, a faceless monolith that is capable of doing this, we rarely speak or write of the people who run them. We do not name the individuals who are responsible for the culture, the operations and the criminal and unethical behaviours. There is a dictum in the corporate world termed the "perpetuity principle", its foundation is focusing on results to ensure that substance triumphs over style. It also has true humility at its core. Effective and careful leaders, and managers, act as stewards for the good of their companies creating profitable, sustainable, and trusted businesses. Hubris on the other hand is the characteristic of excessive confidence or arrogance, which leads a person or persons to believe that he she they can make no mistakes and that all their actions are justifiable. These innate characteristics cause irrational and harmful behaviour. CEOs and their managers who are overcome with hubris tend to be difficult to work with.
I know of many people working in industry who tell me they will not deal with Woolworths' or Coles' executives due to the way in which they both do business and the continual adoption of arrogance in negotiations and style. The two corporations operate multi-businesses across Australia and the culture of hubris, and arrogance, is seemingly transferred among the executives of the whole enterprises by osmosis. Hubris breeds and flourishes. There is some truth in the arrogant hubris badge with which Coles and Woolworths are burdened?
My perception is that Woolworths is the more arrogant of the two. I am trying to contemplate the brands and how either of them could entertain the belief or have the objective to be trusted by the customers suppliers or employees? Every aspect of their operations throw up examples as to why they should not be trusted. "It was a scheme allegedly cooked up by desperate Woolworths senior managers to plug a $50 million shortfall in the retailer's 2014 gross profits. But instead of boosting earnings, a program dubbed Mind the Gap may end up costing Woolworths more than $20 million if the Federal Court upholds claims that Woolworths acted unconscionably by trying to force more than 820 suppliers to pay over $60 million in extra payments." Woolworths' unconscionable conduct case kicks off in Federal Court, January 31, 2016 Sue Mitchell, Sydney Morning Herald: It could be claimed that the level of mismanagement displayed by our two largest retail corporations is an indicator of the poor quality of the management of many of our corporations and a factor in holding Australia back from achieving greater things. If you talk to older, and longer serving front line employees, of either of the companies, it is clear that their employees have little if any respect or love for the management and the company hierarchy, that is if they have ever met the people at the top? How could employees respect the bosses?
"Supermarket giant Coles underpaid its employees and cut penalty rates in a cosy deal with the shop assistants' union that has cost low paid workers perhaps $70 million a year. In a landmark decision, the full bench of the Fair Work Commission found some of the 77,000 workers at Coles faced "significant" underpayment from the deal, first revealed by Fairfax Media in 2015." (Source: Coles underpaid workers and cut penalty rates: tribunal, May 31, 2016 Ben Schneiders, Royce Millar and Nick Toscano, Sydney Morning Herald
Both companies are fined, with depressing regularity, millions of dollars, for a myriad of corporate sins. Unconscionable conduct, lying, misleading claims and simple illegal actions by unwitting and stupid management. Again why would consumers trust either of them?
"Woolworths has been hit with a $3 million penalty for selling faulty home-brand goods that injured consumers and for failing to promptly alert authorities and issue recalls as required by law. In his penalty judgement delivered on Friday, Justice James Edelman said the penalty needed to achieve deterrence and ensure Woolworths sold safe products and followed product recall and withdrawal procedures. Woolworths' failure to do so had led to a baby "burning a hole" in her leg, an employee burning his eyes and a man hitting his head on a metal garage door and the concrete ground. As Woolworths described that conduct it involved misrepresentations about the characteristics of some of its products, refraining from withdrawing products within a reasonable time and refraining from recalling unsafe products within a reasonable time."Woolworths has issued a "sincere apology" to customers." (Source: Sydney Morning herald, Esther Han, February 5, 2016)
"Supermarket giant Coles has been ordered to pay $10 million in penalties for "serious, deliberate and repeated" misconduct towards suppliers that were in some cases in financial trouble. The Federal Court ruled in favour of a settlement between the retailer and the consumer watchdog, agreed by the parties last week. Justice Michelle Gordon said the behaviour by Coles was orchestrated and relentless and involved threatening harm to suppliers by unlawfully withholding funds or demanding payments".
The people at the top deflect responsibility and accountability.
"Coles has paid back $12 million to about 100 Australian suppliers after a review found the supermarket's buyers were "threatening" and "aggressive", former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett says. Mr Kennett was appointed by Coles and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) last year to conduct an independent review into the relationship between the supermarket giant and about 220 suppliers. He said he found evidence that buyers for the supermarket giant were at times aggressive and threatening to suppliers."(Coles pays $12 million to Australian suppliers after investigation finds buyers 'threatening'By consumer affairs reporter Josie Taylor)
"A landowner has won his battle against Woolworths for abandoning its lease over a Masters store in the regional Victorian city of Bendigo, delivering an $11 million-plus blow to the retail giant. The Supreme Court of Victoria found Woolworths had failed to act in good faith with private property developer North East Solution after it ditched a deal with the company to chase a lease on another site in Bendigo being pursued by rival hardware chain Bunnings." (Source: Sydney Morning Herald, Sarah Danckert, January 28, 2016)
When businesses attain monopolistic positions they can exercise legal persuasion with local governments, politicians, [political parties and state, federal and territory governments in Australia. They can ruin those who oppose them (suppliers, employees, critics, small competitors) and create their own rules. Coles and Woolworths, control 80% of the Australian grocery market, they control liquor, petrol and gambling way beyond the Crown Casino and other licenced casinos. They want to dominate insurance, financial services and any sector that they believe will deliver dividends.
Yet they appear incapable of managing the businesses they have effectively.
"Woolworths plans to pull the plug on its loss-making home improvement business Masters after buying out joint venture partner Lowe's Companies for an as-yet-undisclosed price. Woolworths chairman Gordon Cairns said on Monday that Australia's largest retailer would sell or wind up the home improvement business, which has lost more than $600 million over the past four years." (Extract: Sydney Morning Herald)
Woolworths particularly appears to exceed its human capacity and talents by spreading its enterprise capability too thin, trying to do too much across too many sectors and not doing any of them well. I think there is not enough experience, and talent available, in Australia to do what Woolworths is attempting which is why they are continually losing hundreds of millions and coming up before the regulators. Employee's livelihoods are lost through the incompetence of Woowlorths' Board and Management. Yet the company seems to care little about their unethical and illegal; behaviours which to my mind are endemic.
Do our two retail companies' Boards, CEOs and Senior Executives, put too much pressure on employees? Are employees too inexperienced? Does working for , and the culture of the two companies their size, and market power, mesmerise them into a fantasy word of their own making? Both company's corporate governance is appalling along with their ethics and morals.
"Woolworths has been ordered to pay $9 million penalties after admitting to playing a part in a laundry detergent cartel. The Federal Court imposed the fines today on the supermarket operator for being an accessory to the cartel involving Colgate-Palmolive, PZ Cussons Australia and Unilever Australia. The companies are alleged to have colluded in early 2009 to stop supplying standard concentrate laundry detergent to Woolworths in favour of ultra concentrates. Woolworths has been ordered to pay $9 million penalties after admitting to playing a part in a laundry detergent cartel. The companies are alleged to have colluded in early 2009 to stop supplying standard concentrate laundry detergent to Woolworths in favour of ultra concentrates." (extract: Woolworths hit with $9m for its role in laundry detergent cartel, Peter Williams - The West Australian
Do they think and believe hey are beyond the law and Australia’s governments?
There is only one power they fear. Consumers. Yet they treat them with contempt?
Both companies work hard to manipulate, persuade, lure and cajole consumers to enter their empires and spend a dollar. Australia’s gullible consumers do so until something like the plight of Australia’s farmers pulls them up and then they realise the monstrous nature of the two enterprises.
If Coles and Woolworths ceased to exist in Australia the nation would be better off. However that is unlikely since our two major party politicians (Labor and Liberal) are too craven to legislate to break the companies up, forcing them to divest their duopoly power and not so subtle, questionable, manipulation of the Australian market. Perhaps leaving them as they are is a lucrative revenue stream in fines for the governments of Australia?
The Federal Court has ordered Woolworths to pay penalties totalling $9 million for its involvement in a laundry detergent cartel. Woolworths admitted to effectively colluding with laundry detergent giants Colgate-Palmolive, PZ Cussons and Unilever over how they would switch from standard concentrates to ultra concentrates. The companies all agreed that they would stop supplying standard concentrates to Woolworths in early 2009 and supply only ultra concentrates. The more concentrated detergents are cheaper to produce, store and ship and therefore should have been cheaper per wash than the standard detergents, but the competition watchdog alleged that the agreement meant those savings were not passed on to customers. The ACCC's chairman Rod Sims said Woolworths benefited from the arrangement through a range of logistical cost savings. (Source: Woolworths penalised $9m by Federal Court over involvement with laundry detergent cartel By business reporter Michael Janda, ABC News)
A Fairfax Media and Huffington Post investigation has uncovered an extraordinary story of bribery and corruption in the oil industry, centred on Monaco-based company Unaoil. It has also raised serious questions about Australia's commitment to corporate crime fighting. Nick McKenzie in a three part series, the Bribery Factory. The Age Newspaper Melbourne April 2016
"How can the government sit idle when its top corporate cop outlines the hurdles an important bribery case will face before police have even gathered a scrap of evidence? How can the government tip the bucket (in the form of a Royal Commission) over allegedly corrupt union bosses while their counterparts in the corporate world seem to get a free pass? Tabcorp is just one of a number of recent cases. Australia’s leading defence supplier, Tenix, is under AFP investigation for allegedly bribing officials in Asia. Our top mining company, BHP Billiton, has been sanctioned by US authorities for spending thousands of dollars wining and dining African mining officials at the Beijing Olympics. The AFP is also investigating allegations that BHP bribed Asian officials.
Anti-corruption authorities are examining why Football Federation Australia transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to a football stadium controlled by a notoriously corrupt football chief whose World Cup bid vote was being simultaneously sought by the FFA. A Gold Coast phosphate firm has been accused of bribing senior members of the Nauru government; and subsidiaries of Australia’s Reserve Bank allegedly bribed officials across the globe to win banknote printing contracts.
Australia is, meanwhile, in danger of becoming a dumping ground for dirty money from Asia. Funds stolen from government projects in PNG, Malaysia and China via bribery and fraud is invested with relative ease in Sydney, Melbourne and other key property markets. “I suspect you have more of a problem than you realise,” says the UK National Crime Agency’s Jon Benton, who believes a large amount of corrupt Chinese money is flowing into Australian property. The Unaoil scandal, revealed this week by Fairfax Media and The Huffington Post, sparked joint investigations by the FBI, Department of Justice, Australian Federal Police and UK authorities. This is likely to give the AFP the international reach, and teeth, it needs to finally make its case against Australia’s Leighton Offshore and the former executives who are allegedly corrupt, including Russell Waugh and Peter Cox.
But it is unclear if the Turnbull government will listen to the consensus inside the world’s leading anti-corruption agencies that Australia can - and must - do more. “Australia has the potential to make a considerable difference,” says former UK Serious Fraud Office director, Richard Alderman. “Australia has awareness and legislation. It is a question of making the jump to real action.” The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s top anti-corruption official, Kara Brockmeyer, believes now is the time for Australia to make this leap: “I really want to see Australia change”. (end of extract)
Australia's unholy union of parasites
This article is an indictment of a certain members of the Australian establishment.
It is ultimately about betrayal caused by individual, and collective, pursuit of the maintenance of power and privilege including life style.
It documents the pervasive lack of a moral compass and the eschewing of ethics for personal gain within this cohort of the power collective. It shines a window (albeit only small) on the "hubris and preciousness" of a vast number of people who believe that their entitlement is superior to others.
It creates an unwanted publicly obvious link between the incumbents of modern Labor, inter alia, Bill Shorten, Daniel Andrews, Annastacia Palaszczuk and Jay Wetherill and their political staffers, advisers, local party branches and union officials at state and federal levels.
The article is about thugs, charlatans, bullies, louts, thieves, liars (in court and in public domains), blackmailers, stand over thugs, violent criminals and people who do not know or aspire to the proposition of fiduciary duty.
It is about disregard of law.
It is about people, who themselves have no personal power or influence, beyond that which is bestowed on them by the nature of the job, official position and/or via other people.
The manipulation of those people and Australia's systems of government and processes. It is about taking everything they can from other people across Australia.
In this latter regard it is about manipulation of ordinary working people, and communities, including communities that have come from overseas nations where exploitation of them by the power collective is prevalent. The difference is here exploitation is subtle or hidden and does not involve torture and fear other than loss of job and business if they oppose or question.
The trade union, and political party, people exposed in this article prey on people who are unaware, who are suspicious of bosses and who may without their union be intimated and victimised. The people within the establishment peddle fear. The deliberately excite the militant nature of some workers, particular in the construction, forestry and mining sectors. They exploit individual's lower levels of education, those who need their jobs or those who will turn a blind eye to their union's activities because their pay and conditions serve the individual members.
The people in this article spend millions of other people's money to buy the expertise, public relations and advertising needed to exploit our democratic system and to distort and mislead in the goal of personal interest.
Our politicians and public servants do not take bribes (usually) unlike other nations. They are far more subtle and adept at milking the system. The politicians, we see every day, use surrogates to do this. Over the decades I have learnt that Australian politician, particularly Ministers, and their political staff, will protect the politician's interests, abandoning any pretence of loyalty, morals or truth. They will rewrite history, in their minds and elsewhere if they can, acting as if it never happened as it did or was misinterpreted.
Public servants are exasperating, for people in business and the community, because they play a dead bat, they do not make decisions. Many are hamstrung by an anachronistic peer system within the public service hierarchy and invariably by incompetent Ministers of Australia's governments.
Whilst there is a plethora of published material that Australian politics is facing a crisis of legitimacy in the eyes of the Australian voters, none moreso than the Australian Labor Party, the incumbents soldier on with their nose deep in the public purse. Human behaviour, hubris or an inability to see the obvious is blinding them, or they are protected from the real world of being sacked for non performance because they are factionally powerful.
The Australian Labor Party trade union bosses, and the senior politicians, across states and the Australian federation appear oblivious to the ramifications of, or the proposition, that their self integrity is being tested.
Not as a party but as individuals.
Perhaps one reason is that they cannot be displaced from secure seats unless the voters really turn on them, as they did in Queensland some years back. The two major political parties in Australia, as they do in the USA, and other bicameral two party dominated nations, are gaming the system.
They only care about ordinary people when it is time to vote.
One way to destabilise them is to communicate to your local parliamentary member that the leader is unsatisfactory or they are no longer acceptable.
The role of social media has a big place in the future if we want to manage our democracy and our representative's behaviour.
Below you will read about the blight that afflicts them yet they go on as if they somehow have no attachment or responsibility for their past and current individual associations. The Acting Australian Labor leader keeps referring to the number of policies they have published on the web. The ability to churn out policies is not a measure of the individual Labor party member's integrity or ability for self introspection. The Labor Paryt senior politicians engage in smoke, mirrors and diversions.
"Former (NSW state) Labor minister Eddie Obeid wants a trial into corruption allegations against him delayed because of "enormous pre-trial publicity" it has generated, while disgraced former Labor resources minister Ian Macdonald is struggling to fund a legal team to fight separate corruption charges on his Parliamentary pension, a court has heard.
Mr Obeid, Mr Macdonald and union boss John Maitland fronted NSW Supreme Court for arraignment proceedings into separate corruption allegations on Friday.
Mr Obeid faces charges of wilful misconduct in public office following findings by the ICAC that he corruptly lobbied former Maritime NSW boss Steve Dunn and public officials over cafe leases held by his family at Circular Quay." (Australian Financial Review, May 8, 2015)
We have never really demanded much in terms of the quality of performance and value in political office of any of the political parties, preferring a detached disregard.
Australian politics is a merry go round of patronage, nepotism and self interest. In particular the Australian Labor Party political wing and its patron unions has declined into a corroded, corrupt state where many of its senior politicians are products from what one may describe as the flotsam sewage of the union movement. This immediately ought place them under scrutiny both in terms of their past and also their self respect.
Many Australian Labor Party politicians are ex trade union officials or lawyers who have worked for trade unions or people who were advisers to senior Labor Party politicians. They got to their positions in Australia's parliaments invariable by patronage. Many received donations for their election campaigns from Australian unions, or from the private sector, via their jobs when in trade unions, who quite often gave the funds to avoid retribution or to buy favours.
More than half of the ALP frontbench comprises former union officials, according to research by Patrick Hannaford and James Paterson of the Institute of Public Affairs, who concluded there was "disproportionate" trade union representation in parliament, the ALP national executive and the Fair Work Commission. Overall, 23 of 55 Labor MPs in the lower house and 17 of 25, or 68 per cent, ALP senators have a background as trade union officials, the research paper reports. Of Labor's caucus members, 13 are backed by the left-wing Australian Manufacturing Workers Union while the conservative Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association supports 12 caucus members and right-wing Australian Workers Union backs nine members.
Labor has made it an art form of bluster and outrage. Unable to garner a defence that is believable or of substance they attack their accusers even if they are judges. They seek out dirt and misdeameanours committed by people they want to discredit and if they cannot find any their staff will manufacture the case.
Australian Council of Trade Unions' secretary Dave Oliver has said the ALP "was formed by working people, for working people, still cares for and represents working people".
"The former head of labour-hire company Unibilt has admitted it made a false record of a political donation fed through the Australian Workers Union to pay for Bill Shorten's research officer in the lead up to the 2007 federal election.
Ted Lockyer told the royal commission into union corruption on Friday the payment was not for a research officer for Unibilt, as recorded in an invoice. The $40,000 donation was paid to the Australian Workers Union which used it to pay part of Lance Wilson's $52,000 salary.
"He wasn't going to be a research officer for Unibilt. He was going to be a research officer for Bill Shorten," Mr Lockyer said." (Unibilt admits to false records for its payment for Bill Shorten's research officer, October 16, 201, Anna Patty, Sydney Morning Herald)
Hypocrisy is the title, and operational handbook, of the Australian Labor Party Manifesto.
It could be inferred, inter alia, from the material below that the Australian Labor Party branches steal worker's trade union funds to use for the electoral purposes of Labor Party politicians seeking to enter parliaments or stay there.
"ON THE WATERFRONT: THE HIGH PRICE OF INDUSTRIAL PEACE It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation To call upon a neighbour and to say:- "We invaded you last night - we are quite prepared to fight, Unless you pay us cash to go away." And that is called asking for Dane-geld, And the people who ask it explain That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld And then you'll get rid of the Dane! It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation To puff and look important and to say:- "Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you. We will therefore pay you cash to go away." And that is called paying the Dane-geld; But we've proved it again and again, that if once you have paid him the Dane-geld You never get rid of the Dane."
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). In particular, payments totalling $3,200,000 by a number of employers in the maritime industry at the direction or request of the MUA or its officials. The payments include payments made to the MUA, a separate entity established by officials of the MUA (ie Chris Cain, Paddy Crumlin and Rod Pickette), and a payment to a political candidate, who happened to be the Deputy State Secretary of the MUA. 2. The Chapter concludes that the payments were not made by employers completely voluntarily for legitimate purposes. They were made to secure industrial peace from, or to keep favour with, the MUA. In some cases they had to be made repeatedly.
TRANSPORT WORKERS' UNION (WESTERN AUSTRALIAN BRANCH) MISAPPROPRIATION OF BRANCH FUNDS
"This case study centres on two events. One event was the purchase, in 2012 and 2013, by James McGiveron and Richard Burton, of two Ford F350s. The cost was about $150,000 each. The purchase was for their use. But it was not they who paid. It was the TWU which paid. The one used by James McGiveron was actually given to him in 2013. The other event was the making of a redundancy payment to James McGiveron in July 2013 of $373,191.23 net ($477,294.57 gross). Those transactions were very advantageous to the two officials. And they were correspondingly harmful to the TWU. The issue is whether the involvement of either official in the transactions gave rise to breaches of any of the above duties."
ELECTRICAL TRADES UNION OF AUSTRALIA, NEW SOUTH WALES BRANCH
In December 2010 certain loans were made by unions to the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labor Party (ALP NSW). The ALP NSW borrowed $500,000 from the Electrical Trades Union of New South Wales (ETU NSW). It borrowed $1,000,000 from the Transport Workers' Union of Australia (TWU). And it borrowed $1,500,000 from Unions New South Wales (Unions NSW). The loans were made to assist the ALP NSW in an impending State general election. At that time the ALP NSW was finding it difficult to pay for day-to-day operating expenses. It also had to obtain funds to pay for election campaign expenses. The loans were required urgently. The ALP NSW requested them with a view to overcoming limitations that would be contained in amendments to electoral funding legislation to come into effect on 1 January 2011.
It is concluded that: (a) The ETU Loan was made in breach of the rules of the ETU NSW because neither the State Council of the ETU NSW nor its Executive gave prior approval to it. (b) Bernard Riordan,1 then Secretary of the ETU NSW, omitted to make any commercial assessment of the capacity of the NSW ALP to repay the loan, the need for security, the appropriate interest rate or the necessary parties to the loan agreement. Yet the ETU Loan was often referred to as a 'commercial transaction' or an 'investment'. That is what its many defenders within the ranks of the ETU NSW called it. Had it in truth been a commercial transaction or an investment, Bernard Riordan's omissions may have placed him in breach of his duties to the ETU NSW. But in truth the ETU Loan, and his role in arranging it, were not to be judged by those standards. The ETU Loan was a transaction designed to assist the wider labour movement. Because it had that character, Bernard Riordan was not in breach of his duties to the ETU NSW. The same is true of relevant officials in Unions NSW in relation to the Unions NSW Loan. (c) Paul Sinclair, Assistant Secretary of the ETU NSW, was victimised by his colleagues for giving evidence to the Royal 1 Bernard Riordan was appointed Commissioner of the Fair Work Commission with effect from March 2012. For convenience, and without any disrespect, the Report will continue to refer to Commissioner Riordan as Bernard Riordan. "
"Incidentally counsel for Bernard Riordan went out of his way to submit that no criticism could be made of the appointment (Submissions of Commissioner Riordan, 13/7/15, paras 2-3). This is surprising. Counsel assisting did not suggest any criticism. No affected person did so. Certainly this Report does not do so. Commission which they seem to have perceived to have been unsatisfactory. In one sense this is the most disturbing aspect of the whole case study."
NATIONAL UNION OF WORKERS, NEW SOUTH WALES BRANCH
"The misuse of NUW NSW credit cards and more general defalcations. It concerns the use of a fund known as a 'Campaign Fund', which was for a time operated by way of a bank account in the name of 'The Derrick Belan Team'. It concerns payments by the NUW NSW to Paul Gibson. It concerns a Deed of Release and Settlement between Derrick Belan and the NUW NSW entered on 26 October 2015 (Deed). It concerns governance issues which flow from the problems which emerged just before and during the course of public hearings. They emerged very late in the life of the Commission. The Commission's inquiries have accordingly been less complete than the grave problems uncovered merit. 2. This Chapter concludes that a number of criminal offences and regulatory contraventions may have been committed by a number of the officers or past officers and staff of the NUW NSW. It also identifies serious regulatory problems concerning the NUW NSW.
Likelihood of extensive theft by officials, their family and friends. Too many instances and people to list in this article.
THE PETER MAC SETTLEMENT: Health Services Union
Katherine Jackson fraudulently misrepresented the expenses the HSU had incurred to procure payment of the maximum amount of $250,000 from Peter Mac. To the same end she fraudulently misrepresented the expenses which the HSU expected to incur in future. 4. The Committee of Management of the Victoria No 3 Branch (the BCOM), of which Katherine Jackson was a member, then apparently earmarked the 'Peter Mac money', as some within the Branch referred to it, for expenditure principally on activities to 'advance the interests of the union'. How those funds were dealt with is the subject of Chapter 5.2. 5. This Chapter deals with the circumstances leading to the payment of the Peter Mac money.
This branch of the Australian Health Union officials betrayed their own members working at Peter Mac health facility. Australia's health workers are among the lowest paid workers in Australia.
Deed of Release between Peter Mac and the union:
Further, the HSU agreed not to 'encourage or assist its members to take up any cause of action in relation to or arising from the alleged breaches [of the industrial instruments]' and agreed also not to assist 'in any such action, if brought.'
The Royal Commission published its report. The full extent of corruption, abuse of office and trust by officials of Australia's trade union can be read here
On the day of release Australian federal parliamentarian Brendan O'Çonnor, along with Acting Labor leader, Tanya Pliebersek, claimed the Royal Commission was a political contrivance of the Australian Labor party. They denigrated the presiding Commissioner, an Australian judge, calling into question his integrity dribbling on about him (not attending) a Liberal Party fundraiser but he may well have according to them. They finger pointed to tenuous links to the Liberal Party. Lacking substantial rebuttal Labor spokespeople claim it is all smear by their political enemies.
Justice Heydon's links to the Liberal Party (to which he is entitled) are nothing compared to the slimy incestuous, and gluttonous relationships between senior members of the Labor Party and the Australian Unions.
As it states above in the image "fake people hate honesty" Trouble is this lot of Labor politicians are not fading away. They are snuffling from troughs paid by donors mainly union members and the tax payers of Australia.
"Former trade union boss MP Cesar Melhem (now a senior member of the Labor Party in Australia's Victorian State Parliament) has been referred by the unions royal commission to Victorian prosecutors for consideration of possible corruption and false accounting charges.
Former Health Services Union secretary Kathy Jackson has also been referred to prosecutors to consider whether she should be charged for obtaining property and financial advantage by deception, the commission's final report released on Wednesday says.
Commissioner Dyson Heydon has also asked the Victorian Commissioner of Police to investigate whether she may have given false or misleading evidence.
The NSW branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has been referred to the corporate watchdog and Commissioner Heydon has asked the NSW government to consider an inquiry into it "concerning charitable fundraising".
The Australian Workers' Union has also been referred to Victorian prosecutors over deals with Cleanevent, Thiess John Holland, Chiquita Mushrooms, ACI Operations and Winslow Constructors.
John Holland Pty Ltd and Chiquita Mushrooms have also been referred to prosecutors.
The report says the case studies examined during the course of the long-running royal commission revealed "widespread misconduct that has taken place in every polity in Australia except for the Northern Territory".
A slew of officials from various unions have been referred to prosecutors over possible criminal conduct.
But Mr Heydon says it's not only union officials that have been involved, with adverse recommendations against numerous executives of large commercial organisations.
He says the misbehaviour can be found in any area of Australia, in any unionised industry, in any industrial union at any period of time. "These aberrations cannot be regarded as isolated," he said. "They are not the work of a few rogue unions, or a few rogue officials. "The misconduct exhibits great variety. It is widespread. It is deep-seated." He believes what has been uncovered is just the "small tip of an enormous iceberg".
"It is clear that in many parts of the world constituted by Australian trade union officials, there is room for louts, thugs, bullies, thieves, perjurers, those who threaten violence, errant fiduciaries and organisers of boycotts," he said.
The commission has run for 21 months, hearing from 505 witnesses over 155 days of public hearings. Mr Heydon says one volume of the six-part report will remain secret."" (Unions royal commission refers Victorian MP Cesar Melhem to prosecutors, December 30, 2015, Sydney Morning Herald)
The latest Royal Commission has cost $A80M. It has been politicised (quite deliberately as a tactic) and whilst it has uncovered endemic corruption, malfeasance and criminal activity it will not fall upon the special class of Labor Party members. They are firewalled from responsibility and accountability and being part of the corruption though circumstantially they all are by mere association.
There will be no penalty paid by the people at the top. They will intone how a few bad apples have done this. The very worst that might occur is that thinking people, who care about such things, may wonder if the senior Labor Party politicians in our governments were oblivious (dumb) to any or all of the above what qualifications do they have to be Ministers and leaders of our government/ Is an unenquiring mind an indictment of their capacity?
Jetstar and Virgin Australia Deceptive
Below is a press release issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
"The Federal Court of Australia has found that Jetstar Airways Pty Ltd (Jetstar) and Virgin Australia Airlines Pty Ltd (Virgin) contravened the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) by engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct and making false or misleading representations about the price of particular advertised airfares, in proceedings brought against each of the airlines by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. In relation to Jetstar, the Court found that representations about specific advertised airfares made on its website in 2013, and its mobile site in 2014, were false or misleading. However, the Court held that the ACCC had not established that the alleged misleading representations were made by Jetstar on its 2014 website, nor in its promotional emails in 2014.
In relation to Virgin, the Court found that representations made on its mobile site in 2014 about specific advertised airfares were false or misleading The Court held that the ACCC had not established that the alleged misleading representations were made by Virgin on its website, nor in its promotional emails of 2014.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said “The conduct which was the subject of the ACCC’s allegations in both of these proceedings is an example of what is often referred to as ‘drip pricing’. Drip pricing is where a headline price is advertised at the beginning of an online purchasing process and additional fees and charges (which may be unavoidable or applied in most transactions) are then incrementally disclosed (or ‘dripped’). This can result in consumers paying a higher price than the advertised price, spending more than they realise and making it more difficult to compare offers.” The ACCC alleged in these proceedings that, in relation to specific advertised airfares, Jetstar and Virgin failed to adequately disclose an additional Booking and Service Fee ($8.50 and $7.70 respectively) which was charged on bookings paid using most credit cards or PayPal (and additionally in the case of Virgin, by debit card). The ACCC’s case was that the Booking and Service Fee was only disclosed to consumers once they had moved through a number of stages of the booking process. “The ACCC’s concern with drip pricing has always been to ensure that consumers are not misled and that businesses are not unfairly disadvantaged by misleading practices,” Mr Sims said. “While the Court found that the ACCC had not established all of the allegations against Jetstar and Virgin, the findings that some of their conduct was misleading are significant. “Separately I note that it is encouraging that a number of businesses in the travel, accommodation and ticketing industries have adjusted their online pricing practices to improve disclosure of fees and charges since the ACCC began its work on drip pricing. This also has a positive effect on competition, allowing consumers to easily compare and choose the best price.”
A hearing on relief will be held on a date to be fixed by the Court. The ACCC is considering the judgment.
Drip pricing conduct was a priority enforcement area in the ACCC’s 2014 Compliance and Enforcement Policy with the ACCC addressing identified behaviour across a number of industries. It remains a focus for the ACCC, as part of the ACCC’s current priority area of systemic consumer issues in the online marketplace. On 13 October 2015 the ACCC accepted court enforceable undertakings from Airbnb Ireland (Airbnb) and Vacaciones eDreams, SL (eDreams) following concerns that the companies engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and made misleading representations by failing to adequately disclose to consumers in Australia particular mandatory fees on key pages of one or more of their online booking platforms. In late 2014, in response to concerns raised by the ACCC, Ticketek and Ticketmaster agreed to improve their online pricing practices. The ACCC had identified instances where it considered that these companies failed to state single minimum total prices. Both companies now include unavoidable fees earlier in the online booking process. Consumer information on drip pricing is available at www.accc.gov.au. End of release: Release number: MR 225/15, 17 November 2015
Volkswagen's Australian web site
"Think Blue embodies Volkswagen's goal of creating environmentally friendly products and solutions, communicating and encouraging better environmental behaviour and getting involved in initiatives that contribute to a sustainable future."
Their diesel system was clever enough to know when it was being tested by the the US EPA; during these tests harmful emissions of nitrous oxides would be prevented, whereas under normal circumstances the cars spewed forth between 10 and 40 times the permitted amount.
DOES AUSTRALIAN RETAIL FRANCHISE 7-ELEVEN SET THE STANDARD FOR DECAY OF ETHICS? |
Putting the question of the franchisor's role in this saga aside I want to pose the question of what happens when Australia embraces a multicultural society?
"7-Eleven: Investigation exposes shocking exploitation of convenience store workers, August 29, 2015, Adele Ferguson, Sarah Danckert and Klaus Toft
The nation's biggest convenience store chain is ruthlessly rorting wages of its workers. This first part of a joint Fairfax Media/Four Corners series of articles blows the lid on a scandal that demands action..... Widespread underpayment The chain is owned by billionaire businessman Russell Withers and his sister Beverley Barlow and their spouses. The siblings brought the franchise to Australia in the 1970s. Mr Withers also serves as the company's chairman. Explosive internal documents reveal that between July and August this year 7-Eleven head office reviewed the payroll compliance at 225 stores and found that 69 stores had ongoing payroll issues. This is equivalent to one in four stores based on one month's review. The range of apparently illegal activity by franchisees extends beyond wage fraud and includes blackmail and withholding passports and drivers licences of staff. The documents, seen by the joint investigation, show franchisees are continuing to flout the law and are continuing to underpay staff even when caught out by the Fair Work Ombudsman.Fair Work has recently launched a full scale investigation into wage fraud across 7-Eleven's network of stores. It was the third time in six years the wage regulator had conducted raids on 7-Eleven with each raid showing little improvement. In September last year, the wage regulator raided 20 stores in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, seizing rosters, timesheets and CCTV footage from franchisees it suspected of committing wage fraud. The regulator found that 60 per cent of stores raided were underpaying staff." (Source Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)
The expose claims that the Head Office of the Franschisor knew and collaborated in the fraud.
"It seems to me that the business model will only work for the franchisee if they underpay or overwork employees." Allan Fels. Professor Fels, who led the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission between 1995 and 2003 slammed the company's model, saying the only way franchisees can make a living is by ripping off their workers.
Many will point to this as an example of how uncompetitive Australia is and paying the award retail wages is simply unsustainable. But the law is the law.
Added to this it is alleged some franchise owners withheld the passports, visas and driver licences of staff, blackmailing them into silence under threat of reproting them for working while they are studying risking deportation.
The Australian government has not issued a statement, or been too vocal,it's a legal matter for Fair Work. Perhaps there is another reason? This might be terribly inconvenient given the high profile, and political connections and public roles of the owners. There are no doubt politicians in the Coalition government who would think that $10 an hour is better than no job. That Austraklia should engage in a race to the bottom of the global competitive value chain. The Americanisation of wages would might suit the free marketeers.
The majority of the employees may well come from societies where the daily wage may be only $2 or at best $10. So when they ring home and tell family, and friends, they are earning $10 an hour, this is viewed as riches beyond their dreams and so they want to come.
Cultures vary and with the influx of people from overseas we can expect they will bring their mores and customs. The culture of bargaining and everything is negotiable. The likely attitude that whatever they can get away with is okay.
So whilst the media might like to publish the heart wringing stories of exploitation there are many hundreds of people who are willing, and grateful, to start somewhere and move onto something better. This is not to say I condone the practices. But if there are those who sing the multicultural hymn then understand what plays in the background.
IS THERE NO PLACE THAT IS UNCORRUPTIBLE?|
In Victoria Australia an audit by incomioeng Liberal Party President, Michael Kroger, has revealed that $A1,500,000 is unaccounted. The media resorts that the funds wetre stolen using fake invoices. This puts the individual on a par with a seniro trade unionist found to have stolen $1,400,000 from the union finds of the lowest paid workers in the nation.
The Liberal members in Victoria's state parliament, and the state branches, are pointing the finger. Some claim to have been reporting bad behaviour by a high ranking party employee but say they were ignored.
So far it seems that the only institutions, and people in them, above corruption in Australia may be Australia's courts and judges.
Every day there are exposes which cast a light on the competence of board members, executive managers, line managers, human resource practitioners, financial controlers, book keepers, auditors, and employees, who should know. They act oblivious, some choose not to whistleblow through fear of reprisal.
The decay in morals, and ethics, in Australia is now widespread Much is made of the ice drug epidemic but little is made of the theft, corruption, and unethical behaviour, of so many in every sector of Australian economy and society.
LEGAL YES, ETHICAL AND MORAL, NO|
Much is made of people who are perceived as rorting Australia's social security system. Much is made of the cost of healthcare and over servicing. Australia's politicians are tough on the easy targets, myopic and reticent to come down on the vested, powweful interests. The middle class welfare takers who vote, tax rorters and the powerful corporate bosses and the super rich.
Three investors buy up tonnes of grapes, they are not wine makers. They give the grapes to a winery under coontract. They do not own production and care little about the quality. That is not their obejctives. They can each claim up to $500,000 tax rebaktes and $2,000,000 in total. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of such people.
Now it has become apparent the Assistant Treasurer wants to do something about it but of course there are vested interests that must be protected. Catch 22.
So it is with negative gearing. Buying investment properties and are claiming deductions across all personal income from whatever source to deuce tax to its lowest possible assessable level. It drives prices up, distrorts bank risk and damages the economy over time. So many are in it that politicians now cannot stop the detrimental effects.
CRIMINALS FACILITATED BY TECNHOLOGY MANUFACTURERS AND RESELLERS
Identity fraud racket in Sydney produced fake IDs, Medicare cards: police seizemachines, By Lucy McNally, Updated 26 Feb 2015,ABC News
Four people have been arrested over a fraud identity racket based in Sydney that allegedly created thousands of fake IDs and Medicare and credit cards. Federal and NSW police joined forces with the Immigration Department after Customs officers found 5,000 driver licence holograms hidden in a package from China. Police said at least one of the accused had used a fake ID to board a domestic flight, while the credit cards had been used to commit fraud against several financial institutions in Sydney. These machines are easily purchased, either via the Internet or direct from resllers in Australia. The pressure to meet revenue targets may lead to sellers not looking at who is buying them and for what purpose. It is highly unlikely that the seller has accurate records as to who bought the equipment, and supplies, and it is most unikely that the manufacturer has a transparent view down the channel sales line. In other words there are hundreds of the machines in criminal's hands. This is why I advocate having such technology suppliers and selers mandated under AML/CTF legislation to "Know their Customers"
On any given day anyone can go into a major retail supermarket, into Australia Post, and buy prepaid debit cards and smart wallet top up cards of multiple values up to several thousands of dollars. There is no requirement to present any identity and the sellers do not keep records other than activating the card. Some smart wallets are recorded against who bought them. The sellers resist having to compile and report purchases. The buyers have access to large volumes of cash seven days a week via state owned Totalisator Betting Agencies (TAB accounts) and via Casinos. These products facilitate tax avoidance, money laundering and terror funding.
The Australian Attorney General's Department is conducting a review of AML/CTF legislation and regulation but like all things government it is slow reporting back later in 2015 and it is fraught with politics and vested interests seeking to block amendments that impose obligations on them.
Meanwhile identity fraud, and associated crime, flourishes supported by existing and emerging technologies and ethically challenged executives at the helm of "out of sight out of mind - it's not our problem or role" companies and the driven sales people in the Companies that sell their products to crooks.
Individuals and business have to assist
Australia's agency AUSTRAC is responsible for tracking the movement of financial transactions with a value of $A10,000 or more. Banks are required to report the movement of large amounts of funds. In 2013-2104 some $A35 Billion of unreported financial transactions were uncovered. A small business sent $A21M overseas to undisclosed recipients. Large sums of funds are broken down into smaller packages to avoid detection. Some transactions are being undertaken in community centres and other non profit entities.
Money laundering has been around for years but is blossoming as technology develops to facilitate it.
Money laundering in Australia 2011
Money laundering global high risk
"Australia needs to tighten safeguards against money laundering in its booming property market, which has attracted Chinese funds with likely links to corruption, an international anti-money laundering body said in a report released late on Tuesday.
The intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force said real estate agents and lawyers have been identified as a high money laundering risk in Australia, where regulations do not require them to report suspicious transactions. The Paris-based group recommended that Australia widen its efforts, instead of only focusing on drugs, fraud and tax evasion.
"Australia is seen as an attractive destination for foreign proceeds, particularly corruption-related proceeds flowing into real estate, from the Asia-Pacific region," FATF said in its year-long review of Australia. Lawyers, accountants, real estate agents and precious stones dealers should demonstrate that they are refusing business on money laundering and terrorism financing grounds and they should be required to report suspicious transactions, the task force recommended." (Source: Australian property seen as hot destination for money laundering, April 22, 2015, Sydney Morning Herald)
"Money laundering is a critical risk to Australia. It is the common denominator of almost all serious and organised criminal activity. Criminals generate profits from illegal activities such as fraud, drug trafficking, tax evasion, people smuggling, theft, arms trafficking and corrupt practices. They rely on laundering or cleaning this ‘dirty’ money to legitimise or hide its illegal origins.
Money laundering involves processing illicit profits in ways which mask ownership and make the funds appear to have come from legitimate sources. This enables criminals to hide and accumulate wealth, avoid prosecution, evade taxes, increase profits through reinvestment, and fund further criminal activity, including terrorism.
Money laundering is also intrinsic to serious tax fraud/tax evasion and a threat to revenue. Often, money laundering is a transnational crime. Funds are laundered to pay for imported illicit goods and services, distance criminal income from the underlying crime and ‘park’ it offshore, buy property or high-value moveable goods for investment or later return to Australia, and move illicit funds to transnational syndicates’ home-bases.
This international dimension creates opportunities for criminal networks and presents complex challenges for Australian law enforcement and regulatory agencies. Some countries and regions are considered significant money laundering threats because they are source or transit points for illicit commodities and services while others are attractive for money laundering due to preferential tax regimes. Source or transit countries for illicit commodities or services, and places of residence for members of criminal networks, are likely to remain high-risk destinations for money laundering." (Source: Money laundering in Australia 2011, AUSTRAC)
"Ross and Hannan (2007) identified three risk elements, each of which needs to be considered in effective money laundering risk assessments—probabilistic, consequence and vulnerability risks. Probabilistic risk assessment involves the establishment of an association between an observable action and an activity the observer would like to detect. If money laundering and identity fraud have a strong association, to use Ross and Hannan’s (2007) example, then the presence of identity fraud would suggest a high risk of money laundering. The assessment of consequence risk is tied to the potential impact of an activity. A small cash transaction may be illicit but its potential impact may be far smaller than a large illicit transaction. Monitoring large transactions in this example would be a better risk mitigation practice.
Vulnerability risks are those that impede effective monitoring or detection, such as regulatory deficiencies or the presence of opaque transactions. Kini (2006) argues that the high-profile AML/CTF regulatory enforcement activity in the United States around 2006 illustrates the significance of a considered risk assessment program. ABN AMROs correspondent banking business with Russian banks constituted a high-risk activity in a high-risk location; Bank Atlantic’s high net-worth business in Florida also entailed a high-risk business in high-risk locations.
The banks, in both cases, failed to employ adequate AML/CTF controls and FinCEN, the AML/CTF regulator in the United States, imposed large penalties on both banks (Kini 2006). These cases illustrate the need for regulated businesses of all sizes to have an effective AML/CTF plan in place to assess the level of ML/TF risks that face their operations and to respond to such risks appropriately." (Source: Perceptions of money laundering and terrorism financing risks. Australian Institute of Criminology)
The site also contains statistics and views of small, medium and large enterprises and their perceptions of the likely occurrence of money laundering and terror funding within their business and the sector at large.
The bulk of enforcement cost is borne by the taxpayer. Investigators are hampered by closed door business attitudes, secrecy and unethical business executives including criminals operating anonymously within big companies and banks.
Meanwhile retailers are selling prepaid debit and gift cards across the counter, in multiples of values up to $A4,000 each, without requiring the identity of the purchaser or the identity of recipient. Bogus names could be presented if no check of an instrument is required. These transactiions appear nowhere after the sale and the card is used. The cards can be used anywhere in the world.
The attitude of the business owners is that to require identity or to repport suspicious behaviour, and transactions, is an impost business should not be rquired to bear. They do not want to intrude into customer's privacy or have their business product sales, revenue and profits, in any way impacted or curtailed.
Big companies, and their distributors and resellers, are selling the technologies, systems and products that facilitate this activity. They are the providers to criminals who are engaging in money laundering, identity theft, fraud, tax avoidance, multiple identities hidden from authorities and regulators and tax offices, and others engaged in terror funding.
These sellers do not want to question why someone is buying a machine capable of producing driver licences, passports, credit card and debit cards, smart cards, when they are not a government entity and are not a bank or corporation that utilises the technologies for valid business. The manufacturers have little idea who the distributors, and resellers, are selling to. Business does not want accountability, responsibility or to curb their innovation in the public interest. More and more technology is being released that is supporting "dark web" and "circumventing regulators". Nationaln Security of nation states is threatened.
Amendments to Australian AML/CTF laws now out for consultation woould require compliance officers to be appointed (they are in banks and financial enterprises now) into every major enterprise that is engaged in payments and systems as described above. Company Boards, Executives, and Employees, would be required to monitor their client's activities, ask questions and report their suspicions to AUSTRAC within a matter of days. Failure to do so incurs penalties. The aim is to engage business in assisting with law enforcmenet and national security. They are resisting.
But no big corporation wants to be identified as being "anti-social or engaged in assisting criminals knowingly or not" so they resport to back rom lobbing through associations or spend money to defeat the legislators/regulators intent. They argue legal barriers, and privacy, such imposts are restraining open competition, innovation and development. All things in their favour, nothing in the favour of the public interest other than veiled consumer interests.
Large corporations like utilities, telecommunications, water, energy, transport, banking and finance, and other critical enterprises, do not spend on physical security beyond the bare minimum. They want the state and law enforcement to protect them for the paltry taxes they may pay or not pay at all.
Below I outline their resistance and the techniques used to influence and thwart legislators and public servants from implementing protection across Australia and internationally. "Amendments to Chapter 4 (customer identification) of the (Australian) AML/CTF (Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Funding) Rules, 10 June 2015
These amendments to Chapter 4 of the AML/CTF Rules provide a further version of the electronic safe harbour procedure for customers, broaden the collection of identification information from sources other than the customer, and extend current customer identification exemptions to include beneficial owners and politically exposed persons. A public consultation period is open from 10 June 2015 to 8 July 2015. (Source: Australian Government Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, Austrac.gov.au)
AUSTRAC's 2014 typologies report is the eighth in the report series.
The 2014 report includes 20 real-life case studies showing how legitimate services offered by Australian businesses have been exploited for criminal purposes, including international drug smuggling operations, people smuggling and human trafficking syndicates and sophisticated overseas tax evasion schemes. By highlighting past examples of criminal activity, the report educates businesses on their money laundering and terrorism financing risks and helps them recognise and mitigate these risks. (Austrac.gov.au)
In one year Austrac identified about $A34 Billion in unreported funds transfer transactionsout of Australia to unknown recipients. $A21,000,000 transferred out of Australia, into Turkey, via a small business in Lakemba NSW Australia. Other instances .... $$ Millions transferred by banks. False identities, breeder documents, prepaid cards (with values of $10 multiples, $100 and so on, up to a single card maximum of $A4,000) are sold in Australian retail outlets requiring no identification. There is no limit on the number that can be purchased over the counter. Changes to AML/CTF laws would seek to impose identity and suspicion reporting requirements on the companies and their employees.
$A34 Billion is not the total.
The technology, software and systems, that facilitate criminal activity are manufactured and sold by companies across the world. Many do not ask why someone is buying equipment or software, its purpose and use, sales people and their sales managers are driven to meet corporate revenue goals by Corporate Boards, and Executives, who put business interests first and who show no ethical or moral compass. Most believe that it is the responsibility of Government, police and agencies to catch the crooks. Most believe that the cost of government agencies, like Austrac, should not be borne by them even if they do manufacture the tolls that facilitate the crooks and terrorists. Through their Associations, and by direct lobbying, they seek to avoid and shift accountability and responsibility, to defeat legislators who mght be seeking to make the company executives participate, pay and contribute.
Below is one example of the subtle methods by powerful (big money) interests seeking to influence and place obstacles in the way of the legislators, bureaucrats, regulators and law enforcmenet officers.
Sent: Thursday, 25 June 2015 3:59 PM
Subject: Possible conflict between Anti-Money Laundering and Competition Law
Dear Kevin Beck
As you may be aware, some recent studies found that businesses consider the requirements of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AMLCTF - especially the Know Your Customer (KYC) related) to be onerous and could potentially inhibit (or at least affect) the competitiveness of the entity and the sector within which it operates. There is also concern that the regulatory requirements inhibit innovations in the development and provision of financial services, for example uptake of digital payment systems such as Bitcoin.
We are a team of researchers (Milind Sathye + Bruce Arnold + Paula Chadderton) at the University of Canberra investigating whether Australian regulation aimed at encouraging competition and innovation, conflict with requirements for Know Your Customer (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and privacy protection..The project is funded by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Transactions (SWIFT) Institute - the global payments system consortium - and will result in a report to be published by them besides academic publications.
Given your recent submission to the Review of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006, the Harper Review on Competition Policy and/or Murray Review of the Financial System, we thought you may be interested in contributing your views on the above issue. We value your expertise in these areas.
Kevin Beck AML Submission
We attach a questionnaire along with a participant information form and consent letter (a requirement of University's Human Research Ethics Committee).
You may like to email your views in using the questionnaire or other format that suit you. Alternatively, if you would like to speak to us, could you kindly let us know so that we can arrange it at a convenient time.
All the information will be held in strict confidence and used only for the purpose of this project. We will not reveal your details or those of your organisation without specific consent to that effect.
We look forward to your participation and cooperation in this important project which may lead to further consideration of how to overcome conflict between AML, innovation and competition law, and improve the business transaction environment. We will be grateful to receive your response by 30 July 2015. The response may be sent to Milind.Sathye ..... Thanks in advance and with best regards
Milind Sathye, Professor of Banking and Finance, (all Email, Address and Phone Contact details have been removed from this copy), Bruce Arnold, Assistant Professor, School of Law, University of Canberra. Paula Chadderton, Government Lawyer and PhD student at the University of Canberra
Participant Information Form - AML officers and other staff dealing with AML and competition law, privacy and intellectual property related matters.
Does regulation aimed at encouraging competition and innovation conflict with requirements for KYC, AML, etc.? Are the two sides compatible?
(1) To identify the challenges faced by Australian businesses in complying with KYC, AML and privacy frameworks (2) To understand what Australian businesses consider to be the areas of non-compatibility between those frameworks vis-à-vis competition and innovation initiatives (3) To prepare a matrix of non-compatibility issues in the frameworks by business types and characteristics (4) To understand what Australian businesses envisage to be the impact of non-compatibility of the frameworks on their business (5) To understand the policy-level and industry level interventions/initiatives necessary to eliminate or reduce non-compatibility in frameworks.
Benefits of the Project
The information gained from the research will be used to inform the development of policies for improving anti-money laundering regime
not only in Australia but globally. The granting agency email states that their governing council unanimously supported our proposal and would also like us to conduct a global study eventually. The present study would serve as a pilot study using Australian data for an eventual global study.
General Outline of the Project.
The SWIFT Institute (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) based in Belgium has provided a grant of Euro 15,000 to a team lead by by Professor Milind Sathye University of Canberra and consisting of Asst. Prof Bruce Arnold, University of Canberra, and Paula Chedderton, Government Lawyer (in her capacity as PhD student at the University of Canberra) for a project that aims to investigate whether regulation aimed at encouraging competition and innovation conflict with requirements for KYC, AML, etc.? and whether the two sides are compatible? The research proposes to understand the conflict that arises in the legislations for anti-money laundering (AML) and the competition/innovation and privacy laws and how these could be addressed.
Clients who agree to participate in the research will be asked to:
1) provide information about the various lines of business of the firms in which they work, provide examples of conflict in the AML and competition law/ privacy law and innovation law that they have encountered, what steps were taken to address the conflicts, what amendments are required in the AML regime or the other legislations so that such conflicts could be avoided and such other related issues. Such information would be sought from officers dealing with compliance issues in 'designated businesses' as per AML regime (that is, banks, superfunds, remittance providers, insurance companies and others) though structured questionnaire (More information about the exact nature of information that will be provided to the researcher can be obtained by asking the researcher to explain the details).
2) provide information by filling in the structured questionnaire which would take about 15 minutes to complete. The respondent would be provided with a self-addressed postage paid envelope to return the filled in questionnaire. The questionnaire consists of no more than 15 questions (as attached).
Participation in the research is completely voluntary and clients may, without any penalty, decline to take part or withdraw at any time without providing an explanation, or refuse to answer a question or be not prepared for audio/video recording of responses to interviewer's questions or for being photographed. Note that while it will be evident to the researcher whether a client agrees to participate in the research or not, this will have no effect on the service provided at any time. While the funding agency SWIFT / University of Canberra values and encourages participation, it respects the right of clients to choose not to participate in research. The only potential risks to participation relate to privacy and confidentiality. Please be assured that all the data collected from clients will be stored securely and only accessed by the researcher. Great care will be taken to ensure that any reports of the data do not identify any individual or their circumstances.
Confidentiality Only the researcher will have access to the individual information provided by clients. Privacy and confidentiality will be assured at all times. The research outcomes will be provided in a report to SWIFT Institute and may be presented at conferences eventually leading to publication of a research article. However, in all these reports, the privacy and confidentiality of individuals will be protected.
Due to the need to collect organization information from respondents, it is not possible for the research to be anonymous. However, please be assured that all reports of the research will contain no information that can identify any individual and all information will be kept in the strictest confidence.
The information collected will be stored securely on a password protected computer throughout the project and then stored at the University of Canberra for the required five year period after which it will be destroyed according to university protocols.
Ethics Committee Clearance
The project has been approved by the Committee for Ethics in Human Research of the University of Canberra.
Queries and Concerns
Queries or concerns regarding the research can be directed to the researcher, Milind Sathye whose contact details are at the top of this form. He welcomes answering any queries. (end of attachment)
RQ (1) What are the challenges faced by Australian businesses in complying with Know Your Customer (KYC) , Anti-Money Laundering ( AML) and privacy frameworks?
" When the firm/business/institution for which you work was established?
Less than 5 yrs ago
Between 5 yrs- 10 yrs ago
More than 10 yrs ago
How many people are employed in your business?
Less than 20 people;
20 or more people, but less than 200 people
200 or more people
" Which of the following are the major business lines of your firm?
Managed funds/Superannuation funds
Securities and derivatives
Funds transfers (international/domestic)
" What are the KYC requirements in each of the business lines of your firm?
" Are the KYC requirements similar for all business lines or are they stricter in some areas and less strict in others? if so, why?
" What difficulties are generally encountered in complying with the KYC requirements? How do you deal with these matters?
" Besides the KYC, what are the other AML related requirements that at your level you are asked to comply?
RQ (2) What Australian businesses consider to be the areas of non-compatibility between the frameworks vis-à-vis competition and innovation?
" Have you come across any areas where the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing (AMLCTF) legislation and the competition and innovation and privacy legislations are in conflict?
" Examples of how your capacity to be innovative or competitive have been restricted or hampered? Why?
" Could we ask how did you address the conflict?
" How can organisations ensure they don't lose out on business by wrongly assessing the customer?
" Organizations are increasing their AML budgets and their head counts despite this not adding any value to the customer. How can they ensure they leverage this cost and make the most out of the time and resources spent?
RQ (3) Are there differences in the non-compatibility issues in the frameworks by business type /characteristics?
" How do you manage different regulatory requirements relating to each of your business lines?
" Could you explain the AML, competition law, and privacy law issues that arise in your work?
" How frequently do these issues occur?
Neither rare nor frequent
" Competition and innovation law related issues
Neither rare nor frequent
" Privacy law related issues
Neither rare nor frequent
RQ (4) What does Australian business envisage to be the impact of non-compatibility of these frameworks on their business?
" How would you rate the impact of non-compatibility of these frameworks on your business (work) so far? Very-little Little Neutral Significant Very Significant " How would you rate the impact on your business in the future? Very-little
RQ (5) What policy-level and industry association- level interventions/initiatives are necessary to eliminate or reduce to the minimum the areas of non-compatibility in the frameworks?
" In your opinion, what changes are required so that such conflict can be avoided?
" Did you discuss the matter with your team leader?
" What response did you get from the team leader?
" Do you know if the matter was referred by the team leader to senior leadership?
" What was the response from the senior leadership?
" Was the matter referred to by your organisational leadership to the industry association or the government?
" Were you apprised of the response received?
" Where does the matter stand now? What do you propose to do further?
" What technological process changes could assist to overcome areas of non-compatibility? Why and how?
" In your opinion, if regulation is viewed as a burden, does this impede competition? and how does this occur? (End of attachment)
Consent Form - AML compliance officers and others engaged in work related to competition/innovation/privacy law in their organizations
Does regulation aimed at encouraging competition and innovation conflict with requirements for KYC, AML, etc.? Are the two sides compatible?
I have read and understood the information about the research. I am not aware of any condition that would prevent my participation, and I agree to participate in this project. I have had the opportunity to ask questions about my participation in the research. All questions I have asked have been answered to my satisfaction. Please indicate whether you agree to participate in each of the following parts of the research (please indicate which parts you agree to by putting a cross in the relevant box):
Participate in a structured questionnaire survey or interview with the researcher.
Participate in an interview for case study with the researcher.
Agree for audio/video recording of my responses by the interviewer.
Agree for being photographed by the interviewer.
A summary of the research report can be forwarded to you when published. If you would like to receive a copy of the report, please include your mailing (or email) address below.
End of attachment
Evidence research is one of the tools used used by big business along with lobbying through Associationns and direct by companies on legislators. In this case SWIFT Institute, on behalf of its members is using the Consultation Period.
Global tobacco companies commission research from universities to try and influence legislators and also to use in courts of law. During the Global Financial Crisis banks and financial institutions worked hard to protect their interests against those of the ordinary citizens whose interests they are purportedly serving.
The global companies, most notably US member corporations of the SWIFT Institute, may turn to using the US Free Trade Agreement and the Trans Pacific Partnership, between the United States of America and countries such as Australia.
In a democracy all interests, even those of criminals and their Accessories to Crime and their technology and services suppliers all have rights. The one's who pay, in the end, are the taxpayers and ordinary people whose rights are trodden on.
Corporations are, by law, real persons.
The governments, and public services, of Australia have been
consumed by managerial theory and robotic speak. They like to refer to the citizens that they are supposed to serve as customers or users.
Governments adopt economic rationalist theories of "user pays". The primary goals are all short term, budetary surpluses obsessions by governments,
and short term profits pusuit by business. Shortermism is the focus of Australia's corporate and political leaders.
Politicians, and public servants, and for that matter many people in business in Australia, are oblivious of the fundamentals of "customer service". Public policy, development and implementation, in Australia occurs in a climate of veiled, or even open, disdain for the customer except at election time. Innovation is marginalised. Many of Australia's corporations are managed by unethical people and crooks. Our wealth and livelihood is being destroyed at the hands of ineffective and infantilicising corporate managers and politicians. All of them collectivley lacking ideas and averse to risk. Australia's managerial skills rank very low in the OECD scale of countries.
"Australia generates a tiny fraction of its GDP from IP commercialisation, so on that metric alone, how are we not in trouble?
Other forces shaping global economies include the hollowing out of the middle classes; the replacement of low-skilled and increasingly complex jobs by robotics and ever advancing computational power and the growing disparity in pay between the new classes of highly-skilled knowledge workers (engineers, tech-savvy designers and computer scientists) and the rest of us.
Australia’s relatively low level of investment in technology and in growing globally-scaled innovative organisations makes us vulnerable. In its Compete to Prosper report commissioned by the Business Council of Australia and released a year ago, McKinsey warned that Australian companies are “behind on technology, uptake, external orientation, innovation and learning” and that we “have a pervasive competitiveness problem”. (Source: Australia needs to wake up and smell the disruption SANDY PLUNKETT 23 JUN, 2015, Business Spectator.
"The highest levels of leadership and power in this country are underexposed to entrepreneurship, technology-driven disruption and competitive friction. Instead, too much energy is focused on achieving cosy corporate directorships which reward risk-mitigation governance and outdated management practices. The result is a chilling effect on the nation’s productivity, our relevance in a high stakes global economy and, ultimately, our much-valued high quality of life.
Meet Australia’s New Power Players; Same as the old ones
Take for example the 2014 Power Issue published by the Australian Financial Review. The AFR claimed “disruption and diffusion” was a central theme of this year’s issue, where an 11-member review panel assessed some 200 individuals and institutions “for their hold on overt, covert or cultural power.”
The lead article introducing the list gasped that panel members felt they were “dealing with a power equation in 2014 that is quite extraordinary, unprecedented -- and scary.” It is scary, but not for the reasons the AFR Power Review Panel may surmise. “It was so disappointing -- frankly remarkable -- that the 2014 Power Lists did not make room for entrepreneurs and business innovators in Australia. That wouldn’t happen in most progressive markets,” Foster, the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Management at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, said in his presentation. That omission may have something to do with the fact that none of the 11-member Power Review panel -- like most businesses and institutions in Australia -- are exposed to, or have any deep connection with entrepreneurship. Nor do they seem to understand forms of “disruption” beyond the political kind (the list’s shining example of “disruption” was Clive Palmer and his four PUPS). (Source: Board to death: Our fat, dumb corporations are clueless on innovation SANDY PLUNKETT 7 OCT 2014, Business Spectator.)
"If we look to Abbott for answers, we get sloganeering and remedial generalities like those he delivered at last week’s National Press Club speech, the one that was supposed to be 'the speech of his life'.
Generalities like this:
“During 2015, our priority will be creating more jobs, easing the pressure on families, building roads, strengthening national security and promoting more opportunity for all -- with a new families policy and a new small business jobs policy.” Doesn’t every leader everywhere want to do those things? Question is, what jobs? How do we educate and train our youth for them in the short and longer terms? Where’s the opportunity, really? And what is the role of Government beyond 'getting out of the way'? The real fear is that Abbott can’t articulate the 21st century narrative -- for Australian CEOs, for other policy-makers, parents or educators -- because he doesn’t actually 'see' the 21st century in this nuanced way. Abbott believes social media is nothing more than 'electronic graffiti', he is sceptical of the word 'innovation', and he makes little to no attempt to define what it may mean for Australian industry and entrepreneurs moving forward.
Even his much criticised 'command and control' leadership style is the very antithesis to new norms in effective leadership -- in government as well as business -- that have emerged from this hyper connected information age we love and hate in equal doses. I’m not suggesting Abbott deck parliament house out in Google’s primary coloured décor and furnish the lobby with a slippery slide. But give us something more than “I love this country and will do everything in my power to…” It comes across as too much like, “I will try really hard now. For reals this time!”
You can’t have a modern, productive and sustainable economy without developing the technologies, the intellectual property and the skills that underpin that modernisation. We also need leadership that acknowledges these things as real and universal.(Source: Out of touch and out of time: Tony Abbott's disruption equation SANDY PLUNKETT 11 FEB, 2015, Business Spectator)
Governments around the world are realising that multinational corporations have been exploiting inconsistencies in taxation regimes and low tax or no tax jurisdictions avoiding payment of billions of funds.
As the global financial crisis brought the world to its knees the behaviour of companies in terms of good citizenship or lack thereof and their unethical single focus on "whatever it takes" was highlighted.
There is potential for companies to have Transfer Pricing and Customs exposures in their supply and value chains as a result of the OECD/G20 initiative on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS). BEPS is targeted at tax planning strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules, to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations where there is little or no economic activity, resulting in little or no overall corporate tax being paid. BEPS is a significant issue for many jurisdictions regardless of their reliance on corporate income tax. By the end of 2015, tax jurisdictions will have the tools to ensure that profits are taxed where economic activities generating the profits are performed and where value is created, while at the same time give businesses greater certainty by reducing disputes over the application of international tax rules by standardising requirements. The deliverables consists of fifteen specific Action steps which will be released over a two year period which began in 2014. The Actions are listed in the following table for your advice.
The Impact of BEPS on Company Relationships with Customs Authorities
To provide an indication of the potential impact these deliverables can have we will focus on just two of the Actions. Action 13 - "Re-examine Transfer Pricing Documentation", calls for a three-tiered approach for Transfer Pricing documentation, and contains some very interesting changes that impacts the relationship with importing Customs authorities. The three-tiered structure consists of (creation and linking of a global master file):
A "master file" containing standardised information relevant for all Multinational Enterprise (MNE) group members;
A "local file" referring specifically to material transactions of the local taxpayer; and
A country-by-country (CbC) report containing certain information relating to the global allocation of the MNE's income and taxes paid together with certain indicators of the location of economic activity within the MNE group. Each of the above documents will be a source of information about the specific multinational business globally and also within each jurisdiction. The following is an example of some of the information that will be required: Organisational structure – Chart illustrating the MNE's legal and ownership structure as well as geographical location of all operating entities;
Description of the MNE's business including:
Important drivers of business profit;
A description of the supply chain for the group's five largest products and/or service offerings by turnover plus any other products and/or services amounting to more than five percent of group turnover. The required description could be in the form of a chart or diagram; A list and brief description of important service arrangements between members of the MNE group, other than research and development (R&D) services, including a description of the capabilities of the principal locations; and
Providing important services and transfer pricing policies for allocating services
costs and determining prices to be paid for intra-group services;
MNE's intercompany financial activities; and
MNE's financial and tax positions.
The standardised information in the "master file" will provide a total view of the company's, and its subsidiaries, and related entities global operations and will most likely be prepared by the headquarters or regional headquarters and clearly identifies payment flows, discloses royalties, fees and other monies paid or received by an entity within a global business. It is very possible that such information may be shared by revenue generating authorities, especially inland revenue and Customs, within the same jurisdiction and across jurisdictions. There are already many instances of Customs working with inland revenue and other authorities (e.g., commercial crimes or the Police) to audit businesses in many jurisdictions.
In the US and EU, where the concept of "first-sale" is permitted under specific conditions, the total supply and value chains will be made transparent to Customs. For each entity involved, the number of employees and the turnover of those entities will need to be disclosed. If, under current first sale transactions, that "first-sale" is to a company that has no actual employees, then that will be discoverable by Customs and subject to further scrutiny on current and past import transactions using the "first-sale" price for duty calculations. For those MNC's that have restructured their operations and set up National Sales Centres or similar entities, how are all the entities within that supply chain staffed? If it is minimal for the amount of turnover, then you may have both a tax and customs problem because for customs purposes there must be substance to an entity through which payments are flowing.
Action 7 to "Prevent the Artificial Avoidance of Permanent Establishment Status (PE)" also has a potential Customs impact for some businesses. If you export goods to another country where you do not have a physical presence or a PE and use an agent as the importer of record (IOR), the sales made by you directly to your end customers (with instructions on fulfilment and delivery given to your IOR agent), could create potential exposures from a Customs perspective. Customs, in many countries have allowed this type of transaction mainly based on the fact that the establishment of this type of trade is compliant with the direct tax laws and does not create a PE situation under those laws.
If Action 7, which is to be released this year, makes changes that make this type of trade one with a PE exposure from a direct tax perspective, Customs will close this type of transaction and require the owner of the goods to establish a physical presence in order to be the importer of record.
Implementation by Jurisdictions
With more jurisdictions adopting and implementing the 15 BEPS Deliverables, businesses have to consider BEPS very carefully when planning direct and indirect tax structures in the future and also to review current structures for possible exposures. The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) has implemented changes to its transfer pricing rules to reflect some of these 2014 BEPS Deliverables. Thailand has also just released a notice that it intends to introduce similar changes very soon. Thai Customs officers have received extensive training on transfer pricing from a direct tax perspective and on BEPS. They also make use of the services of the direct tax authorities audit divisions in order to extend their reach.
Indonesia is working on new transfer pricing legislation.
May 2015 - The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against eleven respondents for alleged bid rigging conduct involving mining exploration licences in the Bylong Valley, NSW. The respondents are: Cascade Coal Pty Ltd (Cascade) and an associated company, Coal & Minerals Group (CMG), and the following individuals: John McGuigan, director of Cascade; Richard Poole, a former director of Cascade; James McGuigan, a representative of Cascade; Moses and Paul Obeid; Companies associated with Moses and Paul Obeid, namely: Loyal Coal Pty Ltd (Loyal); Locaway Pty Ltd (Locaway); Mincorp Investments Pty Ltd, formerly Voope Pty Ltd (Voope); and Southeast Investment Group Pty Ltd (Southeast Investments). The alleged conduct relates to the 2009 tender process conducted by the NSW Department of Trade and Investment (then the Department of Primary Industries) for exploration licences over the Mount Penny and Glendon Brook coal tenements in the Bylong Valley. It is alleged that at the relevant time both Cascade and Loyal were rival bidders in the tender process. The ACCC alleges that in early June 2009 Cascade entered into a contract, arrangement or understanding with Loyal and its affiliated companies Voope, Locaway, Buffalo Resources Pty Ltd (Buffalo), and United Pastoral Group Pty Ltd (UPG) which provided that: Loyal would withdraw from the tender process and refrain from pursuing a competing bid in respect of Mount Penny or Glendon Brook; in return, Cascade would: grant Buffalo a 25 per cent interest in its mining venture in respect of the Mount Penny coal release area; and enter into agreements with certain owners of land in the coal release area, represented by Paul and Moses Obeid, to buy their properties at four times the land value, and take over the landowners’ mortgage obligations. Loyal subsequently withdrew its bid, and Cascade won the tender for the Mount Penny and Glendon Brook coal release areas. The ACCC also alleges that in 2010, Buffalo transferred ownership of the 25 per cent interest to Southeast Investments. Southeast Investments later sold the interest back to CMG, an entity controlled by Richard Poole. As a result of the sale, Southeast Investments accepted benefits valued by the parties at $60 million, including approximately $30 million in cash payments, which was distributed to beneficiaries of the Obeid Family Trust No. 2, including Paul and Moses Obeid and their immediate families. “This case involves serious allegations of cartel conduct. Stopping cartel conduct is an ACCC enforcement priority as it causes harm to both consumers and to the competitive process,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said. “There is also a real public interest in ensuring that competitive public tender processes are not undermined by bid rigging or other cartel conduct,” Mr Sims said.
Australian Supabarn and Just Juice
Publication by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, 25 May, 2015 - Supabarn Supermarkets Pty Ltd (Supabarn) and The Real Juice Company Pty Ltd (The Real Juice Company) have each paid penalties totalling $20,400, following the issue of two infringement notices to each company by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in relation to representations made about two juice products from the private label range of juices manufactured by The Real Juice Company and sold by Supabarn. The ACCC issued the infringement notices because it had reasonable grounds to believe that Supabarn, a supermarket operator, and The Real Juice Company, a juice manufacturer, had made false or misleading representations about the composition of the private label 2 litre apple juice and 2 litre cranberry juice products, in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC considered the labelling of the apple juice product made the false or misleading representation that the product was made from fresh apples grown in Australia through use of the phrases:
“It’s produced locally using the freshest quality Apples”
“Straight From a Farm”
“Made in Griffith”
when the product was made from reconstituted apple juice concentrate imported from China. The ACCC considered the labelling of the cranberry juice product made the false or misleading representation that the product did not contain added sugar or any other additives through use of the phrases:
“No added sugar; No artificial flavours; No artificial colours; No preservatives”
“So if you like your juice fresh with nothing else added”
“It’s really just fruit juice!”
when the product contained added sugar and other additives. “Truth in advertising is a priority area for the ACCC. Consumers should be able to make informed purchasing decisions and not be misled regarding the composition of products,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
NOW IT'S Australia's FIAT CHRYSLER bosses
It is alleged that Clyde Campbell and Veronia Johns, former bosses of Fiat Chrysler Australia engaged in lavish spending buying luxury goods for staff, spending up big at a Melbourne hotel, food accommodation and spa treatments. Their life style included undertaking driver training. They then used Fiat Chrysler company funds to race at Australia's Bathurst Raceway, at a purported cost of up to $A800,000. The annual staff Christmas party is reported to have cost $A1 million including booking a 100 rooms at hotel. Anyone who questioned the spending got their marching orders.
Fiat Chrysler has filed a law suit in Australia's federal court. A $A400,000 yacht was purchased, trips to Rio, New Orleans, New Zealand, and Victoria Racing Club memberships totalling $A244,800 and $A380,000 in gift vouchers.
The couple claim the charges are baseless and scandalous and are politically motivated inside Fiat Chrysler.
As Australia's high profile executives and companies slide deeper into the quagmire, the unknowing person applies for a job, recruiters work for bent company executives, in company human resource managers, staff at every level, remain mute, the PR companies spin the lies and misrepresentations, the media finds out belatedly, and anyone, or an enterprise, earning big $$ of these types dump ethics and morals. They are complicit in their silence and acceptance often accepting largesse and swimming in the sewer of power, money, greed and influence. Alternatively they carry out no research of the nature and behaviour of their clients and personal associations.
COLES AND WOOLWORTHS MIGHT BE THE MOST ANTI-SOCIAL, UNETHICAL ENTERPRISES IN AUSTRALIA
The focus of the dominant retail duopoly impact on Australia has been from a market perspective. The effect on competition, their unconscienable conduct, continued breaches of the Competition and Consumer Acts and the price war. Nothing is said about their anti social mind set and low grade management ethos. Continued breaches of consumer law and the claims of unconscienable conduct are signs of a deep malaise and corrosion within the enterprises. Their Board and management are not role models that younger aspirants should aspire to. They are role models of the decline in ethics and standards in Australian management, marketing, human resource practice, supplier and customer relations.
If you talk to a shop floor (non management) Coles, or Woolworths, supermarket employee they are rarely complimentary about their local or corporate management. Why is that? Because their management have been charged and found guilty of unconscienable and/or misleading conduct? No, many of the employees do not follow media. It is motivation from the top that denudes the employees of enjoyment at work.
Some do read ot hear on the news how their management have threatened suppliers. They may know their local, and headquarters managers, and maybe the Boards, are devoid of moral and ethical compasses. Others have no idea as to ethics and business.
Coles and Woolworths Australia represent all the things a University lecturer, might tell their students are corrosive to long term survival and stability in a corporation.
If Coles and Woolworths, in all their corporate structures, hardware home improvement, grocery retail supermarkets, liquor and fuel were broken up and ceased to exist the naion would be better off. Comeptition would be better off, farmers, suppliers and employees, eveeryone would be better off.
If the executive on the boards, the senior managers and the middle managers, never worked again in any consumer retail industry we would all be better off.
I wait to hear what Coles Australia has to say about the expose of exploitation of migrant workers tolling under unconscienable conditions and for slave wages to kee our supermarket shelves stocked. He seems to be a cut above the rest of the corporate world.
Aldi, Woolworths and Coles no doubt will all point to their corporate ethics policies. On the proposition that because they published them they are void of any further responsibility and accountability. Ausytralian farmers and growers may well say we didn't know because we didn't ask. Members of Australia's parliaments with the exception of the member for Hinkler, seem to have been silent, oblivious to local slave labour in their electorates.
Australia's senior Labor pooliticians will exhibit contrived rage but avoid questions about why they and their network of unions and members in electorates didn't tell them or ghey didn't know.
The federal Immigration Minister will be getting the story ready along with Immigration Department heads. They will probably focus on the "illegal worker" angle and not on criminals. They will have to aviod also explaining how they didn't know, didn't look and find what the Australian Broadcasting Corporation did with apparent ease. The police may say they are constrained by laws and cannot use the intrusive techniques of the media, secret wire taos, recordings and covert video.
"Slaving Away, By Caro Meldrum-Hanna and Ali Russell, Monday 4th May 2015
The dirty secrets behind Australia's fresh food.
It's in your fridge and on your table: the fresh food that we take for granted. But there's a dirty secret behind it. Much of it is picked and packed by a hidden army of migrant workers who are ruthlessly exploited.
"There is slave labour in this country." - Queensland grower A Four Corners investigation has uncovered gangs of black market workers run by unscrupulous labour hire contractors operating on farms and in factories around the country. The produce they supply ends up in our major supermarkets and fast food chains.
"Almost every fresh product that you pick up... will have passed through the hands of workers who have been fundamentally exploited." - Union official These labour hire contractors prey upon highly vulnerable young foreigners, many with very limited English, who have come to Australia with dreams of working in a fair country. They're subjected to brutal working hours, degrading living conditions and the massive underpayment of wages." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 4 Corners)
Conclusive evidence of extreme labour exploitation, slave-like conditions and black market labour gangs has been found on farms and in factories supplying Australia's biggest supermarkets and fast food chains. A Four Corners investigation has revealed the food being picked, packed and processed by exploited workers is being sold to consumers nationwide. The supermarkets involved include Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, IGA and Costco.
Fast food outlets KFC and Red Rooster are also implicated. Four Corners understands a third major fast food chain is also involved. The foods tainted by exploitation include a wide variety of vegetables and poultry products, with some of the biggest brand names set to be named. Migrant workers from Asia and Europe are being routinely abused, harassed and assaulted at work, the Four Corners investigation found. Women are also being targeted sexually, with women being propositioned for sex and asked to perform sexual favours in exchange for visas.
Explainer: The fresh food workforce
How does the fresh food workforce operate in Australia and who are the major parties involved? The exploitation is widespread and in some cases involves organised syndicates. (ABC Australia: read the source
The smoke and mirrors PR advisers tell their political bosses and their corporate bosses and clients that most Australians will not hear about it, will not care. The ill informed will say that the migrants shouldn't be here taking Australian jobs. The unaware, uninformed, the biased, even racist, public will ignore the fact that many Australians are lazy, will not travel or move for work. The supermarkets and fast food stores will rattle the sabres and sya they have read the riot act, but in the end they are not the employer.
The Australian government will ride it out until the budget swamps it all from memory.
But will you still buy from the "fresh food" people? Of course we all will. they rely upon our apathy, lack of personal ethics in the masses and ignorance.
There is no soul, or masses of humanity, in these corporations.
Go to Human Resources, Employment and Management in Australia
Below I have commented on the Australian Federal Court ruling against supermarket Coles for unconscienable conduct agaiinst suppliers. Justice Michelle Gordon was scathing. Today in the Australian Financial Review newspaper (2-6 April, 2015) CEO Richard Goyder said "even if you can fight this in court it didn't stand up to the fairness test. Even if in a broad context you could actually in some ways defend, and there would be people in Coles that would argue we should have defended it, you look at these specific incidents, and you say, "You know what? That's indefensible.... his words summarised the morally idefensible actions of Coles and its management."
Mr Goyder is to be lauded and recognised as somewhat unique in the Australian corporate, and political, landscape, which is infested with unethical cane toads eating at the moral heart of Australian business life.
THE head of major fleet management company Orix has reportedly been charged with paying corrupt commissions to an employee of Coca-Cola Amatil. Chief executive John Carter is accused of paying a whopping $504,000 to Coca-Cola Amatilï¿½s fleet manager in exchange for vehicle leasing contracts, Australian media, Fairfax reports.
A NSW Police Force statement says a 53-year-old Vaucluse man, the CEO of a fleet management company, was arrested on Thursday and charged with four counts of paying corrupt commissions and one count of money laundering. ï¿½The charges relate to four large deposits made into a bank account in June 2014 and February 2015 totalling $504,900,ï¿½ the statement says. ï¿½Police will allege the CEO was aware of the corrupt commissions and had provided advice in relation to how they were paid...... The Coca-Cola Amatil fleet manager and an Orix senior manager have also been charged and are due to appear in court in coming weeks. Police havenï¿½t ruled out further arrests.ï¿½ (Source: Daily Telegraph Sydney Australia, APRIL 03, 2015
AND POSSIBLE CORRUPTION EXPOSED
Australia's Labor and Liberal Government(s) Ministers rarely if ever deal with the decline in ethics and growth of corruption in their portfolios, proactively. They rely upon the Secretary or CEO of the Department or Agency to handle things maybe even to keep any embarrassing things quiet. This is despite mounting public evidence, and examples, across Australia that there is a major decline in ethics and performance, in Australia's state public services and a growing proepnsity for corruption. The politicians have a tin ear, the three wise monkeys, see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, preferring to wear dark glasses hoping not to step in one of the piles of manure in their respective portfolio corridors.
Only when external third parties expose them all do the Honourable Ministers become all pious and attentive. Mouthing platitudes and outrage. The Public Service Department, and Agency, Heads rarely if ever pay the price for their lax management. They are not monitored by the Minister.
"Leaked Education Department memos detail concerns about the misuse of taxpayer funds and conflicts of interest by bureaucrats who previously managed aspects of Victoria's juvenile justice education program. The memos, from 2014, query the decision by one education official to use their private company to supply services to the youth justice education program, which teaches Victoria's offenders who are aged 10 to 21. The memos also state that another senior official used funds to stay at Melbourne hotels with their partner, rather than commuting from Geelong, where they lived. "When conflicts of interest are not appropriately managed, there is a risk of corrupt behaviour being undetected, which can seriously compromise departmental reputation," one of the memos states.
The leaked memos provide a rare insight into one of several issues gripping Victoria's Education Department and which involve serious questions about the use and oversight of the state's education funds across multiple schools and education programs.
The allegations include claims that millions of dollars from the education budget have been distributed or withheld from schools without proper process, scrutiny and, sometimes, in defiance of the wishes of the education minister.
Fairfax Media can reveal that the worst alleged misuse of education funds being examined by IBAC involve one of the department's most senior officials and allegations he has been corruptly siphoning off taxpayer dollars earmarked for needy outer-suburban high schools. This official is on extended leave and has no connection to the juvenile justice education program.
Source: Neediest students denied funding amid education fraud allegations. March 11, 2015, The Age Newspaper Melbourne Australia)
Run by Quality Boards and Executives
NAB takes years to pay compensation after investment nightmare, February 21, 2015 - 7:32AM
Sydney single mother Veronica Coulston had just received an inheritance from her father's estate, and she knew exactly what she planned to do with it - pay down her mortgage. But National Australia Bank had other ideas. Days after Coulston discussed the relatively modest inheritance with a NAB bank manager in 2005, an email arrived for her confirming an appointment with the bank's star financial planner, Graeme Cowper. Three years later, with bills piling up, her credit card maxed out and fearing she would lose her home, Coulston started to get anxiety attacks.
She had ended up with $150,000 of debt through investing in high-fee managed funds. At the time she had a mortgage and was earning $45,000 a year as a secretary.
In May, 2009, Coulston turned to her friend, Jeff Morris, a senior financial planner at Commonwealth Bank who had tipped off ASIC to a scandal inside CBA's financial planning division involving forgery, fraud and a cover-up,
Forgery, sackings and millions in compensation: NAB under fire over financial planners, February 21, 2015 - 1:27AM, Adele Ferguson and Ruth Williams
The National Australia Bank has quietly paid millions of dollars in compensation to hundreds of clients given what it considers inappropriate financial planning advice since 2009. The bank is the latest institution to face disturbing revelations of misconduct in its financial planning division, with a Fairfax Media investigation uncovering instances of forgery, "rogue advisers" and multiple sackings inside its financial advice arm. A cache of confidential internal documents obtained by Fairfax Media reveals that, according to NAB, 31 of its financial planners were terminated, suspended or had their resignations "ensured" due to conflicts of interest, inappropriate advice, inappropriate practices or repeated compliance breaches."
Whistleblower's NAB leak reveals persistent bad behaviour in financial planning, fuels royal commission calls, February 21, 2015 - 1:02AM, Adele Ferguson and Ruth Williams
It was early August 2014, and the financial advice industry was on red alert. The Commonwealth Bank's chief executive had just "unreservedly" apologised for a scandal involving fraud, forgery and a cover-up within the bank's financial planning operations. Allegations had just surfaced about cheating on professional exams at Macquarie Group. And within National Australia Bank, a sensitive and explosive report was circulating. "We have suspended, terminated or ensured resignations of 31 NAB financial planners and aligned advisers over the past two years due to conflicts of interest, inappropriate advice, inappropriate practices or serious repeat compliance breaches," the internal report reveals. Another six, it says, had been sacked from Meritum, a NAB-owned advice network that has 110 planners on its books. The report is part of an extraordinary trove of confidential documents leaked to Fairfax Media that reveal NAB was worried about exposure to its own financial planning problems, and which will fuel calls for broader reform to protect consumers from unscrupulous advisers.
(Extracts from: Sydney Morning Herald, Business Day
Bluster amid cover up allegations
"Carinity is deeply sorry for letting down residents", Chief Executive of Baptist run aged care home in Queensland Australia, Jon Campbell. He is not deeply sorry, the inanimate entity apparently is.
Australia's Department of Social Services is investigating treatment of aged care residents, including bashings and other horrendous stories.
Going on the offensive
"Statement by Jon Campbell, Chief Executive Officer The Australian newspaper has raised a number of allegations in relation to Carinity's Kepnock Grove aged care facility in Bundaberg. Many of these allegations are false, while others are simply not supported by any evidence. For example:
A person claimed to be deceased in The Australian's news article is in fact alive;
No resident has died from the alleged underfeeding as claimed in the newspaper.
In fact a clear majority have either maintained or gained weight in the last six months; and
The claim that morphine patches were stripped from residents by "a drug-abusing staff member" is baseless and was published without any supporting evidence.
There are many more inaccuracies, and these have unfortunately been used as the basis for a false and unjustified attack on Carinity and its hard-working staff. Carinity has not sought to avoid the fact that up until late last year there were problems with the management of the Kepnock Grove facility. In no way have we been party to a cover up, or any failure of our reporting responsibilities. In December, Carinity received a complaint about some issues at the facility."(extract from CEO Campbell's statement on company web site: http://www.carinity.org.au/false-claims-australian-newspaper"
How did that go for him? Not so well.
Bundaberg nursing home assaults prompt call for Queensland aged care review, By Emma Pollard, Updated Mon at 5:53pm
Complaints about the Bundaberg nursing home are being investigated by the Department of Social Services and the health ombudsman. (ABC News: Kallee Buchanan) "
A Bundaberg woman is calling for improvements in the aged care sector after a nursing home in the southern Queensland city allegedly turned a blind eye to the physical abuse of her father by another resident. Franca Giannangelo said her dad Ernie Giannangelo was hit on at least eight occasions by a patient with dementia at the Kepnock Grove nursing home in Bundaberg. Other serious allegations about the facility, run by Carinity Baptist Community Services, include underfeeding and the failure of staff to respond to medical concerns."(Extract: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-16/)
"The Queensland facility at the centre of allegations of abuse, mismanagement and cover-up has been under investigation by the Aged Care Complaints Scheme since 22 January and a full review of the facilityï¿½s operations by the Aged Care Quality Agency is underway, the Federal Government has said. Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield said the allegations made against Kepnock Grove in The Australian newspaper on Monday were ï¿½deeply concerningï¿½ and Quality Agency assessors were on-site to review the facilityï¿½s operations.
Carinity, which acquired the Kepnock Grove facility in April 2013, strongly rejected any suggestion it had engaged in a cover-up and said it was fully cooperating with the departmentï¿½s investigations. Senator Fifield said as part of its standard processes, the Quality Agency will also review the performance history of other facilities operated by the Baptist Union of Queensland, which trades as Carinity.
ï¿½Any kind of mistreatment of older Australians in the care of an aged care facility is completely unacceptable,ï¿½ Senator Fifield said in a statement on Monday. He said the Aged Care Complaints Scheme conducted an unannounced visit to the facility on 22 January following a complaint made to the scheme, and the provider has been working to resolve the issues. However, given the gravity of the new allegations published in The Australian, the Quality Agency visited the facility on Monday to conduct a comprehensive review." (Extract: Kepnock Grove under review by Quality Agency, Government Report Australian Ageing Agenda on February 18, 2015
Unconscienable management paid nothing
Australia's Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chose the easy casse to prosecute. But the maximum penalty per contravention is $1.1 million, compared to $10 million for misuse of market power.
The Australian Federal Court judge said that that Coles had 'misused its substantial market power' describing Coles' conduct as 'serious, deliberate and repeated'. If the ACCC run a misuse of market power case, Coles could have been looking at $100 million in penalties rather than $10 million and probable pay back of $16M to suppliers. The judge also noted that the maximum penalties for unconscionable conduct were 'arguably inadequate' for a company the size of Coles. There are over 200 potentially affected suppliers altogether and Coles has had to set up of a formal process for those suppliers to seek redress. That means the other suppliers can get their money back, but that Coles isn't exposed to pecuniary penalties for those additional contraventions.
Departing Coles boss Ian McLeod, on his way to a fitting role as head of BiLo in Florida, said in 2014 at start that Coles would be vindicated. Some might think like me that name of Coles should be "Coles LoGrade Retail"?
TO END THE DOMINATION, AND MANIPULATION, OF OUR GROCERY FUEL AND LIQUOR MARKETS, BY WOOLWORTHS AND COLES CORPORATIONS, BOARD, EXECUTIVES AND SENIOR EMPLOYEES.
Instead the politicians hide behind deliberately contrived competition laws that shield the Board, Executives and Employees from being prosecuted themselves, leaving it to the regulator to hit them with wet lettuce leaves given them by craven legislators.
The politicians, are in electorates where the duopoly is one of the biggest employers and businesses, where the two corporations have such power as to make resistance aganist them of no consequence. They manipulate the market, suppliers and comptitiion, through sheer size and unethical managers and employees whose tools are thuggery and bastardry. These same low grade persons exercise influence and control, all too often, over local government also to stymie the emergence of competitors.
It is the owner of this web site, and associated Mosaic Portal web site's, personal opinion, that Australia's 'national, and consumer, interests are not served by the dominant market duopoly of Coles and Woolworths Australia and their ownership of the majority of retail supermarkets, liquour, hotels and fuel retail outlets.
Further it is my personal opinion that the federal, and state governments, of Australia should enact laws forcing these two entities to divest one, or more, of these category groups limiting the ownership of supermarkets, liquor and fuel to 30% ownership by a company for each category. Competition would then be served by new market entrants, and buying groups, existing here now and coming in from overseas.
This divestment is unlikely to occur for a number of reasons, corporate power, the vagaries of political spine of our two major political parties, the argument of economies of scale and size to compete globallly, the "down down" price trajectory of goods beung claimed by the duopoly, consumer interests, and a myriad of other myths, factorial spins, pirouettes, mantra and blocking tactics. (Kevin Beck, August 4, 2014)
Australian government agencies
Wasting Hundreds of Millions
on multicard contracts
Revised Wolsberg Principles
Read in conjunction with the paper on money laundering
One might think that the Board and Executives of grocery retailers Coles and Woolworths might learn from the fines, supplier angst and consumer comments but they do not. They are not prosecuted as individualls, they do not pay the fines, the shareholders pay but say nothing. Institutional shareholders are as immoral as the corporate executives and com0anies they support through investment.
22 December 2014, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission,
The Federal Court has today, by consent, made declarations in two proceedings instituted by the ACCC that Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd engaged in unconscionable conduct in 2011 in its dealings with certain suppliers. The Court has also ordered Coles pay combined pecuniary penalties of $10 million and costs. Coles will also enter a court enforceable undertaking to the ACCC to establish a formal process "to provide options for redress for over 200 suppliers referred to in the proceedings.
In her judgment, Justice Gordon said:
Coles misconduct was serious, deliberate and repeated. Coles misused its bargaining power. Its conduct was not done in good conscience. It was contrary to conscience. Coles treated its suppliers in a manner not consistent with acceptable business and social standards which apply to commercial dealings. Coles demanded payments from suppliers to which it was not entitled by threatening harm to the suppliers that did not comply with the demand. Coles withheld money from suppliers it had no right to withhold.
Coles practices, demands and threats were deliberate, orchestrated and relentless.
Coles conduct was of a kind which merits severe penalty.
But for Coles making the admissions it has now made and acknowledging the gravity of its contravening conduct, the conduct and circumstances in which it was committed would have warranted imposing penalties at or close to the maximum the law permits.
17 September 2014, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court of "Australia against Woolworths Ltd (Woolworths) alleging that Woolworths made false or misleading representations about the safety of certain Woolworths products. It is also alleged that Woolworths failed to file mandatory reports as required by the Australian Consumer Law once it had become aware that serious injury or illness may have been caused by certain Woolworths products.
Consumers are entitled to expect that the goods that they purchase from retailers are safe, and that retailers will act swiftly when product defects are subsequently identified, to avoid further potential harm to consumers," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
The ACCC alleges that Woolworths made false or misleading representations about the safety of three Woolworths home brand products: Abode 3L Stainless Steel Deep Fryer, Woolworths Select Drain Cleaner 1L and Homebrand Safety Matches (10 boxes per pack). The ACCC alleges that by offering these products for sale, Woolworths represented that they were safe when they were not, and that by continuing to sell them once it was aware these products may have caused serious injury Woolworths continued to make false or misleading representations that these products were safe. The ACCC also alleges that Woolworths made false or misleading representations about the weight capacity of the Woolworths Home Collection Padded Flop Chair and Masters Home Improvement Folding Stepping Stool, as these products did not withstand the maximum weight load stated on their packaging. These products have all subsequently been recalled by Woolworths.
Woolworths' Christmas threat to suppliers, December 18, 2014, Senior Editor at The Age newspaper Melbourne.
"I was asked for a contribution of almost $1 million, and when I refused to pay I was told a 'range review' was under way and I would be informed of the outcome early next week," said the sales manager of one of Australia's leading health product companies. "The implied threat is that some of my products will no longer be stocked if I don't pay up."
Woolworths staff have also been accused of telling suppliers the payment requests had the "endorsement" of the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission ï¿½ a claim that the consumer watchdog rejects.
"Down Down" versus "Cheap Cheap". Welcome to the world of Australia's supermarket duopoly, where the decades-long turf war between Coles and Woolworths dominates. From advertising campaigns to fresh food claims, differences between the two chains are often barely discernable. Sadly, it seems that in how they treat suppliers, the two supermarket giants also share similarities.
Just days after Coles issued a mea culpa over its treatment of suppliers, and agreed to pay a $10 million fine, Woolworths has been hit with strikingly similar allegations of bullying, and now faces a probe from the corporate watchdog. Under investigation is "Project Close the Gap" ï¿½ what Woolworths insiders say is a "request" for $50 million of additional payments from suppliers in the lead-up to Christmas. Inside Woolworths headquarters, they have always liked their project names. Back in 1999 it embarked on "Project Refresh", a supply chain shake-up implemented by then chief executive Roger Corbett that was the bedrock of the company's success. "Project Oxygen" has been less successful. That was the code name for the launch of Masters, the struggling hardware business. The aim was to suck the "oxygen" out of Bunnings. The project is instead suffocating Woolworths, leading to the latest demands from suppliers to prop up its bottom line. In total 17 different suppliers have contacted Fairfax Media representing scores of household brand names from across the supermarket shelves ï¿½ to tell their story of Woolworths' pre-Christmas cash grab. All tell similar stories of verbal threats. Publicly, Woolworths has "categorically" rejected any suggestion it was acting "unconscionably".
Proceedings have been filed against:
Australia has two large manufacturers of electrical cable, Olex Australia Pty Ltd (Olex) and Prysmian Power Cables & Systems Australia Pty Ltd (Prysmian), the electrical wholesaling businesses L&H (which is operated by Lawrence & Hanson Group Pty Ltd) and Rexel (which is operated by Rexel Electrical Supplies Pty Ltd and Australian Regional Wholesalers Pty Ltd), six senior executives from these manufacturing and wholesaling companies, and an industry association, Electrical Wholesalers Association of Australia Limited (EWAA).
Olex and Prysmian supply electrical cable and other services throughout Australia from manufacturing facilities largely based in Victoria (Olex) and New South Wales (Prysmian).
The ACCC alleges that during 2011, Olex, Prysmian, Rexel and L&H entered into and gave effect to an arrangement that included provisions which had the purpose of:
preventing, restricting, or limiting the supply of electrical cable by Olex and Prysmian directly to contractors and other customers, allocating electrical contractors and other customers to the wholesalers, preventing, restricting, or limiting the acquisition of electrical cable by certain wholesalers from suppliers other than Olex and Prysmian, and fixing, controlling, or maintaining the price of cutting services provided by Olex and Prysmian. The alleged conduct mainly occurred at industry association meetings. The ACCC is alleging that the EWAA aided, abetted, and/or was knowingly concerned in the contraventions of the manufacturers and wholesalers.
The ACCC also alleges that Rexel and Prysmian engaged in bid rigging by making and giving effect to a contract, arrangement, or understanding that Prysmian would submit a higher bid to Caltex than the price it submitted to Rexel for the supply of electrical cable for an upgrade of the Kurnell Refinery in Botany Bay, NSW.
Source extract: ACCC takes action against electrical cable suppliers for alleged cartel, 4 December 2014
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against R.L Adams Pty Ltd, which trades as Darling Downs Fresh Eggs, alleging that it made false or misleading representations that its eggs were free range, in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law.
The ACCC alleges that from 31 December 2013 to 6 October 2014, Darling Downs Fresh Eggs supplied eggs marketed and labelled as free range when in fact the laying hens had been continuously confined to barns and had never had access to the outdoors.
Darling Downs Fresh Eggs supplied eggs it represented were free range under its own Mountain Range label and under the Drakes Home Brand Free Range label. Darling Downs Fresh Range Eggs also supplied eggs it represented were free range to other producers who used them to supplement their own free range egg supply.
Source of extract: ACCC.gov.au takes action against Darling Downs Fresh Eggs for free range claims, 12 December 2014
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Derodi Pty Ltd (Derodi) and Holland Farms Pty Ltd (Holland) alleging that their use of ï¿½free rangeï¿½ in relation to their Ecoeggs, Field Fresh and Port Stephens egg brands was false and misleading.
Derodi and Holland have a business known as Free Range Egg Farms. The business supplies eggs under the label Ecoeggs nationally, and under the labels Port Stephens and Field Fresh Free Range Eggs in New South Wales.
The ACCC alleges that Derodi and Holland made false, misleading or deceptive representations on egg cartons, websites, a Facebook page and a Twitter account to the effect that the eggs supplied and labelled as ï¿½free rangeï¿½ were produced: by hens that were farmed in conditions so that the hens were able to move about freely on an open range on every ordinary day; and/or by hens, most of which moved about freely on an open range on most days. The ACCC alleges that the hens used to produce the eggs for the Free Range Egg Farms business were not able to move about freely on an open range on an ordinary day because of the farming practices and conditions of the farms where the hens were kept.
The ACCC also alleges that most of the hens did not move about freely on an open range on most days.
Source of extract: ACCC takes action against Ecoeggs supplier for free range claims, 9 December 2014
On 3 July 2013, the ACCC commenced enforcement proceedings against Scoopon Pty Ltd alleging misleading or deceptive conduct in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). Scoopon co-operated with the ACCC and on 17 December 2013 the Federal Court found Scoopon liable for several contraventions of the ACL and ordered Scoopon to pay a fine of $1 million: ACCC v Scoopon Pty Ltd (QUD 402 of 2013).
The Federal Court held that Scoopon made false or misleading representations to consumers that they had no refund rights in circumstances where the consumer attempted to redeem a Scoopon voucher during its validity period but no service was available.
Scoopon made a misleading representation to a merchant that 30% of vouchers sold on the site would not be redeemed, resulting in a windfall for the merchant. Scoopon made misleading representations to merchants that there was no risk of a financial cost or loss in running a deal with Scoopon, when there was a real risk of additional cost.
Scoopon was also found to have made misleading representations in relation to the price of goods and services sold on its website. These representations were found to have been made in respect of three separate products and generally overstated the type or quantity of goods available at the advertised price.
Source extract: Clayton Utz Insights, 06 February 2014, "ACCC goes online: Scoopon fined $1 million for misleading conduct," By Bruce Lloyd, Matthew Battersby and Stephanie-Kate Bratton.
These appointments now enable Commonwealth Bank to finalise the remaining details of the Open Advice Review program, including the appointment of Independent Customer Advocates. The primary role of the Independent Customer Advocates is to support individual customers through the review and remediation process. Commonwealth Bank is in advanced discussions with a number of plaintiff law firms to provide this service at no cost to customers. Finalisation of the appointments is expected in coming weeks. The Commonwealth Bank has also appointed McGrathNicol as the programï¿½s Independent Forensic Expert. McGrathNicol is a leading independent Australian advisory firm with extensive experience in forensic investigation. Its role will be to help establish a robust process to independently investigate any customer concerns about possible fraud relating to financial advice they received.
| When the front packaging of the product says something like "apple and raspberry" read the contents on the back. Invariably there will be 1% or less raspberry.
This is a trick used by the manufacturers. They are relying upon a probability that you will not read the labelling. Another trick is to reduce the contents whilst maintaining the price. There are many ways manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors seekt o maximise their
Go to Choice Australia|
Comparison Web Site
So what obligation does it say about the buyers of big retail store chains and their observations, wherewithal and capacity to discoover likely issues or do they simply go along with whatever the manufacturer says? Big brand name stores in Australia were complicit knowingly or unknowingly in ripping consumers.
ARE THEY HYPOCRITES, THIEVES OR BOTH? Extract source: "Cartel dirt comes out in the ACCC wash", Date, December 14, 2013, Sydney Morning Hearld, Business Day, Eli Greenblat Retail reporter
...." Inner workings of the cartel came to light on Thursday when the ACCC claimed it had busted a conspiracy involving three leading detergent makers that, combined, controlled nearly 85 per cent of the market, along with a senior sales director for Colgate, Paul Ansell. The alleged cartel involves the biggest selling brands in the country, such as Cold Power, Radiant and Omo. The regulator is not accusing Woolworths of being a main driver of the alleged cartel, although it was a front-and-centre witness to its foundation, and held several meetings at its corporate offices in which the alleged cartel was discussed at length. Woolworths said it would vigorously defend the action brought against it by the competition regulator."
"ACCC alleges Woolies, Colgate, Cussons in laundry cartel, PUBLISHED: 12 DEC 2013 18:56:00, Australian Financial Review, MATTHEW DRUMMOND AND ELI GREENBLAT
The competition regulator claims to have busted apart a cartel in which Woolworths conspired with three multinational consumer goods ï¿½companies to push up prices in the $500 million market for laundry detergents. In a statement of claim filed on Thursday in the Federal Court, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) alleged that in early 2008 Colgate-Palmolive, PZ Cussons Australia and Unilever conspired to coordinate pricing, package sizes and product formulations when introducing ultra-concentrate detergents for popular brands including Cold Power, Radiant and Omo. The regulator has also alleged Woolworths played a key role in implementing the collusive agreement. In a mark of the allegationï¿½s seriousness, the ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, which could run to as high as $10 million or 10 per cent of each companyï¿½s annual turnï¿½over, against Woolworths, Colgage-Palmolive and Cussons. Unilever has obtained immunity from prosecution in return for helping the ACCC. ACCC chairman Rod Sims said ultra-concentrate detergents are cheaper to produce, store and transport yet savings were not passed on to consumers." (end of extract)
Australia's largest retailers Coles and Woolworths have been engaging in strong loud competitive messaging each cliaming price reductions, going down staying down except it appears that this was not the case with Woorlworths where the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleges that Woowlorths played a prominent role in actively keeping them up in the soap powder segment of their retail stores across Australia.
They are going to rigourously defence the charges. Listening to, watching and examining big corporate responses to these everyday shenanigans expossd to us, it is as if the executives are saying this is no big deal, business as usual, pay a fine move on. What if some of them were to be prosecuted and if found guilty they get fines and even jail?
From the ACCC web site:
"The Australian Competition and Consumer Act requires businesses to compete fairly. Most Australian businesses increase their customer base and their profits honestly through:
continual innovation to improve products or services
sales and marketing showing the genuine benefits of their products or services
keeping costs down so they can offer competitive prices.
Businesses struggling to compete fairly and maintain profits may be tempted to deliberately and secretly set up or join a cartel with their competitors.
A cartel exists when businesses agree to act together instead of competing with each other. This agreement is designed to drive up the profits of cartel members while maintaining the illusion of competition.
There are certain forms of anti-competitive conduct that are known as cartel conduct. They include:
price fixing, when competitors agree on a pricing structure rather than competing against each other
sharing markets, when competitors agree to divide a market so participants are sheltered from competition
rigging bids, when suppliers communicate before lodging their bids and agree among themselves who will win and at what price
controlling the output or limiting the amount of goods and services available to buyers.
Cartels can be local, national or international. Established cartel members know that they are doing the wrong thing and will go to great lengths to avoid getting caught. Some estimates suggest that while a cartel is operating, the price of affected commodities rises by at least 10 per cent. Worldwide, cartels steal billions of dollars every year.
Why are cartels illegal?
The Competition and Consumer Act not only prohibits cartels under civil law, but makes it a criminal offence for businesses and individuals to participate in a cartel.
Cartels are immoral and illegal because they not only cheat consumers and other businesses, they also restrict healthy economic growth by:
increasing prices for consumers and businesses through artificially inflating input and capital costs across the supply chain, including the cost of buildings and equipment rent, interest and decreased opportunities over the life of an asset,
reducing innovation and choices by protecting their own inefficient members who no longer have to compete so donï¿½t bother to invest in research and development
reducing investment by blocking new industry entrants that might invest in opportunities, economic growth and jobs
locking up resources because they interfere with normal supply and demand forces and can effectively lock out other operators from access to resources and distribution channels
destroying other businesses by controlling markets and restricting goods and services to the point where honest and well-run companies cannot survive
destroying consumer confidence in an entire industry sector,
including creating negative consumer sentiment towards law-abiding businesses that are not involved in cartel conduct.
increasing taxes and reducing services by targeting the public sector and extracting extra costs paid for by all consumers through rates and taxes
decreasing infrastructure by rigging bids in public infrastructure projects which inflates costs and ultimately reduces the public sector capacity to invest in beneficial projects.
Possible penalties for individuals involved in a cartel
Individuals found guilty of cartel conduct could face criminal or civil penalties, including:
up to 10 years in jail and/or fines of up to $340 000 per criminal cartel offence
a pecuniary penalty of up to $500 000 per civil contravention.
It is illegal for a corporation to indemnify its officers against legal costs and any financial penalty.
Possible penalties for corporations involved in a cartel
For corporations, the maximum fine or pecuniary penalty for each criminal cartel offence or civil contravention (whichever applies) will be the greater of:
$10 000 000 three times the total value of the benefits obtained by one or more persons and that are reasonably attributable to the offence or contravention where benefits cannot be fully determined,
10 per cent of the annual turnover of the company (including related corporate bodies) in the preceding 12 months.
Other penalties for cartel civil contraventions or criminal offences include: injunctions
orders disqualifying a person from managing corporations
community service orders."
Once ethics guided the every day activities of leading business executives, managers and employees, in Australia but those days are long gone. Today in Australia there are few roles models for a new generation of decision makers.
"Corrupt managers and staff from two Leighton Holdings subsidiaries stole and leaked secret tender information in an attempt to win a $240 million contract, in the latest scandal to hit the trouble-plagued company. Fairfax Media can also reveal that despite finding evidence of serious misconduct and corruption inside its telecommunications firms - which are both national broadband network contractors - Leighton failed to notify authorities. Confidential company documents reveal that top managers and staff from Leighton Holdings' communications firm, Silcar, engaged in a conspiracy to steal sensitive and detailed tender information from rival Leighton firm Visionstream earlier this year." (Source: Sydney Morning herald, Business Day, October 25, 2013, Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker)
NEW internal documents have contradicted parliamentary testimony by Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens that the bank knew nothing about the Securency banknote scandal before it became public in 2009. Key parts of Mr Stevens' testimony about the RBA's knowledge of the scandal - he has claimed bank officials knew nothing of Securency's alleged corruption before Fairfax's expose of the scandal in 2009 - conflict with newly uncovered documents. The scandal involves RBA companies Securency and Note Printing Australia, charged last year with bribing foreign officials to win banknote contracts. The sensitive documents that contradict Mr Stevens' parliamentary testimony, and raise further questions about the governance standards at the RBA and its subsidiaries, come from the central bank's files.
They show that in 2007:
Reserve bank assistant governor Frank Campbell was told how Securency engineered a dodgy business deal to hide a $492,000 payment to an allegedly corrupt Malaysian arms dealer. The arms dealer's company wrote to Mr Campbell demanding further payments and stating it had convinced the "prime minister and the Malaysian cabinet" to give out contracts. RBA auditor John Klincke allegedly queried a Securency manager about payments to an agent working for Vietnam's spy agency, and was told in response: "Well, if I asked you if you worked for ASIO, you wouldn't tell me, would you?" (Source: Sydney Morning Hearld, September 11, 2012, Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker)
THE Reserve Bank has rejected claims governor Glenn Stevens has not told the truth about his knowledge of allegations of corruption against the bank. The central bank has also admitted a visit to Iraq by staff of one of its note-printing subsidiaries - the subject of the corruption allegations - was "ill-advised". But the RBA says the company's effort to sell plastic banknotes to Iraq, in violation of United Nations sanctions, was suspended and no notes were ever provided. Mr Stevens has previously told a House of Representatives' economics committee the RBA board didn't learn of allegations of corruption involving Note Printing Australia (NPA) until they were made public in 2009. Brian Hood, a former NPA executive, has told the ABC and Fairfax that Mr Stevens' testimony "wasn't the truth", and the RBA knew of the allegations in 2007. (Source: The Australian, Business with Wall St Journal, AAP SEPTEMBER 30, 2013)
The endemic practices of Australia's public service bureaucracies, shedding risk, denying accountability and responsibilty,
using public relations spin, misrepresentations and lies|
"The senior bureaucrat responsible for overseeing ethics in Victoria's (Australian state government) public service has quit after a court found she lied to police.", Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, July, 2012)
When one looks at the behaviour of Australia's labor politicians between 2006 and 2013 and the myriad of examples of public sector and corporate behaviour which sometimes leads to injury and death, why would a corporate executive bother with morals or ethics in a cut throat world of short term visions, rampant greed and self interest?
One practice, "seeding," blends "publicity, product placement, and public relations." Seeding can involve hiring actors for "clandestine campaigns that 'may consist of seeding chat rooms, blogs and forums with paid-for messages,'" as one marketer explained. A Weber Shandwick executive described the goal as to "enlist, equip and harness the power of trusted, informed and credible messengers." Another tool, "behavioral targeting," allows marketers to customize online ads, depending on Web pages visited and searches performed.
The cookies track, "registration data, your movements on their site, and even information about you that they've purchased from a third party" are also be available to marketers. Offline examples of behavioral targeting include customizable cable TV commercials and convenience store coupons.
SOURCE: Boston Globe, August 27, 2006
For more information on Joseph Turow: click here
Kevin Beck's Current Commentary and Articles
Be afraid, be very afraid
"Proposals in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement for investor rights to sue governments threaten the ability of our governments to regulate in the interests of the public and the environment, including on Coal Seam Gas (CSG) issues. Canada signed an agreement with the United States giving investors the right to sue governments in the North American Free Trade Agreement. Now, the US Lone Pine energy company is suing the provincial government of Quebec for $250 million because they imposed a moratorium on shale gas mining pending an environmental study. In a similar way, farmers and members of the community here have influenced the NSW and Victorian state governments to also adopt moratoriums to examine the impact of coal seam gas mining on land use and the environment. If the right for corporations to sue governments is agreed in these negotiations, our governments could be sued in the same way as the Quebec government. This would undermine the ability of our community to insist upon environmental regulations to protect our communities and farmlands."
Trade agreement a risk to privacy: Writing for Canada's The Star, Michael Geist asks whether it matters where you store your electronic data - including your emails, documents and photos. He is concerned about the potential for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement to prohibit governments from implementing privacy protections requiring that data is stored locally. He argues that this represents a privacy risk.
It appears that proposals on state owned enterprises in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) could also apply to enterprises at the state government level, which means they could affect our public hospitals. A number of Australian health organisations and AFTINET have sent a letter to Trade Minister Richard Marles outlining our concerns that the TPPA could affect the operation of public hospitals and asking that public hospitals be clearly excluded from these proposals." Source
Trans-Pacific Partnership: Canadian groups demand end to secrecy, BY COUNCIL OF CANADIANS | AUGUST 23, 2013
Ottawa ï¿½ Ministers from the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership countries, including International Trade Minister Ed Fast, should stop their secret negotiations and immediately make public the 26 chapters of the TPP when they meet in Brunei this week, say Canadian groups, citing precedent for transparency in previous trade negotiations of this size and scope. "It is a scandal that a far-reaching deal like the TPP could be signed in the coming months without anyone across the 12 participating countries having seen or had a chance to challenge some of the many new restrictions an agreement will put on our ability to govern in the public interest. The only acceptable road forward for the TPP is for ministers to publish the text now before it's too late," says Stuart Trew, trade campaigner with the Council of Canadians, a national grassroots activist and social justice organization. "The TPP looks more like a corporate power grab than a trade deal from what we've seen of it. It would impose a free-market dogma on governments and override domestic laws in a way that would be rejected if put forward through democratic legislative processes," says Raul Burbano, program director at Common Frontiers, a network bringing together labour, human rights, environmental, and economic and social justice organizations." Source
What the Australian Department of Trade and Foerign Affairs says:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is a viable pathway for realising the vision of a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific. This agreement will build on the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (P4) between Brunei Darussalam, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore, which entered into force in 2006. The TPP includes the P4 Parties as well as Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the USA and Vietnam. The Australian Government will pursue a TPP outcome that eliminates or at least substantially reduces barriers to trade and investment. The TPP is more than a traditional trade agreement; it will also deal with behind-the-border impediments to trade and investment. It is intended that the TPP be a living agreement that remains relevant to emerging issues and allows for membership expansion. While expanded membership of the TPP is desirable, those seeking membership would need to demonstrate commitment to early and comprehensive liberalisation so as to maintain the momentum that has been generated by existing TPP parties." Source
Some months ago a building in Bangladesh collapsed. It houses thousands of garment workers employed under slave labour like conditions to make garments for major world fashion retailers.
Australian retailers Rivers, Coles, Target, Kmart linked to Bangladesh factory worker abuse ABC Australia, Four Corners, Updated Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:49pm AEST
"Impoverished Bangladeshi workers claim they have been physically abused and threatened while working in sweatshops used by some of Australia's best-known retailers. In one case, they were beaten and their representatives were told they would be killed if they protested against working conditions. The ABC's Four Corners program has travelled to the country's capital Dhaka, where a number of workers revealed big Australian brands including Rivers, Coles, Target and Kmart ordered clothes from factories in Bangladesh that did not meet international standards. The revelations come just months after international outcry over the tragic building collapse in Rana Plaza, which killed more than 1,000 people and highlighted the plight of the nation's garment workers.
Retailers Rivers, Coles, Target and Kmart accused of ordering clothes from Bangladeshi factories that flout international standards Australian companies refuse to talk to Four Corners Garment workers say they were physically and verbally abused Coles workers allegedly told they would be killed if they did not 'shut their mouths' Bangladesh set to overtake China as world's largest garment producer Kmart, Target, Forever New, Cotton On only four Australian companies to sign up to safety accord As the death toll from the Rana collapse mounted, international retailers distanced themselves from the industry. The collapse was the latest in a number of fatal factory incidents, but local operators say they are squeezed so hard by retailers they cannot afford to ensure their factories are safe." (Source op cit, ABC Australia)
Whereas the more astute, and experienced, European companies reacted and moved to be transparent on showing the world their supply lines and to improve conditions in those factories Australian retailers were far and away not just slow but they were dumb. The Australian executives' lack of experience in contracting, and playing, in the big wide world of fast fashion, and assuming that price is what matters exposed them to Australian and global ridicule. Social media is burning their reputation every day across Australia and the world. Add this to Coles arrogant presumptions about what misleading consumers means and it is cheaper to pay a fine than waste time on compliance and challenges and we might say that we are seeing a company that does not value its role as a good citizen. I am not saying that it doesn't act as a good citizen I am saying that perception is everything.
KMart Australia Chief Executive Guy Russo, by comparison smelt the air and didn't like the wafting odours, he then did a brilliant mea culpa and acted immediately. He did not cut and run, but visited Bangladesh personally and set up a local KMart management team to handle auditing of safety and conditions and to manage KMart Australia contracts, supplier and worker relationships there. He stated he would improve the conditions of working men, women and even children.
By far and away the most myopic, and questionable ethically, of Australian retailers are Coles owned by Wesfarmers. It says a lot about the company's leadership team at Coles that they have not acted like Guy did or follow his lead.
Australian superannuation investment funds reacted to their member's concerns, and demanded, the companies all be transparent on their supply contracts in Cambodia, Bangladesh and in India. It seems that even that does not galvanizse our local executives and their Boards to respond. So then the lesson has to be taught. Come social media addicts play with them.
The world's leading brands have realised that Australians have money to spend and that they want quality and kudos in their clothing choices. Local Australian companies like Myer, David Jones, and the others are now seeing their markets under threat and they will have competition beyond anything they have experienced before. They better lift their ethical, moral and management game.
BY KEVIN BECK
October 2012: The Board of the MLC in Melbourne Australia have terminated the Principal. It is quite a silly decision, perhaps in the end even dumb. The personal risks they take, in this decision, to their reputation and status, are high. They apparently cannot work with her. Did it ever occur to them that they should go? Obviously not. The Board members are high profile elites. They are to use a common term (without meaning offence) "a dime a dozen" in the corporate world because there are lots of high profile elite types in the power collective. They move around from executive job to executive job. On the other hand the elite of Australia's education are a rare lot, there are a few by comparison. They tend not to move around. They also tend to care about their students and their charges and their obligations are viewed differently. The Principal, Ms Storelli, is one of Australia's high profile unique, and successful, educators. Her career is built on alimni and a love of students and she has nurtured many a corporate high profile success. The Board members read their charter and I assume in their world they are used to making decisions, without question, and being obeyed or accepted. Unfortunatley they have done this at the same time activists are flushed with success over the Jones' affair below. One of the board members is actually in charge of a federal government owned corporation. The politics here is dangerous. The parents and students wil react. If the Board members think that they can employ traditional corporate techniques they are on a hiding to hell and back. No doubt they wil employ social media but what they do not understand is what Mr Jones, 2GB and the rest of the corporate, and political, world do not yet get. The social media environment is not what they think it is.
They think that they can outlast this? They will be asked to resign, first by a group of parents and then by higher authorities. The nature of power is complex. It is also a fleeting thing. Whilst they have power in their own corporations and maybe in their circles they do not possess "community power". They are now also targeted by the "beyond horizons" game players. The parents of the MLC, are a tight knit alumni. They too are members of the power collective and the influential circles, they live too, in the corporate world, the institutions, within politics and government. They will spend up big to win. What funds can the MLC Board members call upon to protect themselves? Their own? The Charter the Board Chair, and members, refer to is not worth a pinch in the real world. They are going to workshop it this week. This is also quite simply silly. This is what they do in their own business worlds. This is a school not a corporation. Watch the end game it will be enlightening. Particularly so for Amhed Fahour.
October 2012: Australia operates a gladiatorial political and business system. Confrontation between governments and opposition, confrontation between political parties and business, confrontation between political parties and unions, confrontation between business and unions. There is much waste of edffort, time, money and human endeavour, in this approach. The nation overall suffers from the inability of people to live and work together harmoniously. The media in Australia is far more interested in the gladiatorial games than the substance. There is no depth of analysis and critique of policy and action beyond watching the outcomes. Within the context of the media sit the commentators (print, television and radio) and within this is a sub group knonw as "shock jocks". The term is well known to people from most developed countries, with prominent examples in the US being Fox News and in Australia Radio 2GB in Sydney. High profile talk back radio shock jock is Alan Jones. Mr Jones has an audience (demographic) that is the largest in Australia. His programme is syndicated. All political parties, and politicians, take note of Alan Jones. His allegiance is to the liberal party given his employment history with former Prime Minister of Australia malcolm Fraser. Alan Jones dines with liberal party Prime Ministers and Ministers.
The power of Alan Jones' words and his ability to manipulate and twist events and his own utterances is such that he can snow most of his listeners, In the political class Jones attracts the support of die hard liberals who have no problem with the gladiatorial vindictive nature of how we conduct ourselves in government and politics. They have no real issue with Jones' proposition regarding the death of the father of Ms Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia.
"The talkback host told a packed room of Liberal Party members: "Every person in the caucus of the Labor Party knows that Julia Gillard is a liar, everybody. I will come to that in a moment. The old man recently died a few weeks ago of shame. To think that he has a daughter who told lies every time she stood for Parliament." In a tape recording of the dinner, laughter can be heard in the background as Jones makes his remarks.....Jones's comments were recorded at a $100-a-head Sydney University Liberal Club President's dinner held at the Waterfront Restaurant at the Rocks last Saturday. The club tweeted the next day: "Brilliant speech by Alan Jones last night. It's no wonder he's the nation's most influential broadcaster!" Attendees at the function were running for cover last night, with two leading Liberal Party members telling The Sun-Herald they had not heard the comments, despite listening to Jones's entire 50 minute speech. State Liberal MP Ray Williams told The Sun-Herald: "It was a loud room and a long speech. I recall Julia Gillard being mentioned but not John Gillard." Young Liberal president Simon Fontana, a staffer for Community Services Minister Pru Goward, also insisted he did not hear any claim that John Gillard had died of shame. He told The Sun-Herald he had listened to the entire speech but did not hear anything about Mr Gillard's death. Last year, Jones said of Ms Gillard: "I'm putting her into a chaff bag and hoisting her into the Tasman Sea." Jones has also claimed her behaviour in imposing the carbon price "borders on the treasonous", and has agreed with one of his callers regarding Ms Gillard: "Yeah,that's it. Bring back the guillotine!" (Source: Gillard's father died of shame: Alan Jones, Date" September 29, 2012, Heath Aston, Sun-Herald state political editor)
Supporters of Jones, most notably politicians who called in to his programme, and Kerry Stokes, high profile media owner, seem to have no issue with his vicious proposition of putting Ms Gillard in a chaff bag, and putting her out to sea, or reference to "witch bitch" or "liar" or any other vile utterances that stream from Mr Jones' egotistical rant focused most personally on the Prime Minister. This is quite naive given the change in political dynamics in Australia and voter behaviour. The technology unleashed in everyone's hands is a game changer.
"DEFIANT JONES BACK ON AIR
Alan Jones returns to the radio and mounts an assault on the government, as the opposition ponders how to handle its relationship with the defiant broadcaster......all morning Jones took calls from supporters, including Liberal MP Bronwyn Bishop and media magnate Kerry Stokes.(Alan Jones loses more advertisers, Date: October 2, 2012 - 11:48AM, Stephanie Gardiner, Reporter)
Liberal leader Tony Abbott is very careful how he responds to Jones, He does not want to get him off side, he is acquiescent even to the point of fawning least Hones turns on him. Alan Jones was at his [eak during the days of liberal Prime Minister John Howard.
Public reaction to Jones' attack on Ms Gillard was instant. They demanded that radio 2GB sack him and that advertisers withdraw. There is an online petition approaching 40,000 people demanding that Jones be sacked. It is all irrelevant. The indignation and the rant will move on. The 40,000 - 100,000,000 electronically signing petitions are ignored by the pundits. What of the 100,000 emails going to advertisers on radio 2GB are they to be ignored? are ignored? Those who think that this is a simple reaction that wil blow over are seriously misatek. It is orcehstrated by a handful of people beyond the horizon of awareness. Mercedes will co0me for their car. Jones' advertsing on his programme will dry up.
Many advertisers have announced that they are pulling their support. However let us not be fooled by this. They know precisely what type of personality broadcaster Mr Jones is, what type of broadcaster he is, the content, his political partisanship, his ego, eloquence, ability to twist and turn using language and circular argument, his personal traits and foibles. They buy advertising on his show because he gets a large number of listeners. Many think this is just like Kyle but it is not.
What they have no real knowledge iof, is the true demographic of his audience and its breadth across Australia, not just in Sydney. He is syndicated into regional Australia. The listeners do not all support Mr Jones, or the conservative side of politics. I listen to him when in Sydney because I like to be entertained, and outraged, all at once. I also used to listen to John Laws. These two are detached from reality, legends in their lifetime in media, and are at best amusing. The advertisers do not care about the intellectual capacity of those listeners or their personal political beliefs.
The person in charge of Government Affairs for Woolworths, attended the function where Jones made his speech referring to Ms Gillard's father's death. This person from Woolworths (one of Australia's largest retailers) donated a chaff jacket signed by Alan Jones to be auctioned. Jones bought it. Are we to assume that government affairs is detached from being at a Liberal party function and that the person can actually attend there and then negotiate effectively with labor federal, state and local government councillors? Woolworths Board and CEO are surely not that stupid. Mr berger's days with Woolworths are numbered he will last barely a week. He will, like Jones resort to self justification, he will turn to social media without understanding how social media is turned on him. The moment he goes on facebook, Twitter or other social network he opens the door to the "beyond horizon" practitioners. He is opening the door to his removal from Woolworths. Mark my words.
This is the extant, and the intertwine, the nepotism and the charade, of the power elite. They have not realised that the GFC carried many more lessons than just economic. It was, and is, the end of trust. The degradation of parliament and democracy, the corruption of unions, institutions, and enterprise have all coalesced.
Corporation Boards, CEOs and spin doctors, would have you believe something quite different. It is a staged show. labor's attack on Tony Abbott in the context of Jones' speech is also a staged show. It is all disingenuous. A play in which the audience is being duped, every day. The radio station will not sack him. The liberal party (with the exception of Malcolm Turnbull who was quick to condemn Jones' vicious remarks) will step very carefully.
This whole saga demonstrates the declining quality, and values, of our political and business elites. They have forgotten why they are there. They operate in a short term view. It is a contrived world for the ordinary sucker in society, where feigned indignation, contrition and "sorry" is rolled out to suit the occasion by people who actually lack a moral compass.
Is your bank modern and are its transaction systems always available?
From time to time politicians talk of making Sydney a financial hub. They think if they simply set up a big technology centre they are on their way. One can overcome the time differences. However the biggest stumbling block to a modern day financially litearte nation are the banks. Sure they survived the GFC. They are so conservative it is a given. Opne hearted lenders they are not. Low doc lenders they are but they hide these away through third party enterprises so that the bank is not threatened. Australia's banks cannot process an electronic deposit transaction on a weekend and public holiday because they choose not to. Thus if someone puts $A10,000 electronically into your account on a Saturday morning it will not appear until Monday or even later. They want up to three days to process electronic transactions. This is quite pathetic, in coomparison to real banks in modern financially astute counties such as Singapore. To my mind it is one of the reasons why they cannot facilitate a financial hub. Another reason is their technology is substandard. Legacy, hybrid, high maintenance cost systems, requiring large IT labour support, underpin their processing systems. They are quite inflexible.
An Australian bank's idea of innovation is most likely a new credit card, with no annual fees for one year and transfer all of your debt for only 2% interest for one year. A card with added loyalty,. Every man and his dog hs a loyaty programme and only those with a dedicated mind set can manage these. After a time the consumer comes to realise that loyalty programmes are actually not "loyal" and they are not consumer friendly as depicted. Australia needs more banks and financial service providers with global technology networks able to deliver service and transactions of any type, anytime, any day and anywhere. The Australia Banks major draw card from their perception is the numbers of ATM machines deployed. What happens when they swaloow your card on a weekend or public holiday? Their other big idea is a repackaged housing loan. They also like catchy adverisements that play on spin, such as "Can" or "breaking away from the cartel". This is indeed financial wizardry rivetting and hard to resist.
For some time now, since the GFC, those associated with the Finance Advisory Industry, and agents, operating in that space selling loans on behalf of banks have heard that agents have been lured by banks to provide overstated assessments of assets and income in order to get loan approvals across the line and their commission receipts. These stories were not limited to small unknown banks but to mainstream well known Australian banks. No doubt the Board members and CEOs of banks, including the Australian banking Association, would disavow all, or any, knowkledge of such practices. Now given the Australian banks behaviour towards you, and the practices in other financial areas such as foreclosure, foreign exchange, penalty charges, would you believe them?
IDENTIFYING EVERYONE, PROFILING AND TRACKING THEM
In Australia there is an embedded suspicion of big brother. Any attempt to develop a government services card is seen as resurrection of the Australia card. The monitoring of the citizen. What is ironic is that individuals happily give away identity for their video hire, internet facebook and other social media, for a driver licence, a passport and a rewards card. The reward card, and social media, are the most ubiquitous tracking devices on earth, assembling a picture of every individual's profile, income, habits and existence. They go well beyond governments.
Since the sixties a whole industry has developed around the cards we carry and use every day. First there were the membership cards many of them pieces of paper laminated. These migrate into the government sphere with paper driver licences similarly laminated. Bank cards heralded the introduction of mass plastic cards. Employee identity, loyalty and the myriad of other cards evolved. Magnetic stripe technology changed the way cards could be used, and the ATM and EFTPOS were born. The chip card (or smart card) arrived and the whole concept of cards and identity entered the privacy debates. Government and big brother conspiracy theories and the "benders and the shapers" who like to tell us how to live and what information may be kept by banks, enterprise and governments.
Vested interests rule our world and we the consumer and user get little say, but that is about to change. Technology as always changes the world and it is mobile technology that returns the control to the user/customer.
Mobile technology is evolving and when coupled with the Internet it is defining a forward looking statement based on the long term view of the replacement of cards, tickets, cheques and cash. Financial institutions, and banks, can move beyond traditional customer bases to targeting the "non bank" customer, which is a very large segment of the Australian market sought by banks as well as micro finance for small business and single entrepreneurs. The Application Mobile Wallet - A new type of instant issuance of the future
A "Mobile Payment Wallet" bundles cards, accounts, prepaid cards, cheques, BPay along with other instruments onto a mobile device. This offering incorporates digital receipts, loyalty, (underwritten by banks and other enterprises, including large retailers and service providers entering non - traditional markets in insurance and finance), generic gift card, health and social security payments and transactions (government and private), airline flight boarding passes, cardless ATM withdrawal, ticketing services for transit and entertainment, using the devices as the transmission (wave and pay technology) with an endless set of options for merchants to participate in programmes.
These new offerings include customer choice options for billing of transactions into the mobile phone, or device service provider such as Optus or Telstra in Australia and subsequent clearance of that bill by the banking or financial services provider. The server-based wallet is quite agnostic to the telecommunications access channel and the customer can access services over both mobile and non-mobile services.
Instead of using a card the customer can use a secure SIM menu, a USSD channel or an SMS, web, POS, ATMs, IVRs and any other thing that comes onto the market. The mobile device, and the identity credential including the PKI credentialing certificate process, enables any transaction over any digital transmission technology.
These technology platforms incorporate multifactor and multimodal authentications for customers covering merchants, money transfers such as western Union, bill pay, secure on line shopping eliminating the "no card present" issue, with stored value prepaid options for customers who wanted secure transaction with limited exposure of their funds and budgetary control. The software control, for these various transactions on mobile, accords with Anti-Money Laundering plus credentialing for specified transactions. Any abnormal account activity will stop the transaction in the mobile device. This goes head on into competitors anti-fraud systems such as ANZ Bank's Falcon.
A whole industry developing mobile applications is crated. The applications are deployed and automatically transmitted to the mobile device without required user action, once they have logged on via their app on the mobile device. The user profiles, goes beyond a mere card, to a customer defined suite of tailored services for the customer demographic running on various integrator platforms.
THE GRADUAL DEMISE, OR REDEFINITION OF TRADITIONAL INDUSTRIES AND SMALL PROVIDERS IN AUSTRALIA
As with any major disruptive shift in technology there are winners and losers. Many small entrepreneurs have built a business around plastic cards, small software applications and the clips and pins that go with them. Some will remain to service niche markets.
The real impacts will come in the large production, and printing bureaus, that have grown up to service banks, large enterprise and government agencies. The card manufactures, and personalisation industries, including packaging, that deliver flat plastic cards and the new generation smart cards.
Cards which have dominated the market will no longer be the over - riding marketing, branding instruments as they have been in the past. The glossy sell brochures talk of the real estate value of cards and the image. How does an application have physical image in the same sense?
The developed world, its banking and commerce, will go eventually mobile. This is fraught with significant problems as our lives become dependent on technology. What would happen if all bank computers failed?
It will take time for the mobility to occur. There are those who argue that mobile devices are unreliable, that not all people have smart phones, the older people will not want to use them, the lower income people. The Australian government gave away set top boxes when they mandated digital and shut down analog. The internet has been embraced. New gadgets infest the houses and the tablets are everywhere. Apps like software are easy to replicate, at almost no extra cost, transport costs, vaults and machines are no longer needed. Cards are not easily replicated and cannot move invisibly and be delivered instantaneously.
I think five years and cards will still remain but not in the volumes and growth scenarios of the past decade. The bureaus will have to become software houses developing applications and offering data warehousing and other services to meet the challenge. Cards will not die out completely they will just slowly fade away to an insignificant proportion of business compared to now. The Australian card production bureau that moves first on this will take the market until the others catch up. The big ones in Australia are Gemalto, Oberthur, Placard and ABnote Australasia. This disruption may in fact be a blessing. For too long banks have used their market power to demand ever lower costs of cards pushing the suppliers to the brink of no margin. They demand SLAs with penalties. There is insufficient margin to enable companies to fund investment from these contracts. Meanwhile the banks do not pass on these savings to consumers and charge usury interest rates for their credit. It is a one sided game played out in back rooms under questionable pressure tactics. I think the banks are unethical in their general behaviour in Australia.
The manufacturers of the card personalisation machines at desktop, and bureau, levels (companies like Datacard, Muhlbauer, Zebra, Fargo, Evolis et al) will have to think about their future too. They will have to diversify. United States technology, finance and banking that have for a long time dominated the thinking of multinational companies may now lag behind what occurs internationally outside the US. The global financial crisis has affected their banks dramatically. They are price driven, often small banks and companies with a small market share and customer base. Many products designed for the US market are not easily migrateable beyond their shores. Australia's banks whilst not being technology embracers may be forced by sheer consumer and business demands. It may take some time to seep into Australian bank's thinking. But I do not think it will be a long time. Meanwhile it is likely they will continue with their mind set that cheap for them is good for everyone else. Quality apparently can be had regardless of price in this new age of spin.
AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT SERVICES AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS DELIVERY
Australians have become used to their Medicare card and their health cards. But governments are looking at the way they interact with the citizens to whom they deliver services,. They are moving on line and with that comes the need for a technology that transmits data in huge volumes to millions of devices of varying type. users will have many, PCs, tablets, mobile phones and televisions. The National Broadband Network is a physical representation of anticipating the challenge. The traditional sellers of telecommunications services, like the bureaus above are also impacted. They better have a better infrastructure than they have now, coupled with really good government policies (the Australian Liberal Party federal opposition wants to get a move on in defining one) than they have got now which is labouring under the new hand held devices. Telecommunications companies live on the edge of misrepresentation of their service delivery capabilities. (Kevin R Beck, Assimilating Cards within Applications, 2012)
An uncomprehending, unyielding and destructive political mindset.
When the labor government under Kevin Rudd came to power an initiative known as the National Broadband Network was unveiled. It was valued at $A40 billion. Hysteria among the conservatives and the economic rationalists broke loose. The vested interests of the telecommunications owners was apparent. The media danced a jig with the now common, and boring, retort, "where is the money coming from?". Apparently we, as a nation through our governments, cannot invest in our future if it is expensive. That is the role of the private sector. This is closed mind economic, and ideological, humbug.
Under the Australian coalition, and the ideologically inclined free marketeers, our telecommunications, and internet, is to be at behest of vested "narrow minded" interests. Those who will value Facebook at $US90 billion and believe the internet is about movie downloads and surfing or shopping on line.
The arguments against labor's NBN oscillate around the value of Telstra's copper cable, design concepts - fibre to the node, fibre to the home, wireless and two wires between two cans, all focused on the person at home. Typical myopia. But this was never the aim or objective of the labor plan.
When one digs deeper into the concept, design, planning, and structure, of the NBN Corporation and all of the participants involved it becomes apparent that the fibre optic cable to the home is merely a peripheral item in the more adventurous, and innovative, conceptual NBN. It is a brilliant piece of technological lateral thinking. There are strategies within strategies, wheels within wheels.
PERHAPS THE LIBERAL OPPOSITION ARE PISSED THEY DID NOT THINK OF IT?
Of great interest to me, in the mosaic of the NBN, is Australia Post's Digital Strategy (incorporating their 24 hour self assistance centres, gyro banking and services kiosks and Amex foreign exchange facilities along with a myriad of other Australia Post initiatives which I believe will include a shopper comparison web based service similar to the Canadian Post service.
In amongst the openly known, higher profile planners and participants we find people working from universities, and institutions, education, research and development, small to medium enterprise existing, emerging and new services, the Digital Economy, commerce, and disciplines such as science, engineering, architecture and planning, housing, banking and finance, manufacturing and design, consumer services, broadcasting services (ABC, SBS, Community, Commercial and new media). People working on many, and as of yet unconceived, contributing value that come from high speed broadband to local government, communities and industry. The NBN and its capabilities are limited only by the imagination of the builders and can only be shackled by the small minded opponents who may occupy decision making roles in the future.
Government agencies will morph to the virtual, the areas of change will be in services transmigration onto the NBN of activities of the public service. Indigenous devices delivery, trade, defence and law enforcement including cyber crime, child protection, transport and regional development, tourism, trade, immigration, foreign affairs. All of them, small, large and obscure, will take on new digital personas and operations.
The NBN brings the ability to register, and apply on line from home or at one of the Post facilities, a library, local government, pharmacy, newsagent, or anywhere there is a connection, for a digital identity to conduct business with all governments and to access services. Instead of the current low grade medicare card which is open to fraud a new logical identity where a card may or may not be required or even issued. The logical instrument can reside in a phone, device, laptop, PC, and one does not necessarily need a smart phone to access services. The National e Health Strategy for medical records and public health services, social security benefits. The operational programmes of COAG, the programmes of Customs, Defence, Immigration and the National Security agenda. The NBN literally revolutoinises the social, and economic, fabric of the Australian nation impacting every person at every level. It is something that a new government cannot unravel and will not want to. It is typically the genius of the Australian Public Service hidden from view. The NBN will go down as a change agent on Australia far beyond the impact of any climate change policy and carbon tax. That is if it is not killed off politically. (Kevin Beck, "The NBN, more than just a cable", Melbourne 2012).
April 2012: Another Australian care parts manufacturer has gone to the wall. Hundreds of workers are caught off guard. many have worked for the company since leaving school. Others are relatively new. The new employees, married men, have young families, several children and a mortgage. They paid $A400,000 or $A500,000 plus to build a house, at low interest rates. They are by anyone's standards highly geared. Their house has all of the mod cons. The wife may or may not be working, usually not. They wanted that "right of every Australian", owning their own home. Their education, training, and experience, is narrow cast. Too often they were too busy with life's onerous tasks to undertake additional education and training for multiskilling and insurance. They did not plan for an emergency like this. They took no interest in the financial health of their employer. Now the union, the government and ultimately the taxpayer must help them. This is a common occurrence across the nation.
The new generation of Australians have grown up in a world of conspicuous consumption. Lulled into a sense of being able to have it all, easy and comfortable. Shaped by the politically inspired messages of Australia's successive governments. They have been placed on the teat of middle class welfare and the nanny state. They are the "see it, want it now" generation. In their world everything that is cheap is quality. Education is something for others. Life long learning, what is that? They cannot move, they cannot sell, they are locked in. No back up plan. Such is the Australian modern society. A class of spoilt consumer junkies and a class of aging citizens. The government has to fix their situation.
"decommodificationï¿½occurs when a service is rendered as a matter of right, and when a person can maintain a livelihood without reliance on the market. A key purpose of the welfare state is not only to provide people with the basics of life irrespective of their employment status, but also to place certain essential services such as health and education outside the logic of the market." (Source of extract:The Power of Ideas: Decline and renewal in the theoretical foundations of progressive thinking, David Choat, December 2010)
Ultimately these people will have to solve the problems themselves because the government's schemes and policies are shallow, facades of smoke and mirrors designed to firewall the politician and the bureaucrat against responsibility and accountability. A whole multi-billion dollar industry has developed in Australia since 1995, it totally relies upon their being a steady supply of unemployed. It is not dissimilar to the mega billion dollar industry that relies upon the ongoing existence of poverty and disadvantage.
The usual noises emanate from the federal government. There will be retraining, there will be support services from the many employment agencies.
"Job Services Australia is the Australian Government's gateway for job seeker to access training, skills development and work experience. Job Services Australia offers personalised help and services that are better targeted to your needs and more access to training opportunities and work experience to help you find and keep a job. Job Services Australia providers are organisations contracted by the Australian Government to provide employment services and are located in more than 2000 towns, cities and rural sites around the country. There is a Job Services Australia provider near you Your local Job Services Australia provider will be your first point of call for all your employment and job search needs. They will work with you one-on-one to help develop and enhance your skills for the job that's right for you. Your Job Services Australia provider is also focused on training for the future.
Your Job Services Australia provider can give you advice on the best job search methods, career options and employment programs, as well as helping you prepare your rÃ©sumÃ©, enhance your interview technique or undertake skills development or professional training you may need to help you get and keep a job.(Source: Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, web site, April 11, 2012)
These service delivery agents arose when the Australian Commonwealth Employment Agency was abolished by the Howard government in 1996. This was done under the ideological belief that the "private sector does it better" and the hidden agenda to shed the risk, responsibility and accountability, from government to someone else. These service providers, paid from the public purse, will go through the motions, write a resume, do a short few days competency course. Receive a certificate. Bingo, a reshaped, job ready individual. Preparation for jobs that do not exist.
Australia is a nation ruled by governments with the same hack song sheet and theories. Outmoded ideas, many proven to be hapless by the global financial crisis. Governments with core controllers, operating under Einstein's theory of stupidity. They are driven by short term political goals and embedded corrosive self interests, too much is founded on lies and misrepresentation. The message is always the same, they have the recipe for success but it is sack cloth. Yet for all of this we are, according to legend and fairy tales, more lucky than other nations. Yet why are we generally so despondent?
"By presenting anecdotes about people working in what he calls the New Economy, he draws conclusions about the personal consequences of work in the new capitalism. People, he argues, have to cope with new concepts of flexibility, flextime, teamwork, delayering and ever-changing working conditions that are seemingly presenting new opportunities of self fulfillment to workers, but in reality creating new forms of oppression ultimately disorienting individuals and undermining their emotional and psychological well-being. Emphasis on the above-mentioned concepts is affecting character as expressed by loyalty and commitment and ultimately leads to the decline of values and personal traits that are desirable in society." Source of extract: The Corrosion of Character, Richard Sennett, 2003.
As the developed world moved into conspicuous consumption, rather than self restraint, the modes of control of production, so too has the free market become a gamble. There is always a new horizon, the growth of China, the growth of India and the growth of developing nations. These underpin the notion of continuous growth and demand. Australia's resource sector feeds these avaricious economies. But for how long? Is it all a delusion? Can economic growth exist in Australia, and everywhere else,permanently? Apparently so in the financial, and political, worlds.
The stock exchanges are the world's casinos.
This casino enabled the individual to become a trader. It glamourised the activity whilst masking the dangers. Money flowed like no other time. Australia may have escaped the cataclysmic debt being experienced by other nations but it has not escaped the underlying fissures that are now appearing. In the US the over committed simply handed back the keys to their houses. But you cannot do that here in Australia. So the ever growing mortgage stress or failure is deliberately hidden. Hidden by the banks and the governments. Failed policies at state and federal level have created a price bubble in housing and a shortage. Neither can be maintained. Head in the sand. Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan and the Australian state Premiers move on, ignoring the tectonic rumblings. Their focus is on a two speed economy. The fabric of the nation is ripped by Australia's state, and federal, governments' failures to plan, anticipate and provide, for the longer term. being accused of economic vandalism causes the faint hearted short term politician to wilt. The media, and the doomsayers bleat, how will we pay for the things you are proposing? We must have a surplus. We see this today in the same debates about a second airport for Sydney, not in my back yard, about a fast intercity rail. Australia, a developed nation, supposedly rich in resources, has an archaic rail and transport system. An airport unsuitable for a modern world city.
The ordinary people, detached from government let this go on. They are focusing on their lives and problems. They have little interest in democracy and governance. They will only bleat when they are directly affected. Thus the strident noises grow when another small manufacturing firm goes to the wall. The unemployed become a media story for the moment. Some local community teeters on destruction from the resultant multipliers. Yet so many of our policy makers, decision makers and members of the power collectives, still look at the old ways for solutions. The agendas are the same. Corporations and their lobbyists resist regulation.
Was the GFC a glitch, a passing phenomenon that only affects some countries overseas? "But what if the ongoing economic turmoil is not just a crisis, but a critical juncture in a larger process of transformation?" (The Ideational Background of the Global Economic Crisis, Gaudenz Assenza, Zdenka SokolÃckovÃ¡, Aliaksandr Martynau, HUMANICUS, Issue 6, 2011)
"Many concluded, for instance, that financial deregulation was good, because it led to rapid expansion of the financial industry and an increase in measured GDP. We now know that growth was not sustainable; that much of the profits earned in 2004-2007 might more appropriately be looked at as winnings in gambling by some, which were more than offset by the losses in 2008, and the following years, by others." Source of extract: New publication: ï¿½The Power of Ideas collects ï¿½theoretical foundations posts Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010, Policy Progress Blog, The Power of Ideas: Decline and renewal in the theoretical foundations of progressive thinking, David Choat, December 2010 (p. 11)
Behind the scenes are new policy levers, unseen and largely unknown by the majority of the population. They get a glimpse of these new levers in the climate change and carbon tax initiatives, in renewable energy and in the focus on environment. The rise in the political power of the Greens. They may not realise that there is a shift from single focus on GDP to a multi-dimensional criteria that politicians (notably Australia's federal labor government) are using for framing a nation's economy and perhaps a world economy. There are exceptions of course. In Victoria, the Baillieu coalition state government, is reverting to a more archaic set of policy levers and actions. These, oldie but goody policies, are being put into place by people who have been in the state parliament, seemingly forever, waiting their turn on the political merry go round.
"The Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission produced a lengthy, thoughtful and thorough report. They argued that GDP was indeed a partial and often misleading measure, and proposed reform across three dimensions. First, classical GDP statistics needed to be refined to better take account of things like income distribution and the actual value of public services. Secondly, there was a need to complement GDP with measures of quality of life, including both purely subjective aspects such as happiness, and more objective factors drawn from Sens ï¿½capability framework. Thirdly, we need to measure and track the sustainability of our economy, defined quite precisely as whether at least the current level of well-being can be maintained for future generationsï¿½ for this the Commission argued that an approach based on changes in resource stocks (which Tim Jackson would recognise) would be needed." (Source: Choat, as above and the Access Reports
Perhaps this study and the subsequent report cited above, coupled with Climate Change and the focus on environment, is driving the Gillard government's Carbon Tax? This would if sold openly and communicated be a powerful argument for government. However the thinking of Gillard, and all leaders of Australia's state governments, (labor and liberal parties) may be clouded by the very nature of politics in Australia. Government, and politics, has morphed into a corporate model. The message (the public relations) sits above politics. The goal over rides ethics and morality, the end justifies the means.
"It is observed that ethical issues are mostly ignored in the economic space during this economic and financial expansion. When the economy is making progress, ethics are seen as an insignificant issue like intellectual or luxury goods; however, at times when economic and financial crises occur, ethical issues become one of the most important topics at the top of agenda. It is also interesting that sensitivity to ethics adopted in time of crisis is gradually abandoned and forgotten again when the things are going well. General tendency in economics and management literature until 90s had been on the idea that ethics and economy are mutually exclusive and ethics have no place in business. The acceptance on the capacity of markets to effectively regulate themselves on their own underlies this idea. However, today, the question regarding the behavioural aspect of company as a citizen in a social structure considering that it be called nowadays as corporate citizenï¿½ is increasingly brought to the agenda (Schmitt and Steige, 2007).
The main reason why ethics in economy and finance are increasingly brought to the agenda not only in scientific researches but also in public discussions is the increasing explicit unethical behaviours of organisations especially in developed countries and increasing negative impact of such behaviours." (Source: Introduction - Research Journal of International Studies - Issue 19 (June., 2011)
So we come back to our group who find themselves unemployed. They exist, not in an economy per se, but in a political economy. The two have merged. Some may say that this merger was defined by US President Clinton, "it's the economy stupid". Inherent in the fabric of Australian society is the perception of the "value of labour". From a union perspective, particularly in those vocations/industries where human skills prevail (that is where technology cannot do all of the job), labour underpins the success of capital. labour intensive industries like construction, health, education and so on. They tell their members that their role is invaluable and that their role is the creator of the wealth of the enterprise.. For the individual, and their union, they are pivotal in the equation. Of course there is a problem when capital disappears. Then suddenly there is the fundamental belief of "the right to a job", not anywhere but where they have chosen to live, buy the house and have the children. In world where labour seems to have to be mobile, we have many in fixed abodes.
Why is this view of the value of labour not generally transcendant in the world of capitalism and economy, even when we take out free market beliefs and ideologies? It is about the "command of value".
"In the Politics, Aristotle views labour as a commodity that has value but does not give value. Rejecting labour as the source of wealth, Aristotle did not formulate the labour theory of value but instead held a theory of the value of labour. Aristotle observed that labour skill is not a determinant of exchange value. Instead, the value of labour skills is given by the goods they command in the market." (Source: "Capitalism and Commerce, Aristotle and Economics, Edward W. Younkins, Quebecoislibre, September 15, 2005, No 158)
"First and foremost everyone, both in the private and public sectors, needs a guarantee of a right to a job at a living wage -- one that pays above poverty-level wages and is indexed to inflation. And in today's world that comes to a minimum of about $10 an hour. We want this right written directly into the U.S. Constitution. The Declaration of Independence affirmed our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Preamble to the Constitution promised "to establish Justice,... promote the General Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity. But for working people all this means nothing if we don't have the right to a job. "(Source: From the Labor Party Call for Economic Justice, http://lpa.igc.org/lpv12/lp7.html)
The author of the above article is Kevin Beck, Australian Political and Social Commentator, Melbourne, April 2012)
You will pay through the nose and your compensation will not cover the increased costs
April 2012: The introduction of the Australian government's Carbon Tax - Clean Energy - policy enactment starts in mid 2012. This is being implemented by the Gillard labor government. 60% of the Australian voters do not support it according to today's polls. High profile business experts and most others, in the Australian commercial world, do not support the carbon tax. The government is setting an impost price of $A23.00 a tonne of carbon dioxide emissions. How did they pick on $A23.00 a tonne? That is as contrived as their motivational theories, and mechanisms for combatting the nebulous climate change.
Despite evidence to the contrary the government insists on demonising carbon dioxide as the greatest threat to mankind. The carbon tax will apply to the 500 largest "polluters" in the Australian business sector. That is how the Ministers described these enterprises - polluters. Referring to these enterprises as "polluters" is questionable, ignorant and insulting.
The Gillard labor government spin merchants have advised the Prime Minister to change the rhetoric to Clean Energy. Australian Trade exposed industries are getting billions of dollars in compensation along with Australian consumers. Thus the first question is why have a tax that is offset by compensation? The tax is purportedly going to morph into a carbon emissions trading scheme in a few years time.
So now, when we get our utility bills they have a section that says how much carbon tonnes of emissions output I, you, and us, am/are responsible for. This quite simply is dribble. They have no idea what is in my house and the formula is the same for all residences. If I buy an airline ticket I am asked if I want to pay a few dollars to offset the carbon output related to my flying. This is just bullshit.
The Australian Labor Government's policy platforms for their clean energy environment are naive, porly constructed and thought out, as to consequence, like the Pink Batts fiasco that cost tax payers billions and resulted in deaths and destruction. A con like the government's alternative renewable energy replacement schemes requiring energy providers to source alternates, such as solar, wind, tides and farts (rubbish methane conversion extraction). A con like the Australian government's six star energy rating system. You now cannot build a house unless you comply. The CSIRO developed the assessment system for the government. They adapted an existing thing. It calculates the rating for the residence, independent of the buildings infrastructure methods e.g it cannot rate the impact if you have a hollow section between the outside and inside walls, if you eaves and verandahs, type of glass and timber. It calculates the space, and extrapolates the use of air conditioning for cooling and heating, even if your house has no such air conditioning or heating. A house built of creative, environmental alternatives, mud brick and the like described above, will likely receive a fail. All of the above is the sort of rubbish the benders, and the shapers, of the Australian government (Labor, the Greens and Independents) come up with and mandate into law. (Kevin Beck, "The Benders and Shapers of How We Are to Live" Melbourne, Australia 2012)
Go to Consumer Complaints Web Site
The spirit of Australia
What the Qantas shakeup means: expert analysis
There are many articles written about the state of play of Australia's food and grocery market along with petrol and liquor. It is difficult to discern the truth and the facts. Suffice to begin that i start from a position where one should not assume that the word "Consumer" in the name of the Australian Competition, and Consumer Commission (ACCC), actually carries any weight within the political sphere of the operation of the Commission. The mere juxtapositioning of the words "Competition over Consumer" leads to thoughtful introspection about political motives and focus.
The ACCC is a carefully crafted structure that, on first blush, would appear to say that the Commission is an independent body. It is within a limited frame. The government of the day decides who and how. Consumer protection laws are policed by the states, who duck shove the hard stuff finger pointing at the Commonwealth. Two primary examples demonstrate how the Australian consumer may be taken advantage of daily - petrol, now largely controlled by the two major retailers Coles and Woolworths and food and groceries, also controlled by the two major retailers. Their presence pervades the hotel, gaming and liquor, industries also. It is a nonsense that two retailers should continue to control 80% of the Australian food, grocery and fuel markets. It is a nonsense that these two enterprises place consumer interests before commercial and shareholder interests. We pay dearly for the political, and bureaucratic, failures of successive governments - labor and coalition (liberal - national) in establishing strong competition. Local and state governments bear a complicit responsibility. There is an element of the whiff of corruption which is exacerbated by the scandals of the NSW labor government era up until 2011. How common is the manipulation of local governments across Australia by vested business and political operators?
Every few years the federal government of the day will have the ACCC conduct a study of the market. The ACCC will, it seems, always conclude that there is vibrant competition citing small privately owned chain retailers and Aldi as the proof. They also have a window dressing system to monitor petrol prices. In my personal view only the ACCC would conclude that there is no price and market manipulation. They should get out more.
Across Australia the two major enterprises are often the largest employer and business. In every electorate they are powerful. It would be naive to assume that local representatives, regional and state, representatives of the companies would not point this out to local politicians.
There is debate around private labels in major supermarkets. Brand manufacturers claim they are being pushed out. Commentators and analysts point to the buying power of Woolworths and Coles. Do we believe that no coercion or persuasion is exercised on suppliers by buyers? Providing real transparency, would require us to know what the monetary commission, and incentive structures, the major chain retailers are paying their buyers. It would also require us to know how the retailers decide what will be carried on their shelves and under what conditions. It would be naive to assume that the buyers have no performance measurement in their contracts. What pressures do these contracts exert on the individual?
Rumour and claims abound, and it may also be logically assumed of one takes the time to examine the market, that every supplier is subjected to a form of coercion. It might not be far fetched to assume that they fear reprisals if they object and speak out exposing the underbelly. Can they afford to be blacklisted or to have their contracts cancelled? The reprisals may well be blatant and subtle. Who knows if no one speaks out and the ACCC and state bodies sit on their hands. Are they waiting for a whistleblower? Businesses of size can be so subtle in their blackmail that is difficult to prove and it goes undetected. In small country towns across Australia farmers and others talk in muted and guarded tones. The supermarkets, the producers are among the biggest employers. They wield local power.
The mantra today (2011) in Australia by those who think all is well is that there is competition. The consumer comes first - so who is bearing the 50% reduction in the price of 4 litres of Australian olive oil? The supplier, the supermarket? If this can be done in so many cases then what is the real price that consumers should be paying for this and other products? I do not know. I wonder why i do not trust so many corporations and their managers? Why am I suspicious of the ACCC and political motivations?
MISREPRESENTATION AND MISLEADING LABELLING
Labelling is another area of legislative negligence and misleading practice. Australian labelling laws, in my view, conflict with the spirit of Australian Competition laws and trade practices act. labelling is a blatantly used to "manipulate" consumer sentiments, perceptions and buying. Australian law allows nebulous statements - for example "made from Australian and imported products." What proportion is the imported against the Australian and what is/are the source/s? Other constituent elements such as "raspberry", but when we look there is only 2% raspberry. Added vitamins and minerals imply health benefits that are probably non existent at this level. Many other similarly described products are exploiting the flexible fantasies, and misrepresentations, that Australian governments allow in our laws. Many argue that we pay too much for our food, and groceries yet most of the money, it seems, is not going to the producers and the manufacturers. Who is getting the lion share?
IT IS OKAY TO LIE - OUR POLITICIANS AND THEIR ADVISERS DO
Australian politicians, and governments, lie constantly and they deliberately manipulate thought and perception. They are very questionable in their morals and ethics. Our politicians lay the foundation for others to emulate the practice. There are many definitions of "corruption" and the current state of Australia's parliaments entrench poor practice and examples. (Kevin Beck, "Weak politicians, Governments and duopolies, Exploiting the Australian Consumer", Melbourne 2011
Benders and Shapers
Andrew Wilkie is an independent member of Australian parliament. His electorate is in Tasmania. He gave his vote to put Labor and Julia Gillard into the government seats. The price was that Labor would enact a gambling limit scheme on poker machines. The establishment of a monitoring system to curb gamblers with addictions On the face of it a nice public interest issue. However only very unclever, even dumb politicians, would enter into such an agreement.
The argument put publicly to oppose this is the contribution to the local economy and the social fabric of communities, particularly in rural and regional centres. Thus the other independents balk and go carefully. But what below the covers? These clubs have boards and those people have vested interests. The meat, drinks, services and other products bought by those clubs are invariably on a "scratch my back and I will scratch yours" arrangement. Most hopefully limit this to innocuous arrangements, But imagine two Directors and the vested interests react within the very large multi million dollar club empires? Their supplier contracts and arrangements are the ones that are threatened. They could give a toss about the plight of gamblers. Threaten their interests or close some of those club branches and watch the fur fly. It is typical of labor and the likes of Mr. Wilkie, who have no knowledge beyond their own myopic worlds to wander into this swamp. Gillard proves a gain she is not clever. (Kevin Beck, Melbourne Australia, "The Not So Clever Prime Minister", January 2012
Corporations, business managers, boards, brand entities and retailers, or anyone who buys direct from footwear, and clothing, manufacturers should be held liable to show cause why they should not be prosecuted for benefitting from slave labour. Australia's governments are disinterested, lazy and ineffectual in stamping employment slavery out.
"If youre wearing anything from Nike, Adidas, Puma, Fila or even some of our well-loved Australian brands like Bonds or Just Jeans, then its highly likely your clothes were made in places that most people would describe as sweatshops.
What is a sweatshop?
A sweatshop is a manufacturing facility where workers endure poor working conditions, long hours, low wages and other violations of labour rights." (Source: Oxfam, Are your clothes made in sweatshops?... click
"The Queensland Government has tried to fix the lack of transparency in the outworking industry by introducing a compulsory code of practice. But not everyone has welcomed this move. LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Here is a story about the issue of sweat shops, not overseas, but in suburban streets across Australia. Tens of thousands of people are employed as outworkers in the clothing industry. Most are migrant women with limited English skills and little is known about their pay and working conditions. In Queensland, a compulsory code of practice has been introduced, but employers are up in arms, as Peter McCutcheon reports. PETER MCCUTCHEON, REPORTER: In the south-western suburbs of Brisbane is an industry hidden from view." (Source:Australian Broadcasting Corporation Broadcast: 18/08/2011, Reporter: Peter McCutcheon ... click here for video and transcript..
Horrendous' sweatshops ditched for Australian made George Roberts
A Sydney charity has axed plans to have Australian-designed goods made in Chinese factories, citing concerns about exploitation. The Ted Noffs Foundation says conditions in some factories are horrendous. The foundation says every factory it visited in China recently used child labour, or had sweatshop conditions for workers. (Source: ABC News June 26, 2010)
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, TV PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT, LOCATION: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/ Broadcast: 24/09/2002, Sweatshop labour, Reporter: Mary Gearin
KERRY O'BRIEN: The long-running trade union campaign to highlight claims of widespread sweatshop labour at home hit the news again today with 30 clothing manufacturers finding themselves in the Federal Court facing allegations of breached awards. Unions estimate 300,000 outworkers produce 80 per cent of Australian-made garments, most of them coming from Victoria."
You will note the year 2002. This is not a matter that has just occurred in Australia, this has been occurring under every Australian state, territory and federal government's nose for decades. Above is evidence that Australia's politicians, and governments, are very sub standard on their ability, and willingness, to protect people from the crooks, and greedy businesses, that sell us the consumers cheap clothes and shoes. Are we blind to the prospect that someone has been exploited to give us those cheap tee shirts, socks and jocks or do we just not care? The Ethical Clothing Australia group are trying where Australia's governments have failed.
AUSTRALIAN CORPORATE MANAGEMENT MEDIOCRITY
It is easy to be a prick when you are very secure in your finances
When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. (Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor, 180AD)
FOR ME QANTAS HAD ALREADY LOST ITS GLOSS AND APPEAL BEFORE THE BOARD AND MR JOYCE MADE IT EVEN MORE ANNOYING
There was a time, decades ago, when, after being away from home for weeks on end, I would walk into the Qantas terminal in Hawaii, or Los Angeles or London or, Frankfurt and Bangkok, and I would feel like I was home. Qantas was not a government owned enterprise it was Qantas. I had only ever flown Qantas and its partner airlines. In Australia I have never flown Ansett. As the years went by I still did not fly any other airline except Hazelton to a location, in regional Victoria, not serviced by Qantas. Then Compass, Virgin, Tiger and Jetstar and all the others came along, some went.
The Board, and CEO, started to change the nature of the airline particularly when Jetstar came on the scene. Qantas forced me to fly Jetstar, a low grade airline to my mind of little quality and almost no attraction. I flew Jetstar to Bali and to Nooosa, I had no real choice. I had to fly with anyone who could afford a ten dollar ticket. The lounges are shut in Darwin when a Qantas flight is not scheduled. They do not open them for Jetsar passengers who may be Qantas Club members. I made no FF points and I made no status credits on those flights. Thus I could never maintain the status level if I had to do business where only Jetstar went. In 2011 Qantas changed this stupidity but it was not made retrospective.
About 2009 the Frequent Flyer division of Qantas began flexing its muscles and internal power. It has further degraded my perception of Qantas. The frequent flyer division does not operate a "loyalty programme" of mutual reciprocity. It is a business within Qantas. The FF division, and its antics and machinations, made the lounge membership of little value to me even when I got it for free which I did for years and years.
By 2009 - 2010 Qantas management, and the FF people, had destroyed the bond and Qantas became just another option. Driving instead to Canberra, Sydney and Adelaide, and seeing the country, and spending more on a nice hotel along the way has become of greater value and significance.
Emirates, and Etihad, offer better value and experience and Singapore Airlines, and many other competitors, including Virgin have made their entreaties to Qantas long life members. Qantas, and its FF, seem oblivious to this. In 2011 the Qantas brand was dead to me as a significant service offering. Yet I still booked Qantas to go to Hong Kong and they upgraded me to business class. They did this without me asking. Yet the gift whilst appreciated still did not overcome my disdain for the Board and its management and the FF division. Why is this?
Virgin offer Qantas members equal status and much cheaper lounge membership. They fly on time and give preference to club members. Qantas does not, they require people to relate to machines, the check in counters are gone. There are cues and ropes and Qantas people who tell you that you cannot be in this line because now the Club membership is of no status. But still the memory of Qantas lingers. I have a view that there are, in these modern days, those who build things from the ground up (creating icons) and those who take them over. These people then change things. They tell stories about why they have to do this. They join the PR spin game and become just like the corporate club that not too many consumers like.
Jetstar, owned by Qantas, is a cheap airline, not a budget airline. There is a different connotation. For me flying Jetstar is a poor experience even before I get near the airport. Even lower down the chain is Tiger. I no longer call Qantas home. But do they care? No.
November 2011: Qantas, and the unions, had to be taken into a court and directed to cease their antics and bargain for an industrial resolution. Such is the level of maturity displayed by those who have power over our every day lives in Australia. Watching the little men, with the big egos, flex their muscles, backed up by their big organisations leads me to think that these people would actually be powerless and inconsequential as sole individuals. They are effectively nothing without their enterprises. One can track the history of destructive behaviour of the careers of those involved in Boards and management of Australia's corporations. The suited thugs, the ego maniacs and the ideologs. All are great at running things when it is all going well but then they have to fiddle. They are really good at the destruction of the enterprises without having the ability to build anything. Look at Australia's icons if you can now find any.
The Australian business media actually rarely investigate the history of destruction or the reality of ability. They fail to anticipate the events that have shown many of our business high profile types to be crooks and incompetents. The regulators too have failed. The ones who suffer are the general public. Billions lost and we have been anaethetised against reacting. In frustration the powerless make noise and occupy public space. The politicians and business leaders sniff derisively. The club meanders on. MANAGEMENT ETHOS AND IDEOLOGY - EVERYTHING HAS TO BE CHEAP AND LOW BROW
It may have escaped the CEO of Qantas (but I doubt that) that the airline is intertwined into every sector of the economy. What has happened here is that he and the Board have placed their interests above that of the individual and the nation. All care but no responsibility. This is the danger inherent in the notion of limited liability and the corporate as "legal individual".
"Qantas Customer Charter extract: Our Commitment to You
We are Australia's leading premium airline and we are dedicated to being the best. We aim to meet your expectations every time you fly, and so we continue to invest in our business and will always strive to provide you with an exceptional level of service. With this charter, we want you to know what you can expect whenever you choose to fly on a Qantas (QF) coded service from anywhere in Australia. Below we set out our commitment to you and provide links to our website where more detailed information is available. Find out more about our full customer offering. 1. We will never compromise on safety Safety will always be our first priority. We will never do anything that undermines this core commitment. 2. We are committed to getting you and your bags to your destination on time Our aim is to get you to your destination on time, every time, with your baggage. We invest significantly in flight punctuality and led the industry in on-time domestic departures and arrivals in 2009. 3. We will look after you if things don't go as planned Delays and Cancellations We are committed to on time performance however sometimes bad weather, natural disasters, technical problems, operational and other issues can cause flight delays and even cancellations. If this happens, we will do all we can to fix the problem and keep you informed of developments and the choices that are available to you." (Extract from the Qantas Customer Service Charter
VACANT MINDS AND THE SAME OLD CRAP SYSTEMS DRESSED UP AGAIN AND AGAIN
It seems that Australia's governments (and opposition parties) cannot work out a solid, decent, and functioning, industrial relations system that everyone will accept and work by. They have been at it for decades. Gillard has given us the Fair Work system. It too is mediocre, lacking in innovative thinking and is just a reprint of labor's aged policies and ideas. Tony Abbott does not even have an industrial relations policy yet that does not stop him babbling on as if he did.
Australia's big company managers cannot develop and run decent businesses of quality and continuity whilst engaging with employees effectively. They give lip service to human relations management and the HR people in the companies are nothing more than sycophants to management. Is it that no one can be trusted today?
"Frustrations and anger spilled over as hundreds of stranded passengers at Perth domestic and international airports yesterday scrambled to recover costs and reorganise travel plans after the entire Qantas fleet was grounded on Saturday. Some were crying, others paced anxiously but all were forced to join long queues to find out how quickly they could get their itineraries back on track and return home or continue with planned holidays, weddings and business trips. Passengers with nowhere else to go chose to sleep across chairs and benches as hundreds more sat with piles of luggage, exhausted, waiting for updates from Qantas." (source of extract: au.news.yahoo.com.au, Anger spills over at airport JAYNE RICKARD and MEGAN BAILEY, The West Australian October 31, 2011, 2:47 am)
LETS NOT JUST CONCENTRATE ON THE IMPACT ON AIRLINE PASSENGERS
What about the effect on Australia's tourism operators and businesses of the particular reckless action by Qantas CEO approved by the Board? The hubris displayed in Australia's corporate boardrooms has been a feature of life here for decades. It was hubris that brought us the Global Financial Crisis and it is hubris that has brought us here.
"Queensland Tourism Minister Jan Jarratt says the Qantas dispute has forced the State Government and tourism operators into damage control mode. The state's tourism authorities say the Qantas industrial action could cripple the industry. Ms Jarratt says the temporary grounding of the airline's national fleet will have lasting effects on tourism. She says all agencies need to double their efforts to restore Australia's image as a reliable destination. "We really will need to rebuild the brand name and the confidence in the brand name and partly that's Qantas' role, but Queensland has also suffered, as has the name of Australia," she said." (Source of extract: ABC News - Qantas woes could 'cripple' Qld tourism industry Updated October 31, 2011 11:42:49)
RETAIL AND SERVICES JUST AS APPALLING
Below in this site you will see many references to the ignorant and appalling performance of the nation's businesses, from telecommunications to services. The retail sector bleats about people buying from the internet without looking a their own myopia, lack of imagination and service delivery. For decades Myer has been the butt of consumer's quips - Myer has no staff. The two giant supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths, make shopping a drag of an experience through rows of unimaginative presentations. Coles has tried to reinvent themselves at places like Flemington in Melbourne but it is merely window dressing without substance beneath. How is it that Coles can offer 4 cents a litre off fuel if we spend $30.00 and another 4 cents if you spend $2 in the Coles Express shop at the petrol station? The ACCC is useless as a regulator watch dog unable to rap their minds around market realities. They must all sit in their offices and visualise what the real world is like.
WHERE IS THE ACCC AS QANTAS GROUNDS ITS FLEET?
Has Qantas management allowed tickets to be sold whilst having knowledge that they would not be fulfilling those purchases? The ACCC has not shown its head in this dispute. Why? It will when the political heat intensifies. I have an expectation that qantas will appease the ACCC on any demands for compensation. The cost of this exercise I would think would be circa $A75,000,000+. (Kevin R Beck, "Being a prick is the hallmark of a great business manager", Melbourne Australia)
Corporations have been made real persons by laws and it is this that has lead us to the brink of mass resistance and riots. Humans hide within these legal structures. Ultimately the greedy and incompetent, the criminals and the unethical hide behind the corporate wall.
The way the media reports things is "Qantas today said", "BHP issued a statement", "Wall Street is...", these lifeless things are being imbued with personality and character. We mostly cannot discern the human and point at them. This is deliberate. The rare examples are those business people like Branson, Jobs, Murdoch, Buffett and Gates. People who stand out in front, there are many more but they do not get the publicity. The Global Financial Crisis and breakdown in social capital and structure, is a product of the failure of American, and European, leadership and parliaments.
A FRUITLESS ENDEAVOUR FOR PROTESTERS
The protesters are largely powerless in their communities. They seek a cause, a meaningful community and set of goals. They cannot go into the boardrooms and the bureaucracies and bring about change so they gather in public places and cap, they march and they get media attention. The message is nebulous, the objective unachievable if they have an objective. What is the objective? They cannot define it. Then there are the people who never create things and then want a share as if this is an egalitarian right. They want pay rises like the chiefs but they are powerless to get them unless they are a union building things and holding corporations to ransom. The unions (note I use the generic as if they persons) who do that are effectively an extension of the protesters. They have real power over the greedy bosses and the sycophantic managers. But they too are localised. The issues that the protesters are raising are national and global. They are about the system and how it has been nurtured and made into a beast beyond control. The socialist resonates with the fight. Yet the evidence put forward by academics is that socialism fails against capitalism. The wall came down in Germany, Gaddafi falls, The Middle East riots against despots, Cuba teeters on the edge, the Soviet empire disperses and China embraces the world and so it goes.
WHAT IS THE TIME LIMIT FOR FREE SPEECH AND WHO DECIDES?
The Lord Mayor, of Melbourne, Robert Doyle, enters the debate, unfortunately derisively belittling the spokesperson when he claims that the "movement has opened up this public space". Doyle quips sarcastically that it was open before they occupied it. The protester has spoken in tongues, erudite romanticism and nebulous ideology. He cannot articulate beyond we are the 99%. He offers no solutions. They all offer no solutions.
Doyle has been galvanised by commercial rate payers who complain these people, camping in the City Square, are affecting their business. The protesters have been running a kitchen feeding the homeless. All of this is lost in the cacophony of slogans and chanting. In the end feeding the homeless is ignored by the self interested who are not associated with the movement.
That is the essence of what happens in these campaigns, small businesses are hurt, not large corporations. People become bored and amusement turns to anger at being inconvenienced. The average need the job that the "greedy corporation" offers. Every one has their price.
The majority stay away from the protesters who challenge their routines and harmony. Many people want to put the problems of society out of their minds because they are powerless, in their thinking, to do something about it. Look at how labor and Ms Gillard simply ignore the masses as an example of the irrelevance to what the majority may think or want. The rich and powerful know what is best. The Mayor (seemingly) unilaterally, decides that the protesters, camping in the Melbourne City Square, have had enough time. Well we cannot tell if it was not unilateral because the "cowards" stay out of the limelight. Robert says that the city of Melbourne's City Square, must be returned to the public. The police come in. The feelings of frustration, rage, detachment, and disenfranchisement from participation in society, are reinforced in the mind sets of the protesters> Ted Baillieu Victoria's Premier does not appear, address or talk to the crowd to gain an understanding of their feelings. Baillieu has no idea what to do. His advisers are as vacant. In failing to confront and talk he reinforces the perception, in many, that he is just another "grey, bland plasticine politician", failing to bring a visionary, and refreshing, approach to the role of Premier. He is not a leader of the people. He is a part of what they are protesting about and is for many another parasite on the public purse along with man others in public life. The Premier allowed the Lord Mayor to take the running risking confrontation. The Lord Mayor is an ex politician. Eventually the protesters will give up but under neath the festering cancer of rage and belittlement will bubble away bursting out in many different forms. The governments of Australia, the corporate bosses and the police and public servants are ill equipped to deal with this eventuality as we saw in the United Kingdom. They simply stood back until it was all burnt and then went on as if it was a glitch in the system. (Kevin Beck, "Voices Against the Greedy Corporation", October 2011.
The destruction of an Australian icon and its spirit
Let me begin by stating that I have been a member of the Qantas Frequent Flyer and Qantas Club programmes since 1990. I came across to Qantas when it acquired Australian Airlines in the late 1980s. I have flown Qantas, and its partner airlines, for decades. In that time I have flown Ansett (now defunct) once and Virgin, once.
I noticed a deterioration in my loyalty for Qantas and the management (not the actual staff on the ground) around 1995 and since then as far as I am concerned it has gone downhill. My disdain for the faceless Frequent Flyer division is even more toxic. Today, with the former boss of discount airline Jetstar at its helm for me it has hit rock bottom. I am no longer a Qantas Club member and see no value in renewing. I am conflicted somewhat since Qantas staff (behind the scenes without any request from me) upgraded me from Hong Kong when I last flew. My angst is against the management, yet I hold off going elsewhere in the vain hope that Qantas management might notice that some of us are leaving. It has also irked me that I do not get status credits for every ticket that I pay for. MY view is that if I buy tickets for people who are not FF members I as the purchaser should get the FF and status. I have written to qantas management about this and it falls on deaf ears. I would meet my annual status level requirement if this was policy. I now would rather drive to Canberra, Sydney and Adelaide than fly. I now get FF points by osmosis through all of the affiliate programmes I cannot be bothered changing, hotels, shopping, phones etc. Virgin, and Singapore, made me an offer of equal status at no charge and a $150 discount on the club membership, plus other deals. Virgin, I note Virgin flies on time with regularity. Qantas too often, does not.
The point of decline I think began when management at Qantas started cancelling routes and transferring them to Jetstar. I had to fly Jetstar to Noosa and to Asia (Bali) and it was a demeaning and low grade experience. I had to fly Singapore to Thailand because Qantas schedules were not flexible enough. I received no points, and status, credit recognition for Noosa or Bali from Jetstar and Qantas. Qantas decided to recognise these flights some months back for award points but did not give retrospectivity. They still give no status credits for Flying Jetstar. Because Qantas flights are not scheduled into Darwin at the same time as Jetstar, the Qantas Club is not open and thus QC members, forced to fly Jetstar, have to sit in the baggage area and wait from 2am to 7am. What is the value proposition for using Jetstar - cheap but offset by nasty?
Qantas is having extreme industrial relations problems in October 2011. From my view when a management loses its employees it is their fault. That is why they get the big bucks. The Qantas CEO Mr Joyce made an unedifying statement on television about how he made more money at Jetsar than he does at Qantas. He apparently was piqued at claims he is well paid. However I read it as how the Board values his services perhaps? I don't know why this is the case but why bring it up? Some people think being paid millions is excessive and greedy. International benchmarking, attracting talent etc is for many lower paid people, just the "corporate club" maintaining a global status quo for the lucky members. Does Mr Joyce get demerits and salary reduction for the fiasco he is creating at this time?
Every day, more and more unions (some very conservative) become enraged, and engaged, in industrial activity. The CEO has a woman spokesperson who gets on television and puts the corporate line. It seems that Qantas is following a flawed PR play book, and that it has not yet dawned on them that the public is wise to the "air head - practiced rote - memorising the mantra and the spiel". Needless to say if one wants certainty one flies Virgin.
The justification for this unedifying public brawl and failure in fundamental human relations and management at Qantas is sheeted home to employees who it is claimed do not accept the need to be internationally competitive. The usual suspects commenting on the side tut tut that Joyce is right and the Board is right and the employees need to buckle under. It is probably very irksome to those who work at Jetstar to be paid much less than those who work at Qantas?
The world, and its corporate management mantra, and decision focus, is cheap so we all have to go cheap too. Flying actually should be expensive because it is expensive.
Then we have the economic effects of the Qantas corporate model. Under the cheap airline model people with disposable incomes measured in tens of dollars should be flooded into high value locations, such as Noosa, causing those with disposable dollars in the thousands to evacuate over time. This is an exercise in economy destruction at the local level. Noosa once a quality destination now caters for the budget customer, including those who may from time to time urinate in the aisles of the aircraft.
I think that there are lot of people, now in Australian corporate and political life, who actually have never built anything of iconic status. Unfortunately they are now in charge of the icons. They seem exceptionally good at destroying them slowly and effectively. As I close this rant I am thinking of the print advertisement for Qantas business and sky bed, it is a baby asleep on the bed. Is this the new customer in business class or is the message - the beds are so soft? (Kevin Beck, Killing the Spirit Icon, Melbourne 2011)
In the absence of any credible action by the ACCC and Australia's state and federal governments
If Coles Managing Director, Mr. Ian McLeod, is to be believed Coles is now the consumer's friend. Mr McLeod asserts that the multinational food giants have been ripping the Australian consumer off for years. Major brands entered the heated debate accusing the major supermarkets (Coles and Woolworths) of using their market power to squeeze the companies. The inference is that the Australians are the meanest and most contrary in the world to do business with.
It is actually good if some force, other than the regulator, comes to bear to push prices down and to raise competition levels. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) which, like the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, resides in another galaxy. The ACCC is of the view that the two retailers controlling 80% of the market is not an issue and that competition abounds. I do not view the ACCC as Australia's brightest, and most diligent, public service domain.
It is preposterous that two companies should control food, liquor, petrol and expand at will into new domains under the nose of the ACCC and the governments of Australia. They view the expansion of Aldi (despite tortoise like slow, and onerous, approval conditions and local government legal barriers) as quite adequate and the independents (IGA) are apparently able to fend for themselves.
In the United Kingdom there are four major players and that is considered too narrow. The government there has appointed a supermarket ombudsman. (Kevin Beck, Melbourne Australia, "ACCC in a galaxy far far away, 2011")
Every day we see a display of distasteful behaviour, and contemptuous lack of ethics, by the most senior members of Australia's governments, corporations and enterprises.
CONTEMPT FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN GOVERNMENT
A convoy of disgruntled voters descended on the federal parliament in Canberra yesterday. All the labor government, under the questionable moral compass of Julia Gillard could offer in response was vitriol, contempt and insults via Minister Anthony Albanese. Ms Gillard ratifies this ongoing theme of contempt by her silent permission. Minister Albanese ridiculed the people, who at great cost, had come to voice their concerns and grievances and to participate in their democracy and government. There is a process that governments and bureaucracy like. It is to communicate and negotiate through an "association" or "representative". The only time a politician likes to meet one on one is (a) with a constituent (b) with a rich person, media baron, powerful entrepreneur or a celebrity. demonstrators, really! Yet in this modern age the individual can actually wreak ongoing attention diversion and sometimes reputational, economic and brand damage on the entity. Thus the response described below by a federal labor government Minister is naive, ignorant and ultimately fool hardy.
"Stern message articulated, BY DAVID BUTLER, 24 Aug, 2011 09:26 AM
THE Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese might have passed it off as the Convoy of no Consequence,ï¿½ but Brisbane truckie Ken Wilkie reckons it was worth every bit of the time and expense it cost him. I would say to all politicians, wipe us off as being a failure at your own peril, we represent thousands upon thousands of people who weren't able to be here. Had they been with my convoy coming through Sydney on Sunday morning, they would have been absolutely astounded, Mr Wilkie said.The number of people on overhead bridges, the number of people on the sides of roads waving to us: they can't all be here (in Canberra), but my word aren't they backing us.ï¿½ An owner-driver since 1974, Mr Wilkie became increasingly fed up with what he saw as a government out of touch with the will of the Australian people, and particularly small business owners. He volunteered to lead the white convoy." (source: Goulburn Post, NSW newspaper)
As hundreds of workers in Victoria learnt that their jobs and livelihood are to be taken away by their employer's decision to close the export steel facility at Hastings, executives at the company prepare to bank their bonuses totalling about $A3,000,000. A spokesperson for the company babbled on about small percentages, reduction of expenses and other small favours that justify the payments.
"BlueScope defends bonuses amid job cuts
BlueScope executives received more than $3 million in bonuses in the year to June, ABC News Australia: Nick McLaren
BlueScope Steel has defended paying executive bonuses despite announcing it would axe 1,000 jobs. Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and Australian Workers Union boss Paul Howes have labelled the bonuses as "obscene" and "unbelievable". BlueScope executives received more than $3 million in bonuses in the year to June, including about $720,000 paid to chief executive Paul O'Malley. The company says the CEO's fixed pay increased by 1.34 per cent and he did not receive any bonus based on its financial results. BlueScope says the bonuses paid to Australian-based executives fell more than 10 per cent in the past financial year. But Senator Xenophon is urging the Government to reduce its compensation for the company by at least that amount. "I'll be contacting BlueScope and asking them to justify these outrageous bonuses," he said. "There's something wrong with corporate governance in this country if they can do this. "On the one hand, you sack 1,000 workers; on the other, you're willing to pay yourself huge executive bonuses." (Source ABC News, 24 August, 2011)
In the world of business it appears logical that a bonus is paid if an executive can reduce costs and a loss is loss than expected. One may well question why a bonus is paid, on top of salary, to an executive who presides over losses. If the executive is brought in to (who did not create the loss through their own management and decisions) rehabilitate a corporation then that is defensible. The problem for corporations and boards is that what is logical to them and reasonable is not so for the ordinary person particularly in sales, production and manufacturing. A corporation or any business makes its money from employees yet when we examine the operation of the modern corporation we see the senior management demanding much of the employee whilst themselves creating facades and justifications for their arduous existence. Decisions by management are apparently always more important, more important than actually doing the job of selling, producing or manufacturing. Most executives do not own the capital in the enterprise except where it is given to them as part of their package.
The human resources
Tony Abbott, leader of the opposition in the Australian parliament, has stated that the hacking of a telecommunications infrastructure builder's web site demonstrates that the National Broadband Network is vulnerable to cyber attack wrecking Australia's technology infrastructure. This is yet another off the top of his head statement lacking in fact and reality. Tony Abbott has made such utterances a trade mark. This raises questions as to motive, and suitability, for the top job as Prime Minister. Gaffs, and stupidity, are not irregular events in Tony's political performance, they are more common place. The whole coalition drivel about their proposals for high speed state of the art broadband telecommunications is founded on the "little knowledge is dangerous" principle.
Perhaps Tony, and Malcolm Turnbull, have very limited experience accessing wireless mobile telephones, and wireless broadband, in suburbs of Australian capital cities and regional and remote places. Perhaps they are not aware what happens when a myriad of users of Apple products come on line in a designated area where there is insufficient capacity, and resources, in the exchanges and the wireless spectrum? Downloads are measured in kilobits not megabits and voice is garbled, the signal strength often a bar or two. Perhaps they have limited experience being a customer of Optus or Vodaphone. If their pontificating includes using these suppliers as planks in their policy, then my advice, and that of many customers', might be, they better think again. The ACCC obviously takes a dim view of the professionalism, and integrity, of these companies, among others.
Parliamentary debate, and the selling of policy to the public, has generated into a PR fest and a personal agenda between a small number of egotistical politicians. Greg Combet cannot have a conversation about carbon tax without rabbiting on about Abbott. The debate is often immature and unprofessional. The majority of parliamentary members are excluded as parliaments become the personal playgrounds of a select few. Unfortunately for the nation the select few are seemingly incompetent.
Wayne Swan has been extolling the virtues of the labor government economic credentials and policies. There is a glossing over, and a fudging, of reality as the mining boom is used to cover a collapsing retail and services sector. Disingenuous "two speed" economy tags hide the truth. The labor party has built school halls and wasted billions, put in pink bats and wasted billions and has largely ignored infrastructure with the exception of their NBN. A nation runs on infrastructure which is at the heart of productivity. Swan. Gillard, Combet et al seem to have no clue what real productivity means in a modern economy.
The misrepresentations, and fantasy, of Mr. Swan, and others in government, were exposed in the consumer price index publication, July 27, 2011, which some commentators said no one had predicted. This is simply not true, some had predicted such events but are disregarded by the mainstream, political and economic club and the Canberra press gallery. The senior politicians of the nation are using every attempt to have a shot at each regardless of how much they are distorting events, facts and reality in favour of their agendas. (Kevin Beck "Personal Agendas and the Decline of Governance in Australia" July 2011
At least once a year the federal Health Minister will ring his or her hands and look serious about the demands of the private health funds for a rise in premiums. Here in Australia the federal government has to approve rises in premiums. It is a heavily regulated sector. The general theory, for all political parties, is that subsidising health funds via the rebate system or other mechanism will take pressure off the public health system. Nice theory but unfortunately the cash strapped pubic health system also goes after the privately insured to get cash into their public hospitals.
How many preferred providers can there be before the preferred provider effectively means nothing? As far as I can see every registered service provider - medical, dental, ancillary and hospital, seems to be a preferred provider. I have asked this question of the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC), of the government Ministries and agencies and of the Private Health Ombudsman and the private health fund regulator and got either no response or in the case of the ACCC a bureaucratic distancing response where the first part of their latter is a dissertation on what the ACCC does as if I am ignorant of their role. They manage to stay out of the really complex sanctioned market rigging systems like health.
Preferred provider by its very description and nature implies a relationship between the health provider and the government agency or private health fund, a hospital or whatever. Preferred provider schism involve negotiated capped cost service provisions. Thus there is an internal tension created as service providers, being squeezed by the negotiators seek to recover or compensate their lost revenue or dwindling business prospects. They fight daily to stay in business. The Minister approves health fund rate rises which by this very definition will incorporate a level of this effect. The government also, I believe, adjusts the statistics and impacts to present whatever statistical picture suits their agenda. At the very least they ignore the ever rising corruption of the system. The Australian Government owners the health insurance fund, Medibank Australia, which has according to my reckoning 50% of the market. What does this say about morality, and ethics, in government? (Kevin Beck,Tensions in Preferred Provider Schemes for Health Services in Australia, 2011)
WHAT IS THE PROBABILITY THAT THEY ALL DO IT
WHAT IS THE ETHICAL CODE OF MODERN AUSTRALIAN BUSINESS OWNERS, MANAGERS AND CORPORATIONS?
Many years ago a former politician, now high profile media and political commentator and businessman, wrote a book around the theme "whatever it takes". Today in 2011 that proposition has more resonance and validity than ever before. Whole political systems of government, and aspects of state based public service, in Australia, particularly in New South Wales are corrupted. They are corrupted by culture, by the former labor government's poor ethical leadership and example, by systemic history and methods and in a number of cases by actual payment of gifts, bribes, commissions and largesse. There is no evidence that the new liberal government of New South Wales, and to some lesser extent in Victoria is going to radically address the embedded cancer.
From time to time local state bodies like the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption will have a go at some public official, or politician.
"The ICAC investigated four separate occurrences of serious corruption in the former State Rail Authority (SRA). The first investigation concerned the theft and sale of SRA property, laundering of the proceeds and tendering processes. The second investigation concerned overtime abuse, bribery and favouritism in allocation of maintenance work. The third investigation concerned conflict of interest and dishonesty in allocation of carriage cleaning contracts and the fourth investigation concerned bribery in relation to certification of carriage cleaning work. In its report on these investigations, made public in June 1998, the ICAC made findings of corrupt conduct against 16 persons and stated its opinion that consideration be given to obtaining the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions with respect to the prosecution of 15 people for specified offenses.
The report also details the corruption prevention strategies formulated by the rail organisations into which the former SRA was divided: FreightCorp, the Rail Access Corporation, the Railway Services Authority and the State Rail Authority." (Source: ICAC, State Rail Authority of NSW - four investigations into serious corruption)
However I would presume that the breadth of the entrenched manipulation, and buddy system, is well beyond the resources, and the will, of those who are charged with investigation and prosecution. It is endemic and will years to weed out. Perhaps the new liberal government should replace the upper levels of certain agencies?
At the national level, involving international business practices, if an Australian citizen performs an act of bribery offshore, they can be fined $1 million, jailed for 10 years and where a company is involved it can be fined $10 million, which all sounds very proper except that nobody has ever been prosecuted. It is unlikely that Australian regulators are searching out instances. Out of sight and out of mind for the governments of Australia.
Rio Tinto executive behaviour in China focused some spotlight but it all went quiet. The global financial crisis threw another light on the financial industry. The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission likes to come down on market manipulation. These are allow ell and good but they do not address the foundation of corruption in local government and state based purchasing, methods of doing business, political donations and the world of largesse and nepotism that is wide spread in Australia in 2011.
Here is an excellent academic paper on the theme of this web site.
"Corporate leaders claim concern about the decline of ethical standards (Rose 2007) .... their study of 80 Australian managers in which the question of .... Personal Ethics and Business Ethics: The Ethical Attitudes of Owner/Managers, Corporate Ethics, Personal Ethics One and the Same? Identifying Ethical Captains of Industry, Helen Madden-Hallett, 2009)
Another excellent article:
"Cheats Can Prosper and Do, Tony Harris
Most people involved in business promote themselves as ethical, but scratch the surface and their conduct is often less than squeaky clean. Tony Harris reports. Most people involved in business promote themselves as ethical, but scratch the surface and their conduct is often less than squeaky clean. Tony Harris reports.
There is a view held by business people that Australia's business ethics are in good shape. Instances of ethical failure in Australia's large businesses are, they say, rare and exceptional. Ethical breaches are certainly not representative of the prevailing culture in business, they contend. But other evidence, including evidence from those who view business from the outside, suggests this view is optimistic.
Allan Moss, chief executive of Macquarie Bank, cannot and does not debate that there is unethical behaviour in business. He has seen it at first hand, including when a senior Macquarie Bank employee, Simon Hannes, was convicted of insider trading. At this year's Edmund Rice Business Initiative Forum, sponsored by the Christian Brothers, the audience of 140 ethicists and business people heard Moss say that ``most people involved in managing a reasonable number of people for a reasonable time have suffered a disappointment about the ethical conduct of a colleague". But there was no view that these ethical lapses were frequent. ``It's a surprise, and sometimes an astounding surprise."
In this, Moss agrees with the views of John Ralph, formerly of CRA and recently of the Commonwealth's business tax review. Ralph acknowledged in last year's Forum that there were instances where business people behaved unethically." Source of extract: Edmund Rice Ethics Initiative
Researched extracts of unethical, and/or, illegal behaviour gathered by Kevin Beck, are cited below
"10-90AD 113 Company officers prosecuted in three months, Thursday 29 April 2010, Between 1 January and 31 March 2010, ASIC successfully prosecuted 113 company officers in relation to 212 criminal contraventions of the Corporations Act (the Act). ASIC took these actions after receiving complaints from the public and insolvency practitioners who have an obligation to report certain offences to ASIC. These prosecutions resulted in fines and costs being imposed totalling approximately $222,200. Most of the prosecutions relate to company officers failing to comply with their statutory obligations to provide assistance to liquidators and administrators or for failing to provide them with access to a company's books. ASIC also prosecuted directors who failed to update ASICs public information registers with the current company/officer information and for lodging documents with ASIC knowing they contained false and/or misleading information. Of the 113 directors prosecuted, 79 were from New South Wales, 15 were from Queensland, 16 were from Victoria and 3 were from South Australia.
10-15AD Summary prosecutions of company officers - October to December 2009 Thursday 4 February 2010, In the period 1 October to 31 December 2009, ASIC successfully prosecuted 89 company officers in relation to 148 contraventions of the Corporations Act. ASIC took these actions following complaints from the general public and business community, including external administrators and liquidators who are obliged to report certain offences to ASIC. These prosecutions resulted in fines and costs of approximately $100,343. Combining the current statistics with the previous quarters, results in a total of 184 prosecutions and 326 contraventions for a combined total of $246,989 in fines and costs. (Source: Australian Securities and Investment Commission, www.asic.gov.au)
"At the inquiry, Coles managing director Ian McLeod said milk would stay discounted because the company's "Down Down" promotion would continue. "Internally, we talk about at least six months, if not longer," Mr McLeod said. "We have avoided using words like permanent." Senators accused Coles of misleading its customers by saying prices would "stay down". (Source: Coles vows to continue price war, Matt Johnston, Rhys Haynes From: Herald Sun March 30, 2011)
"Never ever" John Howard on the GST.
"There will be no carbon tax under my government", "JULIA Gillard will ban new coal-fired power stations that use "dirty" technology and require that any power station built can be retro-fitted with developing clean coal technology." Julia Gillard.
FIVE people protesting against a proposed new coal-fire power station are chained to a ladder in the foyer of Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu's office. About 100 people have gathered outside 1 Treasury Place, and the building's entrance is guarded by mounted police. Five protesters entered the foyer about 9.30am, carrying their own ladder and chained themselves to it. They are calling on the Baillieu Government not to invest $50 million in HRL's proposed new coal-fired power plant at Morwell in the Latrobe Valley." (Source: Protest against new Morwell power station, AAP, April 11, 2011.)
Optus fined $5.2m for misleading ads, TRACY LEE From: The Australian July 08, 2011 12:00AM
THE Federal Court has issued the highest penalty for a consumer protection breach, fining Optus $5.26 million for running misleading broadband commercials. "(The Australian, Business With The Wall Street Journal)
NBN "Co Warned On Broadband Speeds After Optus Fined $5.2M By David Richards | Monday | 11/07/2011, The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission who last week managed to get Optus fined $5.2 Million for misleading consumers about broadband speeds, is now casting their eye over the operations of the NBN Co. Executives at the NBN Co have been given a guide by the ACCC relating to network broadband 'speed' claims. The document claims that most users get a lot less than "touted" headline. "There is a high risk of consumers being misled by 'up to', 'peak' or 'maximum' data rate claims where they do not reflect typical end-user experiences." (Source: SmartHouse, Lifetsyle Technology Guide)
"The allegation of price fixing and anti-competitive conduct against powerful companies is not a conspiratorial claim. It is a well founded concern based on price fixing scandals that have seen courts impose multimillion dollar fines on businesses involved. The Australian trend has been for these fines to be of progressively larger amounts. For about 20 years three of Australia's major transport companies and their senior executives colluded to fix prices and share the country's express freight market. In early 1995 the three, TNT, Ansett Freight Express and Mayne Nickless, had penalties of nearly $15 million awarded against them in one of the first major landmark fines for price fixing.
Also in 1995 under a new penalty regime, $21 million fines were imposed on Boral, CSR and Pioneer for price fixing for ready mixed concrete in South Eastern Queensland. But, it was soon clear that higher fines would not be sufficient and there have been a considerable number of major price-fixing cases since. A vitamin price fixing scandal in the 1990s resulted in fines of about $26 million by the Federal court. It also led to Australia's first class action against the price fixing cartel which was settled in October 2006 when the Federal Court approved a $30.5 million settlement against three pharmaceutical companies involved.
Extensive price fixing in the power transformers industry was found and companies involved were fined a total of $35 million. In November 2007 the Federal Court judge Justice Peter Heerey fined billionaire Richard Pratt and his Visy group of companies a record $36 million for colluding in a price fixing deal with their arch rival in Australia's cardboard industry, Amcor.
The penalties became the largest ever levied in Australia for price fixing and Amcor was awarded immunity after blowing the whistle on cartel arrangement to the competition watchdog in 2004. Justice Heerey described it as the worst cartel to come before the courts in 30-plus years. (Source extract from: "Fair and affordable grocery prices for a healthier community and a sustainable economy Public Submission to ACCC Grocery Inquiry by Tony Zappia MP Federal Member for Makin on 11 March 2008")
MSY fined for misleading warranty notices, By Liz Tay on Apr 18, 2011 4:23 PM Filed under Sales & Marketing, Federal Court imposes $203,500 penalty. Technology reseller MSY has been fined $203,500 for misleading customers about their warranty entitlements last year. (Source: CRN, http://www.crn.com.au/News/254890,msy-fined-for-misleading-warranty-notices.aspx)
Court orders Qantas to pay $20 million for price fixing The Federal Court in Sydney has ordered Qantas Airways Limited to pay $20 million in pecuniary penalties for breaching the price fixing provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission instituted proceedings on 28 October 2008 alleging Qantas reached an understanding with other international airlines in relation to the imposition of fuel surcharges on air cargo across its global networks between 2002 and early 2006. (Source ACCC)
Qantas to pay $4.8m price fixing fine, March 18, 2011, AAP Qantas Airways Ltd says it has reached a settlement with the New Zealand Commerce Commission in relation to price fixing in its freight division.
ACCC scolds TPG for false advertising, Fine print puts dint in unlimited mobile cap, Darren Pauli (Computerworld)ï¿½ 11 February, 2009 13:21, TPG Internet has been chided by the trade regulator for falsely advertising a high capacity mobile phone plan as unlimited. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said the telco flouted sections 52 and 53 of the Trade Practices Act by advertising the offending $60 plan as an unlimited cap, despite the fact it excluded premium voice and text services. ACCC chairman Grahame Samuel said in a statement the fine print exclusions negated the claim that the plan is unlimited. Source: op cit
"The ACCC alleged TPG's advertisements for its $29.99 unlimited broadband plan were false and misleading because they did not properly disclose that it was only available with the purchase of a $30 home phone plan. The ACCC also alleged TPG's advertising did not adequately disclose the requirement that consumers pay an upfront set-up fee of $129.95 and a $20 home phone deposit. The ACCC had sought orders for TPG to cease the advertising while the case proceeded, but its application for a court injunction was denied in late December. (Source: Watchdog targets telcos on broadband advertisements Tracy Lee From: The Australian January 07, 2011)
internet service provider, Dodo Australia, has been hit by $26,400 worth of fines by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for making false or misleading representation about its broadband plans. (Source: Dodo fined by ACCC for misleading ads Telco forced to pay $26,400 in fines for ads with extra costs in the fine print David Ramli (ARN)06 January, 2011 11:23)
Optus "unlimited" advertisements declared misleading and deceptive Advertisements which promoted Optus' broadband plans as being "unlimited" were misleading and deceptive in contravention of the Trade Practices Act 1974*, the Federal Court in Melbourne has declared. (Source: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, ACC)
False labelling and misleading information: Federal Court fines Tamar Knitting Mills The Federal Court, Hobart has imposed a $50,000 fine on Tasmanian knitwear company GIA Pty Ltd (in liquidation), which traded as Tamar Knitting Mills, for falsely representing that Chinese-made polo shirts supplied by Tamar over a 12-month period were made in Tasmania by Tamar. (Source: ACCC)
Hair replacement ex-franchisee fined for providing false, misleading information - consumer compensated A vulnerable consumer has been compensated, and a businessman and his company fined for misleading the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, in litigation finalised this week in the Federal Court, Hobart. (Source ACCC)
Federal Court fines internet trader for contempt, The Federal Court has fined Purple Harmony Plates Pty Ltd $20,000 and imposed $10,000 fines on the company directors Helen Therese Glover and Neal Arthur Lyster for contempt. The fines are payable within 60 days and they have also been ordered to pay the ACCCs legal costs.
The Federal Court imposed the fines because the respondents failed to implement court orders following a decision last year that they were in breach of the Trade Practices Act 1974. That earlier decision related to the making of unsubstantiated health and other claims for products promoted on the Internet. (Source: ACCC)
Court orders against Telstra for misleading Next G claims, The Federal Court yesterday granted the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission declaratory relief and made injunctions permanently restraining Telstra from making any representation to the effect that:
mobile coverage on the Next G mobile telephone network is always available to Next G customers everywhere the customer, from time to time, needs to use their mobile telephone
a customer subscribing to the Next G mobile telephone network will receive the same or better coverage than is available currently on the CDMA network,
without disclosing that coverage on the Next G network depends in part on where the person is, what particular handset the person is using and whether that handset has an external antenna attached. (Source ACCC)
Optus "unlimited" advertisements declared misleading and deceptive, Advertisements which promoted Optus' broadband plans as being "unlimited" were misleading and deceptive in contravention of the Trade Practices Act 1974*, the Federal Court in Melbourne has declared. In the newspaper and television advertisements the subject of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's proceeding, the headline claim made by Optus was that consumers could obtain "unlimited broadband". In fact, the plans contained a condition that once consumers reached a specified data allowance (15GB or 30GB), the speed of their service would be throttled back to 256 kbps. The ACCC's evidence established that at that speed, the service is practically unusable... (Source: ACCC)
Woolworths fined $7 million in liquor licensing decision, 19 March 2007, Russell Miller, Partner Minter Ellison, On 15 December 2006, Woolworths was fined $7 million plus costs for six contraventions of subsection 45(2) of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) (TPA). The contraventions arose in respect of four deeds entered into by Woolworths (between 1997 and 2000) with liquor licence applicants who were seeking to set up liquor businesses in areas already served by Woolworths. These deeds contained provisions restricting the applicants from, among other things, selling certain types and quantities of take away liquor, stocking more than a specified amount of liquor and advertising or promoting take away liquor over the counter. (Source: op cit, Minter Ellison Lawyers)
Federal Court declares Woolworths beef advertisements false and misleading, In orders handed down yesterday, Justice Lindgren of the Federal Court declared that Woolworths Ltd had in respect of advertisements during the period 22 February 2001 and 1 March 2001 engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct in breach of the Trade Practices Act 1974. He also declared that Woolworths had made false or misleading representations in relation to the origin of cattle. (Source: ACCC)
Prouds Jewellers Pty Ltd ss. 52 and 53(e). Alleged misleading or deceptive conduct and making a false or misleading representation with respect to price On 8 December 2006 the ACCC instituted proceedings in the Federal Court, Sydney against Prouds Jewellers for making ï¿½Was/Now price comparisons that were allegedly false or misleading. (Source: ACCC)
ACCC prosecutes Zamel's for false jewellery prices An investigation into Zamel's Pty Ltd's Christmas 2005 c catalogue by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has led the Director of Public Prosecutions to institute prosecution proceedings today against the jewellery retailer. Zamel's, a family owned retail jeweller, distributed 2.6 million of the catalogues in South Australia, the ACT, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania. (Source: ACCC)
Court declares Audi Q7 motor vehicle advertising misleading
The Federal Court Melbourne today declared that Audi Australia Pty Ltd had engaged in false, misleading or deceptive conduct in relation to advertisements for its Q7 Series motor vehicles. In addition to making the declarations, the court has also ordered that Audi Australia publish an advertisement in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald newspapers referring to the civil proceedings and the orders made by the court. The court ordered Audi to pay the ACCC's costs, fixed at $25,000. (Source: ACCC)
Unisys Case - Misleading and deceptive conduct in pre-contractual negotiations
Optus Case - Misleading and deceptive conduct in print advertising (Source for the two: July 2004
Misleading And Deceptive Conduct Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) Newsletter Stephens Lawyers and Consultants)
2000, ACCC alleges price fix by bank, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against National Australia Bank Limited for alleged price fixing in breach of the Trade Practices Act 1974. (Source: ACCC)
The Australian government, Minister for Health the Honourable Nicola Roxon has again approved a rise in premiums for private health insurance in Australia. This is despite the fact that her office, and others in the government and bureaucracy have been told that there is a massive growing level of fraud within the health insurance payments system.
"In essence, it is becoming increasingly common for ancillary health providers (especially dentists, but also others, such as retail opticians, physiotherapists and chiropractors) to falsify patient claims in order to get around the intended purpose of preferred provider schemes. This improperly inflates ancillary provider incomes, siphons money away from the genuine rebate claims of others (leading to lower rebates and higher health insurance premiums) and causes other providers to adopt similar techniques in order to prevent their clients from switching practices."
large volumes of correspondence have been sent to the Minister's, and other's, offices and to senior departments with carriage of health payments in the [private health insurance sector, to the health funds themselves and to the providers of the payments technology. The Australian Competition, and Consumer Commission has, after else failed to gain the Minister's attention, failed to get her off her dismissive views, seeking a valid, response, been notified of the impacts on competition and the effects of the preferred provider scheme.
Nicola Roxon has again demonstrated the arrogant approach of the labor government (under Rudd and Gillard) where anyone who challenges, argues or criticises instantly dismissed and disregarded. This dismissal of valid criticism, or suggestion of alternatives, occurs despite the cost and impact on communities, society and economy. It is the same modus operandi adopted by the government in relation to its ignorant carbon tax and climate change policy. Ignorant in that it is based on false premises, manipulated data and theories, crystal ball gazing and ideology. Policies across the labor government spectrum, lacking deep, balanced research, detailed assessments and published justifications.
MORALITY AND LAWS
February 2011: Putting aside the behaviour of the Australian labor Party in Victoria and NSW, of all the businesses selling things to people in Australia, none are more reprehensible in conduct and likely to be untrustworthy than the telephone companies. They charge excessively, misrepresent their likely costs, misrepresent the terms of their contracts when selling the service, deliberately write contracts that are difficult to decipher, to read and are voluminous in content with exclusions, and representations, included in small print. They engage in advertising designed to entice and if that advertising is misleading, so be it. The intent is clear. They engage in misrepresentation for their financial benefit. They engage in restrictive business practices designed to enhance their position and to disadvantage others.
"Dodo fined for misleading ads, 06/01/2011 | 12:13 PM .... Internet provider Dodo has been paid $26,400 in fines for making misleading claims about its unlimited broadband plans. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) handed down four infringement notices to Dodo Australia Pty Ltd on 21 December. The ACCC says it has reasonable grounds to believe that Dodo advertised false or misleading claims about the price of its Unlimited ADSL2+ broadband plan. " (Source: Orange I prime, http://orange.iprime.com.au/)
"The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted legal proceedings in the Federal Court, Melbourne, against TPG Internet Pty Ltd for alleged contraventions of the Trade Practices Act 1974. The ACCC alleges that TPG's advertisements for its $29.99 unlimited ADSL2+ broadband plan are false and misleading because the advertisements represent to consumers that they can buy unlimited ADSL2+ broadband services for $29.99 per month. In fact these services are only available when purchased together with home phone line rental from TPG at an additional cost of $30 per month, meaning that the minimum monthly charge payable is $59.99 not $29.99. The ACCC also alleges that TPG's advertisements do not adequately disclose two additional up front charges ï¿½ a $129.95 broadband setup fee and a $20 home telephone depositï¿½ which customers must also pay in order to obtain the unlimited ADSL2+ service." (Source: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, December 2010)
"Optus "unlimited" advertisements declared misleading and deceptive ..... Advertisements which promoted Optus' broadband plans as being "unlimited" were misleading and deceptive in contravention of the Trade Practices Act 1974*, the Federal Court in Melbourne has declared. .... Optus admitted that advertisements for its $70 pre-paid mobile Turbo Max offer, $40 pre-paid mobile Turbo Text offer and Fusion home telephone and broadband bundle plan were misleading and deceptive. The advertisements were misleading because they represented that consumers could make unlimited calls or send unlimited SMS, when in fact a number of call and SMS types were excluded. " (Source: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, February 2011)
"July 2010: Justice Middleton in the Federal Court, Melbourne today penalised Telstra $18.55 million for denying competitors access to infrastructure in contravention of its carrier licence. Justice Middleton said that Telstra had shown 'no true remorse' for its conduct, 'nor an appreciation of the seriousness of the admitted contravention.' Telstra admitted to contravening the law by refusing access to other telecommunications providers in seven key metropolitan exchanges in Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane for the connection of their broadband equipment." (Source: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission)
Despite heavy, multiple fines the telecommunication companies go on engaging in "to the line" business practices with impunity, no regard for customers and no regard for ethics and morality. We are trapped, all of the major corporations seem to lack a moral compass and I am forced to buy services from one, or more of them. (Kevin Beck, declining Ethics in Australian Business Practices and behaviour, Melbourne, February 2011)
In January 2011, some 21 major Australian retailers embarked on an advertising, and public relations, campaign against Australian consumers buying on the Internet. The major retailers want the Australian government to impose Goods and Services tax (now exempt) on line purchases up to $A1,000 and impose customs duties on these imports, also exempt at this time. Like many corporate executives, and Boards, they may work in blissful ignorance of world's of influence beyond their horizons. Behind the scenes the technically savvy manipulate the social networks and opinions.
The retailers had stated that if the government did not act then jobs will be lost. Is this code for a coming down sizing of the retail workforce?
"Retailers split after online GST campaign backfires, John Durie From: The Australian January 06, 2011 1:10PM
THE Retail Coalition is looking for a smaller operator to spearhead its campaign for tax equality after the billionaire-led campaign backfired. The coalition will create its own association, splitting from the Australian Retailers Association and the Australian National Retailers Association, with a single spokesperson a million miles away from Solly Lew, Gerry Harvey and Bernie Brooks. The split in the retail ranks was part of the genius in assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten's tactics in referring the issue to the Productivity Commission, because in politics its far easier to win an argument against a divided opposition and a Liberal Party muted by the fact its decision in government to quadruple the $250 threshold on GST free imports is the key concern of the Retail Coalition. The Retail Coalition, while admitting it is getting smacked publicly, is happy that at least some folk are now aware of the issue and claims over 700 smaller retailers and the Australian Shopping Centre Association are keen to join its ranks." (Source: The Australian Newspaper, "Business with the Wall Street Journal,")
The public relations company advising the retailers appears to have made a major blunder.
"RETAILER Gerry Harvey has hit back at critics of his campaign for an online sales tax, but admits he has been ``getting the wrong message across". ``We're not trying to stop people buying online. We just want a level playing field when it comes to tax," he said yesterday in response to the intense public backlash against his campaign to remove the $1000 GST-free threshold on imported goods. The ``Dear Gerry Harvey" topic on Twitter aimed at the billionaire Harvey Norman boss who is spearheading the $200,000 campaign was the No.4 trending topic in the world in the past 24 hours.
Thousands of Twitter, Facebook and blog messages have been posted by consumers who claim that not only is the GST component a small part of the price differential, but they can access a wider range of goods and sometimes better service by shopping online.
``Dear Gerry Harvey, welcome to the internet, we've been here a while. Enjoy the shopping," said one of many tweets.
``Dear Gerry Harvey, here is the world's smallest violin playing just for you. I bought it online and saved a bundle," said another. "(Source GST blitz backfires on big business, Paul Syvret, Courier-Mail January 06, 2011)
The overall argument to impose new taxes, and higher costs, on consumers to force them to stop buying off the net was indeed novel. The debate that resulted was not about the effects on jobs and the economy but about the poor service and unimaginative methods adopted by Australia's major retail names. One can walk into major Australian department stores and finding a staff member can be a challenge. Quality, and customer service, are, to my mind, mere lip service only. The burgeoning modern practice - where PR people generate corporate messages that are not reflective of reality, bordering on unethical misrepresentation, and deception, in politics and business. Our major department stores, and supermarkets, are expensive, opportunistic and, in most outlets, poorly staffed. Yet Australian retailers spend a fortune claiming significant savings and competition, but against what benchmark, Wal Mart? The retailers can afford to discount items by as much as 70% in order to attract trade so what is the real price. One item my colleague wanted to buy (a book) was $A140.00 and he got exactly the same book, delivered into Australia, out of the USA, for $A36.00. One can go into a store look at a brand of fashion wear and then search it out on the net. There are dangers of warranty and sizing but the savings seem to ameliorate the risks.
They adopt costly locations in dense areas and build mega complexes like Chadstone in Melbourne and Bondi Junction in Sydney. The major retailers do not entertain considerations of placing some of their businesses in regional areas, using the internet, where one might get lower rents, support in the way of payroll subsidies or waiver and other benefits. They might even get better employee relations. Retailers are not renowned for treating their employees with respect. It is of course difficult to judge the likely number of customers at any time. However shopping in the major retailers of Australia is not a rewarding and memorable experience.
It is arduous unless one is addicted and willing to accept mediocrity dressed up as something else. Then again if you are a lucky female you may just get harrassed, and touched up, by a store executive.
The 21 now, or is it 700 (?) now face a recovery action against the damage to their reputation but their reputation was not all that flash in the first instance.
So what are the alternatives other than taxes? To pay low wages like the US Wal Mart model, to take peoples' dignity and opportunity away in the name of corporate benefit? Or is it for the retail Boards and managers to actually gain enlightenment, and creative ideas, beyond aping overseas experiences which do not translate easily? (Kevin R Beck, Corporate Whingeing in Australia, 2011)
Sunday 9 January 2011 and a group of protesters gather outside the retail premises of Up Market Pets, a chain store with one premise at the Victoria Market in North Melbourne, Australia. The protesters want the government to enact laws to abolish the factory farming of companion animals, to ban sale of factory farmed companion animals from [pet stores and on line and to change the way pets are kept, bred and sold. They call their demands Oscar's Law after the cause mascot, a dog that had been badly treated. They circulated pictures and descriptions of the conditions. The retailer distributed their own rebuttal materials citing the legitimacy of their business and the legal protections for animals.
Australia's laws protecting animals from cruelty are not high priorities for governments and people willing to pay hundreds or thousands for trophy animals do not much care how they are bred. Protesters report aggressive responses from retailers at the market who do not like their Sunday trade inconvenienced. The Victoria Market is not exactly the domain of gentile, polished and well to do, civic minded businesses. Protesters always risk reprisals particularly if they are interferring in a
very lucrative business trade.
An assault of one protester was reported to have occurred. The police were called but no arrests were made.
The Oscar's Law Group are not the only protesters in Australia. (Kevin R Beck, "Consumer versus Animal Business", Australia 2011)
I have been a Qantas supporter and member of Qantas FF and Club for decades, and watch dismayed at how the proud airline and its staff are diminished by ignorance, incompetence and inexperience. The Board, and Management, itself has, for me, cheapened the enterprise in every respect.
I am forced to fly Jet Star, to some locations that Qantas chooses not to provide a service to, at no material benefit for choosing Jet Star and often to my detriment if I wish to remain loyal to Qantas. There are no real rewards for loyalty, a manipulation of sentiment perhaps. A person can now use a credit card to garner points to fly and one does not need to belong to mantas FF anymore. For me it is now better to buy a membership of the Qantas Club rather than worry about acquiring status credits, and points, at great cost. In my opinion it is more relaxing to drive, and experience, the Australian country than to fly with an airline that I equate to sludge. I would never ever again choose to fly Jetstar internationally. Killing off the Spirit of Australia.
Australia's telecommunication companies are not all that ethical, and often come to the attention of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the parliaments of Australia and the federal court. They make their contracts very hard to read, very one sided and complex enough to bamboozle consumers, whilst stopping valid comparisons of offers. They charge exorbitant fees as far as I am concerned whilst delivering low grade services and quality in return. Star 2 management, and owners, may well be wetting their pants over this award but what makes a dealer of the year? The revenue base. That is what dealer awards measure. Not service, not excellence to customer but revenue to the corporation that appointed them as a dealer. That is, in this case, Telstra. Star 21 could be the greatest service provider in the country, to the consumer, but if that did not deliver product sales, revenue and contracts in the highest values to Telstra, they probably would not win dealer of the year. There is nothing like a bit of myopic, questionable hype, to focus my attention. Congratulations Star 21, at least your employees probably get to keep their jobs unlike what is occurring to many employees at Telstra. (Kevin R Beck, Melbourne, Australia, October 2010)
September 2010: Australia' supermarkets pay between $A600.00 and $A900.00 for a meat carcus. Their butchers go to work and the retailer sells it to you, the consumer, for between $A2,600 and $A4,000 depending on type and cut. The farmers do not get the spoils of labour and are the lowest recipients on the chain of rips. Despite the loyalty cards, the hype and the logos, they are neither fresh nor friends.
They are right there alongside the politicians and the banks taking a lot and giving very questionable value in return.
Australian Securities and Investment Commission's Competence Questionable
"ASIC awaits massive failure", July 14, 2010, The Age Newspaper, Michael Pascoe,
"Remember HIH? APRA does. The insurance company's catastrophic collapse put a red hot poker through the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, vaporising complacency and searing fear of another such failure into the regulators corporate memory. Its not unreasonable to suggest that the multi-billion dollar HIH disaster is partially responsible for Australia's relatively painless GFC ï¿½ APRA subsequently was at the wheel and awake to dangers regulators elsewhere ignored, knowing better than to trust lenders own assessment of risk in the face of reward.
The Sonray failure, at about $50 million, is less than a hundredth of the HIH headline loss. Only a few thousand individuals have lost money, apparently not enough for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to take seriously. "Tsk, tsk," ASIC effectively said on Monday to the unregulated over-the-counter contracts for difference industry it's supposed to regulate. "It would be nice if you told the punters a bit more about the risks they face doing business with you. Otherwise, well, otherwise, we might have to Say Something. Or even, heaven forbid, suggest to the government that it Do Something."
Mr Pascoe has raised yet again the dismal performance of one of Australia's key regulators. It has a management that appears scared of its shadow, hiding away in some office building. Is it that the Chairman Mr. Tony DAloisio is not suited to the role? He is an ex senior legal partner and has an impressive set of board memberships. Could it be that the qualifications are the problem? maybe the regulator's financial cop should be a bull mastiff with some teeth? Now in September 2010 Australia's betting agencies can open up a whole new opportunity to punt. Which will be the next set of failures that ASIC knows about, has failed to act on or has completely missed? It is time that the management were stripped out of ASIC by the new Minister in the Gillard government and investors take first attention rather than mates and players in the power collective.
Chris Bowen was Minister prior to the current August 2010 federal election. One can cite a lot of tame interviews posted on the government's web site, with a smiling Bowen. Smiling because why? Hundreds of people have lost everything and this man smiles above a Dorothy dixer interview. There were major reforms of ASIC in 2000 and again in 2009. They proved to be of little merit. They always will be until a competent Minister and Chairman have control and direct a skilled management. Till then put your money anywhere that ASIC has no regulatory role and no smiling politician can fiddle while you burn. Grinners are winners or are they fools? (Kevin R beck, Melbourne Australia)
IT IS TIME TO CULL THE PARLIAMENTARY MEMBERS
Stupid boring, herd mentality.
June 2010: The corporate mission statement, amongst other things, invariably eulogises the importance, and value, of the customer. I have recently received my car insurance renewal from Australian insurance company AAMI. I have been insured by that company for years and assumed as a rating one member there was no better ranking ad I was a valued customer. But some fool in AAMI has decided that customers will now be categorised with the standard bullshit scale - platinum, gold, sapphire and so on. The automobile club of Victoria (RACV) began this droid replication some years back and airlines have had it for years.
Where is the logic in explicitly telling people, who buy a company's products and services, that they have not spent enough to qualify to be a "groupie"? Qantas has an excuse for engaging in this stupidity. It sells it frequent flyer points to supermarkets, hotels and car rental agencies among other commercial enterprises. No one who has any intelligence believes that the Qantas frequent flyer programme is about mutual loyalty. Their frequent flyer programme is more lucrative than any other aspect of the Qantas airline business. What is it worth? Two billion dollars? QFF was to be floated but the GFC put that on hold.
Reward, and loyalty, programmes are the ideas of a bygone era of marketing people who have no new ideas and are simply following the herd mentality. The young gung ho marketeers, in today's corporations, who have no collective memory or depth of experience. As I said above, some fool in AAMI decided to tell me, and other customers, what our value to them is, on a scale. How bright is that? (Kevin Beck, Melbourne Australia)
May 2010: As global trends, and impacts, buffer the world's airlines the modern airline Board, and executives, become creative and decide to change the world of aviation as we the customer know it. Consistent with mass thought everything has to be cheaper and misrepresented as value. Such is the case with the Spirit of Australia, Qantas.
Qantas is one of the most profitable, well run and safe airlines on the planet. It is my airline of choice and I have only one frequent flyer membership, the Qantas Club. I have flown qantas One World since I began my treks across the globe. I only fly Qantas except when Qantas forces me to use another airline and they do. As costs became the only real imperative driving force for most corporations, Qantas decided to invent a budget model of itself. It is called Jetstar, a wholly owned subsidiary of Qantas. This provided Qantas with the opportunity to reshape its airline structure, products, staffing and costs. As part of that plan Qantas shed unprofitable (or alternatively more lucrative options for the masses) locations to Jetstar. Two examples are the Sunshine Coast (Maroochydore) in Queensland and Bali in Indonesia. In addition Qantas code shares with Jetstar and thus one can find ineself inadvertently on a Jetstar plane. A nasty surprise for the unwary when booking on line. Miss the little JQ symbol and bingo you are on a down grade. Overall these multiple experiences of Jetstar have not been rewarding for me. I have flown Jetsar to Sydney, Melbourne, the Sunshine Coast, Melbourne (again) Darwin and to Bali, return to Melbourne, all within a space of a matter of weeks. I flew Jetstar to Queensland and Bali because I had no choice on these occasions unless I wanted to create a convoluted multi directional experience for myself.
I think that Jetstar is not all that bright a provider of services and experience. For example on the flights to and from Melbourne to Darwin and to and from Darwin to Bali they had, respectively twenty and sixteen entertainment units for a cabin population in the hundreds. First in best dressed. Billed as state of the art (which they are not) they are limited in content, and generally offer low grade past run television series, and a couple of movies. Virgin offers a better range. Jetstar serve food and drink that are to my mind unhealthy, and targeted, at a certain socio - economic demographic. One has to purchase the items and the entertainment all wrapped in a the marketing spin of the unethical. Jetstar prefer you to use a credit card to but stuff. Now, reinforcing my perception as to their "smarts (brightness)", there is a limit on the card transaction per flight of $50.00 (domestic) and $75.00 (international). What happens if there is one parent and a big family and only one credit card? Bad luck, one rule fits all. If one accidentally ends up on Jetstar whilst holding a Qantas booked ticket one gets a complimentary "food pack" if the Jetstar cabin crew remember to offer it. You have to remember to ask. I can spend $A30.00 in a Woolworths supermarket and will get a Qantas point. I can spend hundreds on a Jetstar flight and will get no points? Yet it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Qantas.
As a Qantas Club member I can use the lounge when I fly Jetsar except in places like Darwin where they only open it for Qantas flights. Thus when I traveled with my ten colleagues we had to sit in the baggage area of Darwin for three hours until Qantas deemed to open the lounge for their Qantas customers. It is not cost effective to provide us even if we have no choice as to whom we fly, unless I do not want to use a Qantas jet or partner again. The corporate psychologists rely upon loyalty and attachment,m pushing the envelope to breaking point. Second class, or no class, when I fly Jetstar. Preferably I will never ever set foot on a Jetsar plane again. Unless of course I am forced to by Qantas. Loyalty is indeed a one way street in this modern world of customer and corporation, and the Frequent Flyer programmes are not loyalty programmes. Jetstar to my mind can damage the Qantas brand in the eyes, and minds, of its loyal customer base. Kevin R Beck, QFF member, Melbourne Australia
The two major supermarket retail chains in Australia are Coles and Woolworths. For many years Woolworths has lead the market. Coles was purchased by Wesfarmers in Western Australia and is engaged in a revamp of its stores. They have hired a new supremo of the supermarket world.
Coles has a long way to go before it catches Woolworths in convenience and customer service.
Shopping at Woolworths, Flemington Victoria I can take supermarket items into the liquour store annexed within the supermarket and provided they do not require scales to weigh food items the staff can process a combined transaction. Shopping at Coles in Chirnside Park Victoria I took all of my items into the Liquorland annex within the supermarket and was told that I could not process the grocery supermarket items. The staff said they were completely separate businesses. When I said I could do it at Woolworths I was told they were not Woolworths. Inference is I could shop there. This is quite simply stupid and inconvenient. I have to fit their system instead of the customer service being paramount and flexible. The divide between Coles, and Woolworths, is to my mind not products or store layout it is a matter of smart management and culture. The staff stood their dumbly with no thought as to how to move from can't to can. One of the most significant problems in retail in Australia is the quality of training, or lack of it, to frame a customer service mindset. Coles needs to look at how a five star hotel services clients and the attitude of the concierge. Too often retail outlets employ poorly uneducated, and inexperienced, staff incapable of adjusting to the customer expectation and circumstance. This can be detrimental to overall perception. If I want low grade low cost do it myself without bags, and a queue a mile long, like actually processing aisle I can shop at Aldi. I do not shop at Aldi. Now I do not shop at Coles. But who cares? Not you and not Coles. Coles is engaged in a make over where they are telling the public that they should be the retailer of choice. They have a long way to go.
Some years back Qantas began its decline from a quality focused airline to a cost conscious detached enterprise. The collapse of Ansett Airlines, and the following failures of others such as Compass, created within Qantas, perhaps a hubris. Millions of travelers and frequent flyers flocked to the Spirit of Australia. The lounges became over crowded, the quality of customer went into a decline matching the rise of the "uncultured wealthy". As market entrants threatened Qantas' domination with low grade squalid offerings the qantas board followed suit and Jetstar was born.
This is a low cost structured subsidiary that matches the low grade, low price offerings of other airlines such as Tiger. Though Jetstar seems to be somewhat more professional and less of a gamble to fly with. Virgin Blue airlines has filled some of the gap left by Ansett. At first Virgin simply offered low prices but it soon became clear that qantas had a huge base in its Frequent Flyer. Thus Virgin began to move up market. Qantas management now has a carrier to which they can allocate their less volume, smaller profit, destinations. Places like Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Other destination such as Bali. Thus a frequent flyer such as myself, who only wants to fly Qantas, is now forced to fly Jetstar or some other airline like Garuda. To add insult to injury Qantas members only get FF points if it is a code share (booked via Qantas) flight or one is flying Star Class, on Jetstar or qantas business class ticket joining a Jetstar flight. Jetstar Star Class is a down market business class offering though you would not know that from the glossy hype. The food on Jetsar should have health warnings as I think it is such poor quality, fast food oriented.
The management of Qantas do not see any anomalies with the FF award. They are apparently oblivious to the fact that I can shop at a Woolworths supermarket and earn a Qantas FF point for spending 30 dollars or more. Yet spend hundreds on a Jetstar flight to Maroochydore and Bali, and get nothing! This is quite simply stupid. Some have opined that Noosa was destined to a lower socio economic outcome when Qantas ceased servicing the Sunshine Coast. I personally do not like Jetstar. I find them too tricky by half. Try booking a ticket easily on their web site. The hidden tricks, baggage, seat allocation charges, carbon offset, insurance offer, they are getting like the mobile telephone companies, sneaky, deliberately seeking to exploit and confuse on their web site multiple offerings. Book an exit row on Jetstar and pay a premium for the leg room. Short sighted, with little regard for the long term impacts, think like this. Qantas has created a situation where they are inviting me, and others, to choose to fly with another airline.
As Qantas pushes the boundaries of what the customer will bear, and how inconsistent they can become, the proposition of increasing competition, in the public interest, by allowing Singapore to fly domestic and the Kangaroo route to Los Angeles has its attractions. Why not go all the way and every possible thing made in China, including the Qantas uniforms, the livery and the food, like the majority of the Australian low grade retail market.
If I wanted to eat Chinese produce, wear Chinese made clothes and generally live like a clone of this dreadful scourge on consumerism then I would move to America and shop Wal Mart. In Safeway (Woolworths), in Coles, and just about every chain store in the Australian nation I am beset with having to check the labels of the brands and the generics to avoid buying Chinese. I do not want to buy Chinese imported products, and definitely not their food, and I detest the intrusion into my life.
"Local planning laws are exacerbating the inability of the Australian citizen to enter into the retail trade because prime sites are locked up by the major players in land banks and 'lock out' clauses at supermarkets.
"Whether it is the over centralisation of the grocery market, the over centralisation of fuel refining and retailing, the over centralisation of chemical and fertiliser sales, the outcome is the same. The convenient, lazy, slow slide of government policy toward supporting the multi-billion dollar backed lobbying power in Canberra comes at the expense of small businesses, the merchant class and consumers. The widespread ownership of the agricultural production unit is diminished and the final exploitation of the consumer at the checkout is entrenched." (Australian Senator Barnaby Joyce, 2008)
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 10:20, Patrick Stafford
"Australian telcos charge the most for mobile broadband usage in the developed world according to new data from the OECD, which also claims the country is among the most expensive for communication services in general. The report also delivered bad news for businesses, with new data showing the average cost for a fixed-line phone and broadband service for a small office in Australia is about $9,600, with only the Slovak and Czech Republics, Britain and Mexico more expensive. The new Communications Outlook for 2009 report examined prices across countries for low mobile broadband usage, between 20MB and 1000MB per month, medium usage, between 2GB and 6GB and high usage, 6GB to 20GB. "The average mobile broadband price across the 20 offers in the group is $US44 [purchasing power parity adjusted] per month. Ireland has the least expensive subscriptions at the higher data caps than other countries in the OECD at $US20 PPP per month," the report said. "The price in the most expensive surveyed market, Australia, has an average price of $US62 for this data range and is more than three times the price of similar connections in Ireland." The report found that Australia was the second-most expensive country for low-usage mobile broadband, with an average subscription price of $32 per month, above the $US30 average. The least expensive offerings were $US13 in Sweden, and the most expensive in Spain at $US33." (Source: Smart Company, (http://www.smartcompany.com.au/)
Australia's telephony and internet companies write contracts that are designed to confuse and often they are misleading. They are very expensive by international standards. They have small print conditions, penalties and obligation release clauses that shift all of the risk to the consumer. When any, or all of these services are unavailable, there is no refund or compensation offerred.
I have a pay television service from Select TV, it rarely works properly and often not at all. I was sold the service when they had no set top boxes available in may 2008. I was not told this and kept asking where my set top I bought was? I had to wait for about four months before I was advised they were waiting for new boxes. These boxes would be better because they included the SD free television channels. The installation effected in September 2008, did not work and had to be redone. The set top box failed and it was replaced. Select TV did not tell me they were going to replace the box. A courier left a note to go to the airport and pick up a package. It was a new set top box without any explanation. One is expected to be a mind reader. This was installed, over the phone with a Select TV staff member some weeks later after seven emails and phone calls elicited no response, by myself. I notified Select TV again in November and December 2009 that it was not working properly. It is now January 2010 and it has not been fixed.
When the front packaging of the product says something like "apple and raspberry" read the contents on the back. Invariably there will be 1% or less raspberry. This is a trick used by the manufacturers. They are relying upon a probability that you will not read the labelling.
Another trick is to reduce the contents whilst maintaining the price. There are many ways manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors seek to o maximise their returns. Go to Choice Australia
Comparison Web Site
POLITICAL AND CORPORATE INTERESTS OUTWEIGH CONSUMER AND THE PUBLIC INTEREST IN AUSTRALIA AND ELSEWHERE
TO THEIR OWN SELF INTEREST AND BENEFIT?
ON BALANCE IT APPEARS SO. BUT THEY ARE ALSO CORRUPTING, AND CORRODING, IT.
"Fels scathing over book imports decision, By Online parliamentary correspondent Emma Rodgers
Posted Wed Nov 11, 2009 2:00pm AEDT, Updated Wed Nov 11, 2009 4:12pm AEDT |
Allan Fels says the Government is responsible for slugging readers with higher book prices. (AAP: Alan Porritt), Former competition watchdog head Allan Fels has lambasted the Federal Government for its decision to keep restrictions on imported books.
The Federal Government has today rejected the Productivity Commission's recommendations to change current laws to allow for cheaper overseas books into the Australian market. The commission urged changes to the regulations as a way to bring down the prices of books for consumers. The laws protect Australian copyright holders of titles from potentially cheaper overseas imports. Professor Fels, who has conducted previous inquiries into book and CD imports, says Australians are paying 35 per cent more for similar editions of books being sold in the US. He says in rejecting the commission's findings, the Government is now responsible for slugging readers with higher prices. "It is a Government mandated import monopoly market which is grossly overcharging Australians," Professor Fels said at the National Press Club. "If the Government can't deliver this simply reform because of the uneducated clamour of a few authors who are driven by publisher interests then there's little hope that the Government will be able to stand up to other pressure groups and bring about useful change for the economy and for our society." (Source of extract, ABC News Australia: http://www.abc.net.au/)
Extremely worrying matters of public service management and performance.
If so why?
In the age of "I"
I sat in a coffee shop watching the people around me. The young waitress saw someone she knew and had not seen for a year or so. She engaged in a display of intimacy of words, but they seemed contrived. He was special to her after all, she told him that despite not contacting him she had listed him on her facebook. That was an imprimatur which maybe she felt should convey some special message to him, it was full of unstated meaning. A no cost commitment gesture. Much like the modern Australian government and corporation.
Hollow gestures that do not cost us much if anything, common shallow, and vacuous, endemic within Australian society. Modes of meaningless communication,and weasel words. Her style of communication was the programming outcome of technology and subliminal programming, shaping her whole persona. Froth and no substance.
Like modern commercial media, like advertisements, and the corporate marketing of myopic interests, like politicians and governments, and those who would have you believe that you are a valuable customer, a valuable person.
We see examples everyday of detachment from real human interaction. I fly lots. I use the internet to book if it is not too complicated, and I receive messages, and texts, about my flights. I went to Melbourne airport in September 2009 and as I stood at the counter. I was told that I had not followed the new Qantas check in system. I was supposed to use the self service terminal first to book in, and get my boarding pass, and then only come to the desk to get my bags processed. When I responded that I did not want to use the machine and wanted human contact I was told by the Qantas check in person, that I should use the technology because it was designed to streamline by book in and get me there quicker. Get me where, to the Qantas club? She mused that I should try it for the experience. What experience is that? The same as the vacuous waitress? To eschew all real human contact in the interest of efficiency?
I do my banking on line and never go near my credit union. I detest banks. The credit union never bother me. It is after all a bit sad. They write and email me. I get a glossy magazine and material the cost of which could better be used to deliver services to members. I do not care if the credit union is green and environmentally switched on. The people in charge of marketing in companies think that this is a credential booster. Would I like to contribute some dollars and off set my carbon emission contribution? I doubt if the marketing people have ever studied the detail of carbon and the science of global warming. Climate change is the vehicle of good citizens, animate (people) and inanimate (corporations). To disbelieve, or doubt, is heresy.
I go to my newsagents to buy my papers, and magazines, because I want human contact not faceless delivery and ordering over the net. I would rather add to employment creation than get a discount. I try to avoid buying newspapers from the supermarkets. I have no facebook, no my space, and no twitter, no email connection to my phone. I receive emails, and newsletters, from politicians, it is cant pulp, mass produced propaganda funded from the public purse. They do not distribute material of substance that I can use on these web sites to inform and educate. The modern politician and corporation has no innovative interaction for people beyond the twits and the blogs. The people who work in the political offices to produce this and other Goering platitudes are parasites on the public purse. They are not elected and yet they engage in the administration and manipulation of our democracy and public services.
I watch commercials created by extraordinarily average marketing people, many who seemingly believe that everyone thinks like them. Those who use slogans and never have to worry about serving a client or selling anything. They live off the sweat and efforts of others as 'support" and experts who offer value add. I listen to human relations specialists who reshape, and engineer, human interaction, thinking and beliefs. The pollster asks who would be a better Prime Minister. The respondents invariably would not have a clue based on deep examination.
Telstra Australia is in deep shit, because it listened to advisers and had managers, full of hubris, existing in a manufactured corporate world. Telstra is one of Australia's largest corporations. All too often the employees personalities and beliefs become subsumed in the employer's world of interests. Power can be illusionary and influence self perceived.
I shop at my local little IGA supermarket where the people there struggle to make a living in the shadow of the morally bankrupt supermarket retail corporations. The fresh food people who sell products that are anything other than fresh in the true unadulterated meaning of the word.
"Three fresh food people cut from Woolworths,
By Blair Speedy and John Durie - The Australian newspaper, October 28, 2009 12:00am
WOOLWORTHS has sacked three executives in its fresh-food-buying department after an investigation uncovered irregularities in dealings with fruit and vegetable wholesalers at Sydney's Flemington markets. Woolworths yesterday confirmed it had terminated Colin Hudson, head of fresh produce merchandising for NSW, senior vegetable buyer David Heffernan and deputy national business manager Peter Sillcock earlier this month, The Australian reports. "Woolworths recently investigated an alleged breach of the company's code of conduct," a spokeswoman said. "We have a zero-tolerance approach for any breach of policy and unfortunately had to make the difficult decision to terminate the employment of three staff members." The breaches are understood to relate to supply arrangements for fruit and vegetables for Woolworths supermarkets in Sydney as well as other regions." (source of extract: as cited above, Australian newspaper, http://www.news.com.au
Woolworths blamed for food price surge, By Online business reporter Michael Janda and staff Posted Mon Nov 9, 2009 10:25am AEDT, Updated Mon Nov 9, 2009 1:05pm AEDT
A competition expert says Australians are paying too much for groceries because of a lack of competition (ABC News) A competition law expert says grocery prices have risen faster in Australia than they have in most major industrialised countries. Using OECD figures, Professor Frank Zumbo from the University of New South Wales has found that prices have risen 41.3 per cent since the start of 2000. Professor Zumbo says it is not so much the drought, but a lack of competition in the supermarket sector that is the root of the problem. "Compared to other countries, Australia's paying some of the highest levels of food inflation, that means consumers here are paying more than they should, they're paying more that they should because there's less competition," he told the ABC. "The evidence is clear that where you have like an Aldi in a local area, where it's just Coles and Woolworths grocery prices are higher." (Source of extract: Australian Broadcasting Corporation News: http://www.abc.net.au/news/)
Watchdog defends duopoly on food prices, NATASHA ROBINSON AND LANAI VASEK From: The Australian newspaper, November 10, 2009 12:00AM
COMPETITION watchdog Graeme Samuel has defended Australia's retail giants over grocery prices, rejecting claims that the nation's supermarket duopoly is forcing consumers to pay the fastest-rising food prices in the developed world. ACCC chairman Mr Samuel said yesterday that latest OECD statistics, which indicated Australia's food prices had risen by more than 40 per cent in the past decade -- despite low rates of inflation -- should be treated with caution. Instead, he said the continuing drought and global factors were partly to blame for Australia's high rate of food inflation, with sharp rises in the cost of fresh food most responsible for increasing family grocery bills. His comments put him at odds with competition and consumer law expert Frank Zumbo, who said Australia's supermarket duopoly, not drought and global factors, was squarely to blame for rising food prices. As federal Competition Minister Craig Emerson conceded that Australia's retail market needed greater competition, Mr Samuel argued that Coles and Woolworths controlled only 40-50 per cent of the fresh food market, a much smaller market share than their combined 78 per cent slice of the dry packaged foods market." (Source of extract: The Australian, web: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/watchdog-defends-duopoly-on-food-prices/story-e6frg6nf-1225795926100)
Australia's governments, major corporations and institutions have become inured to the pain and suffering they cause in their every day business and actions. The response below to Mr Dixon's payment by qantas occurred in November 2008:
November 2008 "Qantas shareholders blast Geoff Dixon's 'obscene' salary at AGM By Gabrielle DunlevyAAPNovember 28, 2008 04:33pm
GEOFF Dixon has retired as Qantas CEO but not before feeling the ire of shareholders outraged over his $12.2 million package. The Qantas (qan.ASX:Quote,News) annual general meeting, held in Brisbane on Friday, was Mr Dixon's last before handing over to Jetstar boss Alan Joyce. Mr Dixon said he left Qantas "very confident indeed of its soundness as a business", as well as the scale and quantity of its operations. While some shareholders thanked him for his eight years of service, others voiced their anger at his hefty pay packet. Lisa Marshall said Qantas defended its executive salaries as a means to retain the best managers, while it offered its other staff a pay rise of only three per cent in the last wage talks. Related Coverage A320: Qantas backs crash plane Your Say I don't see what their is to envy about Geoff. Being him would probably be a pain in the neck. Much of the outrage ... (Read More) Trevor M of Victoria Also an Australian Services Union representative, Ms Marshall said the staff deal was a "slap in the face" - less than the CPI, and the deals reached for Brisbane City Council and Queensland Health administration staff. "It's disgusting that you can keep continually raising your salaries, giving yourselves slaps on the back and yet it has never filtered down to the people underneath you," she said. (Source: http://www.news.com.au/)
In October 2009 the issue of executive pay is still a significant issue with the Australian Productivity Commission recommendations on shareholder approval options.
Qantas risks losing its loyal customer base.
A customer spending $A300,000 tells a story to others of buying a business class ticket to Singapore, travelling on British Airways, a Qantas partner airline, and being denied access to the Qantas first class, and business lounge, lounges though he is a Platinum member and also holds a Gold life membership. The person denying access has misread the ticket. He waits in the airline general lounges with the economy travellers.
Another tells a story of being bumped from his business class flight with Cathay, another Qantas partner and being told by the local Qantas employee, what to do as if he is a backpacker. Another tells of being stranded on a runway in Minneapolis, with American (another Qantas partner) missing the linking flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne, and being told that he is being given a favour by reinstating his ticket at a lower level - business down to Premium Economy. Fined 45,000 points for something out of his control. Are these people employed by Qantas representative of the truly stupid? The telling becomes ten, becomes a thousand. The blogs and telling grow wider and wider. But beyond the telling is another more damaging response. The people, previously loyal may be so irate that they turn, not taking their business away, but instead they may influence Qantas' future in their roles as advocates or enemies in a complex balancing act. They will still fly Qantas but will make life hard for many inside the enterprise all the way to the top. They may deal in trivia or in more intense activity, in any event it will cost time effort resources and money.
With the going of Mr Dixon, and his team, is the corporate memory and the relationships. Though the Board under Margaret Jackson did not seem to be cognisant of relationships beyond their own. From her hospital bed, when informed the buy out of Qantas was dead, she called some of us stupid. So the culture of disregard for loyalty, where only a card is the measure in their myopic occupation was exposed. The price is high from now on for Qantas.
Relationships are not part of the Qantas database, cultural ethos and awareness. Organisations are not good at capturing the intangible. They think title of a business card, or the awarding of membership of the Qantas Chairman's Lounge is proof. The Qantas card denotes the status and there is apparently no other measure, or system, by which they can determine impacts and outcomes. They fly blind. For a modern day enterprise they are terribly unsophisticated.
Despite being told, in 1995, that their archilles heel was the failure to record relationships and linkages, Qantas failed to develop such a system. The new era of Mr Joyce and his team is in the driver seat of Qantas. The staff on the ground, dealing with complex aviation issues every minute, have little guidance from supervisors who know what they are about. The treatment of people as numbers and the segregation of Qantas lounges into ordinary, business and chairman, indicates an airline that has no clue as to real status and impact.
LETTING THE EXECUTIVES AND THE BOARD
The corporations employ communications and public relations experts, who seem to have no awareness, and no propensity for deep gathering intelligence "beyond their horizons".
Qantas faces a subsidised global competition multi-front from international airlines owned by governments. They are subsisdised and some do not have to pay for their fuel, namely the Arab airlines. Qantas has to argue protection to the Australian government without knowing who can support them or who they have offended. The in all of the this they have to prove they are worthy of being the Australian airline. In addition they have to face a world of "ex patriots who now work overseas and may have had their loyalty to Qantas tested. Those people, as well as talented advocates here may well decide to test the new breed of management and employees skills, for a range of reasons and motivations. In any event the treatment of someone may well cost the airline much in having to deal with the fallout - multiple fallouts - time, resources, money, energy and diversion. Qantas claims to be the Spirit of Australia, yet, in seeking to make a profit, in the cut throat world of aviation, it has been found to be unethical and devious. It has fined by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for price fixing and collusion.
Extract: " Qantas fined $69m for international price fixing, By Stefanie Balogh in New York Herald Sun November 28, 2007 09:09am,
Guilty plea ... Qantas has been fined $69 million for price-fixing international air cargo rates,Qantas pleads guilty to price-fixing air cargo routes Will pay $69.4 million fine, apologises 'unreservedly' ...QANTAS has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $US61 million ($69.4 million) fine in a US court after being charged with price-fixing international air cargo rates for more than six years from January 2000. The US Department of Justice filed charges against Qantas Airways Limited in the US District Court in the District of Columbia in Washington DC today. In a statement released on the ASX today, Qantas apologised unreservedly for "wrong conduct"." (Source: http://www.news.com.au/business/)
Qantas to pay $20m fine in ACCC's freight collusion case, Article from: Courier mail Brisbane Australia, October 28, 2008 03:45pm
QANTAS says it will pay a $20 million fine after Australia's competition watchdog accused it and fellow carrier British Airways of air freight price fixing. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is taking the separate actions against the pair in the Federal Court in Sydney. It is seeking penalties for alleged price fixing by the airlines between 2002 and early 2006. After the commission released its intention of action Qantas announced it would pay a $20 million fine "to settle its liability resulting from price fixing conduct in its freight division". The company said it "apologises unreservedly for the conduct of employees involved". (Source: Courier Mail Australia) Qantas apologises!. What cheek as if that is a salve to the immoral and unethical management style. The Board and CEO are mortified by the employee conduct. Out of where does such conduct emanate? It grows and is nurtured within, by role models. It arises directly from the culture that is imbued by the management of an enterprise. These fines are paid by shareholders. Now in Australia (September 2009) there are also criminal offences and possible gaol time if found guilty. qantas has a new EO now, will the culture change or will Qantas still employees act without an ethical compass.
"The role of ethics in management is also dependent on the level of responsibility the company is willing to take. The pro-active mode would characterize a company that believes strongly in its mission as moral (or at least for the benefit of society). It would respond as a trend setter to some of the ethical dilemmas. The re-active mode, would be the companies though aware of social responsibility, respond to immediate situations rather than anticipating them. The passive mode leads the company to deviant behaviour by refusing responsibility. There are two main extremes found in the corporate world : profit on one side and human safety, which constitute an ethical spectrum." (Source extract: The Cultural Dimension of Business Ethics, Philosophical Dialogues, http://www.philodialogue.com/12.html)
Will Qantas employees realise, as they work everyday, that beyond their immediate horizon of awareness, are individuals, and forces, that are waiting, and working, to make them accountable for every action they may take regardless how small? Probably not, for they may be oblivious that some of them create enemies and some of them bring on unnecessary angst by their decisions taken in isolation of corporate or ethical memories. There is no evidence that they have learnt the lessons across the enterprise or that all employees know that Qantas was fined across thew world for price fixing along with some thirty other airlines. Former CEO Mr Dixon noted that there were about thirty others, so that minimises Qantas' unethical behaviour does it? justifies it perhaps in order to stay competitive? This is the real world is it not and we cannot afford fine virtues, and honour, in a cut throat, anything goes, world of commerce can we?
This company, that has demonstrated such behaviour demands that the Australian government protect its international and domestic routes from competition on the basis they are a national icon.
" In exchange for maintaining services to Australian regional centres, the federal government grants Qantas protection against competitors on certain routes. Think of it as a sort of single desk for airline travel..... Qantas prevents travellers from buying the cheapest possible airline tickets. The cant about "national carriers" can be ignored. A change of the company's ownership presents an ideal opportunity for the federal government to tell Qantas that its monopoly rights won't last forever, and that in fact those rights will be extinguished as soon as possible. It shouldn't have taken a scandal of AWB-like proportions to force the government to shut down the single desk, and it shouldn't take a takeover of Qantas to bring about competition between airlines. Still, there's no time like the present, and there's no better way to kick-start another round of micro-economic reform." (end of extract - source: Bring on the competition, Deregulation Unit | John Roskam, Australian Financial Review 30th November, 2006)
Qantas does not appear to deserve that status any more. They will have to earn it back but they are probably not openly aware of that proposition. Their advertisements do create warm feeling of pride in Australia. What is the likelihood that the Rudd labor government has the intestinal fortitude to end Qantas' spurious competitive game? Not very high at this point (September 2009) in the Rudd Revolution. Qantas is aided, and abetted, in maintaining its share of air travel out and into Canberra, and the status quo, by public servants who value their Qantas Club privileges, which by the way are paid for by taxpayers. They shun using Virgin, and other carriers, arguing in their justification that they need to work before they fly and the Qantas Club membership gives them the working environment. Thus they require the dearer full service ticket offered by qantas or sometimes the same price ticket as Virgin. They have the game sown up and for successive government Ministers to claim any different is spin and misrepresentation. There is a tender for provision of travel that goes through the motions in order to create an air of open competition. All airlines are announced as winners, depending on the kick backs offered in their bids. Why are these not published? Unlike in the USA we have commercial confidentiality to hide rorts and suspicious things.
The Commonwealth government policy on air travel is as transparent as Sydney on a smoggy day, easily manipulated by crafty individuals. And of course there are the flight upgrades for the senior public servants and the politicians, the Qantas Chairman's Lounge, all designed to influence the status quo. How many public servants lose their Qantas privileges status when they just miss the magic number? How many public servants carry Virgin privileges cards? Why are these not published on the web as part of open government in Australia? Again the smoke screen of personal private confidential privilege. Humbug these things given to them are paid for by taxpayers. Where is the register of declaration available to all? It is not there for us to see. It exists but is hidden from prying eyes particular nasty, and annoying, journalists and people like me. (Kevin R Beck)
The clubbiness of Australia is infested with the grubbiness of Australia amongst the power collective.
"Storm upped pensioner incomes
THE Bank of Queensland waved through loan applications from failed Storm Financial that inflated the annual income of pensioners into seven-figure sums. Perth Now - 10:29 a.m. Monday 31st August 2009 EST, (Source: WotNews,http://wotnews.com.au/)
" CBA blames Storm over margin calls
Commonwealth Bank executives have told a parliamentary inquiry in Sydney that it was the responsibility of Storm Financials responsibility to inform its clients about margin calls. Yahoo!7 Finance News - 10:28 p.m. Friday 4th September 2009 EST (source: WotNews,http://wotnews.com.au)
Storm Financial clouds threaten Commonwealth Bank of Australia Anthony Klan, June 18, 2009, The Australian
"THE Commonwealth Bank's reputation as one of the nation's most trusted institutions has taken another blow after it admitted "shortcomings" in its dealings with thousands of customers affected by the $3 billion collapse of Storm Financial. Just days after being pilloried for breaking with its rivals to lift variable mortgage rates, the bank yesterday suspended until August 31 the loan repayments of 2500 customers who were also clients of the Townsville-based financial planning firm. CBA chief executive Ralph Norris, who initially played down the bank's role in the collapse of Storm in January, said yesterday it had identified "shortcomings" concerning loans it made to Storm clients. The issue is understood to involve some customers being granted loans they were unable to repay.....We are not proud of our involvement in some of these issues and we are working toward a fair and equitable outcome for our affected customers," Mr Norris said yesterday. "Our customers can be assured that where we have done wrong, we will put it right."
Extract "Lawyers for Woolworths are negotiating with the Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission on terms for an audit of the retailers liquor practices.|
The ACCC is keen to ensure that Woolworths has introduced new processes and trade practices compliance procedures following a conviction for anti-competitive behaviour related to the issue of liquor licenses in NSW.
Woolworths was fined $7 million on the liquor charges which follow an earlier conviction for anti-competitive behaviour involving the sale of bread and attempts to force independent retailers to stop discounting.
Both Woolworths and Coles were charged by the ACCC over a practice of forcing independent retailers and hotels applying for liquor licences in NSW to agree to certain licence conditions or restrictions in exchange for the withdrawal of objections by the two major retailers.
Coles and Woolworths both argued that their actions were consistent with the practice of all parties involved in liquor licensing in NSW and were not illegal under state laws.
Both companies had stopped the practice of negotiating licence conditions before ACCC legal proceedings commenced.
Coles opted to negotiate with the ACCC on penalties for the licensing deals and was fined $4.75 million.
Woolworths defended the charges in the courts and lost with a penalty of $7 million handed down last December. The company has until February 16 to appeal the decision and the penalties." (Source: FoodWeek, http://www.foodweek.com.au/)
Extract: "Woolworths meat scandal revealed, Rebecca Urban, February 8, 2007
Woolworths had its own misconduct investigation, Coles executive may face charges
WOOLWORTHS, Australia's largest retailer, quietly sacked two senior managers over their roles in the disappearance of millions of dollars worth of meat from its Safeway stores in Victoria.
A former manager at a Woolworths-owned meat processing plant, Kenneth Gibbins, was dismissed when his secret financial interest in a company implicated in the scam was exposed." (source: The Age, Melbourne, http://www.theage.com.au/)
"Woolworths Limited is committed to business integrity and professionalism and to ensuring that our company policies and practices meet the highest levels of disclosure and compliance.
Under the careful direction of our highly experienced and dedicated Board, Woolworths Limited has significantly strengthened its investment in corporate governance, particularly in the critical areas of compliance and financial reporting.
Woolworths Limited follows the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) Principles of Good Corporate Governance and our directors are committed to the ethical pursuit of our shareholders best interests.
Code of Conduct
In order to maintain our commitment to the highest legal, moral and ethical standards in our dealings with customers, suppliers, employees and local communities, every Woolworths Limited employee commits to our Code of Conduct. This code outlines how our employees can meet the highest standards through their everyday behaviours and choices." (source: Time: 2:28 pm, Date: Sunday, September 6, 2009, You are here: Our Company: Governance
Now finding Coles code of conduct is far more difficult, if it exists. They do not seem to publish it on their web site. Instead they provide a link to their owner Wesfarmers, that web site says, inter alia, that Wesfarmers meets its objectives by:
"acting with integrity and honesty in dealings both inside and outside the company."
(Source: Wesfarmers About Us - http://www.wesfarmers.com.au/about-us.html)
Well that is Wesfarmers but what about its owned subsidiary Coles? Who would know?
And as I leave this sad and disappointing record of unethical behaviour by icons, I observe that Woolworths has joined the Qantas Frequent Flyer programme, adding to the club of close and cosy relationships in Australia. Good value for us all, but of course.
March 2009: Why concentrate on pillorying executives for their pay scales when local government executives may be receiving exorbitant salary packages? There are some well above the Australian median salary range for local government. " THE chief executive of Brisbane City Council now earns more than the Prime Minister after she was awarded a staggering $70,000 pay increase. Jude Munro recently received the inflation-busting 20 per cent increase - despite the economic slump. She now earns $410,000. Last month Ipswich City Council executive Carl Wulff also enjoyed a $73,000 pay rise - a 26 per cent boost - taking his wage packet to $350,000. Just weeks ago, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called on workers to show wage restraint as Australia rockets towards a recession... Mr Wulff and Ms Munro are among a growing number of Queensland council executives now earning record six-figure salaries, including Moreton Bay CEO John Rauber, on $380,000. Meanwhile, Toowoomba Regional Council is advertising for a new CEO through recruitment firm Hudson. An officer at the firm said the base salary was $300,000." (Source: Hannah Davies, February 11, 2009, Courier mail, News Ltd, Queensland"
Melbourne City Council CEO David Pitchford is listed as one of the big rollers pocketing over $350,000 plus benefits paid for by the City ratepayers and money collected by corrupt traffic officers. More then John Howard and Steve Bracks. Is he worth it? David Pitchford was paid a bonus on top of his salary last year even though the Ombudsman found the City Council under Pitchfords stewardship, with the assistance of ex-City Council legal adviser Allison Lyons, tried to thwart the Ombudsman investigation last year in an attempted cover-up of the crime of ripping off motorists. Maybe this is why he received a bonus.
Councils spend big, Peter Rolfe Sunday Herald-Sun March 25, 2007
BIG-SPENDING local councils are paying senior staff more than the Prime Minister receives.
Flush with funds as property owners pay record rates and charges, at least three Melbourne councils are rewarding chief executives with pay packages that eclipse John Howard's. At least 12 are paying chief executives more than Victoria's Premier, Steve Bracks.
Melbourne City Council chief executive David Pitchford leads the list of high earners, pocketing a package worth more than $354,000 a year. Apart from a cash salary of $241,553, Mr Pitchford is also entitled to a 25 per cent performance bonus plus superannuation, a car and expenses.
Mr Howard's total annual package for running the country is just over $309,000. Mr Bracks is on $235,000 a year.
Monash Council chief David Conran has an annual package of $315,750, including a salary of $250,000. Boroondara boss Peter Johnstone earns more than $337,500 to administer the suburbs of Hawthorn, Camberwell, Canterbury and Kew with a 25 per cent bonus on top of his $232,371 base salary plus a car and superannuation. And Whitehorse chief Noeline Duff earns more than $292,700." (Source:http://melbournecitycouncil/)
In 2008 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) held and enquiry into the Australian grocery industry. It was, as reported in this web site below, a farce. This perception, I have, is given credence by the fact that the ACCC since then, has not taken any action, nor has the Australian or state governments to deal with the material of anti competitive behaviour presented in that enquiry.
In short it is my contention that Aldi is thwarted by local governments, largely controlled by the Australian Labor Party, as evidenced in NSW and Wollongong. Despite the Rudd labor government's assertion that it wants to protect jobs, this is not to my mind the case. I predict that Prime Minister Rudd will have to move soon, through the ACCC, and state governments, on this issue or look as if he is party to the charade and the collusion.
Aldi suffers exclusion under stalling tactics, being relegated to sites away from main shopping precincts, collusive, and restrictive, tenancy agreements (anti competition) enforced by shopping centre owners and the major retailers. There are anchor tenants that make a shopping centre attractive to consumers and these anchor tenants call the shots. They do not want competition unless it is forced on them. Companies like Aldi suffer from state government corruption, again predominantly in the arena of the Australian Labor Party clearly evidenced in NSW. The Rudd federal Labor government has demonstrated no evidence that it is distant from its corrupt party administration operating at the state and local government levels. To my mind this work against developing a respect for the Prime Minister. He has no record of statesmanship that condemns this corruption an corrosion of our democracy.
The political system neatly quarantines the political leaders from the excess, criminal activity and behaviour of the party machine and its administration. It is about creating an illusion that the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers, are not knowledgeable, or aware, of the corruption. Thus John Brumby, Premier of Victoria, denies that he knew that labor party put out an untrue brochure, and advertising, during a by election in Victoria in 2008 regarding the independent candidate Les Twentyman. John Brumby has not demonstrated that he has a compass . for condemning such things and the people who did, and continue, to do it. Winning seas and holding power is the primary objective and hang the morality and the the unethical practices. The people who do this are parasites on Australia's democracy. The Australian Electoral Commission, a toothless tiger, found the evidence that the labor party did it but declined to prosecute for lack of ability to get a conviction.
Some may believe that Australian regulatory agencies are compromised by the corruption, and corrosion, of Australia's political, and corporate, system. A system in which the two major political parties accept donations, illegal payments and selling access to Ministers of governments. Perhaps Aldi has not paid the Australian Labor Party in each state, and at the federal level, for access to Ministers?
"Queensland Labor defends corporate sponsorships, "The World Today" - Monday, 24 February , 2003 Reporter: JOHN HIGHFIELD:
The Queensland Labor Party has been forced to defend a scheme in which it is selling exclusive access to state ministers for $5,500. The so-called 'Foundation Sponsorships' issued by the party's fund raising arm, Queensland First, ensure exclusive attendance at inner circle functions with the Premier, Treasurer and other key ministers."
Former Premier of NSW Morris Iemma wanted to stop donations to political parties but the current Premier, Nathan (red Hot Go) Rees has no compunction or spine to enact that change. Aldi could expand dramatically and employ many people, thus Prime Minister Rudd's assertion that his aim is to create jobs is hollow and trite in the face of evidence to the contrary. If Aldi were to expand it would break the duopoly of the major retailers who control some 80% the market. The ACCC and government apparently have no problem with the existing situation indicating other forces are at work. If Aldi became a true competitive force it would interfere with the cash collection and donations that the Australian Labor Party enjoys at every level of their operation, across the nation.
Australia's Reserve Bank let ATM owners charge fees
So it comes to pass, the inept Reserve bank Board, that cannot predict the train crash in front of their faces, decides to allow the owners of ATM's to charge a fee. The theory is that this will be better than the interchange fees previously charged by banks. Competition will deliver lower costs. Just like competition and macroeconomic policy delivered us the wonders of competition and bankruptcy globally. The Australian Reserve Bank like, the Australian government Treasury, cannot get anything right and yet the politicians listen.
Appearances before the Australian parliament, by the Treasury and Reserve Bank, et al, are exercise in preening and prima donna performances. What are you implying Senator? I thought it is obvious what the Senator is implying. (When a mandarin bristles 24/10/2008 24/10/2008, 1:00:00 AM, Canberra Times, Australia).
One day in early March 2009 the fees all popped out on the Australian ATM screens remarkably consistent. The banks all charge $A2.00. Surprise! Surprise! The price of petrol has a consistency also. The Australian Competition, and Consumer Commission, along with the Reserve bank, and the Australian government, all have their spin doctors to explain this away. There is no collusion here just market forces. Bull shit it is a system as corrupt as the NSW and Victorian labor parties. The banks are in good company with a lack of moral compass.
The primary objective, of all banks, to enslave the nation, the corporations and the individuals, to debt, is being assisted, as always, by the people paid from the public purse.Is it a conspiracy or just the ignorance and stupidity of human sheep, lacking deep analytical, and lateral, thinking? In any event the usual suspects are unnacountable, and benefit regardless, as part of the power collective. The citizens of Australia through indolence and disinterest allow this to go on.
DON'T BLEAT ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN OR BEEN PART OF
Would you ignore the insults, and jibes, of Wayne Swan and the Australian government if someone was going to give you a million dollars or more? So why would you assume that the Board members, and CEO, of companies like Bonds would be swayed to forego the benefits? Would you forget the nature, and tenets, of your role, assuming that you or they even knew what they might be? Money is a big persuader and living comfortably for your life is a far better option than being ethical or giving a damn. Wayne Swan has no influence and power over self interest and greed. The human instinct in the modern era over rides all other things.
The larger part of the Australian population is powerless against the controllers of politics and wealth in the nation. We stand and wait for the crumbs or we make moves, and plays, to gain a slice of the action. The labor and liberal parties are corrupting elements within our democracy. They are incompetent along with their bureaucracies as we see in NSW and in Queensland.
The Board of Telstra and the CEO did not, and do not care, for the Australian consumer, nor does the Board of Bonds and its CEO. I do not know these people Unfortunately government Ministers, and others, have to deal with them. Does their skin crawl? Who knows?
Australian corporate human resource management approaches, communication to the workforce and actions like that of these and other companies, demonstrate what they are. They only react to money. Thus the Australian government has only one attractive thing that influences. To give them money. What the Australian population can do is not buy their products and services. This will starve them of money.
Let us not assume that it is only politicians and corporate types who are bent. The union leaders it is felt by many, feather their own self interest and nests at the expense of their members. The decline in union membership is caused by a range of complex factors. I think the greatest reason for the decline is the lack of knowledge and thinking capacity of the average worker who thinks they are skilled enough to look after themselves, and the myopic professional who has a blinkered view of unions and their roles and place. The unions go us the awards, the holiday pay and the sick leave etc. but we are not loyal consumers and we are not grateful people. We are as self interested as those whom we bleat about. So do not vote for either labor or liberal. Do not bleat if you are victimised by your employer, ignored by your government or sacked by your employer. You have allowed the system to become what it is and have actively participated or ignored it at your peril.
Canadian academic, and philosopher, John Ralston Saul has written much about human nature, politics, corporatism, globalism and greed. I wonder what the author of this letter, in 2004, would say today, in 2009. Do they feel a fool?
"John Ralston Saul's claim that globalization has collapsed is hardly substantiated ["The Collapse of Globalism," Essay, March]. Whether measured by direct foreign investment, trade, the movement of money and financial assets, the migration of people and laborers, the spread of American consumer culture, Internet access, the outsourcing of white-collar and service-sector jobs in the United States to Bangalore and elsewhere, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear fuel cycles, pollutants, greenhouse gases, and virulent diseases, globalization continues apace. American IT companies signed $119 billion worth of outsourcing contracts for white-collar..." (source: The global pillage.(Letters)(Letter to the Editor), http://www.highbeam.com/).
Malcolm Turnbull (leader of the federal opposition in the Australian Parliament), is a former investment banker, Peter Costello, a lawyer and former federal government Treasurer, who rode the false wave of apparent wealth. He did not actually manage the economy when this type of crisis was upon us, for there is none like it. They are both hardly credible in the debate. Kevin Rudd's experience lies in diplomacy and bureaucracy. He has no experience of the larger world and its complex elements. He is a deep thinker and analyst. he too is hardly credible. So where do we go? It is one thing to be able to predict with unerring accuracy what will happen and when. It is quite another to know what to do. There is a simple proposition here. Everything is over valued and falsely categorised. Labour, material, resources, property, housing, the value (worth) of a trinket such as a mobile phone or a blackberry and other feckless pursuits. These will fall to their real level. To know what that is, look at prices and goods for 1996 or there abouts. Then you will have a measure of where you are going and what to do about it. There is no growth that the governments dream of. The economy was never at the heights that were stated for the books were cooked, by governments, corporations and the people selling us the stories. We are in indeed in the age of consumption, but it is the people, the morality, the ethics and society itself, that is being consumed.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Needs Ability to Demand Companies Tell The Truth
The bureaucracy will tell you that Australia has some of the most stringent and demanding content laws. This may be so. However have you ever looked at a product description on the front that implies something mouth watering or fashionable? Organic? Low Fat? Raspberry Cordial? How about sweet chili and fafir lime marinated salmon? Then when you look on the reverse you find the key ingredient description is actually only 0.5% or 1% of the contents. This is typical and is unethical. The law allows the company to mislead in this way. The Food and Grocery Council is a powerful lobby and politicians across Australia dance to its tune. If they do not then why do they not tell us a different story. I am open to being convinced.
RETAIL CHAINS TO GO TO WALL
As Christmas comes, and goes, in 2008 a number of retailers will disappear in February 2009, if not sooner, as the recession hits Australia. Unemployment will rise. The nation's workforce is 20% casual and 20% self employed they will suffer first and the cascade will begin. These are largely the electronic discounters and the cheap imported Chinese made clothing products, and other trinkets, that infest the malls of the nation. Why Australian consumers demand and buy low grade products is a behavioural science exercise in its own right. The greater volume of their purchases are junk and rubbish. Australia has too many shopping centres, and common junk chain retailers, for the size of population.
I am captive to Qantas. I am a QF member and a One World member. I have only ever flown Qantas and its international partners. Obviously to reach the pinnacle of the frequent flyer status. By comparison my girl friend flies Qantas and Virgin. I note that her flights with Virgin have always left on time and arrived on time.
Here I am waiting for her at the airport. She rings to tell me that the Qantas flight, I booked for her, is leaving late. Canberra is a small regional airport which bills itself as an international one. It is a two bit tin shed with mediocre facilities and a crammed uninspiring architecture. They are building new infrastructure and a runway in the bleak hope that they can attract tourists. They should read the web and see the traffic that is exchanged about Canberra as a destination.
During the past year I have waited for several hours for a flight to leave and watched cancellation after cancellation. The service from qantas is deteriorating and the food and entertainment on the Australian internal domestic flights is simply not worth talking about. Of course the food in business is better. But even then it is extravagantly over priced in the ticket cost. I have never found celebrity chef Neil Perry, the Qantas Executive Chef, all that inspiring. I think there are many better chefs in Melbourne and elsewhere in Australia.
Qantas has been suffering from bad press and questions about maintenance. Its reputation is tarnished. The long time CEO, Geoff Dixon, has moved on and we have a budget CEO, from Jet Star, in his place. He is originally from the budget capital of the world Ireland. maybe that is why he was appointed to this role? To match the down grade in service, quality and reputation? If I have an early morning meeting in Sydney say anything up to eleven am, I will fly out of Melbourne, the night before just to be sure that I am at that meeting. Melbourne is one hour to a little more by jet plane. What does that say about Qantas and its reliability? Still I am captive to it in the forlorn hope that one day its management may realise the gem that they are in charge of and do the staff justice. For it is Qantas general staff and not its management that I respect. This attitude may one day prove costly as they withdraw my privileges for bagging them.
Australian companies in the retail game have blinkers on. Whether it be the commercial radio, and television stations, happy to fight over a 12% share of the market and think that is great or the shops that cater to kids and anexoric women (Size 6, 8, 10 and 12) or the telecommunication companies that believe we are all besotted with technology gadgets, they all operate in oblivion to reality.
The actual truth is that the Australian population has an aged group, with far more disposable money, than the teenager or young hot shot professional. The older group also enjoy stability and security whereas the younger generation live from week to week not realising that there is a financial hurricane about to engulf them. The next irony, and surprise for the commercial gurus, is the proposition that an older population has cottoned on to psychological programming. They know that retailers like Woolworths, and Coles, Myer and David Jones, advertising creative types and others, are using carefully crafted techniques. In the Consuming Australia web site I have an article called "the Future is Us". It is about the psychological manipulation of the consumer. What I think these people do not realise is that technology, the web and human networks, are coalescing to counter these artful dodgers. Just as governments, their strategists and advisers, think that it is all about spin and manipulation without substance, so too do the commercial practitioners. Note the instability of politics and voter behaviour. What causes this of late? Is it that they are simply jaundiced and disengaged? Or could it be that they are reading, thinking, assessing and communicating, a different set of objectives, needs and wants?
There are tens of thousands of cheap outlets selling Chinese made rubbish, the castaway clothing era. They are a dime a dozen, here today and gone tomorrow. Why? The population they are marketing to has so much choice, and is limited in volume, that they bankrupt these poorly prepared entrepreneurs, captive to their own inadequate reading of the market and the future. These shops die on the vine, like communities that do not cater for the Australian tourist, the food and wine lovers of the nation. Dying with the clutter retailers are the professional sales men and women. Instead of people with experience, and a love of selling, whether it be in Myer (a few left), David Jones (a few left), Woolworths (spare me there are none there) Coles (similarly so) and the myriad of common chains, the major brand hotels and many restaurants etc, we are served by young, inexperienced, sometimes dim witted, uncaring casual employees. They are under trained and under motivated. Australia has no sales/service culture and no does not value same as a profession. As a result Australia loses out in tourism, hospitality, retail and every sector. We are a mining nation that dabbles in other things, kidding ourselves that we are well governed, on top of it and are using all of our available talent. The small to medium business sector in Australia needs to value its employees, innovate and look at what it is selling and whether or not it is quality.
The quality of Australia's commercial broadcasters is quite low grade. This largely arises due to the narrow minded copying of US media style, content and programming. There is a lack of innovation and creativity. A cheap mentality, demonstrable by the rise of reality television. This is the domination of management decision making by a myopic few who think themselves to be personalities in demand and experts in their field.
To the informed observer it is obvious that the population of Australia is aging. Yet you could not tell this from the advertising focus or the programming. Maybe the decision makers and managers are young? The largest demographic, with the highest disposable discretionary income, is outside the demographic target range of most of the commercial broadcasters. They target teens and people aged in their twenties to their mid thirties. The ABCs JJJ has a wider demographic.
Talk back radio leads, the ABC and SBS broadcast quality and wider content, community broadcasting and cable/satellite television and radio are fast assuming control of the ratings. The true situation as to listener preference is masked by a rigged system sold by rating agencies that use a statistical approach. It is not real time linked to digital feed. The capacity to do this will not be implemented for it is not in the interest of the commercial broadcasters to have the facts known. Advertisers will flee. However they advertisers will force the commercial owners to justify their charges and claims. Time is running out. Channel Nine, once the doyen of the commercial sector, has been degraded, and humiliated, by the prodigy of its owner Kerry Packer. At the hands of James packer, the station is now in the control of equity capital investors based in Asia who appear to have little understanding of quality, culture and human behaviour. PBL moves into gambling and leaves the broadcast, and print assets created, and maintained, by Kerry Packer behind.
The commercial channels of Seven and Ten fair little better in prestige, and quality, as they play to perhaps unkindly a feeble minded, undereducated population. It is not the internet that is killing Australia media. It may be due to the proposition that programming, and influence, is in the hands of people with limited experience and cerebral capacity to understand that youth is not the new spending generation. The commercial radio media haggle over a few percentage points.
So why are advertisers putting their dollars into commercial media? Because the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) does not take paid advertising. The reason is that if it did the commercial stations would be bankrupt within a short period as advertisers flocked to where the real buying power can be found. In the meanwhile celebrity jocks, journalists and hosts delude themselves that they are high rating stars.
In 2008 and through 2009 - 2010 there will be an awakening. Some broadcasters will go broke and others will simply disappear, along with their short term stars.
Below, in this web site, I state that I believe the domination of Australian retailers Coles, and Woolworths, is not in the national interest. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) enquiry into this sector (grocery) was therefore of keen interest to me. They have demonstrated their stupidity already by allowing Woolworth's and Coles to enter into the petrol supply market. In the blink of an eye the two retail chains dominate that sector also. The ACC supports the Australian government;s Fuel watch web site and policy. So stupidity seems ingrained in the Commission what can I say.
The report into the Australian grocery industry is now complete. Being a cynic I did not have high expectations for the 2008 enquiry or the ACCC's capacity to inspire. I was not disappointed the trend continues. The report, the conclusions and recommendations are limp wristed, a large serving of rhetoric and in some ways demonstrative of the inability of the ACCC to attach comprehensive investigative processes concurrent with the talk fest to explore the submissions and testimony. By attaching investigative processes I mean seeking to find out if there is any truth to allegations by detective work. For example, the Australian Farmer's Federation made claims about the arm twisting tactics of the major retail chains, namely Coles and Woolworths. The ACCC Chairman was apparently frustrated because there was no hard evidence given to support this. Mr Samsules noted that the major chains were hard negotiators. Is he naive enough to expect that a farmer, or two, would go out on a limb against thugs in the corporate world? Real police investigators struggle with this every day. The Chairman of the ACCC Mr Samuels and the ACCC panel have not demonstrated value for money in this enquiry and in many areas for the ACCC itself. They do bring in revenue though well beyond their cost to the taxpayer. The ACCC prosecutes the big cases of competition manipulation but the grocery world is grass roots and by comparison a lot of little manipulations.
There will be a new web site of course called GroceryWatch. This is a useless utility for it takes little, or no account of demographics, and the science, of human behaviour. The ACCC report is seriously lacking credibility. Where are the references to the seminal work of Randolph E Bucklin and David R Bell
The extensive study of buying behaviour that categorically proves that price is not in the top ten determinants of why we purchase. It is about brand and perception. This shallow and glossy approach to problems within society is consistent with the Prime Minister's penchant for bureaucratic action (we have Fuelwatch coming) that can be expressed in a pretty picture. Give citizens a copious amount of information relevant or not. A debate and conclusions true or not can then be wrapped around this. The art of political speak can be employed and the spin merchants deployed. Deal with any senior bureaucrat and one gets this type of response. Inundate us with references, statistics and propositions requiring our assessment and decision. Meanwhile the Commission, and by its omission, the government can avoid hard decisions, accountability and responsibility. The ACCC noticed that leasing practices in major shopping centres and the planning and objections practices in local government are perhaps in some ways rigged, manipulated and exploited. Smart people have known this for years. The ACCC is quite obsessed, in then report, with horticulture and proposed new codes to add to the existing ones that work quite well without really stating why these were needed. The Minister said the government would work closely with the industry on the 13 recommendations. This is so exciting.
Aldi received high praise and the proposition that this chain exerts downward pressure on prices. Really? As at August 2008 Aldi has 170 stores in a limited number of states, carry about 500 - 700 lines of groceries. Coles and Woolworths and their subsidiaries have 80% of the market, 25,000 product lines and a machinery designed to protect their commercial interests. They operate what is known as local monopolies. This is where there is one major choice retailer in a geographic location. Where I live there are two Safeway (Woolworths) stores relatively close within close proximity suburbs and no Coles supermarket, or subsidiary, within a convenient timeframe. The ACCC also discovered the Metcash monopoly. The supplier to the independent retailers. It margins according to the ACCC were high affecting the ability of the independents to price compete.
The ACCC also knows how to curry favour with its political masters aping their lingo using endlessly overworked exclusionary terminology: "working families" (throw up if you have had enough of that one), there was also "future proofing" the new mantra from the Prime Minister. The federal Minister, Assistant Treasurer, Chris Bowen, worked very hard to make some political mileage out of a rather innocuous and valueless effort.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council, the industry representative body is politically powerful. It is one of the best examples of practicing "lobbying and influencing" bodies in the nation. It not only can affect the government of a state and territory it can also actually exert pressure on politicians within their electorates. Within its membership are 5,000 independent retailers and the very large chains and corporations. The 5,000 independents are not all that well organised and are a disparate lot, many of them migrants who have established valuable businesses in their communities. However they struggle with language and awareness issues, with ethnic barriers and knowledge, lack of capital and so on. They cannot employ the breadth of skills used by the large corporate. Similarly the oil industry is so powerful that the ACCC and government stand mute and whimpering before its sophisticated borderline manipulation. So all in all maintenance of the domination of 80% of the retail food market is in someone's interest. Just not the ordinary citizen's.
AUSTRALIAN RETAIL SECTOR IS NOT IN NATIONAL INTEREST
PERHAPS ONLY THEIR OWN?
The Coles, and Woolworths, retail chains cover food, commodities, clothing, tyres, motor vehicle accessories and products, home goods and general retail, electrical, alcohol and petrol to name a few. Together they command, about an 80% market share
"The National Association of Retail Grocers of Australia (NARGA) released a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers yesterday that finds grocery market concentration in Australia is the highest in the world, with Woolworths and Coles having a combined total of almost 80%." (Source: Smart Company, http://www.smartcompany.com.au/, Monday July 7, 2008) (end of source quote)
operating their enterprises in a dominant fashion.
That domination need not be only price.
They manipulate on a scale that is complex, overt, covert and insidious. Their power is so vast that they dictate tenancy agreements in major shopping centres, which require a big corporate tenant to draw the shoppers. They can literally set rents, and conditions, by default. They can bring direct, and indirect, pressure and influence on suppliers and use procedural demands such as health department related regulations with onerous conditions added. They create their house brands and threaten competing brand industries livelihoods. They use a mix of permanent, and casual, employment to their own benefits. They threaten the ongoing existence of independent retailers. Both enterprises have been fined for misconduct, of varying nature, under the Australian Trade Practices Act. Woolworths probably leads in the number and value of fines, totalling millions of dollars. This is my perception and it may not be fact. The fact is they appear oblivious to significant million dollar fines and this lays claim to question the Board, Enterprise, and Store, Management's ethics and moral compass.
The Australian Competition, and Consumer Commission, began an enquiry into the sector (January 2008) receiving submissions that reflect both public and corporate opinion. There have been previous enquiries particularly the Dawson enquiry and some observers think that Woolworths presents misleading information to influence.
"The Dawson Committee was so influenced by such misleading statements that in their final report they stated; It was said that consumers are benefiting from the competitive environmentï¿½ Dawson Committee Report (Trade Practices Act Review) 2003" and "No doubt these same players, guilty of these past deceptions, will be up to their old tricks attempting to again hoodwink this inquiry by claiming that their efficienciesï¿½ and buying powerï¿½ are reducing prices, when actually the reverse is occurring. It should be expected that their submissions will be riddled with the old furphies of vigorous competitionï¿½ and claims Australia has the worlds most competitive retail marketï¿½. (Source of extracts: Public Submission to ACCC Grocery Inquiry, By Southern Sydney Retailers Association, 11th Feb 2008)
This perception, and claims, might not be far fetched given Woolworth's propensity to attract fines for unethical behaviour under the Trade Practices Act cited herein.
On the positive side of the ledger they (Coles and Woolworths) employ, and train, thousands of people across Australia including leading the way in the employment of people with disabilities. They do purchase a lot of product though they seem to have a surfeit of low quality imported content in their home brand and other stocked items. For the employment they should be applauded. However I believe that they do not, on balance, operate ethically nor in the national interest. They should be limited in category share, and market control, to no more than 20% - 30% for each of the companies, in all of the sectors of retail in which they currently reside.
Australian Labor's NBN does this effectively
The greatest threat to Telstra's monopolistic, and arrogant, positioning in the Australian market place is an argument to break up Telstra under the public interest test and provisions of the powerful parliaments of Australia. The previous Ministers for Communication should have acted like labor's Minister Conroy has, in the public interest.
I say parliaments because there is enough legislative fire power in the states, and the Commonwealth, and the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth and the States to force Telstra to divest its monopoly network. This would be in the interests of competition. Requiring Telstra to divest its physical transmission networks to a third unrelated party, perhaps even a publicly owned entity would have significant economic and social benefits. This has been proven in the case of privatisation and segmentation in Victoria. There is also a study into the social and economic benefits and disadvantages of privatising infrastructure that is applicable. The Senate should open an enquiry within its Standing Committees or better still they can do it through the House of Representatives, with a view to getting a comprehensive, and definitive, paper on the public interest value.
If Telstra was broken up it might then actually concentrate on a quality customer, and retail service, rather than wasting resources defending an indefensible status quo and a debilitating, and somewhat arrogant, political agenda. Beyond the horizon are the threats to Telstra and they are not necessarily sitting in Australia's parliaments.
WHY DO WE ACCEPT ROT AND DRIVEL?
Some might argue that Australia is in decline morally and ethically. Nowhere more evident than in New South Wales. At the heart of the malaise is greed, limited education and poor judgement. Along with an acceptance that one can do whatever it takes to get what they want. Again epitomised by the cabal that runs the Australian Labor Party in New South Wales. The cabal that takes as its own democracy and government at every level delivering suffering, misery and incompetence in return. Yet we might say that the Australian population gets what it deserves. Myopic and inward looking the majority look only to their little world of self. The under educated, and unaware, tolerate the corruption and degradation of our most precious asset - our government. They bleat when they lose their livelihood or when their small world is affected. But they do little else. The Australian community is divided and suspicious.
The governments of the nation, and the people therein, are exceptionally poor role models. The expertise in our political class, public sector and enterprise has declined dramatically to the point of disappearing. Economy, money, money, money - we live for pleasure and gratification, instant and now. More, more, more. It consumes us literally with feckless pursuits and material possessions. All else is secondary and thus the decline in government goes unfettered. Labels abound created by spin merchants who turn our politicians into sycophantic echoes - working families, first home buyers, low income families. We never hear of working singles, non working families and people. This is quite simply dribble "going forward" - in a dying planet gripped by climate change, every day a crisis of interest rates and inflation. We live in a constant cacophony of pending doom and significant trouble that only the super political class can deal with. What rot we accept. The politicians spin us political consumption drivel.
Too many people in government, and enterprise, are so driven in self interest that they will engage in misrepresentation, and massive theft, as evidenced by the Visy, and Amcor, price fixing agreements by their management, and perhaps board members, and the behaviour of Beville's and Proud's Jewellery retail management (refer to the Australian Competition and Consumer web site for these cases and the litany of other offenders.
Service, integrity and honesty, are not professional traits, in the Australian consumer marketplace. Many of the jobs are casual and low paid, the training is poor and the staff in many areas such as hospitality are itinerant. It is a filler to earn money whilst studying or a job for school kids. The Howard lead Australian government added to the corrosion and decay with their Workplace Relations Act.
Many decision makers, on the from line and in the back rooms, in Australia's business sector have never heard of the Trade Practices Act let alone read it. They are oblivious or they choose to ignore it. Many staff in the shops have never heard of the act. Australia's governments, also corrupted and corroded, have failed to protect consumers. The governments leave us exposed. They even participate in legalised theft. There are no gaol penalties for theft through lies and misrepresentation. If our politicians can rip off democracy and government then why is it such a crime for business to steal from us too?
Beyond the lack of service lies the comedy. The proposition that Australia's banks are focused on customer service and enhancing our experience. There is a fantasy in their world. It is the public relations theory, the spin and throwing money at glitzy advertisements. Then the managers, the political gamesters and the rich and powerful go home warm in the glow of their own smarts. The parasites of spin marvel at their own dexterity and ability to lie and manipulate. The consumer, well many believe what they hear and see on television. Don't they?
Australia's state, and territory, governments reap billions of dollars annually from gambling. The system is rigged to ensure that it is the punter who assumes all of the risk. In addition to the casinos and lotteries Australia s governments licence to operate there are the totallisator agencies (TAB's). They are a mix of publicly owned TABs and licenced Pub Tabs operating in hotels. Under the system the agencies do not give starting price odds. They make sure that they cannot lose by the act of gambling themselves. They manipulate the price payout from the pool of betting money so that if a punter is lucky enough to back a huge combination the full benefit will not be paid. They take bets based on the total of the pools of money wagered. The pool is divided amongst the gamblers. They are thus betting against other people. For me to win I have to take money from some other gambler not from the operators or the government owners.
They adjust the pools for tax take, operating management fees and other regulated expenses. The balance is then given back to the punters according to a complex set of formulae designed to benefit the TAB, government and operators. The price on offer for the various categories and components can change after the race has run, or at any time prior. There are three major racing pools in Australia - NSW, Unitab and Supertab. They are not linked and each offers differing returns and products.
The governments, through these TABs, want people to gamble their money, bearing all of the risk, while they the agencies bear none.
It is made more disadvantageous to the punters by the varying quality and management of the outlets. Queensland is particularly sub standard in its pub tabs. In one pub in Brisbane I enquired where the race sheets and form guides were. The answer was that there were none because they liked to "keep it neat".
The punters relied only on the television screen prices and their own knowledge of banter on the commentary media channels being broadcast. In another pub tab in the Gold Coast, on Flemington Melbourne Cup day, there was a trainee and one bar staff member working. The staff member was serving the bar and hotel guests as well. Of the three machines only two were turned on and used. When the staff member was busy in the bar the punters had to wait because the trainee could not manage two machines and could not fix mistakes and could not take verbal bets. Thus the punters were disadvantaged.
Many pub tabs use the same staff to run the bar and the betting machines. They are too often under trained, often busy elsewhere and thus disadvantage punters through lack of service, attention and ability. On the other side of the coin many pub tabs take the thing seriously have dedicated staff, good service and they are skilled. The hotel at the Flemington shopping mall, on Racecourse Road in Melbourne, has such an outlet.
On Tuesday 29, January 2008 a long shot won a race being run in Western Australia. It paid in Victoria $A68.20 for the win. The second and third horses paid quite high dividends. The favourites ran nowhere and the fourth horse was at a large price. The exacta (first and second in correct order was showing about $2,500 for a $1 wager. The trifecta for a one dollar wager was over $10,000. The dividend for picking the first four showed $2,400 or thereabouts. To pick the first four you must first pick the exacta then the trifecta and then the fourth horse. One might expect a very hefty dividend much larger than the exacta or the trifecta? Not so. The agency in this case Supertab paid a lower dividend because the pool of funds was lower than for the exacta and the trifecta. Thus they "managed or manipulated" the dividend to suit their own benefit. The punter was grossly disadvantaged and to my mind robbed. There was no indication that a punter picking all four would suffer a major, and costly, disadvantage simply because the odds are manipulated to the TABs benefit. State owned enterprises such as these are not governed by the federal government's trade practices and competition laws.
Australia's state and territory government's are reliant on gambling and not only do they prey upon the less well off, in concert with the licensed operators. they engaged in shady practices, tolerate poor management and sanction legalised theft. The lesser performing and attentive Ministers are given gaming portfolios. Write to them about this and they will be all at sea for an answer. They have little power in cabinet and are usually under the thumb of the major enterprises involved in gambling and under the thumb of the state or territory Treasurer.
Telstra was, until a year ago (2007), a government owned enterprise. The Board and the management of this company embody the corrosive and divisive mature of modern management ethos. They are an ignorant lot in pursuit of egotistical objectives defined by their own jaundiced views. They are aided in these pursuits by people who appear to lack ethical standards, moral compasses or basic management and administrative skills. Poorly educated in a narrow world of experience and ideas.
I have been with this telecom (for my home phone) for decades. Once was a time there was no other. Some fantasy of the government years ago and a bureaucratic imagination created a hybrid competition market, but Telstra was always a monopoly. Telstra has hired, what for me looks like, international second ranking expertise and has become more thuggish as well as stupid. Fat and ignorant would not be an over the top statement. Then again the majority shareholders may not be all that bright since they have kept these people on the payroll.
I have all of my web sites with Bigpond (Telstra). That is simply stupid and so I organised to migrate. I created them in 1997. We (Telstra and me) were learners. I pondered the early days of the Internet and who I would go with - the thug monopoly or the dreamers who think they can compete. Well I chose the thugs because they had a monopoly at the time. Bad choice but what else can one do? The prices are way over the top and the company are your typical boring rip off merchants with little imagination at the top of the pinnacle. Apart from that they are seriously ethically challenged.
Do they care? Probably not since there are many corrupt company board members and executives in Australia today. Does Telstra price fix too?
The Telstra Board, and management, spend more time, money and effort fighting with the government than they do on customer service. The CEO and his three chosen senior executives appear to control, the board. The Telstra board may well be puppets to the master tactician. To me they seem to be.
They never respond to correspondence, it is all done through the web site. Mexicans cannot read? Yanks cannot think and reply? Who would actually know. From my perspective the clown who writes and says that the very senior person asked them to respond demonstrates that the people at the top are spineless delegators and unlikely to take accountability.
So based on what I now think are Telstra's misrepresentations, in 1997, I built my personal web sites on Telstra's Bigpond. They have fine print. All companies that set out to consumers off have fine print. They, like many big Australian companies, no not many, all, have lawyers and in house staff and external spin doctors whose parasitic function is to lie subtly. Like all corporate snakes they are cunning. As I ponder what it must be like to create a web of deceit, I note that most people's existence is shaped by their work. Look at Telstra's human capital management here.
But back to the rip off by Australia's monopoly. Telstra people, as I said, were learning. If you pay peanuts... well.. But that is only true at the senior level. The peanuts inculcate. And there are a whole raft of peanuts at the top.
Anyway Telstra's idea of a personal web site, at the time, was a name, a picture, list some hobbies and a few links to web sites you liked. Simple stuff, not surprising now as I reflect on today.
Telstra is a company defined by the paucity of its senior corporate intellect. They assume a hubris regarding their position in Australia and the capacity of their management and Board. If you are a person who want to be inventive and creative I recommend that you do not use Telstra. I have migrated all of my sites to a US service provider. I only keep Telstra because of the Google indexing and I have too. I am trapped. It is my opinion that if Telstra, and their hubris consumed arrogant Board and management (at senior and mid level) were to disappear, along with the company, Australia would be better off. I wouldn't care if I had to trade a decade of effort and cost. Like the Australian government of John Howard I would be pleased if Telstra simply disappeared into history's dust bin.
Canberra, a regional town, masquerading as the nation's capital?
A place for public servants and politicians but not a value for money tourist destination and experience. This is the national capital and the standard of hospitality is indeed patchy. There are no hotels of exceptional quality and service. The only five star hotel in town, the Hyatt Canberra Hotel, struggles with the proposition of customer service and making one feel at home. Lounging in a comfortable room taking a drink before dinner I am told that "this is $500 hire fee room" and it is being closed. When I ask if it is expected that I, and my friends, go into the standing room only, few seats, very drab bar - the answer is yes. When I cheekily state that this is not a real Hyatt the staff member demonstrates a lack of humour. The response is "I think it is Sir". Well it does not feel like the Hyatt that I am used to. Don't like the feeling of the place, and the air of indifference, when paying $A400 a night? Too bad, it seems that complaining falls on deaf ears. I have tried that avenue, so now I just write them up here. I arrived to book in at the hotel at 9.30 was told the restaurant is still open. Sitting down you look at the food buffet. Fifteen minutes later at 9.45pm I am told that the buffet will be cleared in fifteen minutes and I should select what you want and load it on your table. At 1am in the morning loud band may bash away in the back of the hotel.
I have stayed at the Rydges (both), the Novotel, the Crowne Plaza (where a questionable very poor looking casino can be found)and the Carlton Crest. At the latter I walked into the restaurant with people at 9.30pm to be told that it was closed. Olim's Hotel is a an old world hotel where the service may be better and I might feel more at home. Will have to try it. What use is the Hyatt Gold Card in my wallet? All facade and no show. This is Canberra where the real money is on the parliamentary hill and there is no service or quality of substance, there either. It is not a memorable place except for the War Memorial, the National Gallery, the High Court, Old Parliament House and the National Library. The old institutions are the heart and soul of Canberra and without them it would be just a big country town.
There are two major supermarket chains in Australia, Coles and Woolworths/Safeway. They also own a number of lower level retail outlets that trade as discount stores. These two mass market chains are boring , lazy and incompetent. I often go into supermarkets and watch what staff do and what consumers do. My colleagues actually survey consumer attitudes and purchases. I rarely if every see a manager in the aisles and am never ever spoken to by anyone. The shelves are packed with variety. Cluttered in arrays of endless variations - lots of stuff no real presentation and no guidance for choice. Coles has been under the management of a Board, and CEO, who over the years worked hard, and very assiduously, towards trashing the company and its value. Not that it really had too much to praise in the last decade and perhaps two. The supermarket chain stores are unimaginative. They demonstrate the paucity of thought. Have self proposed, and media lauded, gurus of retail ever had their eyes open here in Australia, looking at their stores or at the independents who make them pale into stupid irrelevance? Do they not see what could be when they travel? obviously not. What is their benchmark, the hyper mart, the soul less US supermarket? Similarly at Woolworths and Safeway there is a dull clutter of shelves where product is simply stacked. The delis are lack lustre and the butchery reflects a boring soulless place.
Safeway advertise they are the fresh food people. Bullshit! This is taking liberties in the extreme and should be questioned by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The time from production/picking to shelf works against the credibility of such a claim. It is not fresh. And "fresh food people" - how would we know if there are people running these places if they are hidden away watching us never interacting? The choice and presentation, of the Australian chain supermarkets, is bland and mindless. The buyers of product seem to lack an understanding of the local market (area) consumption as do the local store managers. Perhaps the possibilities elude the Board, the senior executives and the store managers? Woolwoths/Safeway and Coles work to a formula and it is a crappy one. The farmers and factories do not get the money, the wholesalers, the middle men and the supermarkets do. They rip the value out and deliver mediocrity in its place.
Nearby in the strip shopping centres value adding independent grocers, butchers, fruit and vegetable, wine and other merchants ply their trade with imagination and zest. They make the kings of retail look like emperors without any clothes.
I have never seen a senior manager of Qantas in the lounge or airport talking with the customers. They too, are faceless like the supermarket management. How is it that Qantas, one of the world's great airlines cannot seem to leave an airport at the allotted time? I fly lots, so much that I have not had to pay for membership of an airline lounge club for many years. Not that is any consolation because they are crowded, full of people who should not be allowed dot be anywhere near such places and they are turning surreptitiously into retail outlets. I live in airports sometimes, watching everything. The food outlets outside in the airport charge exorbitantly for little value and even lesser service. There is no quality in these places. If people are waiting hours for a plane why is there no high quality restaurants and bars in an airport? May be like the supermarkets the managers lack imagination and information about consumers?
Virgin, cheap and all dancing gets away on time as does the cheap Jet Star, owned by Qantas. Qantas goes nowhere sometimes as planes are cancelled. On occasions I have made it down the runway only to have the plane stop unexpectedly and return. That was in Canberra. No surprise given that this airport, euphemistically named, Canberra International, looks and behaves mire like a bush landing strip. Qantas charges top dollar, serves awful food, and sometimes no food really just a biscuit and a drink. They tell you there will be refreshment during the flight. They carefully limit the dinner, lunch and breakfast zone times. Every so often they send me a questionnaire, because I am invited to be in a survey group about how well they are doing, what I like and how I think things should be. Running an airline surely is not easy and the complexity is staggering. The fact that they run such an iconic one is a credit. The arrogance and the disregard that seeps through the enterprise is not a credit. The Board, during an attempted take over (mid 2007) showed that they are out of touch, and distant, from the reality of the people who fly. Still, I always fly Qantas and always will unless they do not fly where I want to go.. These are no frills and no service and you are out of pocket if something goes wrong so there is a risk.
There is a decline in both ethical and moral imperatives in today's business world. Visy and Amcor, the dominant packaging companies in Australia engaged in price rigging. The most senior people in these large well known Australian companies stole hundreds of millions of dollars from the rich and poor alike, from every man, woman and child. Were they sorry? Did they exhibit remorse? It appears only at the fact of being caught. Fined heavily they escape gaol for they are the mates of politicians and members of the club. Theft is a white collar crime and it does not tarnish the perpetrator. Why would it when one looks at our Australian governments? In the parliaments of the nation and the cabinet rooms sit people who have corroded and corrupted our democracy and by example demonstrate that ethics is a no show against political self interest and the pursuit and retention of power.
The extensive decline in morals, and ethics, may well be a byproduct of the rise of individualism and the notion that people assimilate the perception of the power of the corporation into their psyche. It could also be a result of the down grading and corrosion of our institutions and the general tendency to mendacity and self grandiosement of people who derive most, if not all, of their influence, power and ego from their job. Who knows? In any event there comes a time when such people should be told in simple and compelling terms that society may well be better off without such commercial entities, and the people who work in them continuing in the fashion and ignorance that they do. An interesting aspect is the level of naivety and/or capacity for being unaware and the failure to anticipate what the the tactically minded response to their actions, and decisions, might be. They may think they operate in a limited, and controlled vacuum, where they think they hold all of the cards. Perhaps they simply do not think at all. In the case below a corporation manager has invited a breadth of attention onto the enterprise he is paid to manage and work within.
Angus and Robertson (ARW Group) is an Australian chain of book shops which has a mix of franchise and corporately owned stores. It has a view of its place in the market and a set of corporate objectives. I do not shop in these stores because they lack what I am looking for, expertise and knowledge, breadth of offering and environment. However that is my opinion.
In July 2007 the Commercial Manager of ARW Group, Charlie Rimmer, wrote to a number of publishing houses stating, inter alia, that some of them fell into the category of "unacceptable profitability". No doubt, a valid statement from his perspective. Mr Rimmer then invited the company, in the case below, Tower Books to make a "gap payment" that would move the company into the accepted profit range. If this was not done then Mr Rimmer would remove the company from their list. This is an interesting concept and provocative move. I personally wonder what constitutes blackmail within the legal precepts and also what constitutes unconscionable conduct under the Australian Competition and Consumer legislation - Trade Practices Act? Below is the response of the Director of Tower Books, Michael Rakusen to the A&R correspondence, which has been extensively published by Australian media.
"A&R dumps books: Angus & Robertson's demand that small- to medium-sized Australian publishers and distributors pay amounts said to range from $2,500 to $100,000 in order to have their books stocked in the chain's stores has brought angry reaction from the book industry and book buyers." (The Sydney Morning Herald, Fairfax Digital Entertainment Blog: http://www.smh.com.au)
6 August 2007 |
Mr Charlie Rimmer
ARW Group Commercial Manager
14th Floor, 379 Collins Street,
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Dear Mr Rimmer
We are in receipt of your letter of 30 July 2007 terminating our further supply to Angus & Robertson. As you have requested, we will cancel all Angus & Robertson Company orders on 17 August and will desist from any further supply to your stores.
I have to say that my initial response on reading your letter as to how you propose to "manage" your business in the future was one of voluble hilarity, I literally burst out laughing aloud. My second response was to note the unmitigated arrogance of your communication, I could not actually believe I was reading an official letter from Angus & Robertson on an Angus & Robertson letterhead. My reply to you will perforce be a lengthy one. I hope you will take the trouble to read it, you may learn something. Then again, when I look at the level of real response we have had from Angus & Robertson over the past six or so years, I somehow doubt it.
The first thing I would say to you is that arrogance of the kind penned by you in your letter of 30 July is an unenviable trait in any officer of any company, no matter how important that individual thinks himself or his company, no matter how dominant that company may be in its market sector. Business has a strange habit of moving in cycles: today's villain may be tomorrow's hero. It is quite possible to part from a business relationship in a pleasant way leaving the door open for future engagement. Sadly, in this case, you have slammed and bolted it. More to the point, however, we have watched our business with Angus & Robertson dwindle year upon year since 2000. We had to wear the cost of sub-economic ordering from you through ownership changes, SAP installation, new management, and stock overhang. In summary our business with you has dropped from over $1.2 million at the end of 2000 to less than $600,000 in 2007. You would be quite correct to question whether our offering to the market had changed in any way. The answer can be derived from the fact that during the same period our business with Dymocks, Book City, QBD and Borders continued to grow in double digits, our business with your own franchise stores has grown healthily, and our overall business during the same period has grown by more than 50%.
Six years ago we were allowed to send reps to your company stores and do stock checks. Then these were "uninvited" and we had to rely on monthly rep calls to your Buying Office. Subsequently even that was too much trouble; your Buying Office was too busy to see us, so we were asked to make new title submissions electronically. Every few months the new submission template became more and more complex. This year, we have been allowed quarterly visits to your Buying Office at which we were to be given the opportunity to sell to all your Category Managers. At the first, we did indeed see all of the Category Managers - but they didn't buy any of the titles offered. At the second, one Category manager was available, and again no purchases resulted. At the last (only last week), two Category managers attended. Through all of this, your overworked and under resourced Buying Department never got to see, let alone read, an actual book. While one may be forgiven for believing that Angus & Robertson is actually a company purveying "Sale" signs, I do believe you are still in the book business?
That Angus & Robertson is struggling for margin does not surprise me. It amazes me that the message has not become clear to your "management": there are only so many costs you can cut, there is only so much destiny you can put in the hands of a computer system, there are only so many sweetheart deals you can do with large suppliers. After that, in order to prosper one actually has to know one's product and have an appropriately staffed buying department. Most importantly, one has to train sales people of competence. You will never beat the DDSs at their cost cutting game, you will only prosper by putting "books" back into Angus & Robertson. And it would seem to me paramount to stop blaming suppliers for your misfortunes, trying ever harder to squeeze them to death, and actually focus on your core incompetencies in order to redress them. How a business that calls itself a book business is going to do without titles such as the Miles Franklin Prize winning book or titles like Rich Dad Poor Dad (according to this week's Sydney Morning Herald it is still the fifth best selling business title in Australia nine years after publication) is beyond me. And how in good conscience Australia's self-purported largest chain of book shops proposes to exclude emerging Australian writers who are represented by the smaller distributors, is an equal mystery.
We too have expectations Mr Rimmer. We have had the same expectations for many years, none of which Angus & Robertson have been willing to deliver:
That we are treated with equal respect to the larger publishers within the obvious parameters of commercial reality;
That your Buying Department is able and willing to assess our books with equal seriousness to those of the big publishers
and buy them appropriately; That you recognise the fundamental differences between the smaller distributors and the larger publishers and stop demanding of us terms that we are unable to deliver;
That you would support and help develop Australian literature.
Had you made any effort to meet these expectations you would have found the niche we should have occupied in your business, as have all other book shops, and you would have found our contribution to the profitability of your business would have been dramatically different.
In summary, we reject out of hand this notion that somehow, even giving you 45% discount on a Sale or Return basis, with free freight to each of your individual stores, where we make less than half of that on the same book, puts us in the "category of unacceptable profitability". We have seen Angus & Robertson try this tactic before - about 12 years ago Angus & Robertson decided that unless we gave them a 50% discount, they would not buy from us any longer. We refused. Angus & Robertson desisted from buying from us for seven months. We survived, Angus & Robertson came back cap in hand.
We have seen Myer effectively eliminate smaller suppliers. We survived and prospered but look at the Myer Book Departments today.
We have seen David Jones decide that it had too many publishers to deal with and to exclude the smaller suppliers. We survived and prospered but look at the David Jones Book Departments today.
David Jones and Myer sell other goods; Angus & Robertson does not. That the contents of your letter of 30 July are both immoral and unethical, I have no doubt. That they probably contravene the Trade Practices Act, I shall leave to the ACCC to determine. (Five percent interest PER DAY !!!)
If you wish to discuss any of the contents hereof you may call my secretary for an appointment at my office in Frenchs Forest. I shall be marginally more generous than you and at least allow you to pick a convenient time.
Tower Books Pty Ltd
Carpentaria, Alexis Wright : Winner of 50th Anniversary Miles Franklin Literary Prize, 2007
Copy: Graeme Samuel, Chairman, ACCC
Rod Walker, Chairman, ARW Group
Ian Draper, ARW Group Managing Director
Rickard Gardell, Managing Director, Pacific Equity Partners
Simon Pillar, Managing Director, Pacific Equity Partners
Barbara Cullen, CEO, ABA
Maree McCaskill, CEO, APA
July 11, 2007: The leader of the Australian labor party at the
federal level, Kevin Rudd, if elected to office in the
Australian federal election
will direct the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
to conduct research, and enquiry, into the price of food and staples in Australia, exposing the
drive those prices. As an example Mr Rudd wants to know why things are dearer in one state versus another and
why fruit and vegetable prices have risen sharply? How common retail petrol pricing works.
The price, and reasons, discoveries will be posted on the ACCC web site. |
The question is "why bother"? Choice, the Australian consumer commercial enterprise, known as Choice, already undertake these activities. Mr. Rudd is not proposing to give the ACCC pricing powers, and extra intervention regulations, except where existing trade practices and consumer laws are violated. It seems that this is a time and resource wasting exercise, on an already over burdened regulator. Mr Rudd's proposition reinforces the perception that he is besotted with summits, enquiries and conversations requiring a lot of work whilst limiting political risk and delivering questionable, if any, value outcomes.
July 9, 2007: Australian retail corporation boards, and their senior
managers, appear to be behind the times. Coles Myer is a vivid example.
In the most significant general retail outlets there is a
concentration in Australia on lowest common denominator.
These corporations employ their staff, from check out to store management, on the cheapest possible wages, and salaries.
They focus on the minimum resources they can get away with to service the customer at the
check out and on the floor. One only has to go to Coles or Woolworths supermarket early or late in the day
too see this perception as reality.
It would seem that they assume that the buying population that has little knowledge of quality. When you walk into a Woolworths or Coles Supermarket, a Myer store and even the iconic David Jones, Harvey Norman, Dick Smith, Target, K Mart, Borders, JB Hi Fi, the shopping malls of Australia. Retailing in Australia is primarily a mass marketing exercise focused on quantity and price.
This attitude to product layout, presentation and service is not limited to the retail chains. The major airlines Virgin, Jet Star, Qantas, the telecommunications companies Telstra and Optus, the commercial television stations, the newspapers, the banks, governments and the public service, are focused on minimal, cheap but profitable pursuits, before service and quality.
Dull, boring, plagiaristic and barely ethical, the discerning consumer might question whether these are standard traits of the Australian business and the mentality of institutions, governments and bureaucrats. Advertising implies that there is a focus on service and quality but the reality speaks volumes. The public relations agencies and the advertising consultants are about managing the message not the end result. They run the risk of being ethically challenged.
Want service and innovation? Then seek out small, private entrepreneurs. You will find a small number of innovators at Independent Grocers of Australia (IGA)and in the regional towns where tourism, food and niche offerings thrive. There is innovation in smaller suburban shopping strips and villages. Innovative butchers and green grocers. You can see innovation at the Palace Cinema chain which makes the cinema centres of the major enterprises such as Greater Union, Village and Hoyts look bland. The Europa cinema at Village complex in Southland shopping Melbourne and the Rivolli at Camberwell are examples of what is possible within the larger megaplexes.
The gold class venues which combine food and beverage with stadium style reclining chairs is an example of how some in the retail industry put price before product. The charge of $25 to $30 per entry (effectively the charge for the recliner) plus food and beverage is not great value. The confectionary offered at exorbitant prices might be considered a health risk. It is hoped that Bunnings, which recently acquired the Coles chain of stores will demonstrate the real art of retailing, food and consumer goods. This is however unlikely given Bunnings runs barn style retail outlets with shelving heights that require ladders.
The Australian media lauds average performance. They have no measure and their benchmark is based on a hierarchy that is parochial. Performance is not measured by external high quality benchmarks.
The Chairmen, and the CEO's, of these companies persist in their roles regardless of talent and ability, lateral thinking and innovative capacity. When they fail, such as in the case of Coles, they move on in the circuit of the closed clubs. They will continue to replicate the low quality ideas and policies they had in their previous positions. They are appointed by other Board directors, and by Ministers of Australian governments, who themselves are replicants of the system of low expectation. The shareholders, unaware of what is possible look to the competitor and if they are leader in the small Australian pond, they accept the performance.
One can walk into a number of cutting edge retailers in the United Kingdom, in Europe and in the United States and see the very point of this criticism. Not all overseas retailers are leaders, most are mediocre, as in Australia, but some are at the forefront. There are a minor number in Australia that are the hallmark of excellence and quality. They are small private retailers and shop keepers, few and far between. There are no large retail chains that are anywhere near them. The Australian consumer would not, overall, have a clue as to how they are being treated. Most are happy to wander in the bland, and lifeless aisles of Aldi, Woolworths and Coles, Myer and David Jones, where quantity and price are the benchmarks of the retailers' ignorance.
"Indeed, 79% of consumers say that ordinary people
can make a difference to the way big business behaves by
refusing to buy products ï¿½ and work in companies ï¿½ that do the wrong thing.
Almost half said that they make active decisions to find out who the ethical
companies are and buy their products (48%)."
Source: Cavill and Co Eye On Australia - Trust of Companies
You were ripped off when you bought your diamond.
The price is controlled and the regulators around the world seem to turn a blind eye. But do you also have blood on your hands, in your ears or elsewhere on your body?
| Diamonds are an example of political cowardice and the failure of regulators to
practice what they preach. The
price of diamonds is manipulated,
every day, and has been so for decades
even a century or more.
You may ripped off when you bought a "real" diamond in 2007.
Only a change in the market and finances can radically bring this cartel to its end. The market is likely to do it before the world's regulators and governments.
The diamond merchant, the store and the owner know how the system works. They are complicit.
You should have bought a man made diamond known as a zirconiam. It is the only "real" priced diamond.
The Australian parliament, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission, the parliaments of Europe and the equivalent regulatory agencies and the USA Congress and their agencies know this. They do not act. Why? Because the cartel is too powerful. It is worldwide and it is in every nation. The cartel is like a cancer and it owns governments and the elected representatives in those governments. One probably would not expect the USA, to act because it is probably the most corrupt country in the world in terms of exploitation in commercial enterprise and now, in government. Australia's government, under Howard and Costello, apes the American government of George Bush. Howard and Costello have not demonstrated the capacity to pick good role models that are worth admiring. Beyond the price manipulation is the disgrace of allowing people to die. The cartel built its profits, and governments who tax the cartel members, have done so too, on "Conflict" or "Blood" diamonds. Dead, maimed and displaced people are the true measure of the greed, and cowardice, of the western world. Instead of the hypocritical free world governments and the sleazy politicians who infest them actually doing something immediately, which they have to drug cartels and other cartels, they have come up with a plan. Why such derogatory language? Because there are laws which are not enforced, because many politicians in governments today express "faith" politics. Because there are 200,000 child soldiers kidnapped, brainwashed and taught to kill their own families by people who are allowed to live. Because the USA jails people in Guantanamo Bay who have committed no crime against humanity whilst letting the true killers go free. There are a thousand reasons why they are sleazy and not to be respected. But let us not just pick on the politicians. What of the businessman, the pious Jew who sells you the diamond? They pray in the synagogue and hold the book, and their religion, in public display. They profit from the diamond cartel's actions. They may, like every other national business man or woman, _ profit from the blood. Then we have the arms dealers, the US, Britain, France, Italy, every western nation and others like Russia and China, who all are in the murder spree, supplying weapons to assist the scum of a country, the slave traders and the mad war lords to kill their country men. Diamonds are the mark of sleaze, despair, brutality, inhumanity and murder. Diamonds are a girl's best friend. Thus the war mongers and the killers must be their best friends too. Diamonds sparkle but they are cold. They are the most prominent symbol of greed and corruption on earth for they have no utility. They just feed the vanity of the shallow uncaring.
I first built this Mosaic Portal on Telstra's BigPond, as a personal web site. BigPond included a 10Mb personal space allocation as a part of their web access plan. I pay about $A28.00 per month for web access and the 10Mb space and 24 hour support. BigPond limit the number of users and also the download and if it exceeds their limits then they want me to transfer to a "business hosting plan". They no longer allow this type of user hosting. I am told they maintain it as a courtesy. They have a family web site plan that allows 20Mb but is pricey by comparison to international providers. BigPond want a set up fee for a business web site, of several hundred dollars, and have expensive charges, and limits, on speed and downloads. The products from Optus for web hosting are similar in price and scope, showing little imagination and enticement. They have the majority of the market. They are constantly under the eye of the regulator. Both telecommunication companies are behind the times, compared to international providers in Asia, Europe and the USA, in service offerings and marketing.
In the USA I have a forum and a 5Mb space allocation with 24 hour support and I pay $A16.00 a quarter. There was no set up fee and there are no download limits and the speed is much faster than Telstra's BigPond dial up and broadband. I also have a hosting agreement with Bravehost. There was no set up fee, they provided me with ten times the space of BigPond, faster speeds and massive broadband and size downloads with 24 hour service for free. I recently upgraded to 60Gb of space and a bandwidth of 1.5Gb for an annual charge of $A120.00. Why would anyone in business buy a web site hosting package from Telstra BigPond and Optus in Australia? One would not want to compare their land line and mobile charges because again they are to my mind excessive. scope.
I would particularly recommend this (above) in a Harvey Norman store in Australia. I bought a HP photo smart printer at Harvey Norman, Highpoint, in Victoria. When I got it home it had no USB cable and thus could not be connected. This made the product unusable and under Fair Trading and Australian consumer laws not fit for the purpose. When I rang the store I was advised that the USB cable was an extra cost. The instruction booklet stated a cable was included but to check the product packaging. I went to the store. They had carefully whited out the USB cable in the contents box. No sign indicated, on the stack of products, that this product would need a cable to be purchased. The cost should have triggered and enquiry on my part. Half price against the competition at Dick Smith and JB Hi Fi? The sales assistant conformed to the modern Australian trend, I perceive that permeates Australian retail, in high volume discount stores (Dick Smith (Woolworths), JB Hi Fi, K Mart, Harvey Norman et al) - a lack of awareness caused by a failure to educate oneself as to legislation and codes which impact the selling of goods and services in Australia, namely the Trade Practices Act and state, and territory, fair trading legislation.
There is a decline in ethical behaviour in retail driven by a cost cutting - discount margin mentality and practice. The performance of sales staff is directly relative to the quality of induction training (if there is any of substance given at all) and maturity. No doubt the sheer expanse of product adds to the complexity of the education and training. One wonders how the move to casualisation adds to the dilemma? The sales person who sold me the item (less the bit needed to make it functional) probably had little idea what the consequences were when I proposed to inform Fair Trading. Harvey Norman sales staff and management, similar to my purchase experiences at Dick Smith, outlined below, may need some customer service training in legal niceties and compliance, but more so a lesson in ethics may be warranted. They join the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) and Coles supermarkets senior managers in the continual expose of the decline in ethical behaviour in Australia. One may wonder whether Hewlett Packard, and the brand name companies, actually care, as long as these companies keep up the sales?
In Australia the New South Wales Food Authority tested a range of food products for accuracy of labelling referring to the contents. They found a third were incorrect, with error margins extremely large. Particularly on fat and fibre percentages. The food companies immediately began to spin that they were confident about the accuracy. There is a danger when the internal communications specialists frame, and run, the debate rather than the CEO and the Board. This demonstrates company senior managers may be prone to risking misrepresentation. Australia has extensive federal legislation on food labelling.
Extract: Australian advertisers accused of corporate paedophilia
(AFP), 10 October 2006, SYDNEY|
"Advertising that exploits children's sexuality for commercial gain is on the rise in Australia as big retailers lend an air of respectability to corporate paedophiles,researchers said on Tuesday. An increasing number of businesses found it acceptable to eroticise young models for profit, increasing children's risk from sexual predators and robbing them of their childhood, the Australia Institute think tank said. Institute director Clive Hamilton said it was particularly worrying that the phenomenon had entered the mainstream and condemned major retail chains for jumping on the bandwagon. When family department stores show no conscience on these issues, or are inured to the effects of their behaviour, the situation is very unhealthy, he said. In a report the independent public policy research centre said children as young as three were being made to pose in sexually suggestive positions."
An extract from one of thew world's media organisation reporting on a publication by the Australia Institute titled : Corporate Paedophilia, Sexualisation of children in Australia, Emma Rush Andrea La Nauze, Discussion Paper Number 90 October 2006, ISSN 1322-5421.
Advertising to children: Is it ethical? Some psychologists cry foul as peers help advertisers target young consumers. BY REBECCA A. CLAY
Ever since he first started practicing, Berkeley, Calif., psychologist Allen D. Kanner, PhD, has been asking his younger clients what they wanted to do when they grew up. The answer used to be "nurse," "astronaut" or some other occupation with intrinsic appeal. Today the answer is more likely to be "make money." For Kanner, one explanation for that shift can be found in advertising. "Advertising is a massive, multi-million dollar project that's having an enormous impact on child development," says Kanner, who is also an associate faculty member at a clinical psychology training program called the Wright Institute. "
Are corporations consuming our kids?
In Australia, federal, state and territory governments have refused to legislate minimum standards and curb advertising to children. The reason is that the grocery industry, manufacturers and the media (who receive the money from advertising) are rich and politically powerful. The federal Minister for Health, Tony Abott, and others in parliaments argue that parents should educate their children and be responsible in allowing in what they buy, what they eat, what they see and what they hear. Rather than be cynical about the conflict of interest relationships from a political perspective I might contend that Australia's political leaders have not studied the psychology of advertising and the art of manipulation in detail. (Kevin R Beck)
Australian government services delivery
The Australian government has enacted quite strong food labelling laws in Australia. Yet the companies that sell products to consumers misrepresent using extravagant, and too often misleading and false claims on the front of the packaging. They are laying on the "low fat" attractions but do not highlight the impact of sugars and factory processed foods. Whilst the ingredients labelling laws are in consumer interests the Australian content laws require only a very minimal constituent component for the company to be able to use a specific description. For example a drink may be labelled on the front as "raspberry" when in fact it only has 1% of raspberry in it. Tins of vegetables are between 45% and 60% filled with the actual vegetable and the balance with liquid. Most companies engage in blatant misrepresentation in one form or another. They also alter packet sizes whilst claiming no increase in price. Some claim enhanced health and well being benefits for their high protein and bio - products when there are none.
There are many manufacturers who claim health benefits for their "good bacteria" when there are none. The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission takes little notice of these activities preferring to pursue a policy of high profile prosecutions. Meanwhile the consumer will be ripped by every company if they are not vigilant. The Australian Food and Grocery Council employs sophisticated resources to keep a tight control on the legislators. Similarly the large supermarkets in Australia are continually engaged in reducing competition and unethical practices with suppliers often requiring onerous conditions of production as a condition of supply into their stores. This thuggery goes unnoticed and undetected by the public at large. The politicians are persuaded by economics, employment in their electorates, cajoling, subtle bribery and veiled threats, to turn a blind eye. This is a practice adopted world wide. The Kevin R Beck Mosaic Portal web sites aim to inform and provide resources to consumers by bringing you the latest news, opinions and exposes for the country in which you live.
The leveraged private buyout has hit Australia. Qantas the icon of the aviation industry is under targeted takeover by a private equity consortium. There are a number of issues we could pursue in discussion but let us propose that the Qantas exercise (December 2006) exposes the under belly of some Australian business people and the ethical standards of some executives. I probably do not need to clarify, or decipher, what I mean to thinkers. However to the less imbued with nationalism, how do you feel about the public expose of "putting money" before the national interest? Is that what they are doing? Might we ponder that those who plan these manoeuvres have no ethical standards of the level that we might consider to be at the cutting edge? They have joined with a group to turn Qantas from a leveraged company at $A5 billion debt to a corporation saddled with debt. Why? To enhance the performance for shareholders? To add to the national interest? To add a contribution to the nation? I think not. They have done this to make money. Are they greedy and reprehensible? I think that the Board of Qantas, and the consortia, have actually misjudged the shareholders, the government, the regulator and the nation. Perhaps the Board of Qantas are secretly hoping that the shareholders will reject the sale of Qantas to private interests? It does not matter to Mr. Dixon because he gave his windfall of tens of millions to a charitable trust. That will matter if the deal does not go through to the charities. I actually do not think the Qantas deal will go through. I predict the Qantas buyout and privatisation (December 2006) will not go through. I do not have shares. I have a Qantas Frequent Flyer membership. I have flown the kangaroo all my life. That is some thirty five years since I first flew. I love my Qantas and it is an Australian icon. I question the ethical integrity of the executives involved and their commitment to the welfare of the nation. Self interest and individualism is the modern credo. Surely everything worthwhile as a pursuit, in Australian society, is not all about money.
Australian companies, and their advertising agencies, take a very long time to grasp reality and opportunity. They are not all that innovative, and creative, in their thinking when it comes to determining where the greatest level of discretionary expenditure lies in Australia. Their research seems poorly framed and carried out and their advertising advisers appear to focus on a young demographic when in actual fact the greater market lies in a much older clientele. The bulk concentrate their marketing efforts in a relatively narrow domain, the teenager to early forties. In fashion they concentrate on a demographic including female disregarding the older male. There is a black spot in their thinking, and approach, the fifty year old and beyond male, with high consumable income and very distinct tastes and habits, is rarely wooed except by a few discerning providers. Astute retailers such as Lionel Meerkin, Boss Menswear store in Glenhuntley Road, Elsternwick Victoria, American Tailors in Bourke Street Melbourne, and Henry Bucks (national retail outlets) and the older and experienced (male) craftsmen of clothes, and tailoring, get it. They are the smaller retail shops. David Jones, Myer and Country Road, and the majority of department stores and chain stores do not seem to be able to arrange their stores to create the delineated shopping experience. The Australian retailer Myer seems to have suffered a degradation in service under its expert imported (USA)management. When it merged with Coles the rot set in. Coles is a nation wide supermarket chain. One may well wonder what the advantage of shopping at Myer Bourke Street store might be against going elsewhere? The difference is the opportunity to be rudely serviced, to experience arrogance and disdain, to be viewed suspiciously if one is returning presents for exchange? There are far superior retailers, in Melbourne, than this American owned entity. The equity raiders are said to be interested only in profits. It is a funny methodology in achieving the objective to insult the customer. One can add Myer Chadstone in Melbourne to the list of poor experiences. My partner took a dress I bought for a Christmas back to get an alternative. For decades Myer has had a policy of returns with receipt and no argument. Those days are gone. The shop assistant said that they did not sell a dress of that size on that day. She had a hand written record. My partner had the cash register receipt and the dress in hand. The receipt was deemed to be no proof of purchase against the hand written record. What is Coles Myer's new motto - argue until the customer surrenders? My partner rang me and I spoke to the shop assistant. I pondered whether the decline in service, and the argumentative nature of the staff, forget the adage that the customer is right, might well be argued to be directly attributable to the Chief Executive's poor leadership or could it be that the Board's sets no standards? Communication, poor human resources and low grade staff training? The shop assistant gave a refund. The cost a future customer. Does anyone at Coles Myer care? Who knows.
There is no reason, given the public record of performance of the Board, the Chief Executive and the management, to continue to shop at Coles Myer stores, and supermarkets, in Australia. That would also include liquour stores and petrol stations. My Vintage Cellars membership, a Coles Myer entity, is to me not worthwhile. Independent Grocers of Australia (IGA) offer far superior service and friendliness. There is no arrogance, and belittling of the customer, there. Could it be that the man who runs the store owns the store? If Coles Myer sold out to equity raiders it would be no great loss to Australia. It may well improve the management and quality of the enterprise.
In the big retail outlets they lump the trendy, the quality, the boring and the cheap all together, in row after row of shamble presentation. We like to walk in see what we want clearly in a dedicated space, get everything we want in fashion across. We do not want bulk and nor do we necessarily bargain hunt. We do not want to try and relive our teens as the fools of retail and advertising apparently believe we do and some obviously challenged types with younger girl friends might. Porsche and BMW get it. Qantas gets it. The majority of Australian retailers, and service providers, do not. There is another thing. Quite a number in this older demographic do not want to buy brand names that are "Made in China". Hugo Boss has their clothes manufactured in Romania and places other than China.
Brand name marketers invariably choose to have their products made in China due to cost. There are long term hidden implications for these decisions. I, and a growing number of discerning shoppers, may not want to buy goods made in China. It is difficult on electrical goods.
China is demanding equal, and unfettered, access to the world trade organisation and markets. Yet it engages in protection through tariffs, artificially inflating the exchange rate of its currency effectively manipulating import and export pricing through low wages and conditions and controlled currency as well as piracy. China's under pricing over time destroys competitive markets. China treats their people as labour commodities and has a long record of breaches of human rights. Some people, and businesses, in China steal intellectual property through piracy and a host of other tactics. International patent agreements appear to be unenforceable in China.
Brands and Consumer Psychology - Australia
Brands - big bucks
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