Kevin Beck




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Ultimately it was all just hollow words (Kevin Beck) August 29 2017

NOVEMBER 18 2015

Commonwealth Bank of Australia is selling ethics as its point of difference despite its financial planning scandal last year, writes Clancy Yeates in Australia's Sydney Morning Herald two years back. Mr Narev pointed to priority areas for the bank, including ethics, which it hopes will help it retain customers' trust and sustain its high profitability.

Chairman David Turner rejected the claims relating to BankWest and told shareholders in Sydney the bank viewed strong ethics as a source of "competitive advantage" for it in the future. "We see it down the road as being an ultimate competitive advantage. We think we will be the ethical bank, the bank others look up to for honesty, transparency, decency, good management, openness. That is exactly where we are trying to go,"

AUGUST 2017 - Where has all the ethics gone, long time passing? AUSTRAC has charged Comm Bank with over 53,000 breaches of anti money laundering & terror funding laws. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority will conduct an inquiry focusing on governance, culture and accountability frameworks and practices within Australia's biggest bank.

Or be myopic and oblivious

Disclaimer: Obviously not every professional recruiter, or Australian employer, will fall within the parameters of the content of my article. However statistically, according to research of the human resources industry, and the history of performance of employers, and managers, in Australia, indicates a large number may. (Kevin Beck).


What is the basis and justification for the above assertion?

Robert Walters ( one of Australia's most successful human resource professionals and recruiters has produced research "Developing High-Performing Teams to Drive Business Performance and Engagement", inter alia, the research demonstrates that

· 63% organisations may be missing out on top talent due to inflexible selection criteria

· one-third of first round interviews are conducted by people who are not close to the role they are recruiting for (20 per cent said senior management, followed by 11 per cent who said human resources).

· Even if they are familiar with the role, the content of jobs changes very rapidly. In this age of ambiguity and constant change we all have to learn new skills and take different directions in our roles in timeframes measured in a few years (3).

Medium-sized employers were the most flexible in their hiring practices, with only 59 per cent requiring all criteria to be met, compared with 63 per cent of large organisations and 66 per cent of public sector employers.

Being too prescriptive in the advertising criteria could also dissuade good applicants from applying, with 45 per cent of professionals saying they would self select out of the process if they didn't meet all the requirements.

It is worth noting here that it is often said that women are more likely not to apply for jobs when they don't meet 100 per cent of the criteria, which means that those employers trying to increase the gender diversity of their workforces might think of being a little loose in their advertising around the skills and experience they deem necessary.

There were a small number of hiring managers (7 per cent) who say applicants would pass through to the next stage of the interview process if they didn't meet most of the selection criteria, but might perform well anyway.

These hiring managers may have been recruiting for jobs where skills could be easily learned on the job.

According to Robert Walters, as many as 63 per cent of organisations may be missing out on top talent due to inflexible selection criteria. The survey also reveals 32 per cent of professionals say the biggest negative influence on their performance is poor leadership, followed by not having clearly defined goals and objectives, and not being adequately recognised for high performance.

More than half say their organisation does not do enough to reward high performance and the same proportion of professionals say they are managed with a "top-down" leadership style (where leaders make decisions without consulting team members).

Almost all (95 per cent) say they prefer other, more consultative, leadership styles."

Go to Robert Walter's web site


To answer this question, I went in search of research on the probability that all companies are "leaders in their sector" as claimed in almost every recruitment advertisement. I also wanted to know how many applicants that a recruiter chooses are likely to be excellent and on balance able to fulfil all of the criteria demanded?

"Much of the strategy and management advice that business leaders turn to is unreliable or impractical. That's because those who would guide us underestimate the power of chance. Gurus draw pointed lessons from companies whose outstanding results may be nothing more than random fluctuations. Executives speak proudly of corporate achievements that may be only lucky coincidences. Unfortunately, almost no one provides scientifically credible answers to every business leader's basic questions about superior performance: Which companies are worth studying? What sets them apart? How can we follow their examples?......

We defined two categories of superior results: Miracle Workers fell in the top 10% of ROA for all 25,000 companies often enough that their performance was highly unlikely to have been a fluke; Long Runners fell in the top 20% to 40% and, again, did so consistently enough that luck was highly unlikely to have been the reason. We call the companies in both these categories exceptional performers. For comparison purposes, we also identified companies that were Average Joes. A total of 174 companies qualified as Miracle Workers, and 170 qualified as Long Runners." (Harvard Business Review, 2013, Michael Rayner and Mumtaz Ahmed, 3 Rules for Making a Company Truly Great)

Go to Harvard Review article

Hiring Gets A Failing Grade

"Most companies react to hiring situations as emergencies; that might explain why so many do it so poorly. When we surveyed 50 CEOs of global companies, along with a pool of executive search consultants who rated about 500 firms, we found hiring practices to be disturbingly vague: Respondents relied heavily on subjective personal preferences or on largely unquestioned organizational traditions, often based on false assumptions.

The executives we surveyed held widely differing views regarding the desirable attributes of new hires. They emphatically disagreed on whether it was best to hire insiders or outsiders, on who should be involved in the recruiting process, on what assessment tools were most suitable, and on what the keys were to successful hiring and retention.

Furthermore, 43% of the executive search consultants reported that their client companies considered the number of years of relevant work experience to be one of the top reasons for hiring a particular candidate, whereas only 24% gave similar weight to the ability to collaborate in teams-and an alarmingly small 11% factored in a candidate's readiness to learn new things. In today's increasingly turbulent business and economic landscape, in which, as one of us likes to put it, "even the past has become unpredictable," we find this neglect of a potential candidate's adaptability mystifying.

Assessment practices were equally variable (even within the same company). On one end of the scale, in 32% of companies, candidates for senior positions went through only one to five interviews; at the other end, 12% of firms subjected candidates to 21 or more. Shockingly, only half of the top-x managers recruited were interviewed by anyone in the C-suite. Fully half the companies relied primarily on the hiring manager's gut feel, selecting a candidate believed to have "what it took" to be successful in any job. What's more, we found that companies based their hiring decisions mainly on interview performance, paying relatively little attention to careful reference checks.

Given the ad hoc quality, lack of specified criteria, and inconsistency of practices among the companies we studied, it's no wonder that usually about a third of promising new hires depart within three years of being recruited." (Harvard Business Review, Boris Groysberg, Nitin Nohria and Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, May 2009 Issue)


I contend that many Australian employers do not look beyond the four walls of their business to think about their place in Australia's economic and social fabric and their job of employing and developing their staff. If they do it is at the behest of a HR Manager or Adviser, or a caring employer.

Some do, and they are small, medium and large but a majority do not. They reside in the Harvard's "Average Joe" category of business performers or perhaps even lower. In many respects, Australians can be very myopic about many things, not thinking deeply but more consumed with the practical tasks and process of their work.

Thousands of talented Australians are culled in the job application process before they even get to interview. A lot of these are older Australians. There are few, if any recruiters who would dare challenge the client's myopic perceptions and criteria selection.

The Internet has allowed all sorts of characters to become recruiters.

"So my message to all recruiters is simple. Lift your game or leave!" (Steve Heather)

"If you joined recruiting to make a fast buck with no responsibility and the only way you find out that your service is no good, is by having to continually find new clients (because the old ones don't come back) then I can think of another industry you are far better suited to!

If fast money is your over-riding driver you are going to be disappointed. The industry is professionalising and standards, compliance and entry costs are all also rising.

More specifically, if you think recruiting in the 'super lucrative mining space' is just the ticket then think of this:

Mining usually leads the economic cycles. Most generic industrial businesses are affected by a slow burn of economic and industrial cycles with things picking up and declining gradually. If you supply services to those sectors you can usually see the cycles coming and therefore plan for them, unless you live under a rock and your only reading material is Facebook!

Mining is different - it is usually great or bad, with short time spans between and is therefore much harder to plan for.

Lastly, about the only thing Mining, Mineral Processing and Metamorphic have in common, is an "M". They are not the same thing. You are going to have to invest in knowing more than just recruiting and search if you are going to be accepted and deliver sustained success."" (Mining People International, May 2013, Steve Heather, Managing Director & Principal Executive Search

Go to Executive Search


Then there are the corporate pressures on recruitment professionals. They may respond to these by working like real estate agents getting listings (applicant bank of resumes) and meeting demanded targets - risking volume over quality.

I think this may be one of the drivers behind the 6 second read theory of resumes and the use of robots.

On the basis of the Harvard Research, cited above, most recruitment companies and their client employers, are unlikely (statistically) to be in the high performing group designated as "Miracle Workers" and the "Long Runners". If the majority keep up their ways they will be lucky to be classed as "Average Joes". Similarly, the HR Managers in the corporate world. Statistically their choice of a candidate for a job who will perform is more likely accident or luck.


I contend that a majority Australia's businesses are overly dogmatic, and prescriptive, about the skills and experience they put into the criteria for selection. They seem unable to comprehend the transferability of skills and experience between different sectors. So, they dictate in the job advertisement that the applicant must have experience in the same industry sector e.g. banking, retail, FMCG, and the like. They then over specify the rest of the criteria effectively demanding that applicants are clones of the employer.


( Our ideal client is at the crossroads of achieving the objectives they have for their business... the point in time that makes navigating the right pathway forward, with the right resources, their critical next step - John McKinstry, Managing Director

"It is nem's view that the vast majority of Australian businesses are operated by owners, and managers, who are experts in three of the nine areas. They do not usually require assistance from nem in these areas.

In a further three areas they are not experts but are usually capable and have satisfactory arrangements in place for assistance from existing external service providers. While nem can assist and guide activity in these areas it is generally not where nem finds it can add the most value.

There are usually another three areas where businesses lack visibility.

These areas usually fly under the owners' and managements' radar, creating blockages and issues that are difficult to navigate through.

While the symptoms eventually become obvious to all concerned, the causes remain elusive and difficult to identify; particularly for those who are close to the business."

(Extract from
Nem Australasia web site

If the above is the case how can employers, their HR personnel or recruiters, assess applicants in the 6 areas where the employer and the assessor are likely to have no expertise?

Cloning, Cannibalisation and Churn Creating a clone criteria is like nepotism. Such myopia leads to an ingrained, and embedded, culture which is synonymous with what has happened to Australia's major banks. The culture is atrophied and now the banks are being confronted by Parliament and customers, media and commentators.

The employer's Human Resource Department Manager, in some respects, have put them in the hot seat. It is also unlikely that Australia's current risk averse management, and business owner, or corporate executive, is going to employ someone with far greater experience than they have. The assessment of someone being over qualified only has applicability if the role is low level and low wage.

Much of Australia's current process cannibalises existing businesses creating churn. It does not add value or expand the nation's talent base.

The advertisement invariably talks of "career progression", as if every applicant is going to be young and looking for the next step up the career ladder.

In the world of the public service nonsense, and nebulous, criteria apply. Being able to meet this below takes precedence over public policy skill, leadership drawn from the private sector and practical abilities.

Australian Government Senior Executive Service criteria:

Shapes and manages strategy

· Inspires a sense of purpose and direction

· Focuses strategically

· Harnesses information and opportunities

· Shows judgement, intelligence and common sense

Criterion - Achieves results

· Builds organisational skill and responsiveness

· Marshals professional expertise

· Steers and implements change and deals with uncertainty

· Delivers intended results

· Manages financial and physical resources in a constrained environment

Criterion - Builds productive relationships

· Nurtures internal and external relationships

· Facilitates cooperation and partnerships

· Values individual differences and diversitybr>
· Guides, coaches and develops people

Criterion - Exemplifies personal integrity and self-awareness

· Demonstrates public service professionalism and probity

· Engages with risk and shows personal courage

· Commits to action

· Displays resilience

· Demonstrates self-awareness and a commitment to personal development

Criterion - Communicates & influences effectively

· Communicates clearly

· Listens, understands and adapts to audience

· Negotiates persuasively

This sort of criteria, instead of being precise, and pithy, runs to many, many demands making the process cumbersome and often repetitive. I think it would among other things deter external applicants, keeping the jobs available for seasoned internal applicants.

The effect of this criteria, and insular selection screening process, can be seen in the current state of Australia's public services. "The Australian Public Service lacks the right staff, December 10, 2016, Sydney Morning Herald. This claim appears to be supported by evidence - the number of costly failures of information technology projects.

Academic institutions as employers, and big corporates, are to my mind similarly obsessed with over specifying and arduous application processes.


In addition to the use of nebulous criteria we have the narrow specification: "The applicant must have experience with one of the Big 4."

These are the Australian banks and the global accounting and consulting firms. Such a demand shows a clear lack of knowledge about the operation and ranking in the market place of firms such as these. They are not the gurus and the experts that their brand might position them as. They are just BIG. They are nothing more than big name companies with large employee bases that have the full range of human abilities working in them. Not everyone can be excellent.

The use of criteria as a screening tool also shifts the onus for all effort onto the applicant who must assemble a unique response and then risks having the "technology robot" used by the recruiter dismiss the application before any human reviews it. The assessor does not have to use too much mental agility or thinking. The "auto - no reply" standard email to tell you there were applicants who more closely matched the strict criteria. Experience assessment seems to be anywhere from as little as two years and up to ten. Which means older, and more experienced, applicants need not apply. They will only accept candidates that match the criteria 100% and who match the stereotypical profile.

It is clear that many recruiters do not have the ability or the knowledge to effectively distil a complex, and talent laden, resume particularly one where the applicant may have held a number of positions and differing roles in their careers as they transitioned between vastly different sectors. This is likely the case with the younger the recruiter assessing an applicant over fifty years of age.


How much research does the everyday recruiter in Australia, and the HR Departments of companies, do?

I do not think they do much beyond looking at their employer's world of work. They have little if any knowledge of whether their employer is actually the leader that they claim to be. Many employers and recruiters have no concept of how transferable skills, and experience, are nurtured and developed across time and career and sectors. Mobility seems to be viewed as a negative, some sort of instability, where the employer perceives it is better to have twenty years in one industry sector than diversity.

For that matter small to medium Australian business owners, and managers, similarly have no concept of how their business can be affected by only looking at the experience of applicants over the last decade or two and employing on this basis.

Younger recruiters have no experience, or knowledge, of boom and bust, the privatisation of state owned enterprises, that the National Electricity Grid does not really exist, or the litany of failures of today's businesses. They may see the name of a prominent company in a resume and for them it is synonymous with experience and industry excellence. Do they consider that the management of one of Australia's largest enterprises lost market share over five years to fall from being number 1 against its competitors and the company managers went on a three year retail experiment culminating in the loss of around 1.6 billion dollars as recently as 2016. If an applicant presented a background in marketing with this company would the recruiter be impressed? I think they would just see the FMCG experience and have little comprehension of the above.

Do recruiters look at resumes, and the companies named within, and consider that many in Australia have a record of fines from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for misleading conduct, false advertising, prosecutions by Fair Work Australia for stealing wages, by Immigration for selling Australian work visas, financial planners working for banks squandering, stealing and losing people's life savings or a plethora of big name companies selling zombie insurance policies that are worthless?

Dick Smith (Australian electronics retailer) was sold and then on-sold again and a year later it went into liquidation. There are many other high profile retail, building construction, real estate and technology companies who have similarly gone belly up. A major airline wanted a bail out loan of three hundred and sixty million dollars, and a guarantee of its debt, from the Australian government.

It takes a combined effort of boards and managers at every level of an organisation to achieve these outcomes.

The irony is that many of the people (employers) specifying the job criteria would probably not meet it 100%, themselves.

Big organisations are more likely to take a chance on diverse applicants, who whilst not meeting 100% of the specified criteria may offer transferable skills and deep experience from another industry. People who are talented can also learn easily.

Though invariably big business in Australia is owned by a multinational where the decision maker is tens of thousands of kilometres away in another culture staring through the lens of a CRM stifling the employment ability of the Australian CEO or Managing Director.

In one job advertisement, I looked at, the employer demanded that the applicant for "Senior Change Manager" be certified in the use of a proprietary change management software. This effectively placed a piece of technology over a highly skilled, and experienced, applicant who may not have had exposure to this software.

Part of the problem with this restrictive approach is that it assumes that the people doing the hiring know exactly what skills, and experience, are needed to do a very good or even excellent job.


Another professional, Robert Half offers some advice:

"10% of employee turnover in Australia is the result of poor hiring decisions with almost two thirds (65%) of Australian HR managers admitting they have hired an employee who did not meet expectations….

David Jones, Senior Managing Director at Robert Half Asia Pacific "In a candidate-driven market where competition for top talent is high, it is pertinent that companies put in place efficient recruitment processes. Even though misjudgements in recruiting cannot always be avoided, companies can minimise the risk of a bad hire and the consequential costs by reviewing and evolving their recruiting processes, making sure hiring methods have been adapted to recent market changes. Companies should also ensure they work closely with their HR department and a specialised recruiter to establish a well-developed recruitment strategy."

DON'T go it alone, consult colleagues on attributes and competencies for the open role, and work with a specialised recruitment consultancy to find the best candidates.

DON'T use standardised job descriptions, in order to make your job description more attractive and increase the right applications, consider adding more information such as company values, compensation, additional benefits and training opportunities.

DON'T seek where others do, source actively. The passive candidate market offers a huge potential. Many candidates are open for interesting job offers, although they might be currently employed.

Developing employee programs where premiums are granted for successful referrals can also be very useful. DON'T think the internet has all the answers, cultivate a talent pipeline by personally reaching out to your network and recruiting sources. Online tools can be valuable, but personal interaction is the most important aspect of the hiring process.

DON'T take too long, extend an offer once you identify your top candidate. Companies that don't move quickly risk losing good people to other opportunities.

DON'T' offer a low salary, offer a compensation package that, at a minimum, meets the market standard. Stay current on prevailing trends by reviewing resources such as the 2016 Robert Half Salary Guide.

DON'T fail to differentiate between must-have and nice-to-have candidate attributes. Identify the skills that are mandatory and those that can be developed. The goal is to hire the person who is the best match for the job and your work environment.

Go to Robert Half's web site


"Slater and Gordon's top brass who hold shares in the troubled law firm that were once worth more than $150 million are preparing to take a major bath as the company works to push through a deal in the next 12 days to avoid receivership. Two weeks ago the firm's advisers at Arnold Bloch Leibler and Moelis put forward a debt-for-equity swap that would see the banks holding more than $700 million in debt exchange all or part of it for new shares in the company."
(Slater and Gordon shareholders
executives face wipeout in rescue plan, Sarah Danckert, March 6, 2017, the Age newspaper.

This Australian law firm went to play in the world of listed law firms, charging into the UK market. What does their predicament, and loss, tell us about the quality and ability of Australian managers?

According to the latest Gallup workplace research, (2016) 50% of today's employees are disengaged. Another 20% are actively disengaged (in other words, openly miserable). That means 70% of today's workforce is operating under a cloud! The business implications are staggering.


What are the core factors driving workforce disengagement? Gallup says that managers from hell are the primary reason.

Poor managers are not only an obstacle to employee engagement - they actually drive employee disengagement. The net effect on business is huge - an estimated cost to U.S. organizations of $450-$550 billion a year. Yes, you read that right. The bottom-line message is clear. Managerial incompetence is not just annoying. It is potentially catastrophic.

The Steep Cost of Poor Management

Australia's management talent pool and world ranking is much lower than America so the cost would also be in the Billions here and we are seeking it every day.

The people who could run Australian businesses, governments and institutions are side-lined. Pensioned out, too old and not held in high regard by the modern-day occupants of high office and the employers. A massive base of Australian talent is wasted.

Australia's current power collective incumbents - Labor and Liberal Politicians, Corporate Board Members, CEOs & MDs are seriously blinkered & myopic.

They will not admit their failures and inabilities to manage and deliver.

Incumbent senior executives, and their incumbent advisers, refuse to accept that Australia can get out of the serious problems we face if we conscript the oldies who are still capable of contributing.

On Australia's energy supply crisis alone, there are many experts out in the community who built our industries but soon they will be gone. Many other businesses and government agencies might consider bringing back deep experience.


"Millennials in Australia no longer consider it the "lucky country" and are less optimistic about the future than their counterparts in developing economies including the Philippines, Indonesia and India. The international study also reveals Australians born after 1982 are more prepared to leave their jobs after two years than they have been in previous surveys…

The 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey is based on the views of 8000 people born after 1982 across 30 countries, including 300 in Australia.

Only 8 per cent of millennials in Australia believe they will be better off than their parents and only 4 per cent believe they will be happier." (Anna Patty, Sydney Morning Herald, February 8, 2017)


"I never really use Facebook to make long, heartfelt posts because I try not to bother people. I will this time, though, so here goes nothing. I'm sorry if there are typos and I'm sorry if I offend anyone… it's like.. super late right now as I'm typing this.

After the release about the budget, I'm really freaking out about the state of the country. LOL. Isn't everyone?

My parents and I are refugees. When I was a child, they told me that Australia is a wonderful country. It's a country where the government is kind and will look after its people; that's why it's called the lucky country. My parents got divorced, something very normal in this day and age. Being a child at the time, it was a big thing for me, because suddenly dad was no longer there and my mum was in a deep depression. We were surviving on her disability pension. Hmm… There were days where I my little brother and I would go hungry. Those were bad times, but the school came to the rescue and were wonderful enough to provide us with food (funding for that got cut in my senior year, I think.)

There was another time, when I was younger… in year 7, I guess. So, 11-12 or so? My little brother got very sick and we had to walk to the doctor's. I clutched my mother's green health care card in my hand like a lifeline because that flimsy plastic card was what allowed my little brother to see a doctor without the money we didn't have. I remember I scrounged up 10 dollars that day so I could buy him cough medicine and have a bit left over for cough drops. I wonder what will happen to people in my shoes now that you need to pay money to see a doctor. Seven dollars means a lot to a family in need.

At 16, I applied for Youth Allowance and got it! I was over the moon! I could buy groceries! I could help my mother pay for bills and going hungry would be a distant memory. If I was very, very lucky then I would have enough money left over to spoil my little brother.

I cried in my senior year. I was worried I couldn't go to university because I couldn't afford the books. It was like a weight was lifted off my chest when I was told about HECS, about the extra bonus that would be used to pay for books. I couldn't wait to go to university, to grow up and pay taxes (yes, yes… taxes) just so I could return the money to the country that has held my hand for so long. A country that protected me and allowed me the privilege of an education. I wanted to grow up and pay taxes so the money could be used to help other people in my shoes.

My friends from overseas tell me about how bad their country is, how heartless, and I would think to myself, "Australia isn't perfect. But at least it cares for the people. That's what matters."

WELL. That went out the flippin' window.

Australia's coat of arms is a kangaroo and an emu. I thought this is because they are the two animals that are unable to take steps backwards. It was meant to show that Australia is a progressive country, and that it will always continue to move forward.

Tony Abbott has ruined that. He's ruined so many core aspects of being human, he can't even be considered Australian. I refuse to consider him as such because no human being would destroy the lives of so many in the name of a surplus to fight against a crisis that isn't even real.

For as long as I can remember, I was proud of my country. I had faith in my country. I've lost that now and I blame him, I really do. It might be unreasonable of me to blame a single person or their political party, but… at night I worry about not being able to find a job straight after uni, of six months in limbo and having no money while I look for a job. I'm not a religious person, but I'm definitely praying to someone or anyone to put a stop to this.

Guys, it's not Facebook Likes that the government hears. That button does nothing but make people feel as if they're doing something. It's action, standing up and protecting your rights that gets you heard. It's screaming (peacefully) at the top of your lungs that this isn't right that gets you heard.

I know I'm not alone in this. I'm one Australian of millions who will be affected by the cuts and changes proposed for the 2014 Budget, whose lives were made better by a government that helped provide for our education, that took care of us when we were ill and had nowhere else to turn to. They gave us a brighter future when all else seemed bleak, and now we don't have even that.

If you feel the same way - share your stories too, speak up. So we can reach out to others like us, to move others to action, to make a difference.

So let's do it. Let's get heard.' (australia: the lucky country no more

16 May 2014

lip magazine

I read something the other day that made me think about the capability of our Australian business executives (all levels) and our many Governments, and the Labor and Liberal Parties, today and probably for that matter in the past decades.

Despite two decades of economic growth, Professor Mark Evans of the University of Canberra Institute for Governance and Public Analysis said Australians' trust in government and politicians are now at their lowest levels since 1993 - and Aussies' loathing of political "blood sports" is to blame.

· "We found [Australians] are interested in politics but they're not interested in the type of politics that are on offer in Canberra," he said.
(Katie Burgess & Clare Sibthorpe, Sydney Morning Herald, June 28, 2016)

Australia has not created a major world leading corporation in 100 years.

Despite our agricultural prowess and the self-grandiose statements of successive Government politicians as to the quality and capacity of our agriculture, there is no international billion-dollar agricultural company created by Australians. By comparison New Zealand supplies 33% of the world's milk.

If BHP was not in Australia we would not have a major mining enterprise headquartered here.

The most valued enterprises on our stock exchange are four domestic banks. Banks whose Boards and CEOs dabbled in Asian and United Kingdom markets only to fail and withdraw.

"Despite 28 years in the NAB family, Glasgow-based Clydesdale was the perennial wayward child, always springing surprises and never paying its way.

Clydesdale had been counselled, cajoled and castigated, all to no avail.

Full separation was the only path to self-respect, for both institutions, but the parent should have anticipated one final act of rebellion.

On Tuesday, with pricing for the IPO of 25 per cent of Clydesdale still to come, there was an 11th hour intervention from ratings agency Moody's, which asked NAB for financial information relating to Clydesdale's deposit rating.

NAB reassured the market that any impact on its cost of funding would be minimal, but decided to push back the pricing process by 24 hours so investors could make their own assessment; hence Thorburn's anxiety about Drummond's incoming call."
Richard Gluyas, February 6, 2016, the Australian

"ANZ has taken a major step toward exiting Asian retail banking and wealth management with an agreement to sell businesses in five countries to Singapore's DBS bank.

Australia's fourth-largest lender on Monday said DBS will pay book value plus $110 million for assets in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Indonesia.,br>
Chief executive Shayne Elliott, who is undoing much of ANZ's expansion into Asia under predecessor Mike Smith, said the sale represented the bulk of the bank's regional retail and wealth management businesses - with remaining assets in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines under review.

Mr Elliott said ANZ had not committed to further sales and would not be drawn on a timeline for a possible broader exit.

'This is the heart of the business and we're continuing to look at the other franchises,' Mr Elliott told analysts.

'We don't see a future for us in retail and wealth businesses across Asia and we will exit at the right time.'

ANZ said the sales' impact on the bottom line - including write downs and transaction costs - will be about $265 million." (Monday 31, October 2016,

One of Australia's major banks will be subject to harges by regualtors and an enquiry into their manaagement & culture, in 2017. This situation will be of their own making. Crooked subsidiaries, financial advisers stealing and losing people's life savings. Banks gouging at every turn. Bank owned insurers actively avoiding paying claims. Breaches of anti money laundering, washing loads of drug money, enabling criminals to shift funds off shore. A culture of management behaviour that is rancid and indefensible. These are the product of the management and employee traits of the businesses that underpin our economy and society. The bankers, and others in significant Australian enterprises such as Australia post, are affronted at being forced to justify their jobs, behaviour and their salaries.

"A lack of "self awareness" by ineffective company managers is contributing to Australia's slipping international reputation of corporate leadership, according to a new Australian Industry Group report presented in federal parliament on Wednesday.

The report, which may shock chief executives and confirm some workers' poor opinion of their bosses, suggests urgent co-operation between government, business, and the education sector to arrest Australia's slide to the bottom of international rankings of leadership and management practices.

The AI Group's Addressing Enterprise Leadership In Australia report said leadership was recognised for the role it plays in contributing to innovation through improving operations, organisational structures, new business models and design thinking.

But when it comes to converting research dollars into commercial success, Australia ranks 116th out of 142 countries and ranks last out of 22 OECD countries for collaboration." (Australian Financial Review, June 3, 2015)

"Malcolm Turnbull has called the chairman of Australia Post after it was revealed its chief executive takes home a multi-million pay packet.

Documents published on Tuesday showed Ahmed Fahour was paid a $4.4 million salary and a $1.2 million bonus last financial year.

A parliamentary committee revealed the salaries of Mr Fahour and senior Australia Post executives, saying there were no compelling reasons for the details to be kept from public scrutiny.

The documents showed another five executives, who haven't been named, earned between $1.8 million and $1.3 million each.

Mr Turnbull said while pay was a decision for the board, he did speak to chairman John Stanhope on Wednesday morning about Mr Fahour's package.

'I think that remuneration is too high,' he told reporters in Canberra.

Mr Turnbull acknowledged Mr Fahour had a big job overseeing a large government- owned entity, which had improved its operating business.

'In my view, I say this as someone who spent most of his life in the business world before I came into politics, I think it is a very big salary for that job." (Wednesday 8 February 2017, SKYNews Telstra Media)

The declining quality of Australia's leaders and management is evident when we look at standards overseas and our nation's ranking. However the truth of this and the awareness of the general public has been masked by the mining boom. It has been so for decades. Paul Keating saw it when he opened up Australia to the world. Yet today's political leaders and corporate executives prefer spin over substance, they prefer to maintain their interests and positions eschewing any notion of an obligation to build the nation. Their personal goals and objectives and those of the shareholders clash with the national interest.

"Over the last decade, Australia has experienced a productivity slump. Our long-term productivity growth ranks well below the OECD average, and significantly below that enjoyed by leading economies.

However, the reality of falling productivity and its consequences has been masked for most ordinary Australians by the mining boom, which has created created jobs and driven up wages.

A number of international studies have suggested that in many workplaces the quality of leadership and management skills can have significant direct effects on productivity, as well as indirect effects through their consequences for how workplaces adapt to changing business conditions and innovate.

A similar picture is now emerging in Australia. This gap is evident in official data on the ability of Australian business to introduce technological innovations, new products or services, or new management systems or organisational innovations. Among SMEs and in certain industries, the record is even more dismal.

Research on the take-up of high-performance management practices also indicates a paradox: while the types of practices that lead to better performance are well established, few workplaces adopt them.

Are Australians bad managers?

Why do Australian businesses have such a dismal record in improving the very things that drive workplace productivity? There are many reasons, but the quality of management and leadership in the workplace is a critical one.

It is clear, for example, that many Australian managers are seriously under qualified for the job they do.." (The Conversation, February 20, 2014)

"In terms of competent senior managers (readily available), Ireland (7.00)
China Hong Kong (6.94)
Norway (6.86)
Denmark (6.80)
Switzerland (6.77)
Netherlands (6.77)
UAE (6.76)
Canada (6.67), Sweden
Finland (6.50) reach the 7th to 10th positions.
Germany (5.59)
France (5.57) come 32 respectively.
Switzerland (8.74)
Finland (8.56)
Singapore (8.27)
Canada (8.20)
Germany (7.84) lead the way in the fit between the educational system and the needs of a competitive economy.
Ireland (7.45)
Australia (7.30)
(IMD World talent Report, World Competitiveness Centre, November 2015) TECHNICALLY CAPABLE

We built a national telecommunications company Telecom Australia), The Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Snowy Mountains Scheme, Tasmania's Hyrdo Power system, the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, the Sydney harbour Bridge, the Ord River Irrigation Scheme, Collins Class Submarines, Sydney Opera House, Adelaide to Darwin rail, The Kalgoorlie Super Pit, Broken Hill Proprietary Company, the Warragamba Dam, Qantas, the West Coast Wilderness railway in Tasmania, Mt Lyell Railway, Ferries that cross the oceans, the Bushmaster for the military and more.

Australians are very good at managerial, and technical practice, engineering, science, academia, law, medicine and the arts. We are a humanities and social science powerhouse in many respects.

We solve problems but for some reason we do not create businesses and we are not an innovative nation in business or government thinking and behaviour.

When an individual creates a world leading innovation (wifi and cochlear ear implants as examples) they are ignored and our best, and brightest, go offshore. The best, and brightest, of our business talent has gone to live in Singapore, Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Today we have highly paid Board Executives, and CEOs, in charge of what were once icons. Qantas, Australia Post, Telecom Telstra, Woolworths, Coles, David Jones, Myer, the nation's State Electricity Commissions (now gone, the replacements cannot keep the lights on) and others running our institutions who have it appears have never created anything themselves.

They are demonstrating a capacity to never create anything.

They rely on command, and control, management styles, much like the multinational companies that are also in decline and who are not the innovators. The employees are disposable assets to manufacture profits. Alternatively, employees are to be victimised stolen from and abused.

· 7-Eleven

· Domino Pizza (franchisees underpaying workers and selling Australian worker visas on the black market)

· Australia's two major retailers engaging in unconscionable conduct and business practices, unethical and misleading. Stealing from, gouging and threatening their suppliers in the name of their interests. They manufacture justifications. The most ludicrous being that such things are normal business practice in their industry sector.

"Young charity workers were forced to lick underwear, cross dress and take part in obscene cigarette rituals, according to lawyers suing the marketing giant Appco.

Key points:

· The allegations form part of an $85m class action against Appco

· More than 500 former workers have come forward since the class action was filed

· Appco says it is investigating all the claims

The shocking allegations are the latest to emerge as part of an $85 million class action against the Appco Group in the Federal Court of Australia. The Appco Group is one of the world's biggest fundraising agencies and rattles the tin on behalf of some of Australia's best known charities, including Surf Life Saving Australia and The Starlight Foundation. But its workers, sometimes known as "charity muggers" or "chuggers", claim they were overworked, grossly underpaid and bullied." (November 5, 2016, Australian Broadcasting Corporation News)

Go to consuming Australia


"WOOLWORTHS has 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,


Today's managers (whether they be Australian owned or multinational) follow the same methodologies. They use CRM monitoring and fera demanding more and more, public relations, spin and when required to survive, lies as their tools of survival. We are told they need to make hard decisions because the world has changed and only they can deal with it.

Companies that were innovative in the sixties manufacturing technologies that changed the way the world does business (mass issuance of financial instruments, identity technologies, hardware and software, banking and finance, smart card) became complacent. By 2006 they were facing a clean out. Rather than invent they turned to acquisition. They were, and still, are not very good at acquiring and integrating businesses.


"Do you remember the dark days of December 2013 when Qantas boss Alan Joyce was desperately trying to convince Tony Abbott's government that the airline needed a taxpayer bailout?

Well, you're not the only one for whom this dark chapter is ancient history. " (Sydney Morning Herald, Colin Kruger, June 24, 2016) "Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has dealt a blow to Qantas saying the federal government is reluctant to support the national carrier, as Moody's threatened to cut their credit rating.

The stern warning to Qantas from the government came as the national carrier revealed it would post a financial loss of almost $300 million in the first half.

Ratings agency Moody's placed Qantas on review for a possible downgrade to its investment grade rating because of its deteriorating financial situation.

Mr Truss, who holds the transport portfolio, was backed by Treasurer Joe Hockey in pushing back against a bailout for Qantas but has not ruled it out. The airline has placed unprecedented pressure on the government to intervene, asking for it to guarantee Qantas's debt. (Australian Financial Review, Anne Hyland, December 6, 2013)

Australian businesses of all sizes are addicted to government and continually has their hand out. Australia's state and federal governments are squandering billions of tax payer's funds in quasi voodoo propositions - business training, business export support, business R&D, subsidies and regional development. Everyone who has an idea believes that the government should fund its development. Australia's venture capital industry is small time. Small dime.


As our manufacturing disappeared our governments have continually justified their decisions and policies on globalism and the requirement to move to a Knowledge Economy. At one stage state government's jostled to have a Gaming App crown (Queensland) or to be the State of Call Centres (Tasmania) and NSW even proposed Sydney could be a financial hub and powerhouse.

The Internet of Dreams

Nations that are great, as America once was, were built on industry and manufacturing. Donald Trump won the Presidency on making America great again. Is he promising to do it on technology and the knowledge economy? With on line businesses and Internet fantasies? With a Government, Digital Transformation parrot promise, like Australia's federal government Prime Minister and Ministers that costs us hundreds of millions ending in failure? No, POTUS Trump is promising traditional industry revival - US manufacturing, the revival of the steel industry.

80% of Australian's are incapable of transforming to a knowledge economy because they do not have a desire for life - long learning inculcated in to them. They are reluctant to study and if they have to study and retrain they want someone else to pay.

With every loss of a major employer, with every impact of a Government decision, the hand me down remainders of Australia's two major political parties, particularly Labor, trot out the "training" and "'transformation".

Australian politicians and industry idea of retraining is shallow competencies delivered by charlatans and crooks who have stolen billions.


"What started as a bipartisan Commonwealth strategy to privatise vocational education and training (VET) by enhancing skills through a dynamic competitive market, has ended with allegations of corruption and malfeasance. Worse than that, it has resulted in the deskilling of Australia and $3 billion in dubious VET loans, part of an estimated $13 billion blowout in all unrecoverable student loans to 2017." (Quentin Dempster, Sydney Morning Herald, March 25, 2016)

Vocational education, the biggest get-rich quick scheme in Australia

· Michael Bachelard, Henrietta Cook, Matthew Knott, September 16, 2016
Sydney Morning Herald

"THE federal government says it is willing to consider a wide-scale audit of training providers to weed out rorting of the $1.6 billion VET FEE-HELP loans scheme with inflated course fees.

It comes as evidence emerges of massive pricing discrepancies between fee-for-service and VET FEE-HELP courses being offered by a number of registered training organisations (RTOs), with taxpayers forking out up to 400 per cent premiums to line the pockets of training companies with government loans, many of which will never be repaid.

The deregulation of the VET FEE-HELP scheme has led to a massive increase in for-profit, private education providers and an industry-wide decline in quality. According to the Education Department, just over one quarter (26 per cent) of students who enrolled in VET FEE-HELP courses in 2011 finished within three years. Completion rates for online diplomas were abysmal, with just seven per cent of students completing their course." (May 4, 2015,


"The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has apologised for a serious problem with its technology which saw critical systems go offline for more than two days.

Key points:

ATO's data storage systems are being slowly restored

No taxpayer information has been compromised, officials say

The ATO's affected hardware storage system was upgraded 13 months ago

The ATO's data storage systems crashed on Monday, taking down the agency's website, tax agent portal and case management system." (14 December 2016, News Limited)

"Computer giant IBM will pay more than $30 million in compensation for its role in the bungled census, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has indicated.

Key points:

· Attacks that caused 40-hour outage "utterly predictable, utterly foreseeable"

· "IBM have paid up and they should have," Malcolm Turnbull says

· Mr Turnbull criticises ABS, saying it should have managed IBM contract better

The Prime Minister described the four Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that caused a 40-hour outage inconveniencing millions of Australians as "utterly predictable, utterly foreseeable". (Henry Belot, 25November 2016, News Limited)

"The Commonwealth child support system, which is supposed to support more than 1.2 million Australian children, has fallen victim to the latest federal government tech wreck.

A $104 million project to replace the ageing technology which supports payments of more than $3.2 billion a year is late and in disarray, with about 3000 public servants at the Child Support Agency still trying to work with technology that was declared obsolete four years ago." (Noel Towell, Canberra Times, January 30, 2017)


Millions of dollars of tax payer money is poured into communities by politicians pursuing ideological and self-interest agendas. The renewable energy targets that have brought our energy sector to black light.

A national electricity grid, that is confected and manipulated as a market model that exist on paper but not in reality.

"While Australia's energy's future is threatened by a Mexican stand-off over carbon and renewables between State and Federal Governments, overseas jurisdictions indicate a more holistic approach is possible.

What can the UK and NY-ISO teach us about the need for a long-term Roadmap?

The first weeks of 2017 were marked by a spate of Government announcements of direct funding for new technologies.

The Victorian Government announced $20 million in funding for storage, that would include delivery of "…of a battery of at least 20 MW that will add to Victoria's energy grid". The following day the Australian Government made an unrelated announcement in support of large-scale storage, with ARENA and the CEFC to provide at least $20 million to support flexible capacity and large-scale energy storage demonstration projects. The Australian Government also flagged it may redirect financial support to fund High Efficiency Low Emissions coal-fired generation technology, despite a lack of proponents

. While directly funding projects or technologies may provide good 'announceables', these interventions also highlight the key problem. Australia's National Electricity Market looks increasingly less national and less like a market." (Emma watts, Energy Networks Australia, 9 February 2017)

The Australian Energy market Operator is incompetent and the National Electricity Market is gamed by unscrupulous operators.


The beneficiaries in these reforms and Government's claimed necessary community re-engineering are the "politically linked local government elected representatives, the local government bureaucrats, the Chairmen of the a myriad of Regional Development Organisations and Labor and Liberal Party politically favoured business associates.

The losers are always the workers and the majority of the people in the affected communities, the ones who trust the local community elites and political siren songs.

In 1991 the Victorian State Government decided to sell a power station in the Latrobe Valley to pay off state debt. It was a Labor government, then came the Liberal government. They sold the lot at a unexpected price, $30Billion.

It was the forerunner of Australia's competitive electricity market. What is that indicating to you? It was the slippery slope to the disaster Australia is experiencing today. The failure of policy across the nation, seeds sown by the myopic ideologs now gone.

The Latrobe Valley was promised nirvana. It never came.

Fast forward to 2017, a Labor Government in Victoria Australia about to force the closure of 22% of the state's generation, under another ideologically stupidity.


The state, and the federal government (I do not know why the federal government would support Victoria's mediocre state Labor government in destroying lives and communities) are both rolling out the tens of millions of public funds to be paid to the local elites in the Latrobe Valley and other connected, ones.

Funding to the Regional Development entity, is again an exercise in a sophisticated con, in the tens of millions. The Gippsland community resides on one of the world's largest coal deposits and could be an engineering power house as it once was when the Electricity Commission of Victoria existed. The political placebo is again rolled out, re-training and the transformation crystal ball policies of the Victorian Labor Party are once more on display.


Ethics can be dangerous to your career. The danger may come not from your own ethics but from the ethics of people around you and the organization of which you are a part.
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 unethical behavior because they think that “bad” people do “bad” things.

In many cases, however, wrongdoing is done by people who are viewed as good employees, good managers, and even good leaders. The real challenge is understanding why “good” people do “bad” things. One reason is that they fail to recognize that the problem they are confronting has an ethical component and is not solely a marketing or finance or other kind of problem. As a result, they often lack the ability to analyze the problem from an ethical perspective.

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.

Most individuals and companies do not set out to make a defective product or to engage in massive fraud. 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)

Once ethics guided the every day activities of corporations - business executives, managers and employees but those days are long gone. Today in Australia there are few role models on ethical practice and guidance for a new generation of decision makers. Our bank employees are found to be corrupt, taking bribes, rigging interest rates, engaging in fraud and deception.

Things are structured so that senior Ministers and politicians of Australia's governments and corporate Board and Executives can not be linked to corruption and illegal behaviour. Australia is a focal centre for bribery and corruption due to our poor legislation and attention to international fraud and corruption and the propesnity of our corporate executives to engagement in bribery and corruption. Our legislators must either be not interested or in some way complicit. What other alternative perception is reasonable?

“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”, C.S. Lewis

Mature enterprises, Boards, CEO and staff, government agencies and others should invite constructive criticism in order to engage in improvments and good governance. In Australia, in 2014, the reaction to criticism, or questioning, is too often hostile and reactive rather than one of engaging with the critic, turning perception and attitudes to favourable mutual respect.

According to the "caveat emptor" corporate Board Members and Company Executives, their commercial rights to sell you dangerous unhealthy or even deadly products, to drill for gas or do any other thing they want trumps your rights

Paper on money laundering, terror funding, fraud and tax evasion

Revised Wolsberg Principles - Read in conjunction with the above mpney laundering. tax evasion paper
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”, Elie Wiesel

Corporation's Behaviour Monitoring

Protecting the Confessional
Not the children

The Insight Foundation


A credit rating evaluates the creditworthiness of the borrower. It provides a measure of the likelihood that the borrower will repay its debt, which describes the risk of default, and therefore the risk of the borrower and the loan. This risk determines the required return on the loan - the interest rate. Because most investors are not adequately funded and resourced enough to adequately determine the credit rating of a borrower, they rely on the ratings provided by CRAs. In principle good ratings are supposed to allow for proper allocation of capital; while poor ratings result in over lending, misallocation of capital, and investor losses. Thus, proper credit ratings are supposed to make capital markets efficient and underpin strong economic growth. (Professor John Ryan)

Australia is now facing a threat to its AAA credit rating by Standard & Poor's. The S&P Global ratings lowered Australia's outlook to negative citing a combination of the Australian government's budget deficits and politics. S&P says that the global economic crisis of 2008-2009 and the end of the mining boom has seen Australia's finances weakened. The S&P believes there is a 1 in 3 chance that Australia's credit rating will be cut within the next three years. "Ongoing budget deficits may become incompatible with Australia's high level of external indebtedness and therefore inconsistent with a 'AAA' rating," S&P said in a statement." The implication made is that Australia might be unable to pay its debt and default? This is a bit of cheek from an agency, which like the others, never predicted the collapse of Enron (2001) continually telling the market how good it was.

Ratings agencies are wrapped in their conflict of interests, they accept money to rate a client company's financial instruments and health and they rate the capacity of borrowers whilst presenting themselves in another light.

On Tuesday, April 12, 2016, N. Balakrishnan published an article, which to my mind, puts the rating agencies (such as S&P) in the correct light. Inter alia he wrote:

Rating agencies lack credibility

"The US rating agencies such as Moody's lost their credibility when they failed to spot one of the biggest financial meltdowns the world has ever seen in 2008, and they are never going to get it back. The Hong Kong government will do well to carry on with its own "risk management", which has a sterling record of success from 1985 to now and which has endured the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and the global financial crisis of 2008 better than most of its neighbors. There is no question that the SAR government, whatever its other shortcomings are, is a better manager of finance than many other governments, including the US government, and a better regulator too. Its financial history of the past 20 years provides ample proof of that. It is not just that Moody's and the other "global" (read US) rating agencies made mistakes in the past. Worse, they do not seem to have learnt from the mistakes of the past and are still making the same ones now. The United States Securities and Exchange Commission of the US came out with a damning report on these rating agencies just a couple of days after Christmas 2015. It provides many details on how these agencies are still engaged in the same "conflict of interest" practices that lead them to issue misleading reports and to put a more optimistic spin on the customers who pay them to rate them.

The problem with the rating agencies is a fundamental one in that the methodology is almost designed to generate a "conflict of interest". The client approaches a rating agency and the client company pays for the rating to be done. In theory, of course, the rating agency can take your money and then still say the financial instrument you are trying to sell is junk. But in practice this is not how it works. Common sense tells us that you should not allow yourself to be flattered by those who have a vested interest in flattering you. Such compliments are worthless.

Unfortunately, the rating agencies still carry a lot of weight in the world, since the big funds such as pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and others are bound by contracts to trust the ratings of these agencies with completely flawed methodologies and invest accordingly. So an AAA rating from these agencies means that the big boys will buy your paper, whereas if you get a poor rating the big funds will not touch you. The people who manage these funds may know better from real-life experience but their hands are tied by the contracts. This is yet another example of why the international financial system, founded by the US just after the end of World War II, seriously needs reforming. (End of citation) Despite the evidence rating agencies are as powerful as ever evidenced by the U.S debt downgrade and the European sovereign debt ratings.


In 2015 US credit rating agency Standard & Poor's accepted a $1.38 billion penalty for its role in fuelling the subprime mortgage meltdown writes Professor John Ryan. S&P's settlement announced 3 February 2015 with the U.S. government, 19 states and the District of Columbia marks a reprimand of S&P which stood accused of having facilitated the overrating of toxic mortgages that was one of the causes of the global financial crisis. This settlement again brings to the forefront the question whether CRAs can be trusted, whether there is sufficient oversight to monitor and of their accountability. The weaknesses of the credit rating system are well-known and well-understood. It is not surprising that the ratings agencies have been heavily criticized for their failures. The top grade AAA ratings were assigned to large volumes of "toxic" mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations before the financial crisis that ultimately lost value. The modern credit rating system is fraught with problems that have already resulted in trillion-dollar losses and untold suffering by many nations. These problems extend to , corporate, and structured-finance ratings. The system has proven to be a massive failure and needs to be entirely overhauled. The reform must necessarily provide for more transparency, more competition, and more flexibility. Experience during the financial crisis has also heightened concerns that rating agencies' decisions may be subject to conflicts of interest. Since their revenues are predominantly driven by rating fees earned from issuers, there is a concern that CRAs devote disproportionate resources to chasing new business and rating new products, rather than improving their analysis of existing instruments. Furthermore, the revenue incentives of a CRA are such that ratings may be biased upwards (inflated) so as to meet an issuer's expectations and thereby gain or keep its business.

The fact that the issuer pays for the rating provides a strong bias for a higher rating. Because the borrower pays, not the lender, the built-in incentive is to serve the interest of the borrower and to assign a better/higher credit rating. This clearly provides a conflict of interest, as the interest of the lender is not really protected and the lender has no recourse for a bad rating. CRAs have also been the subject of controversy during the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis. They have been accused both of failing to predict the crisis in the first place, and then of precipitating it by downgrading the ratings of Eurozone sovereigns too far and too fast. There were other points of severe criticism such as with S&P's erroneous downgrade of France causing controversy. S&P sent out an email on 10 November 2011 just before 4pm Paris time when the European markets were still open. The yield for France's 10-year bond jumped 25 basis points to 3.48% and the spread between 10-year French and German bonds hit 1.7%, a Eurozone record. S&P's waited two hours to issue a correction, after the European markets had closed. It then issued a terse, 65-word 'clarification', blaming the mail out on a technical error, in a non-apology to a furious French government. Even though CRAs publish their methodologies, these procedures lack rigorous validation and peer review. Also, CRAs do not publish the minutes of their rating committees. One common source of inconsistency is the intentional use of too many factors, which allows raters to emphasize some credit drivers, while conveniently ignoring others. Thus, the CRAs do not consistently follow their own methodologies. Naturally, inconsistent methodologies can lead to inconsistent ratings. There is a need to strengthen the accuracy of credit ratings and reduce systemic risk. First there is a need to rank the CRAs in terms of performance, in particular the accuracy of their ratings. Second, there is a need to facilitate the ability of investors to hold CRAs accountable in civil lawsuits for inflated credit ratings, when a CRAs knowingly or recklessly fails to conduct a reasonable investigation of the rated security. Third, there is a need to ensure CRAs institute internal controls, credit rating methodologies, and employee conflict of interest safeguards that advance rating accuracy. Fourth, regulators should use their inspection, examination, and regulatory authority to ensure CRAs assign higher risk to financial instruments whose performance cannot be reliably predicted due to their novelty or complexity. There is still an oligopoly of CRAs which have strong market power but are deeply flawed. An increase in competition could increase the quality of ratings.

However, the proposed regulation concerning registration and compliance for new raters creates more, instead of fewer, barriers to entry. Issuing fines after CRAs have failed, for what could be a multiplicity of reasons as we have outlined here, may bring some political satisfaction and public support, but in reality it is too little, too late. Governments and regulators need to take decisive action now and introduce clear regulations and accountability in order to avoid a repetition of a financial market crisis fuelled by inflated credit ratings. Professor John Ryan is Research Associate at the Von Hügel Institute of St Edmund's College, University of Cambridge


Extract of an article in New York Times: "Eight years after these companies were found to have put profits ahead of principle when they assigned high grades to low-quality debt securities, some of the same dubious practices continue to infect their operations. That's the message in the most recent regulatoryreport on the companies from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The credit ratings agencies played an enormous role in generating billions of dollars in losses during the debacle. Internal emails that emerged in congressional investigations were especially revealing of the problems at these companies. "We rate every deal," one Standard & Poor's employee famously wrote. "It could be structured by cows and we would rate it." There's an entertaining - and illuminating - scene in the movie "The Big Short" that perfectly captures the pathology. As a Standard & Poor's employee played by Melissa Leo replies when asked why the ratings agency didn't insist on higher standards: "They'll just go to Moody's." But like many of those responsible for the mess, credit raters largely escaped accountability. They were allowed to maintain their conflicted business models, in which issuers pay the agencies to rate their securities. And their ratings remain deeply embedded in our financial system: bank capital requirements are still based in part on the grades assigned to securities these entities hold. (New York Times, Ratings Agencies Still Coming Up Short, Years After Crisis, Fair Game By GRETCHEN MORGENSON

Inexplicable Hubris

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?

Australia Woolworths retailer fined $AUS9 Million

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)

Australia being consumed by crooks

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 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.


"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."


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."


"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.


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?

Why are Australia's largest retailer Boards, CEO and Managers supporting and condoning contemptible and unconscienable behaviour?

Some in corporate Australia should not bet there.

In a series of articles I explore the quality, and exhibited values, of governments and corporations in Australia. I am trying to determine whether professional integrity, ethics and morals are in decline and for what reasons if this is the case? Is it due to a lack of education around ethics, dealing with suppliers, a lack of awareness of law, contract management principles and practices? If one treats one's relationships with disdain then eventually the relationship becomes poisoned. The level of contempt for principles and other people, exhibited by many in politics and business seems to be commensurate with the safety of the political seat held or the power the corporation has. It seems to be extreme in the food and grocery industry. If not education is it the pressures of short term demands by shareholders, performance demanded by shareholders and the subsequent demands senior leadership management put on middle managers and employees? Who in turn squeeze, threaten and exhibit unconscionable conduct and behaviours that degrade the enterprise? Do they know or care that they are? Is it arrogance, hubris and a propensity of management (particularly males) for gladiatorial displays and acting as if they are spoiling for a fight? This is indeed a perplexing set of questions and conditions.

They are nor frivolous because they go to the very heart of how we operate in society and whether or not people, such as consumers, actually care, how they got cheap prices and what cost to others? Given that politicians have abrogated any responsibility for demonstrating ethics, possession of a moral compass and attention to what is happening outside their rarefied world of privilege is it left to regulators and courts to question behaviour and maybe provide some of the answers? Harvard Business School posed many of the questions I ask back in 2011.

"Why do leaders known for integrity and leadership engage in unethical activities? Why do they risk great careers and unblemished reputations for such ephemeral gains? Do they think they won't get caught or believe their elevated status puts them above the law? Was this the first time they did something inappropriate, or have they been on the slippery slope for years? In these ongoing revelations, the media, politicians, and the general public frequently characterize these leaders as bad people, even calling them evil. Simplistic notions of good and bad only cloud our understanding of why good leaders lose their way, and how this could happen to any of us. Leaders who lose their way are not necessarily bad people; rather, they lose their moral bearings, often yielding to seductions in their paths. Very few people go into leadership roles to cheat or do evil, yet we all have the capacity for actions we deeply regret unless we stay grounded....... When leaders focus on external gratification instead of inner satisfaction, they lose their grounding. Often they reject the honest critic who speaks truth to power. Instead, they surround themselves with sycophants who tell them what they want to hear. Over time, they are unable to engage in honest dialogue; others learn not to confront them with reality.

The Dark Side Of Leadership

Many leaders get to the top by imposing their will on others, even destroying people standing in their way. When they reach the top, they may be paranoid that others are trying to knock them off their pedestal. Sometimes they develop an impostor complex, caused by deep insecurities that they aren't good enough and may be unmasked. To prove they aren't impostors, they drive so hard for perfection that they are incapable of acknowledging their failures. When confronted by them, they convince themselves and others that these problems are neither their fault nor their responsibility. Or they look for scapegoats to blame for their problems. Using their power, charisma, and communications skills, they force people to accept these distortions, causing entire organizations to lose touch with reality. At this stage leaders are vulnerable to making big mistakes, such as violating the law or putting their organizations' existence at risk. Their distortions convince them they are doing nothing wrong, or they rationalize that their deviations are acceptable to achieve a greater good." (06 JUN 2011, RESEARCH & IDEAS, Why Leaders Lose Their Way, Harvard Business School) I would expect that Australia's largest retail corporation, Woolworths, would be simply over flowing with talent and acumen. That the Board, CEO, General Managers, middle managers and category buyers, would represent the cream of the crop in Australia's corporate world. However my expectation is not borne out by reality. They are not the cream of talent in Australian retailing, far from it. This is the poster corporation for everything that is wrong with corporate Australia, ethically and morally. It is as if the whole of the company is infected with stupidity from the top down. It is the company that proves the Australian Industry Group's proposition to our federal parliament in 2015 that many corporate executives over estimate their capabilities. What is irking me is that these people occupy positions that more talented people denied a job might do and would invariably perform better. It irks me that the company HR employees, and the supervisors, sit in judgement of the performance of employees whilst appearing blind to the management's standards above them? I suppose in this modern day of management by fear, and obsequious sycophancy, a person will do anything to keep their job. Everyday people across Australia may experience the lazy, and incompetent management and supervisors, at their local Woolworths supermarket. These are the characteristics of my Woolworths store at Chirnside Park Victoria Australia. It has very poor management and supervisors who are oblivious to the proposition they are there to deliver customer service. They prefer to argue and engage. This is the product of the culture of the organisation. By comparison Coles and Aldi, in the same shopping centre, have supervisors and managers who excel at their roles.

The current Woolworths Board, CEO and management, are squandering the iconic reputation of the company and are engaging in conduct that is beyond questionable. It is antisocial, arrogant and low grade. A thuggish culture of threat and retribution. "A LEAKED Woolworths document has revealed the dire state of the supermarket’s relationship with its suppliers, while one senior manager has slammed the company for forcing staff to clean up for mistakes at the top. The revelations come as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today said it was investigating reports about the conduct of Woolworths and Aldi towards suppliers, potentially in breach of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct. The watchdog is concerned about Grocery Supply Agreements (GSAs) which “might give the impression that the supplier is not able to negotiate the terms”, such as requiring payment for wastage that occurs at the premises of the retailer. Meanwhile, results of a confidential survey that measures suppliers’ attitudes to retailers versus their competitors shows Woolworths’ relationship with suppliers at the lowest level ever. The 2015 Advantage Mirror Report shows Woolworths Net Favourable Score (NFS) has plummeted to 14 points, down 10 points from last year and 10 points below the average score of the top five. One senior category manager who spoke to on the condition of anonymity said the changes over the past eight years had been “devastating”. “You guys see the face of it at our stores, but internally we push our KPIs, push our vendors to the limit,” he said. “You’ve got blokes here like myself who have been here 20 years coming in every day waiting to get out the door at night. The culture is so bad. “Vendors don’t want to deal with us anymore because every time there’s a call it’s about money — getting more out of them for nothing. We know our suppliers are going to Coles, going to Aldi, because they work with [the suppliers for mutual benefit]. “We’re at the point now where we might as well ask them to leave their wallet at the door when they come to a meeting. It’s not a relationship exercise anymore, it’s like being a banker. You can’t continue to do that. The mental health effects are huge. It’s a blight on all of us.” (Leaked document reveals Woolies’ woes as manager hits out at ‘devastating’ mental health issues, SEPTEMBER 24, 2015,

Even as the above takes place the supervisors, and the HR division, of the Woolworths retail arm have the absolute gall to sit in judgement as to whether people applying for jobs can have one, or they judge internal employee's performance, whilst they present the declining state of their decrepit management practices, and behaviour, dressed up as "international best practice". Why is their right to meet a profit target any more important than the suppliers who put products on the shelves of supermarkets? Not only is the capacity of the Board questionable but the very essence of the company's capabilities are in every management division. Collectively the Senior Leadership Team have invested hundreds of millions in strategies, ideas, gut feeling and their own perceived capabilities and these have collectively failed . Human nature is that they cannot comprehend this and cannot let go, they believe they learn from mistakes but this is not evident. Now they publicly humiliate themselves with their ignorant persistence. I find it extraordinary that the marketing people have not realised that their "fresh food people" campaign has no credibility. Is it a flexible definition of "fresh" and how flexible is the definition? Very. Unless the local supermarket managers are going to the farms and then bringing it to the stores how is it fresh? Is it two days old, three, a week, two or is it a year? The apples are stored by suppliers in fridges for a year and they apples are coated. Coles presents a better quality of fresh produce than Woolworths does.

As for retailing, and marketing, lessons Coles supermarket has a simple loyalty card - fly buys - Woolworths has a complicated, tricky and non nonsensical, approach to loyalty and reward. It is as if they are detached from an understanding of human behaviour. Yet even as they lose hundreds of millions on their venture into home wares via Masters they continue to exhibit a low grade of management that is breath taking in its hubris. “The competition watchdog (Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission) has launched legal action against supermarket giant Woolworths for unconscionable conduct over its dealings with suppliers to urgently reduce its half - year profit shortfall after discovering a $50 million hole in its books. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission instituted proceedings in the Federal Court alleging Woolworths acted in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law to eke $18.1 million from its suppliers. ACCC chairman Rod Sims said Woolworths alleged actions were "extremely egregious".

"If behaviour such as we are alleging is industry practice then industry practice needs to change, suppliers can't be in a situation where they get arbitrary demands." "We were very surprised and very disappointed when Woolworths alleged demands surfaced late last year we were in court in relation to Coles and our proven unconscionable behaviour to their suppliers and that was all over the newspapers. The ACCC alleges that in November and December 2014, Woolworths developed a strategy, approved by the former head of supermarkets and other senior managers, to urgently reduce Woolworths' expected significant half year gross profit shortfall of $50 million by December 31, 2014. The case caps off a horror year for Woolworths, which has downgraded profits three times and saw the announcement of the resignation of its chief executive Grant O'Brien as well as the departure of its chairman Ralph Waters and a string of senior executives. The ACCC alleges that Woolworths sought approximately $60.2 million in so-called "Mind the Gap" payments from 821 of its Tier B suppliers, expecting that while many suppliers would refuse to make a payment, some suppliers would agree. It is alleged that Woolworths ultimately captured approximately $18.1 million from these suppliers to boost its profits.

It is also alleged by the ACCC that, in accordance with the Mind the Gap scheme, Woolworths' category managers and buyers contacted the 821 suppliers and asked for Mind the Gap payments from those suppliers for amounts which included payments that ranged from $4,291 to $1.4 million, to "support" Woolworths. Refusing to make a payment would be seen as not "supporting" Woolworths.

Woolworths representatives used a script to seek payments from suppliers within a four days of receiving the call, or at the latest by December 19, 2014, the ACCC alleges. According to the ACCC's statement of claim the company did this "without regard to whether Woolworths had any other legitimate basis to seek the amounts" and did so purely to boost profit "and not to promote the sales of their Tier B suppliers products". Woolworths faces fines and other penalties if found to have breached consumer law. Woolworths claimed its conduct was consistent with Australian and international industry practice to "engage regularly with suppliers over product and category performance." (source: ACCC accuses Woolworths of unconscionable conduct December 11, 2015, Sarah Danckert, Sue Mitchell and Catie Low, Sydney Morning Herald)

What shareholders think, access this link

Now despite the ACCC issuing proceedings relating to 2014 Woolworths has pressed ahead in 2015, carrying out the same practices? “Beleaguered supermarket giant Woolworths has this week demanded another set of payments from suppliers, in an apparent repeat of the December 2014 program that has led the corporate watchdog to allege that Woolworths acted unconscionably in negotiations with grocery suppliers. One supplier, who would not talk publicly for fear of retribution, said Woolworths buyers were asking for repeat payments of the Mind the Gap charges this week. "Even with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announcement a few days ago, we are getting [Woolworths] buyers saying 'because this happened 12 months ago we need to cycle those payments'. And by cycle those payments they mean, we got that money last year, we need it again this year," he said. "They weren't talking about Mind the Gap but they said we received this dollar amount off you last year, during December, we need to cycle that money again and repeat that money again." Woolworths' senior management was bunkered down on Friday and the supermarket chain was not saying anything beyond its comments from Thursday that it was "reviewing the ACCC claims". However, sources inside the business suggest Woolworths is preparing to fight the ACCC on the basis that its conduct is in line with industry practice in Australia and overseas. The supermarket chain is understood to be unapologetic for seeking compensation from suppliers in situations such as when product sales exceeded expectations. (Source: Woolworths prepares to fight ACCC over Mind The Gap scheme, December 12, 2015, The Sydney Morning Herald). Woolworths' Board and CEO defence is that such demands are part of Australian and International practice.

I am at a loss to understand what the Board, the CEO and the people who implement this practice do not see regarding their actions? If the supplier does not pay it is rumoured throughout the industry, and it is reported by suppliers fearful of retaliation, that threats are made. One says that if they do not pay and by this demonstrate they are with Woolworths then Woolworths will not be with them. Others say that the Woolworths employees carrying out the policy threaten that the suppliers will be removed from promotions and favourable locations in stores. Does the Board et al understand the theory and practice of relationships, good business and integrity in dealings? Similar unconscionable conduct charges were laid on Coles Australia by the ACCC and Coles issued a mea culpa and paid a $10M fine plus legal costs. Why do Woolworths Board, CEO and Managers think they are any different?

I am of the opinion that until our legislators enact laws that make the corporate individual, the Board members, the CEO, the managers and the employees who carry out these acts of blackmail using their superior bargaining position accountable and individually chargeable at law the message will not sink in. But putting that aside, what does it say about the ethical nature of the Woolworths Board, CEO and its employees who carry out these thuggish and unconscionable tactics bordering on what some may think is criminal behaviour?

Why can they not see that they are going to lose in the court and cost the shareholders millions and along the way they show us the calibre of the people they are? I am at a loss to understand the logic: this is the “international practice”. In South America the practice is to kidnap and demand a ransom similarly so in the Middle East and Africa, it is the practice to kidnap omen and children and offer them up as sex slaves, it is the practice for Seven 11 and other franchises to underpay and abuse people. Which practices, and what grade of practice, stay under the line of criminality, unethical behaviour or even plain stupidity? Whilst I may, as an outsider ponder these questions, I also understand the internal ethos of companies like Woolworths. I think the Drum on the ABC captures my point eloquently and succinctly. Arguments relying on the contribution of ethics to the welfare of business fail when there is a direct conflict between the needs of a business and doing the right thing. 7-Eleven franchise holders who exploited workers were doing what they thought they needed to do in order to remain in business. If the survival of a company depends on cutting ethical corners, then the temptation to do so will be very strong. Unethical behaviour is more prevalent in small businesses or franchises where profit margins are small and survival is always in doubt. It is ironic that the competitive, risk-taking, unregulated economy that many politicians want to encourage is an environment conducive to unethical behaviour. Big corporations are generally in a better position to act ethically. But their ethical probity can be undermined by a culture that encourages aggressive, risk-taking behaviour. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Drum) However, I am not commenting on a corner store franchise I am questioning the integrity and the logic of Australia’s largest corporate retailer.

Why is it that their Board, CEO and managers cannot see that their positioning, marketing and management is not cutting it against the superior talent, and quality, of Coles and Aldi Board, management and employees? None of this logical to me on the outside.

Maybe that is the essence of it. I am on the outside with no skin in the game, no reputation to defend and not shackled by all of the poor decisions that the Board, CEO and managers have made compounding their shackled positions. Regardless of the justifications or ponderings I am of the view that the Board of Woolworths, the CEO and the management and employees who carry out the behaviour alleged by the ACCC all lack ethical and moral compasses, Woolworths as it currently stands should not be allowed to operate businesses in Australia.

If Woolworths Australia ceased to exist in its current form the nation might be better off.

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 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.


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 ethicallly 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 businsses 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 sectorn at large.

The bulk of enforcement cost is borne by the taxpayer. Investigators are hampered by closed door business attitudes, secrecy and untehical 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 littlle 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 om pysical 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'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. (

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 supicion 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.

From: Milind.Sathye
Sent: Thursday, 25 June 2015 3:59 PM
To: kevinrbeck

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

Attachment A

Participant Information Form - AML officers and other staff dealing with AML and competition law, privacy and intellectual property related matters.

Project Title

Does regulation aimed at encouraging competition and innovation conflict with requirements for KYC, AML, etc.? Are the two sides compatible?

Project Aim

(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.

Participant Involvement

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.

Data Storage

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)

Questionnaire (General)

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
Financial services
Securities and derivatives
Foreign exchange
Funds transfers (international/domestic)
Cash delivery
Other businesses

" 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?

AML issues

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
Very Significant

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

Project Title

Does regulation aimed at encouraging competition and innovation conflict with requirements for KYC, AML, etc.? Are the two sides compatible?

Consent Statement

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 intangibles;

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.


Australian banks have speckled reputations. They are viewed as being rapaacious on their credit card and other charges particularly penalties for over draw, late payment or dishonoured cheques and transfers. However they have suffered their greatest humiliation through financial adviser scandals and foreign exchange. Yet that is just the tip of a cultural iceberg that threatens to draw the Boards, and CEOs, into a quagmire of unethical and immoral dimensions. The vast eranings available to Australian banking and financial executives, though not on a scale of Wall Street, and the pressures to make budget everywhere, including at the front counter, is involving greater risk.

Testosterone runs high in the males of the profession who relish competition like some sort of suit qwearing gladiaator. Their competitive drve gets out of control.

The Boards of the enterprises are grappling with how to ameliorate their excesses without stifling them. Many lack ethical dimensions and moral compasses.

Add to this dillemma our regulator the Australian Securities and Investments Commission is not a stellar performer among Australian government agencies. Lacking expertise to investigate such complex industries, it is plagued by a culture averse to risk, and lack of enquiry. The Australian government, through Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, has demonstrated no awareness of this high risk situation and thus there is no strategy to address this dangerous inadequacy.


What will Wesfarmer's Richard Goyder say about slave labour in Australia?>

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

Slaving away: 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 unethical advisers will tell their poolitical bosees and their corproate bosses and clients that most people will not hear about it, will not care. The ill informed will say that the migrants shouldn't be here taking Australian jobs. They 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 kave read the rito act, but in the end they are not the employer. The federal government will wait until the budget swamps it all from memory. Will you still buy from the "fresh food" people?

Richard Goyder's mea culpa sets an etghical tone unmatched by his Australian corporate busines peers

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.

Orix CEO charged with money laundering

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 Amatil’s 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. “The charges relate to four large deposits made into a bank account in June 2014 and February 2015 totalling $504,900,” the statement says. “Police 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 haven’t ruled out further arrests.” (Source: Daily Telegraph Sydney Australia, APRIL 03, 2015


Australia'ss Labor and Liberal Government(s) Ministers rarely if ever deal with the decline in ethics and grooth of corruption in their portfolios, practively. 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. Advertisement 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 lettoong down residents", Chief Executive of Baptist run aged care home in Queensland Australia, Jon Campbell. He is noot deply sorry, the inanimate entity 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:"

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:

"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 facility’s 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 “deeply concerning” and Quality Agency assessors were on-site to review the facility’s 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 department’s 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.

“Any kind of mistreatment of older Australians in the care of an aged care facility is completely unacceptable,” 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, By Australian Ageing Agenda on February 18, 2015 in Government, Industry,

Reatiler Coles Australia got off lightly
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"?


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.

Australia's Corporate Bosses, Managers and the Political Class should get a dose of Ëthic which may be more contemporary at your time of reading.

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)

Paper on money laundering, terror funding, fraud and tax evasion

Australian government agencies
Wasting Hundreds of Millions
on multicard contracts

Revised Wolsberg Principles
Read in conjunction with the paper on money laundering

Fraud in Australian Medicarea and Pharmaceuticals


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 – 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" – 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 – 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’s two largest 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: 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 ‘free range’ 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 “free range” 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 program’s 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 returns. Go to Choice Australia
Comparison Web Site

REEBOK FINED BY AUSTRALIA'S FEDERAL COURT "Reebok fined $350,000 for falsely claiming their EasyTone shoes will tone your legs and butt The Federal Court ordered Reebok Australia to issue $35 refunds to customers who bought the shoes from September 2011 to February 2013 Advertisements for the shoes claimed they could tone calves by 11 per cent, hamstrings by 11 per cent and buttocks by 28 per cent Promotions continued to be publicised after Reebok international was fined $25 million by the US Federal Trade Commission in September 2011 Source: By LILLIAN RADULOVA FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA".

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.

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 ­companies 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 allegation’s seriousness, the ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, which could run to as high as $10 million or 10 per cent of each company’s annual turn­over, 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 don’t 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.

Leighton insiders stole and leaked secret tender documents

"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)

RBA in Saddam notes deal
A Reserve Bank of Australia subsidiary used a frontman to liaise with Saddam ­Hussein’s brother-in-law in an illegal effort to supply plastic bank notes to the Iraqi government while it was subject to United Nations sanctions, according to confidential RBA files. Two whistle-blowers who became police witnesses in the Reserve Bank-note bribery scandal have also broken their silence about the failure of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to investigate the directors of two allegedly corrupt RBA ­companies, Note Printing Australia and Securency. In 2011, Securency and Note Printing were charged by the federal police with bribery offences related to alleged payments to overseas officials. Court orders prevent recent developments regarding the charges against the companies from being reported. (Source: Australian Financial Review, PUBLISHED: 30 SEP 2013)

Papers refute RBA chief

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)

RBA defends Stevens over corruption claims

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?

Joseph Turow summarises how marketers are using new technologies "to make it "harder than ever for audiences to escape, and resist, their advances."

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

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Kevin Beck's Current Commentary and Articles

August 2013: What do you know about Trans Pacific Partnerships?

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."

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Canadian groups demand end to secrecy, BY COUNCIL OF CANADIANS | AUGUST 23, 2013

Ottawa – 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."

July 2013: Australia's Biggest Fast Fashion Retailers Misjudge Their Customers and Investors

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.

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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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.

"decommodification˜occurs 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 résumé, 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 Sokolícková, 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: ˜The Power of Ideas collects ˜theoretical 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 ˜capability 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 generations” 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

Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, STIGLITZ, SEN, FITOUSSI, 2008-2010)

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 citizen 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,

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.

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. Businesses that are smart use mechanisms that can be argued, and justified, but which have an impact on the fortunes of the suppliers of food and groceries. Obvious mechanisms like placement on shelves, delaying supply orders, the imposition of onerous health and safety, and other external, regulatory controls on the suppliers, packaging and crating, demanding just in time supply, holding deliveries somewhere, special transport, and warehousing, delayed payments and a myriad of other seemingly normal, and sly, mechanisms may be used. All the while the spokespersons, and the marketing machines, of the corporations paint a different picture, one of responsible corporate citizenship and the "consumer's friend".

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?


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?


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?...

"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: 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.


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)



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


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:, Anger spills over at airport JAYNE RICKARD and MEGAN BAILEY, The West Australian October 31, 2011, 2:47 am)


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)


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.


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)


Across the world a movement of protesters is occupying public spaces. There is a common theme "we are the 99%". Their placards decry "the greedy corporation". The majority of medium, big business, politicians and governments and those who control decisions, and wealth, could care less. The power collective (a nebulous conglomeration) have manipulated and distorted the market to suit their objectives. Along the way they have corroded and corrupted almost every aspect of modern society. The ballooning crisis of debt in banks, and the failure, within governments, seems of little concern to the Wall Street lot and the companies making massive profits. Shareholders are greedy and they will demand their rewards all too often turning a blind eye or being powerless themselves. They have to participate. Within some financial groups management are creating ethical operations.

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.


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.


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.


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, 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. 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.

human resources

Federal Parliament and Personal Agendas

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

HEALTH: Preferred Provider Scheme promotes corruption, distortion, over servicing and fraud in Australian Health Services

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)


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,

"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,,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)” 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 ˜Was/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 above 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)

Health Minister Roxon Ignores Fraud Level And Approves Rate Rise for Private Health Insurance

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.


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,

"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 “ a $129.95 broadband setup fee and a $20 home telephone deposit“ 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)

Carbon pricing will cripple the Australian consumer and reduce the economic cake

Click Here


In the mid nineties Qantas Board and management, in my view, embarked on a destructive path. They embraced economic rationalism. Qantas launched a budget airline, Jet Star, besotted by the retail strategy of having stores that catered for all tastes and incomes. A stupidity entered the market. The proposition that air travel should be cheap and that quality could be delivered at any price, including $A1.00. We see the signs everywhere, nothing over $A20.00, the Reject Shop, the $A2.00 shop. bean counters have taken control of many companies and thus we see, in Qantas the outcomes of such philosophies.

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.

Star 21, an Australian telecommunications company based in Victoria, ran an advertisement during the AFL Grand Final, on October 2, 2010, a dostly exercise, extolling that they had won the Telstra dealer of the year award. It did not state that the award was for Victoria and Tasmania only , but that is not important. What intrigues me is that the company thinks that the ordinary consumer gives a toss. The most number of complaints received by Australia's various consumer regulators are about telcos and Telstra is up there amongst the top of the list.

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 “ 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)


cartoons courtesy of Sangrea: click

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

Australia : Coles versus Woolworths

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)

The great Australian mobile broadband rip-off

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, (

(Commentary by Kevin R Beck, I am a multi- company, multi - product user. I have an ISP account with Telstra Big Pond, and the Mosaic Portal web sites are hosted on Telstra. I have a mobile internet access for travelling, with Telstra. I have an inhouse fast cable broadband mobile telephony and internet wireless network in my residence and a mobile phone originally with Optus.

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.

The Great Ocean Road, Victoria Australia, is one of the those stunning drives along a country's coast line. This road, starting from just past Anglesea, runs to Warrnambool along the rugged wild of the Great Southern Ocean. Steeped in history (ship wrecks) and gallant stories it is a highly recommended destination. Pity that the hospitality traders and merchants do not match the sheer quality and reward that nature gives. Read the full commentary here.

There is an escalation of telling lies and engaging in misrepresentation in Australian political, corporate and social life. Commercial media engage in sensationalism and boostering. The trend is being embraced, wholeheartedly by the modern manager and worker. The spin doctors, public relations specialists and those who want an audience. It has been in the Australian grocery and goods game for a long time.

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




"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:

Policy and process corrosion and corruption, by Australian political parties and governments
Extremely worrying matters of public service management and performance.

Political polls in Australia - do you believe them?
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,

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:

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:


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:

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.


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:

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,

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,

" 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,

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,

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,

Read this:

"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 -

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. The Herald Sun reports:

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/)

ALDI'S growth in Australia is stymied by deliberate policy, corruption and collusion

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.


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),

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.


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.

Australian Media at the Cross Roads

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.

The Mediocrity of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

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.

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.


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,, 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 environment 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 efficiencies and buying power 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 competition and claims Australia has the worlds most competitive retail market. (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.


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

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.

Woolworths/Safeway and Coles

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.


Annus 2007: Responding to the arrogance and victimisation metred out by corporations

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:

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.

Michael Rakusin
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 mechanisms that 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 “ and work in companies “ 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.

Telstra and Optus Services in Australia Are Poor Value for Money in 2006

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.

Read the packaging on a Hewlett Packard Product

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.

How many people are "Anti Made in 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.

Australian Sites
Brands and Consumer Psychology - Australia
Generic v Brand
Brands - big bucks
politics and market power
Not Good Enough (Australian Consumer Story Site)
Consumer reviews multi products and services
Australian Consumers' Association
Energy Supply Association of Australia
Social Services Australia
Consumer Protection Australia
Consumer rights and protection across Australia
business obligations, industry regulation and pricing,state authorities and anti-competitive behaviour
Accountability and Public Record Keeping
Public Interest Australia
Australian Consumer Rights (Laws, Regulatory Authority & Complaints Mechanism)
Consumer On Line New Zealand
Consumer Magazines (News and Policy)
Middle East Directory
Consumer Rights In South Africa
Consumer service organisations
in South Africa




The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has accused Australian retailer Coles of having engaged in unconscionable conduct towards as many as 200 small suppliers, "highly orchestrated and organised" and "beyond the bounds of normal commercial behaviour". Coles says it will vigorously defend the case, but if found guilty on each of the 200 counts, it faces a fine of more than $200 million. It is purported that Coles created a revenue generating tactic of charging suppliers for costs within its own logistics chain calling it Coles Active Retail Collaboration Program. Coles claimed that because the changes also benefited suppliers, the suppliers should pay Coles additional rebates, based on a percentage of sales. The ACCC alleges that Coles supplied misleading information to the suppliers about the value of the savings that would accrue to them from the changes, and that it had no legitimate basis for insisting on rebates. The ACCC alleges that those suppliers which declined demands were reminded that there would be consequences, including the review of supply arrangements and shelf allocation. When a supplier refused the matter was escalted up the chain of command. Many in Australian retailing and supply believe that the big retail companies remove products or relocate them in stores to have a dterimental impact on the small businesses.

The Chairman of Wesfarmers, who own Coles, expressed admiration and support for the Coles CEO. Thus Wesfarmers Chair, and Board, are tied to the outcome. There are those, including myself, who believe that Coles, and Woolworths, should be forced to divest their duopoly control (80%) of grocery, fuel and liquour in Australia, in the national interest. The case will take two years at least and I think that the lawyers, spin doctors and the benders and shapers of Coles management structure will be in full gear doing what they do best. The management of Coles and its woners are to my mind, and this is a personal view, just another low grade enterprise lot corroding Australia's big business sector reputation.


It is only in the past year that the Australian government, and many corporation executives with business operations overseas learned to take the payment of bribes to public offcials seriously.

Our legislators, and by default, our key governments agencies looked upon these bribes as "facilitation payments", the price of doing business in certain countries. Our internatonal laws, puportedly mirroring international laws, had an out clause.

Behind the scenes they still do regard them as facilitation and many take steps to cover up the trail using agents.

However pressure and expose and threats of legal sanction from the United Kingdom, USA and European Union have caused them to act as if they have regard for ethics, and integrity, and not "whatever it takes".

When you look at the incidences, behaviour and attitudes of Australia's politicians and corporate executives below, it goes a long way to explaining, and proving, my assertions.

"NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell resigns, April 16, 2014, Michaela Whitbourn, Sydney Morning Herald

Developers and the cash flow: big builders drawn into frame Date, April 29, 2014, Anne Davies, Sydney Morning Herald

"Several NSW developers have been named by the Independent Commission against Corruption over allegations they made donations to the NSW Liberal Party via slush funds in breach of a 2009 ban designed to curb corruption in the planning process.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Broadcast: 28/04/2014, Reporter: Brigid Glanville

The NSW corruption watchdog, ICAC has heard sensational allegations of a secret Liberal slush fund set up to allow illegal donations to the party. "EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Corruption allegations in New South Wales, first considered a Labor Party crisis, are proving just as damaging to the Liberal Party. The Independent Commission Against Corruption has today heard sensational allegations of a slush fund set up to secretly channel illegal donations to the Liberal Party in return for political favours. The state's new Premier, Mike Baird, says he's shocked and appalled by today's revelations, which have seen another Liberal MP stand down from the party. Brigid Glanville reports.

BRIGID GLANVILLE, REPORTER: A premier is gone, now these Liberal MPs are in the spotlight. The ICAC heard that former state Energy Minister Chris Hartcher and Central Coast MPs Chris Spence and Darren Weber corruptly solicited more than $400,000 in illegal political donations. GEOFFREY WATSON, COUNSEL ASSISTING ICAC: This inquiry will expose the systematic subversion of the electoral funding laws of NSW."


Premier Barry O'Farrell has resigned after a corruption inquiry obtained a handwritten note that contradicted his claims he did not receive a $3000 bottle of wine from the head of a company linked to the Obeid family. On Tuesday, the Independent Commission Against Corruption heard that Mr O'Farrell was sent the Penfolds Grange Hermitage by Nick Di Girolamo as a congratulatory gift following his March 2011 election victory.

Mr Di Girolamo, a Liberal Party fund-raiser and key player in the ICAC's inquiry into Obeid-linked company Australian Water Holdings, told the inquiry yesterday he had the wine couriered to Mr O'Farrell's home at Roseville and later received a thank-you call from him. Advertisement But under oath Mr O'Farrell denied ever receiving the wine or making the call. This was despite telephone records showing Mr O'Farrell called Mr Di Girolamo at 9.30pm on the day the wine was purchased. In a statement today, Mr O'Farrell said: "I've been advised overnight that this morning at ICAC a thank-you note from me in relation to the bottle of wine will be presented."

Supporters, and apologists, for this public officer accepting the gift contend that no corruption occurred because the Premier (O'Farrell) did nothing in return and gave the company and the executive who sent it no favours. I contend they miss the point at whihc the corruption begins. No public official should accept gifts in any way relating to their office or role.

"Watchdog: Coles "should be embarrassed" over farmgate ads

Lexi Metherell reported this story on Monday, April 7, 2014 12:42:00 ELEANOR HALL, ABC Australia: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says the supermarket giant Coles "should be embarrassed" for running misleading ads. Coles has now admitted that its social media campaign on the contentious issue of farmgate milk prices was likely to mislead or deceive consumers. The ACCC chairman, Rod Sims, told Lexi Metherell that the regulator is insisting that Coles correct the record. ROD SIMS: In the first half of 2013 there was a very heated debate about the impact of a dollar milk on dairy farmers. Coles were running a social media campaign that said it was a quote, unquote "fact" that the price paid to dairy farmers had gone up from 86 cents for two litres to 90 cents, when in fact the amount paid to dairy farmers had gone from 86 cents down to 84 cents. So a 6c difference. Now, we had a lot of complaints from dairy farmer organisations, which we took seriously. Our concern was that this information was coming out when consumers might be influenced about whether they'd buy Coles milk on the basis of whether or not dairy farmers were getting a reasonable amount of money. So today we've signed an undertaking with Coles where they accept that those statements of fact were not quite right and undertake not to do that sort of thing again."

Embarrassed, what a limp lettuce slap by the Competition Regulator, "Coles Australia shouldn't mislead us again"!

A company is a legal structure not a human decision maker.

Woolworths found to have breached ACCC fuel dockets deal, By consumer affairs reporter Amy Bainbridge ABC Australia, Updated Mon 14 Apr 2014, 2:01pm AEST

"Woolworths sign displays docket discount on offer

The Federal Court has found supermarket giant Woolworths has breached an undertaking on fuel shopper dockets, but that Coles did not break the agreement. Both supermarkets reached an enforceable deal with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) last year to limit petrol discounts to 4 cents per litre, amid concerns supermarket subsidised heavy fuel discounting was hurting independent service stations. In February, the ACCC took court action, alleging the supermarkets had breached the agreement by offering bundled discounts. The Federal Court today found that Coles did not breach the agreement, because it funded its discounts of up 14 cents a litre primarily through its Coles Express stores located within the service stations."

For decades Coles and Woolworths have been acquirng and building the dominant multi channel retail chains in Australia in groceries, fuel and liquor to the poimnt where they can manipulate and control the market with impunity. Both have been fined substantial amounts under competition laws, as cited below in this eb site, yet they are allowed to continue in their market domination by Australian federal, and state,legislators who have interests, and considerations, other than the public good.

Coles (owned by Wesfarmers) and Woolworths (Australia) should be forced to divest their holdings to a level where competition and smaller retailers and merchants can thrive.


"2014, NSW public officials and members of parliament – allegations concerning corrupt conduct involving Australian Water Holdings Pty Ltd (Operation Credo) and allegations concerning soliciting, receiving and concealing payments (Operation Spicer) In Operation Credo, the ICAC is investigating allegations that persons with an interest in Australian Water Holdings Pty Ltd (AWH) obtained a financial benefit through adversely affecting the official functions of Sydney Water Corporation (SWC) by: including expenses incurred in other business pursuits in claims made on SWC for work on the North West Growth Centre; drawing from funds allocated for other purposes; and preventing SWC from ascertaining the true financial position, including the level of the executives’ remuneration. The Commission is also investigating whether public officials and others were involved in the falsification of a cabinet minute relating to a public private partnership proposal made by AWH intended to mislead the NSW Government Budget Cabinet Committee and obtain a benefit for AWH, and other related matters. In Operation Spicer, the ICAC is investigating allegations that certain members of parliament and others corruptly solicited, received and concealed payments from various sources in return for certain members of parliament and others favouring the interests of those responsible for the payments. It is also alleged that certain members of parliament and others solicited and failed to disclose political donations from companies, including prohibited donors, contrary to the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Act 1981. In both of these matters, the Commission is also investigating the circumstances in which false allegations of corruption were made against senior SWC executives." (Exract from web site - Enquiry: NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption,

"ICAC: Inquiry hears allegations both sides of politics stood to gain financially from corrupt water deal By court reporter Jamelle Wells, Updated Mon 17 Mar 2014, 8:06pm AEDT, ABC News Australia

The inquiry heard Senator Arthur Sinodinos stood to make $20 million as an AWH director. Federal Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos stood to make millions from a deal involving a water company, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has heard. The allegations have been made on the first day of public hearings into the deal involving Australian Water Holdings Pty Ltd (AWH), a company with links to the Obeid family. The investigation, codenamed Operation Credo, is looking at allegations that between 2004 and 2012 various people connected to AWH made corrupt financial gains by "adversely affecting the official functions" of the state-owned Sydney Water Corporation. In his opening address, counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson adapted Shakespeare, saying "corruption acquaints a man with strange bedfellows". He said the inquiry is looking at allegations about people from both sides of politics abusing their power for financial gain." (source as cited)

"The O'Farrell government has been dragged into the scandal surrounding the family of former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid, with two major corruption inquiries featuring three of its MPs starting in the next two months. The Independent Commission Against Corruption has announced it will hold a public inquiry, starting on March 17, into allegations of corrupt conduct by public officials and "persons with an interest" in the Obeid-linked company Australian Water Holdings. A second inquiry will be held from April 28 into allegations that former energy minister Chris Hartcher, The Entrance MP Chris Spence and Wyong MP Darren Webber "corruptly solicited, received and concealed payments from various sources in return for favouring the interests of those responsible for the payments". (Source: Sydney Morning Herald Australia, New ICAC inquiries: O'Farrell government dragged into Obeid scandal, February 18, 2014)


Many and varied opinions and views

"Asylum seekers – a fair and ethical debate

Baptcare is joining voices with our Baptistcare colleagues as we protest the government and coalition’s policies on asylum seekers. Baptcare has prepared a statement for politicians entitled Asylum Seekers – A Fair and Ethical Debate. Download a PDF version of the statement. In this weekend’s Weekend Australian an open letter from BaptistCare Australia is being published, Asylum Seekers – A Christian Response. We encourage you to add your voices to ours to appeal for more humane and Christian policies for people seeing asylum in Australia. Asylum seekers – a fair and ethical debate A statement by Baptcare As an organisation providing housing and support to asylum seekers living in the Victorian community, Baptcare was appalled by the scapegoating of this vulnerable group in the 2013 federal election campaign. We call on all those elected to demonstrate an ethical stance in debating refugee issues on the basis of fact. Baptcare rejects the popular view that boat arrivals are economic migrants attempting to bypass Australia’s immigration processes. Figures released by the Department of Immigration & Citizenship show that over the past few years 90% of people arriving by boat were found to be genuine refugees. Baptcare believes all people should be judged solely according to the merits of their claim regardless of their mode of transport. Baptcare believes any attempt to scale back Australia’s commitment to the United Nations’ Refugee Convention is not appropriate at a time when Australia holds a seat on the UN Security Council We urge our federal government to maintain the legal rights of asylum seekers already in Australia; to ensure timely and fair assessment of refugee claims; and to maintain access to the appeal avenue of the Refugee Review Tribunal. We believe most Australians are genuinely appalled at the human rights records of the home countries of many refugees. It is not the Australian-way to return people forcibly to places where they will face torture and death. Baptcare believes our Immigration system should only return people to areas where there is adequate assurance and monitoring of safety and freedom from persecution. Baptcare opposes mandatory detention – in Australia and overseas. It is not illegal for anyone to seek asylum in a foreign country, therefore no crime has been committed under international or Australian law in arriving on our shores seeking asylum. Also, Baptcare decries the mental health impacts of detention, which are well documented. As a Christian organisation with concern for and work with vulnerable children, Baptcare particularly opposes the detention of children, families, and unaccompanied minors. We urge the government to scale back the current system of mandatory detention costing billions of dollars and replace it with the far more humane and cost-effective community-based detention... read the full ethics statement
at Baptcare

"The ethical premise from which I begin is that all human beings are precious and unique simply because they are human, and that this value must be respected. They cannot be treated as things or as statistics. In particular their treatment cannot be used as a means to a policy objective that does not look to their personal good. The second premise of my argument, flowing from the unique value of each human being, is that nations, like individual persons and communities, have an ethical responsibility to help people who come to them in great need if they can. When the priest and levite in the story of the Good Samaritan passed by the traveller in desperate need, they did not simply act uncharitably. They acted wrongly. Australian asylum seeker policy is based on the harm done to people who come to Australia in great need. The harm done to people is caught in Frank's phrase 'shock and awe'. In military theory the exemplar of shock and awe is Hiroshima. It involves an exercise of overwhelming power that will instil in the enemy the fear of action that will shut down their society and render them unable to fight. That is a fair description of the effects on human beings of prolonged detention in Australia and Nauru documented over many years. In McGorry's phrase they are 'factories for producing mental illness'." (Source extract: "Getting serious about asylum seeker ethics", Andrew Hamilton 03 October 2013, consulting editor of Eureka Street.

"Bleeding hearts ignore the complexity of the asylum-seeker issues GREG SHERIDAN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS EDITOR THE AUSTRALIAN AUGUST 01, 2013, WHAT are the real ethics of boatpeople policies?

Every human being is sacred and endowed with inalienable human rights. But if lax policy, or, if you like, compassion, towards one group of people encourages an ever growing cohort of others to engage in high-risk behaviour resulting in many deaths, that is a big moral mark against the lax policy, against what is false compassion. However, even if there were no drownings, I believe a hard line is ethically just and in policy terms necessary. Any such policy must always observe the basic human rights of the people it deals with. But Australia has a right to determine who comes here and a positive ethical obligation to provide procedural justice in the way it makes the selection. Australia is a very rich country. Being born in Australia is one of the greatest acts of good fortune any human being could ever experience. In my view, the illegal immigration problem essentially reflects a desire by people in poor countries to live in a rich country. There is nothing wrong with that desire. But that desire doesn't entitle you to Australian residence. If you are an Afghan male, your life expectancy is probably something in your 40s. If you are an Australian, and you get past childhood illness, it's in your 80s. The desire for another 30 or 40 years of life is certainly sufficient to produce a terrible desperation. The existence of such desperation, well chronicled in much literature about North African illegal migration to Europe, has very little to do with traditional ideas of persecution. Part of the ethical divide on this question hinges on a divide over several central facts. The compassion advocates believe most of the boatpeople are fleeing persecution. This makes no sense for middle-class Iranians or contemporary Sri Lankans and is highly debatable for many other groups." (Source of extract, the full article can be found at the Australian newspaper site, Opinion, under the article quoted)

"Yet despite the fact that the leaders of both major political parties profess to be practicing members of one of the world's largest faiths, it seems to me that this other-centred perspective is often missing and sorely needed in the current debate on asylum seeker policy, across most arguments and perspectives. Our politicians emphasise "our right" to defend our borders, to decide who enters our country. Refugee advocates will emphasise "our responsibilities" towards vulnerable others. Christian advocates - including, until recently at least, our current Prime Minister - speak of our biblical duty of hospitality to the stranger. But each of these perspectives in their own way retains the focus on self and sidelines the agency and in some cases the rights of the "vulnerable strangers." They become objects for our disciplining or our compassion, rather than subjects and agents in their own right. Even if we do consider why asylum seekers may come by boat, it is more often than not related back to ourselves - they come because they want to settle in Australia, they want "our way of life," they think "we" are a soft touch, they need "our" protection. This focus on ourselves produces problematic responses, most clearly seen in the recent turn of events in Australia. In announcing the Regional Settlement Arrangement with Papua New Guinea, Prime Minister Rudd said: "Australians have had enough of seeing people drowning in the waters to our north. Our country has had enough of people smugglers exploiting asylum seekers and seeing them drown on the high seas." Never mind the very real possibilities that people seeking asylum will now die elsewhere. There seems to be little concern for what happens to them if they don't attempt to come to Australia by boat. So long as they don't come here or die somewhere we can see them, it's fine by us. The Coalition's announcement of their "Operation Sovereign Borders" policy described the asylum situation as a "national emergency." Earlier in July, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott accused the Prime Minister of dodging his domestic responsibilities by saying that it is a global issue.

"I say to Mr Rudd: stop making excuses, stop trying to say this is the world's problem, it's not. It's our problem and we need to take the appropriate action in this country - by this country, for this country - to stop the boats, and we need to do it now." Thus, the fact that the world is currently experiencing an 18-year high in the number of displaced persons in need of protection and the significant gaps and problems that scholars, policy makers and activists alike have noted with global protection mechanisms are not, according to the view of Abbott and the Coalition, of any relevance to the issue of asylum seekers arriving by boat in Australian waters. " (Source extract: It's not about us: Asylum seekers and the right to belong, Erin Wilson, ABC RELIGION AND ETHICS 30 JUL 2013,

Refugees: Ethics and Rights, by hazzamyman on Jun 04, 2012, go to
Slideshare Presentation

"I personally disagree with the Australian Government’s recent decision to re-open the Nauru and Manus Island detention centres. I speak from my experiences of being detained three years in both off shore and on shore Australian detention centres. Detention is an illegal form of house arrest established by the Labor Government and developed under John Howard’s regime. I would like to correct any misconceptions created by the Australian Government that it is a loving, humane or family friendly environment. Many years of incarceration have contributed to mental and physical disabilities among fellow detainees. Many of us have experienced first-hand what it is like to be detained in this kind of detention centre. When I was in Christmas Island and Cocos Island - “offshore” detention centres - I saw people’s lives deteriorate whilst the isolated surroundings intimidated asylum seekers in to volunteering to go back to the countries where their lives were jeopardised in the first place. When people spoke out against injustices they were experiencing in detention centres, they were placed in isolation or solitary confinement. Further freedom was violated and limited by the authorities who treated us like subhumans. There is evidence suggesting that the creation of detention centres offshore can punish and silence the voices of asylum seekers, passing the blame onto the victims. The Australian Government has shirked its responsibility of running detention centres and given this responsibility over to private companies and is now further passing the responsibility to other countries wherein asylum seekers will be treated inhumanely. While refugees are waiting indefinitely in these centres, the possibility of their families back home facing danger and persecution is real. Offshore processing centres may lower the number of asylum seekers in Australia, but it is not a viable solution to fairly deal with asylum seekers and it will not put a stop to people coming to this country by boat." (source of extract: Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers puts forward Government-desired solutions, Ramesh Fernandez, CEO and Founder of RISE (Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees) read the full article at Rise

Australia's Jetstar Airline (owned by Qantas) Shows It's Unethical Business Practices and Low Quality Human Resource Management Practices
A cheap airline in every respect

"Jetstar fined $90,000 for making cadets pay for own training Thu 6 Feb 2014, 7:42pm ABC News Australia

Jetstar has been fined $90,000 for making six cadet pilots pay for their own training. The Federal Court handed down the fine in Sydney after the airline admitted it breached the Fair Work Act when it deducted $17,500 from the wages of the cadets to cover the training. The pilots, recruited between October 2010 and January 2011, were employed on individual contracts through a New Zealand-based Jetstar subsidiary while they underwent six months of training. After their employment was transferred to Australian entity Jetstar Group, Jetstar tried to recover training costs from the pilots despite being advised it was unlawful under Australia's Air Pilots Award 2010, Justice Robert Buchanan found. Jetstar deducted a total of $17,500 from all six pilots' wages, including one pilot who had refused to agree to it. The money was returned two months later after a legal challenge by the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP). Justice Buchanan said Jetstar had shown a lack of evidence of contrition or remorse over the events. "The respondents used their vastly superior bargaining power to effectively brush aside any personal resistance by cadet pilots, not desisting until the AFAP stepped in," he said. "The conduct of Jetstar Group and Jetstar Airways was calculated solely by reference to their assessment of their own commercial interests." (end of source)

The fact that Jetstar management thought that it was oaky, regardless of legality, tells us a lot about the company, its Chair and Board, CEO and Human Resource Executives. It speaks volumes of the corporation and its valuing of employees, ethics and principles. It is indeed a budget airline in every respect.

ANZ Bank Australia Unconscienable Conduct

One of Australia's major bank's joins the ranks of unethical business vpractitioners conducting business without a conscience. This judgement also says much about the Bank Chair, Board and CEOs along with customer rRelations management.

Federal Court rules ANZ Bank fees 'unconscionable', "ANZ charges fees of up to $45 for service costing cents", THE Federal Court has handed a partial victory to ANZ customers joined in a class action to recoup $57 million in fees. The court ruled that the late payment fees the bank charged customers were extravagant, exorbitant and unconscionable."


Australia is today locking up at least 1,153 children. 104 children are detained on Nauru. They will never be resettled in Australia, even if found to be refugees. Australia is the only Refugee Convention signatory to have a policy of mandatory, indefinite detention for asylum seekers. Temporary protection visas have just been reintroduced. Valid for 3 years, then re-apply. No family reunion rights. No ability to leave Aust and return (even to visit your children).


Opposed to the indefinite, mandatory detention of children.
Opposed to offshore detention and 'resettlement' in PNG or Nauru.
Opposed to the use of remote locations of detention for families and children for any length of time.
In favour of an independent guardian for unaccompanied children seeking asylum in Australia. The Minister with the power to detain children cannot also be the person appointed to act in their best interest.

Opposed to Temporary Protection Visas

Going to continue to operate until there is federal legislation to ensure no child is detained in an Australian immigration detention centre (or any such renamed facility) for more than 14 days.

Ethical businesses, and people, are flummoxed

The Activist Tool Box

Go to Editorial Articles

Research papers on Social Responsibility
Globalisation Impacts
Various Countries




17 January 2014, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

The Federal Court has ordered by consent that P & N Pty Ltd and P & N NSW Pty Ltd (trading as Euro Solar) and Worldwide Energy and Manufacturing Pty Ltd (WEMA, formerly trading as Australian Solar Panel) pay combined penalties of $125,000, for publishing fake testimonials and making false or misleading representations about the country of origin of the solar panels they supply. This followed action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The sole Director of P&N and WEMA, Mr Nikunjkumar Patel, was also ordered to pay a penalty of $20,000 for his involvement in the conduct. Today the Court found that video testimonials published on Youtube by P&N and P&N NSW and written testimonials published by WEMA on its website were not made by genuine customers of the companies. “This is the ACCC’s first litigated outcome in relation to the specific prohibition against fake testimonials under the Australian Consumer Law,” Mr Sims said. “Consumers should be able to trust that testimonials give honest feedback about a consumer’s experiences with a service or product. If they are not genuine, consumers may be enticed into making a purchase that they would not have otherwise made.” The Court also found that P&N, P&N NSW and WEMA made false or misleading representations to consumers that they manufactured or supplied solar panels that were made in Australia - when they were in fact made in China." (Source:

Can they coexist?
The global financial crisis punched a big hole in bank reputations worldwide. We not only glimpsed their world we saw right through it and the people who run banks and their ethically and morally challenged world. Banks are the epitomy of the soulless corporation, (the legal inanimate person), that exists for one purpose, to make money for the shareholders. The biggest shareholders are the institutions so let us not kid ourselves that the ordinary shareholder, the self managed mum and dad superannuation funds have any influence in the behaviour and decisions. The only other force a bank board and investors may fear is a government with representatives of character. These are few and far between if there are any.

When the GFC caught them out the public relations teams went into overdrive. They lobbied and called on the government representatives they either own or influence to step back from heavy handed regulation or for that matter any regulation at all. Among the arsenal of shrouds employed is the "ethical banking code". According to this banks that are isgned on (Australia's are) will undertake due diligence to determine if the money they are giving out or the people they are engaging with is being emplooyed in "socially acceptable" ways and "environmental" moral practice. The politicians and the gullible swallow the mantra and the siren song and it is always good for the Board Chair or the CEO to point to a published code, even if ignored and say "oh we could have done things better", it is always god to "out onesself and admit error (never guilt) if the proverbial is going to hit the fan sometime.

So how do
Australia's big corporat banks stack up in the moral and ethical points table, on practice but most of all on due diligence? You be the judge.

"Westpac caught up in biggest ever money laundering scheme, AAP MAY 29, 2013, Australian newspaper,
US prosecutors have announced the biggest ever international money laundering prosecution, which included $38.48 million deposited in local Westpac accounts. The $US6bn trail was allegedly left by Costa Rica-based Liberty Reserve and has travelled through 17 countries, including the Westpac accounts in Australia. Liberty Reserve was described on Tuesday as the "financial hub of the cybercrime world", a place shadowy figures involved in computer hacking, credit card fraud, child pornography, drug trafficking and other criminal activity could use to anonymously conduct illegal transactions. Five of the seven defendants were arrested last week in a global swoop. Arthur Budovsky, 39, the principal founder of Liberty Reserve, was arrested in Spain, co-founder Vladimir Kats, 41, was arrested in Brooklyn while two other defendants, Ahmed Abdelghani, 42, and Allan Jimenez, 28, remain at large in Costa Rica, prosecutors said. "The only liberty that Liberty Reserve gave many of its users was the freedom to commit crimes - the coin of its realm was anonymity, and it became a popular hub for fraudsters, hackers and traffickers," said Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. "The global enforcement action we announce today is an important step towards reining in the Wild West of illicit internet banking. "As crime goes increasingly global, the long arm of the law has to get even longer, and in this case, it encircled the earth." Prosecutors say 45 bank accounts have been restrained or seized. According to the indictment, three Westpac accounts held in the name of Technocash Ltd contained $US36.9 million ($38.48 million). A Westpac spokeswoman said today: "We have rigorous processes in place to combat money laundering and have been working closely with regulators and law enforcement agencies".

They have rigourous processes in place.

Commonwealth Bank fined $100,000 by ASIC over poor disclosure, LYNDAL MCFARLAND DOW JONES OCTOBER 14, 2009 10:42AM, Australian newspaper

COMMONWEALTH Bank of Australia said today it would pay a $100,000 fine after the Australian Securities and Investments Commission issued it with an infringement notice in relation to a botched $2 billion capital raising late last year. In a statement, CBA said the payment was “not an admission of liability and cannot be regarded as a finding that the bank contravened the Corporations Act". But in a separate statement, the securities watchdog said it had reasonable grounds to believe CBA contravened the act by failing to meet continuous disclosure obligations. "
,br> There are many articles on banking practice and questioning the ethical character. Here is a very detailed set of studies. "Kafkaesque way the banking industry taunts, tortures and rorts its victims — and allows no recourse."
Read Professor Jones' papers here

The World Bank does extensive work on values and ethics, Values and ethics
Research Centres

I wonder if Australian's banks have induction training let alone any curricula that involves reading, and absorbing, values and ethics?

"ANZ ethics under scrutiny over Cambodian sugar plantation loan", January 23, 2014, Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie, Sydney Morning Hearld Australia

Banking giant ANZ is financing a Cambodian sugar plantation that has involved child labour, military-backed land grabs, forced evictions and food shortages. ANZ's support of the Phnom Penh Sugar Company's plantation is disclosed in confidential audits that reveal the project is beset by a series of social and environmental problems. The revelation raises serious questions over the bank's due diligence process and its compliance with a global ethical banking code it is a signatory to, as well as its own policies. Advertisement Senior ANZ executives this week met representatives of the more than 1000 families forcibly removed from their homes in 2010 to make way for the sugar crop owned by Ly Yong Phat, one of Cambodia's richest men and a senator from the country's ruling political party. The executives were told of a former Khmer Rouge battalion's involvement in the evictions and how families got $100 compensation for land that once provided them with food and a livelihood.

ANZ reimburses dudded customers, The Australian - by John Durie, January 25, 2014

ANZ has begun paying out $70 million to about 235000 customers, refunding them for mortgage interest rate deductions that the bank failed to pass on or compensating them for over-charging on home loan accounts. The bank this week began sending out letters to customers with payments ranging from a few dollars to tens of thousands, following a nearly four-year review of its accounts after complaints sparked concerns in 2010. ANZ Australia chief executive Phil Chronican told The Weekend Australian "when the early complaints showed a trend, we immediately notified ASIC and began reviewing 2.4 million accounts." The errors at the ANZ included not paying full credit to mortgage accounts that had offset provisions, so the customer was overcharged or there was a delay in crediting the account. The level of offsets on a mortgage account should mean lower interest charges because overall loan balances are lower, but in this instance the bank didn't give full credit to the lower balances. There were also problems with packaged discounts offered to customers; for example, when they swapped from a fixed to variable interest loan, the discounts were not transferred immediately...."

"ANZ begins $70m customer payoutANZ begins $70m customer payout, 25 Jan, 3:51 AM 1 Business Spectator,

ANZ Banking Group Ltd has begun paying out $70 million to around 235,000 to refund them after failing to pass on mortgage or interest-rate reductions or as compensation for over-charging their home loan accounts, according to The Australian. The newspaper reported that ANZ this week started sending out letters to customers for payments ranging between a few dollars to tens of thousands, after an almost four-year review of its accounts which followed complaints lodged in 2010. ANZ’s Australian chief executive Phil Chronican told The Australian that "when the early complaints showed a trend, we immediately notified ASIC and began reviewing 2.4 million accounts." The errors included not paying full credit to mortgage accounts that had offset provisions, so the customer was overcharged or there was a delay in crediting the account.,"

These events and disclosures make the news for a moment and then the cavalcade moves on, the market is innured and does not care as long as the returns on investment are what it expects. The only people who live with this day after day are the affected.

" The Commonwealth Bank Is Responsible For A Spying Scandal Which Had Senior MPs Followed By Private Detectives SARAH KIMMORLEY Business Insider Australia OCT 26 2013, 10:52 AM,"
The Commonwealth Bank has been caught out in a spying scandal where senior government ministers were tracked by private detectives as part of an investigation into anti-banking lobbyist Michael Fraser. The CBA hired the security firm G4S to watch consumer advocate and anti-banking lobbyist Michael Fraser between August 28 and September 1 to confirm if he was receiving insider information employees of the bank. Fairfax Media has revealed “Operation Lantern” followed Fraser to a fund-raiser for Coalition senator John Williams who is part of a Senate inquiry involving CBA with Labor senator Doug Cameron."

" In a memo obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald, the Commonwealth Bank requested photographs of people Mr Fraser met to "allow for the identification of individuals". It said it was attempting to confirm if he was receiving information from bank insiders. The Commonwealth Bank has defended its actions, saying Mr Fraser had launched "sustained and personal" campaign of "harassment, intimidation and threats" against one of its employees. But Mr Fraser insists he has done nothing wrong, and maintains that his contact with the staff member has been appropriate. "I think it's interesting that they apply the word harassing to following up on an almost daily basis and trying to get something happening for the customers," he said. "I consistently hear about them ringing their customers sometimes up to 12 times a day and pressuring them to make payments or sell their house." (ABC Australia,Commonwealth Bank hired private surveillance company to keep tabs on lobbyist Michael Fraser Updated Sat 26 Oct 2013, 3:40pm AEDT")

"Bank hides dodgy deals, May 31, 2013, Sydney Morning Herald, Adele Ferguson and Chris Vedelago",
The Commonwealth Bank concealed financial improprieties by a top financial planner controlling an estimated $300 million in investments for 1300 clients, many of them retired and with serious health problems. The planner, Don Nguyen, who joined the nation's biggest bank in 1999 and has since been banned from providing financial services advice until 2018, allegedly forged signatures, created unauthorised investment accounts and overcharged fees. A Fairfax Media investigation has revealed that bank staff took part in a cover-up that allegedly included the falsification of documents after Mr Nguyen left his position in July 2009. Advertisement The bank's financial planning division ignored repeated allegations of misconduct outlined by at least 25 clients and bank insiders known as "ferrets", who tipped off the corporate regulator in October 2008. The bank became aware of Mr Nguyen's transgressions in 2006. In September 2008 he was suspended for a month and despite an internal investigation uncovering evidence of misconduct, including excessive fees and paying kickbacks to staff for referrals, he was promoted. The whistleblowers believed he should have been sacked.....It is believed 200 clients have been offered $23 million in compensation. One client, a former priest in his 70s, said the bank offered him an additional settlement of $14,000 earlier this year but he refused it, believing he was still owed $28,000. ASIC was alerted to Mr Nguyen's conduct on October 30, 2008, in a detailed fax from the whistleblowers. They warned: ‘‘The client files will basically tell the story – as they did for the internal compliance people. There is some urgency in securing them as they are being ‘cleaned up’.’’ It took ASIC 16 months to follow up on the fax. It then raided the bank’s offices to seize files."

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission, the regulatory oversight body is continually criticised for its light handed, even anti risk approach to investigating banks and financial institutions. Perhaps it is a bureaucracy that is scared of its political masters and the power of the corporation?
,br> Then there is Australia's other big bank, the National Australia (NAB)

"NATIONAL Australia’s Bank’s troubled UK operations are paying out around $70 million in fines and compensation after short-changing tens of thousands of mortgage customers. SEPTEMBER 28, 2013,

The Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank will pay out up to $18,000 to customers after miscalculating repayments on more than 42,500 mortgages and failing to inform customers. The UK watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, on Friday criticised the handling of the problem and fined the bank $15 million for “failing to treat customers fairly”. It said the damaging implications of the calculation error, which was discovered in April 2009 but only corrected in 2010, were simply “passed on” to customers. In response to botching its calculations, Clydesdale simply tried to increase monthly repayments made by customers."

"NAB and UBS pay up for alleged market misdemeanours, by business reporters Pat McGrath and Michael Janda, ABC – Tue, Dec 24, 2013 11:03
The corporate watchdog has penalised National Australia Bank and international bank UBS for what it describes as potential market misconduct.Under a deal reached with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission after an investigation, NAB will voluntarily donate $2 million to fund public financial literacy programs.The bank has also agreed to implement better monitoring and control systems for its share trading, with ASIC supervision of these systems for the next three years."The EU is a timely, effective way to ensure there is genuine change to monitoring and control systems," said ASIC commissioner Cathie Armour. "ASIC will closely monitor the implementation of these changes to ensure they meet our expectations."ASIC is continuing to investigate the conduct of a share market trading contractor hired by NAB - it says potential market misconduct by the trader's staff led to a spike in some share prices in October. The regulator has also reached an agreement with the Australian arm of the Swiss bank UBS, which will donate $1 million to the financial literacy fund.ASIC found UBS traders tried to manipulate a key benchmark measure of the interest rate at which banks lend each other cash, known as the Australian Bank Bill Swap Rate (BBSW).UBS itself reported the suspected misconduct to ASIC in July 2012, and has since withdrawn from the panel of banks whose submissions determine the BBSW."

Note in the headline the use of the term "misdemeanours", maybe that is why these unethical practices continue, maybe the fines are worth the revenue? Until a banking executive is personally charged and personally fined or jailed Board and CEOs and divisional bank managers won't treat anything seriuously and will continue to take risks. Maybe if shareholders actually cared about ethics (that is the institutional shareholders) then we may see a sea some major change in behaviour.

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 ­companies 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 allegation’s seriousness, the ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, which could run to as high as $10 million or 10 per cent of each company’s annual turn­over, 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 don’t 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."


"The Reserve Bank of Australia is meant to maintain stability in the nation's financial sector. It is supposed to be above reproach in its behaviour. But is it? Why did bank-appointed officials and employees break sanctions in Iraq and cosy up to Saddam Hussein through a "front man"? Why did a former Deputy Governor and other directors hand-picked by the Reserve Bank to safeguard its subsidiary companies from corruption, end up — over a decade — overseeing some of the most corruption-prone business practices possible? Why did they allow millions of dollars to be wired to third parties in foreign countries, including an arms dealer, in order to win banknote contracts in deals police now allege involved bribery and corruption? Next week on Four Corners two whistleblowers-turned star police witnesses from RBA companies, Note Printing Australia and Securency, reveal for the first time how they discovered bribes were allegedly being paid... and how the most senior figures in Australia's worst corporate corruption scandal got away with allegedly egregious governance failures."

(Source: Nick McKenzie and Bentley Dean, September 30, 2013


NSW public sector – allegations concerning mining exploration licences (Operations Jasper and Acacia) and the provision of a motor vehicle to a former NSW government minister (Operation Indus)

The ICAC investigated, among other issues, the circumstances surrounding a decision made in 2008 by the then Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for Mineral Resources, the Hon Ian Macdonald MLC, to open a mining area in the Bylong Valley for coal exploration, including whether the decision was influenced by the Hon Edward Obeid MLC (Operation Jasper). The ICAC also investigated the circumstances in which Moses Obeid provided the Hon Eric Roozendaal MLC with a motor vehicle in 2007 (Operation Indus). The Commission also investigated, among other issues, the circumstances surrounding the issue of an invitation to Doyles Creek Pty Ltd to apply for, and allocation of, an exploration licence (Operation Acacia).

In its report on Operation Jasper, released on 31 July 2013, the Commission makes corrupt conduct findings against Hon Edward Obeid MLC (Edward Obeid Sr), Moses Obeid, Travers Duncan, John McGuigan, John Atkinson, John Kinghorn and Richard Poole. The Commission is of the opinion that consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions with respect to the prosecution of Mr Macdonald, Edward Obeid Sr, Moses Obeid, Mr Duncan, Mr McGuigan, Mr Atkinson and Mr Poole for various offences.

In its report on Operation Indus, also released on 31 July 2013, the Commission makes corrupt conduct findings against Moses Obeid. The Commission is of the opinion that consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions with respect to the prosecution of Moses Obeid, Paul Obeid, Rocco Triulcio and Rosario Triulcio for offences of providing false or misleading evidence to the ICAC. There are no corruption prevention recommendations in this report.

In its report on Operation Acacia, released on 30 August 2013, the Commission makes corrupt conduct findings against Ian Macdonald, John Maitland, Craig Ransley, Andrew Poole and Michael Chester. The Commission is of the opinion that consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions with respect to the prosecution of Ian Macdonald, John Maitland, Craig Ransley and Andrew Poole for various offences.

In its corruption prevention report concerning Operations Jasper and Acacia, released on 30 October 2013, the Commission makes 26 recommendations to reduce opportunities and incentives for corruption in the state’s management of coal resources.

The Commission will also release a separate report dealing with certain matters identified in the Parliamentary terms of reference for Operation Acacia and similar matters identified in the letter of 30 January 2013 from the Premier of NSW in relation to Operation Jasper. This report is expected to be released before the end of the year. (Independent Commission Against Corruption, NSW, November 2013 web site)

"Former New South Wales Labor minister Eddie Obeid has taken the stand to respond to more allegations before the state's corruption watchdog. The public gallery was packed this morning for Mr Obeid's fifth turn in the Independent Commission Against Corruption witness box. Mr Obeid was there to be questioned over the ICAC's latest probe into his affairs about Circular Quay cafe leases, generous water licences for his family farm and about the company Direct Health Solutions. As he walked into the ICAC this morning Mr Obeid seemed in a cheery mood. "Wonderful... Very very confident," Mr Obeid replied when asked by reporters how he was feeling. "Do you deserve to be called honourable still? Are you happy with the title, honourable, Eddie?" one reporter then asked. "Grow up," the former MP replied.

The ICAC has heard that in 2005, two months after he handed then treasurer Michael Costa a letter, Mr Costa arranged a meeting with the company. Mr Costa has told the inquiry he did not know the Obeids had invested in the company at the time. (source: ABC News, court reporters Jamelle Wells, Nicole Chettle, Mon 18 Nov 2013)


Nepotism, croneyism, misconduct, corruption

"The failure of agencies to perform statutory functions The Parliament gives Victoria’s public agencies significant responsibilities to regulate the conduct of individuals and organisations. If an agency fails in its statutory duties there is a risk that its continued viability may be called into question. A recent example is my report to Parliament following my investigation of the Victorian Building Commission30 (the commission). My investigation identified significant issues regarding maladministration and misconduct in the commission’s registration process for builder licences, one of its key statutory functions. Concerns were also identified about governance and recruiting practices at the commission. Following my report the government announced that the commission is to be replaced by the Victorian Building Authority. This highlights how an agency’s existence can come under threat if it fails in its statutory functions. My office has identified several instances where agencies have failed to perform their basic statutory functions. Over the past 10 years I have reported to Parliament on statutory failings of some of Victoria’s larger public agencies including:

• VicRoads
• Transport Accident Commission (TAC)
• WorkSafe
• Environment Protection Authority (EPA)
• Victoria Police
• Department of Human Services
• Department of Justice.

These failures can place members of the public at a significant risk." (Annual Report to Parliament of Victoria, 2013, G E Brouwer OMBUDSMAN, 20 August 2013"

"Conduct of elected officials Elected officials are expected to maintain a high standard of conduct in the performance of their public duties. In a lecture to the Commonwealth Parliament, Canadian Academic Mr David Zussman said ‘… it is not enough for the behaviour of a politician to be within the law. The legitimacy of the system requires that they meet a higher standard, a more rigorous code of behaviour’34. I have often found this has not been the case in local government. I have consistently identified issues regarding the conduct of elected officials relating to:

• improper use of powers
• misuse of government funds and equipment
• inappropriate release and/or use of information
• inadequate accountability and transparency.
Some elected members of local councils appear to either not understand or choose to disregard the codes of conduct they are required to adhere to in their public role.

Councillors were also found to have engaged in decision-making which:

• was made for personal gain or political motivations
• could cause detriment to the council
• was in retaliation for broken promises
• was made behind closed doors
• involved voting in a block to support a faction, even when those decisions were not necessarily in the best interests of the community.

There were also examples of councillors:

• inappropriately using council funds and property
• failing to identify and reimburse the council for the private use of council telephones
• improperly using council provided laptops, such as installing pornographic material and inappropriate software on their laptops.

Conflict of interest has consistently been the subject of complaints received by my office and the subject of a number of investigations. I have provided Parliament with a number of reports on conflict of interest in both the public sector and local government36. Despite my recommendations to public sector agencies and local government, poor management and a lack of understanding of conflicts of interest continue to be a source of concern. In public reports over recent years I have identified conflicts of interest at a number of public bodies.

A recent report that identified several conflicts of interest by public officers was my own motion investigation into Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV)37. In this report the conflicts identified involved staff and the then CEO and included:

Improvments to private homes by GRV contractors
Improper advice to relatives by CEO
Seeking employment for family member

instances of poor procurement practices and contract management by public sector agencies, including issues relating to:

• purchases outside procurement policies, such as companies/ contractors awarded significant contracts without a competitive procurement process40
• the influence of nepotism and favouritism on procurement and recruitment41
• conflicts of interest of staff involved in procurement and recruitment processes42
• the engagement of contractors at excessive rates43
• inadequate procurement controls and checks44
• improper expenditure of public money45
• acceptance of gifts from suppliers46

(source as stated above, Part 1)

My recent investigation report into a Magistrates’ Court registrar38 also identified issues of conflict of interest. I identified a court registrar had been inappropriately granting instalment orders on the payment of a fine on behalf of her husband. I considered that the conduct was improper as the registrar should have declared a conflict of interest and should have had no involvement with any applications relating to her husband’s conviction and fine. The registrar had not declared any conflicts of interest in relation to her role at the court.

My office has regularly identified instances of poor procurement practices and contract management by public sector agencies, including issues relating to: • purchases outside procurement policies, such as companies/ contractors awarded significant contracts without a competitive procurement process40 • the influence of nepotism and favouritism on procurement and recruitment41 • conflicts of interest of staff involved in procurement and recruitment processes42 • the engagement of contractors at excessive rates43 • inadequate procurement controls and checks44 • improper expenditure of public money45 • acceptance of gifts from suppliers46. Despite having conducted a number of investigations relating to procurement practices and contract management leading to reports to Parliament, and the guidance available to public sector agencies from the Victorian Government Purchasing Board, these issues remain a regular source of complaint. For example, my 2012 report to Parliament concerning CenITex47 identified numerous breaches of government purchasing guidelines and improper conduct by senior officers. That investigation identified officers who had misused their positions to engage friends and other third parties for a direct financial benefit as well as the acceptance of gifts and hospitality from prospective contractors. Senior management at CenITex (including the then CEO) approved exemptions from procurement guidelines without adequate justification.


"The Frankston MP (G Shaw - Victoria State parliament Australia) has been charged with 23 charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception and one charge of misconduct in public office. In his letter to the Privileges Committee chair Peter Walsh, Mr Shaw spoke about his "deep concerns about being subjected to criminal charges being laid while the same subject matter is being considered by the committee". "For Victoria Police to investigate a matter before the Privileges Committee is one thing but to lay charges on a matter actively before the Privileges Committee is an abuse of the Parliament," he says. He said this was because it could lead to "threatening, obstructing or intimidating a member of in the discharge of the member's duty to the Privileges Committee". (Source: JAMES CAMPBELL, ANNIKA SMETHURST AND MATT JOHNSTON HERALD SUN NOVEMBER 27, 2013)

Leighton insiders stole and leaked secret tender documents

"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)

Former Labor Parliamentarian

"About 50 new charges are expected to be laid against former Australian (former federal member of parliament) MP Craig Thomson, who has had the start of his summary trial on fraud and theft offences delayed for another week at least. Mr Thomson's trial before a magistrate was scheduled to start on Tuesday, but his defence team and the prosecution requested more time to continue talks. Mr Thomson, 49, faces 173 fraud and theft charges. He is accused of using Health Services Union credit cards to pay for sexual services at brothels and escort agencies, for pornographic movies at hotels, for flights, food and drink, car hire and other expenses while he was the union's national secretary from 2002 to his election to Federal Parliament as a Labor MP in 2007. The court heard on Tuesday that prosecutors had gone through the brief of evidence against Mr Thomson and found that new charges could be laid. Prosecutor Lesley Taylor, SC, said the total number of charges could rise to 224." (Source: The Age, November 26, 2013 Adam Cooper)

RBA in Saddam notes deal
A Reserve Bank of Australia subsidiary used a frontman to liaise with Saddam ­Hussein’s brother-in-law in an illegal effort to supply plastic bank notes to the Iraqi government while it was subject to United Nations sanctions, according to confidential RBA files. Two whistle-blowers who became police witnesses in the Reserve Bank-note bribery scandal have also broken their silence about the failure of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to investigate the directors of two allegedly corrupt RBA ­companies, Note Printing Australia and Securency. In 2011, Securency and Note Printing were charged by the federal police with bribery offences related to alleged payments to overseas officials. Court orders prevent recent developments regarding the charges against the companies from being reported. (Source: Australian Financial Review, PUBLISHED: 30 SEP 2013)

Papers refute RBA chief

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)

RBA defends Stevens over corruption claims

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?

Joseph Turow summarises how marketers are using new technologies "to make it "harder than ever for audiences to escape, and resist, their advances."

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

August 2013: What do you know about Trans Pacific Partnerships?

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."

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Canadian groups demand end to secrecy, BY COUNCIL OF CANADIANS | AUGUST 23, 2013

Ottawa – 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."

July 2013: Australia's Biggest Fast Fashion Retailers Misjudge Their Customers and Investors

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.


Mighty Essendon Football Clubfalls from Grace
Along with its Favourite Son

August 2013: One of the great Australian Football League (AFL) teams, Essendon, today stands convicted of bringing the game and the League into disrepute. For months on end the Board, senior officials, medical officer and the coaches refused to accede to the proposition that experimenting with supplements and substances on players was dangerous, immoral and tantamount to cheating. Even as the Australian Sport Anti Doping Authority unravelled their past and present they stood firm with breath taking arrogance placing themselves above the interests of players, club members and supporters. So typical, when all is well the Boards and Managers are superlative performers exalted in their positions, and lauded for their abilities, but when it gets hard they are exposed in all of their faults and incompetencies. Then the collective simply shrugs and they move on. Unless someone goes to gaol it is just par for the course - whatever it takes to achieve objectives and maintain power and position. Craig Cook of the Advertiser in Adeliade sums it up nicely.

"MOST Essendon footy fans are hurting.

I see it on the faces of my colleagues who have supported the Bombers since childhood. From a formative age, your allegiance to a particular football club rapidly becomes part of your psyche. It is a commitment for life. You can no more swap clubs than a parent would swap a child. True fans invest an irrational amount of emotional energy following the fortunes of their team. The overall happiness level of some people's weekend really does swing on the win - or loss - of their team. Even with a win on a weekend this season, and they had the biggest of all last Saturday, Essendon fans have been doing it tough. For months, Essendon has been under intense duress about allegations of a systematic regime of regular injections of peptides (drugs) of its players. It is no surprise a siege mentality has developed and open warfare with the AFL became the result.....

The Essendon crisis looks increasingly like a case of "charismatic authority". First defined by German sociologist Max Weber, who talks about the "superhuman individual", charismatic authority is a phenomenon where power is legitimised on the basis of a leader's exceptional personal qualities or achievements which inspire loyalty and obedience from followers. Leaders in this position are not accustomed to their decisions being challenged, their ideas contradicted or their judgment second guessed." (Craig Cook, Bomber coach's win-at-all-costs mentality at heart of Essendon's drugs downfall", Advertiser Adelaide,AUGUST 26, 2013)

"Passing the buck at Essendon, By Wayne Goldsmith, The Drum, Posted Tue 27 Aug 2013, 11:48am AEST

Who advised James Hird to take the course of denial he has taken? In a misguided attempt to protect his brand, James Hird insists on denying his responsibility as senior coach for the doping scandal besetting his club, so bringing the whole game into disrepute, writes Wayne Goldsmith. Every club has a code of conduct (flexible). They all have rules of behaviour (bendable). And they all have mission statements, vision statements, team values, team trademarks and team policies (all negotiable). But there is one rule - one overriding law that every person in every AFL team knows and understands and cannot deny - that is unbreakable. No-one can do anything in an AFL football department that directly affects or involves the players without the full knowledge and approval of the senior coach."

So today this is the latest example of the decline of ethical behaviour, resonsibility and moral authority in Australia. Meanwhile over at Rivers clothing retailer the owner is embroiled in a sexual behaviour issue in Australia's federal court. "Rivers boss Philip Harry Goodman accused of sexual harassment in court EMILY PORTELLI HERALD SUN AUGUST 27, 2013 12:01AM,

A MILLIONAIRE retail tycoon grabbed a young designer's breast and bottom, forced her to model underwear and repeatedly made lewd, inappropriate comments, a court has heard. Philip Harry Goodman, sole director of Rivers Australia, also made Sallyanne Robinson take photos of a naked colleague, the Federal Court heard. This was despite her having complained to a supervisor. Mr Goodman, who is in his 50s, denies her claim of sexual harassment. Ms Robinson told the court Mr Goodman showered her with unwanted attention, taking her on regular shopping trips during which he would tell her how attractive she was and that men must be falling over themselves to "get into her pants"."

"Sexual harassment condoned at power firm Energy Australia, Federal Court is told, AAP August 26, 2013 3:32PM

A CULTURE of sexual harassment and the degradation of women is "rampant" at a major Australian energy company, according to a former employee who claims she was unfairly sacked. Kate Shea has claimed in court she was sacked from Energy Australia for highlighting a culture “where sexual harassment is condoned”, after alleging that she was groped by a company executive. The company says Ms Shea lost her job as part of a necessary restructure and questions why she is seeking to be reinstated through her legal action if the culture is inappropriate. Ms Shea's lawyer Charles Gunst QC told the Federal Court the male-dominated executive team routinely subjected employees to sexual taunts and lewd language. Ms Shea, 47, claims one former executive pulled down the pants of a male employee in front of other staff members and explained it as a “prank gone wrong”, the court heard. Digital Pass $1 for first 28 Days Mr Gunst said a member of the human resources department was also forced to trail managing director Richard McIndoe at a company Christmas party to ensure he “behaved himself”."

"Aussie Breasts are “Bangers” Says Target Gok Wan TV Ad [VIDEO]...By Athena Yenko | August 27, 2013 11:19 AM EST A Target TV Ad which featured British fashion stylist, Gok Wan, suffered complaints as Aussie women expressed their feelings of being insulted with Gok Wan calling their breasts "bangers". The Target TV ad showed women in their undies while they have their breast measurements and then doing their catwalks. Then, Mr Wan said, "your bangers will never feel more loved."

In an interview with The Guardian, Aussie women expressed their furies over Target Gok Wan TV Ad. "I just expect so much better from Target as they present themselves as a family store," the complainant said. "I have seen this ad on a number of occasions and really felt uncomfortable and disappointed," one complainant said. "A female body is a beautiful thing, not to be cheapened by a poofter calling breasts bangers!!! I was breast fed, not banger fed!," another women said. In another report from The Daily Telegraph, women wrote about their frustrations. Must Read Microsoft Surface ProApple iPad 5 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 2: Features, Release and More Comparisons Child using computerJapan: Internet 'Fasting Camps' for Web Addicted Children Actor Vin Diesel poses with his daughter Hania Riley during a ceremony to unveil his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California, August 26, 2013.Hollywood Walk of Fame: Fast and Furious Actor Vin Diesel Thanks Gran for 2,504th Star Big Brother Australia - Caleb‘Big Brother Australia’ 4th Nomination: Nomination Virgins Up For Eviction + Did Caleb Just Nominate Himself? [VIDEO] Sponsorship Link "I have never called, or even heard another woman, or man for that matter, refer to women's breasts as bangers, bangers are a slang term for sausage, I do not want my breast referred to as meat," one women wrote. "I find it distasteful that he uses the term "bangers" to describe women's breasts. If a straight man were to use similar language during prime-time TV, there could be a huge outcry by women claiming sexist behaviour," wrote another."(Source:au ibtimes) Target is an iconic Australian retailer. We deliver style and quality every day at prices our customers love. Every Australian can love shopping at Target. ("

The Australian Advertising Standards Bureau ruled the ad video is okay raising questions as to their ignorance of the longterm trends in degrading advertising or ads passed off as "fun". This is the industry
judging itself. I wonder if it cares that it is held in low regard by quite a number of the Australian population?

"Coles fined for using 'Australian Grown' signs on imported fruit, ACCC takes action against supermarket giant over its misrepresentation of fruit and vegetable displays Helen Davidson,, Monday 1 July 2013 17.08 AEST

"Coles is again in trouble for misrepresenting the origin of its products, after paying more than $60,000 in infringement notices over Helping Australia Grow signs advertising imported fruit and vegetables. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it took action after it received a complaint that Coles was displaying imported fruit underneath price boards which read "Helping Australia Grow" with the triangular "Australian Grown" symbol. "The ACCC surveyed a number of Coles stores and found that the signage was also being used in other stores to advertise imported asparagus and almonds," said the ACCC. Coles said the incidents, which occurred in the ACT, NSW, Queensland, and Western Australia between March and May of this year, was a result of the stock being moved within the stores, but the signs weren't changed."

"Just last month the competition regulator launched legal proceedings against Coles for engaging in false, misleading and deceptive conduct in the supply of bread that was particually baked and frozen off-site, then transported to Coles stores, 'finished' in-store and marketed as 'Baked Today, Sold Today' or 'Freshly Baked In-Store'. The ACCC is also investigating the conduct of both Coles and Woolworths in regards to their dealings with suppliers, amid accusations both supermarket chains use bullying tactics to force prices down." (1 July, 2013 Danielle Bowling,

"Breach of competition law? Coles and Woolworths may have misused their market power by imposing unfair penalties on suppliers, demanding additional payments and discriminating against them in favour of their private label brands, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims told the Senate economics estimates committee in Canberra last night. The ACCC was also concerned about the supermarket giants’ shopper dockets offering petrol discounts, as they could not be matched by other fuel retailers, and Mr Sims said the regulator was close to finalising an investigation into the petrol discounts. He said the regulator had obtained "considerable material from the major supermarket chains", confirming that 50 businesses that supply the supermarket giants had spoken to the ACCC in the past year. The ACCC was still investigating their claims.

"Now that we understand the broad nature and context of the alleged conduct, it is evident that, if fully put to proof, this conduct may constitute a breach of the [Competition and Consumer] Act and so it is now being investigated in even more detail," he said. Mr Sims said the alleged conduct by both Woolworths and Coles included: Persistent demands for additional payments from suppliers, above and beyond that negotiated in their terms of trade; The imposition on suppliers of penalties that did not form part of any negotiated terms of trade, and which apparently do not relate to actual costs incurred by the major supermarket chains as a result of the conduct which has led to the penalty being imposed; Threats to remove products from supermarket shelves or otherwise disadvantage suppliers if claims for extra payments or penalties are not paid; Failure to pay prices agreed with suppliers; and conduct discriminating in favour of homebrand products." (Sydney Morning Herald Business Day, "Predatory behaviour? Investigation at Coles February 14, 2013, Eli Greenblat and Lucy Battersby")

"THE Reserve Bank has struck a good face-value price for the sale of its 50 per cent stake in the scandal-plagued plastic banknote manufacturer Securency International. But Securency has been a truly miserable investment that it will be greatly relieved to be rid of. ..... Internal allegations of corrupt payments by agents of NPA were referred by the Reserve to law firm Freehills in 2007. Freehills concluded that corruption laws had not been broken, and the Reserve, by that time in possession of a separate report on Securency that concluded that Securency's processes were "more tightly controlled", did not go the federal police until May 2009, after Baker and Mckenzie reported on corruption concerns inside Securency. "If I review this in my own mind and contemplate whether we might see some parallel set of circumstances, I think that additional step [informing police] would be prudent," Mr Stevens said in October. "There should have been more scepticism and more questioning of the management of both companies earlier than there was." (Sydney Morning Herald Business Day, Securency gone, but risk not forgotten February 13, 2013, Malcolm Maiden), "New charges in banknote bribery case, March 15, 2013, Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie

Federal police have charged a ninth former Reserve Bank of Australia banknote executive with foreign bribery offences. The Melbourne Magistrates Court was told on Thursday that former Note Printing Australia sales manager Steven Wong, 57, has been charged with conspiring to offer a benefit to another person with the intention of influencing a foreign public official in a bid to obtain or retain business with Nepal's central bank. Three other former NPA executives already facing charges over a conspiracy to bribe officials in Malaysia and Indonesia were also charged with bribery and false accounting offences related to the Nepal deal. NPA's former chief executive John Leckenby, former chief financial officer Peter Hutchinson, and former sales manager Barry Brady are alleged to have created a false invoice for $260,000 in February 2003. NPA, which is 100 per cent owned by the Reserve Bank, was charged as a corporate entity in 2011 with conspiring to bribe officials in Indonesia and Nepal."

Maybe I am old fashioned and this is a new era of societal mores which I have trouble adjusting too. Kevin R Beck, August 28, 2013.

The end of Confession

November 2012: The issue of child, and other abuse, including rape, posssible muder even, by religious clergy, carers and guardians, exploded onto the Australian political stage. Victoria's government moved to a parliamentary enquiry into the abuse of children by clergy. In NSW the government created a limited enquiry into the role of police in covering up cases and hindering and stopping investigations.

The political response of state government Premiers was not enough to quell the public outcry. The major political players, and the Catholic Church had, like so many others in the instutional and corporate world, misread the mood of the populace, over estimated their abilities and powers, and yet again ignored the power of electronic communication in the new world of ctizen participation. This has turned out so many times to be at the peril of the power elite.

Unlike the "let's control the thing" approach generally adopted as pro forma, in the world of detached vorporations, institutions and governments, the Prime Minister, after a few short days of assault via these networks of enraged citizens and behind the scenes parliamentary angst, announced a Royal Commission. Many people do not realise that this excercise may take as long as ten years.

Australia's Cardinal Pell appeared on television. I noted a haunted look in his eyes. I pondered this. Perhaps the good Cardinal is used, like many bosses, to being obeyed and to be being able to control his world. To being held in highregard and respect. he said that he had received nothing but support for his approach and non one had said to him that it was not good enough. It seems that events are moving beyond his grasp and he is at a loss to know what to do. To my mind he compounded his situation by claiming exaggeration and a campaign by the media and said he welcomed the enquiry to separate "fiction from fact". In contrast the Bishop in the Hunter Region admitted there were deviates in his parish and he wanted to know how they got there and how they protected themselves.

It has emerged that some men, as groups, may have joined the clergy to have access to an unlimited supply of children for their abuse and degradtion, sexual apetites and deviant acts.

I think we are seeing the final days of Cardinal Pell in Australia, predicting he will be called to the Vatican to spend his days in reflection. Instead of going out on a high he goes out in a cloud. No glory here.

An army of public relations, heavy duty specialists and another titular head of the Church will be brought in, more skilled and practiced, to manage this disaster.

Along with the assault on the institutions comes an assault on the sanctity of the Catholic confessional. This sacrosanct plank of the Catholic Church, too, is looking at the end of its days.

Hubris and ego kicks in

October 2012: The Speaker of Australia's parliament Mr Peter Slipper, has been sidelined pending a civil court case brought by a former staff member. The case is expsoing the sordid (behind the scenes) world of this key important role in our nation's national parliament. The whole episode has exposed the duplicity and hypocrisy of everyone involved from the government to the opposition. The national interest is shown again to run a poor last to the personal interests of the political incumbents. There are no ethical boundaries there are no moral compasses anywhere. yet the incumbents would have us believe they are righteous. These people are indignant if they are subjected to the same treatment metered out on others under the system of government and regulation.

The most senior executives of Australia's Reserve Bank sit in a parliamentary enquiry wriggling as they are questioned about corruption in subidiaries of the Bank. At the least they appear incompetent and hardly woth the large salaries they are paid. At worst they appear evasive and shifty. Someone is lying about the events. There is no judicial, or legal enquiry, no royal commission. To have one of these would expose some at the top, and how the system of ptaronage and protection works. Some at the top, who claim the high moral ground, might fall from their privilege. To function and maintain power the collective must band together.

A high profile (politically partisan) Australian broadcaster, Alan Jones, falls from grace and loses his influencing status. Even more himiliating his luxury motor vehicle provided by one of the media station's advertisers is repossessed openly and publicly. All advertising ceases on his radio programme. He has been the close associate of Prime Ministers, Ministers, members of parliaments and the corporate bosses. The leader of the Opposition Mr Tony Abbott at first takes little notice. The broadcaster is doing no more than has been accepted for years, he is after all emulating the thugs of politics and the corporate world. he is spinning lines to a less than intelelctually endowed adoring audience. But then Mr Abbott's political advisers realise that something is not quite right. The activity across the technology platforms is not merely twittering. A savvy 22 year old ahs an elecyronic petition that has some 100,000 supporters. Companies supporting the brodacsater are being taregeted by email, twitter, facebook and more. Emails threatening the viability of businesses are pouring into board rooms and CEOs offices across the nation. The advertisers panic. The broadcaster bleats on his radio show that he is being bullied by social media thugs. The man who has dished it out via a microphone for decades feels put upon.

Pundits interviewed state that advertisers will withdraw only while the ruckus lasts. Other commentators opine that small busineeses who advertised on his radio programme are being victimised. I think they knew what they were doing. They chose to support his radio show, they tolerated his rants and abuse and crass remarks. It was okay for him to say that the Prime Minister of Australia is a witch, a liar and should be put in a chaff bag and floated out to sea. The NSW government relations manager of Woolworths thought it okay to have a coat made of chaff bags, to wear it, have Allan sign it and to auction it. It cost him his job. Maybe his career. What enterprise will hire such an executive for his demonstrated public relations, and judgement, capabilities? We are to believe that all small businesses are pristine good citizens struggling to make their way. They were happy to support the broadcaster who used inter alia, vitriole, and abuse, as his primary tools. The politicians will desert Mr Jones for the momemnt becuase they think it will all blow over. The federal parliament is going to an election in 2013.

At an exclusive private school in Melbourne (methodist ladies College) a world renowned educator (Ms Rosa Storelli) is bullied, and sacked, by a Board which it now appears is full of its own status and hubris. Apparently her misdemenour was that she was overpaid several hundred thousand over fifteen years. Where were the auditors and the Board and what are their credential and hisory for quality management. Now, this person who has devoted her life to her students and craft must go because the Board cannot work with her. Many parents, benefactors and alumni, would like the Board to resign instead. They resort to their corporate behaviour models. In their worlds they are not challenged and nor are they put upon to resign unless it is within the accepted game of thrones. They wave their Board Charter around as their moral raincoat. They have taken action in the Supreme Court to protect their position. Are they paying personally? They have issued a statement that the court action is in the best interest of the school. Are they detached from academic and political reality? They are what they are and in this they are to my mind blinkered. The cost to their reputations and even their own careers may be quite high for some of them. Particularly Ms Patricia Cross, a Director Qantas and Mr Ahmed Fahour, CEO of Australia Post, owned by the Australian government. The alumni of the college and the benefactors are no slouches in their own right and in their worlds of influence. Qantas and Post Boards will not likely enjoy it if the activity focuses on them as a result of what is escalating. All is fair in love and war in the academic, corporate and political worlds.

Interested people in Australia's community, and parts of the world, are watching all of the above plus more. There is not much to respect about any of the examples above. Politicians, and business executives and Board members, are now exposed to scrutiny and instantaneous action using technology and human networks. Maybe the community at large is tired of the destruction, vitriol, abuse, degradation, the hubris, corruption, the lying and spin and the inequity. Maybe it will not blow over but become entrenched? Maybe it will go on and on in ever increasing clamour as the Mosaic unfolds. The tools of politics and business are now in the hands of the masses. For many it may be just payback. (Kevin R Beck, Melbourne, Australia)

Whilst Politicians Spins Stories in Their Unethical Ways

July 2012: Australian federal Treasurer Wayne Swan tells the nation that the government has everything on track and that we are in a fine state. A bit edgy in some of the non mining states but the government's plans and policies are bullet proof to deliver a surplus budget in 2014. The Prime Minister Julia Gillard talks of glasses half full and the wonders of our economy. Neither actually have a clue about economics other than what the media communicators drip feed into their public pronouncements.

Europe's balance sheet is disappearing quickly and the US economy and its people apparently are screwed.

"Financiers are forcing schools, parks, pools, fire departments, senior citizen centers, and libraries to shut down. They are forcing national governments to auction off their cultural heritage to the highest bidder. Everything must go in fire sales at prices rigged by twenty-something traders at the biggest and most corrupt institutions the world has ever known. And since they've bought the politicians, the policy-makers, and the courts, no one will stop it. Few will even discuss it, since most university administrations have similarly been bought off-in many cases, the universities are even headed by corporate "leaders"-and their professors are on Wall Street's payrolls." (WHY WE'RE SCREWED Author: L. Randall Wray, July 23rd, 2012, EcoMonitor)

"A handful of thieves running a modern Wall Street firm can easily run up $2 trillion in ephemeral assets whose worth is mostly determined by whatever value the thieves assign to them. And that is just the start. They also place tens of trillions of dollars of bets on derivatives whose value is purely "notional". The thieves get paid when something goes wrong-the death of a homeowner, worker, firm, or country triggers payments on Death Settlements, Peasant Insurance, or Credit Default Swaps. To ensure that death comes sooner rather than later, the undertaker works with the likes of John Paulson to handpick the most sickly households, firms and governments to stand behind the derivative bets. And the value of the Wall Street undertaker's firm is almost wholly determined by euphemistically named "goodwill"-as if there is any good will in betting on death. With these undertakers running the show, it is no wonder that we are buried under mountains of crushing debt-underwater mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans, health care debts, and auto-related finance. Simply listing the kinds of debts we owe makes it clear how far along the path of financialization we have come: everything is financialized as Wall Street has its hand in every pot." (Source: ibid, EcoMonitor is a publication of the Nouriel Roubini group, this man predicted the global financial crisis.)

If this is the case then it is highly unlikely that the US can drag itself out, printing money and rerunning quantitative easing continuously does not seem to be working. The wages of working American men and women are being slashed whilst Wall Street dances on its money bags. This is how the US economy works - low wages, and credit, fuel its economy. It relies heavily on cheap imports from China and process commodisized production, and subsidies ate every point in the chain, to both feed the nation whilst extolling consumption. If America goes pop so does Australia. America is the largest consumer of China's exports.

In Australia the Treasurer has all of his eggs in the "Asian century" basket. Another meaningless slogan coined by the script writers. The Asian century is largely China. If China drags and commodity prices plummet then the Australian government story goes to crap. Yet the spin and manipulation of fact, and fiction, continues unabated in the political interest. The liberal party is not much better. Opposition Leader in the Australian parliament, Tony Abbott, claims the miracle bringer philosophy. They claim to have the secret potion, and knowledge and skill, to running the Australian economy. An economy that is totally dependent on outside forces. They too have little economic credentials in their parliamentary leadership. So when is it that someone in the major political parties, government or opposition, will tell the truth and not just lie to get their chance at government? Not real soon under our declining, and unethical, parliamentary incumbency and political construct. The Greens who tell the truth even though they have no idea what the truth really is or how the real world system, and economies, works are in no position to govern.


Top Vic bureaucrat quits after court order From: AAP July 17, 2012 2:39PM,"THE senior bureaucrat responsible for overseeing ethics in Victoria's public service (Australian state) has quit after a court found she lied to police. Karen Cleave told police she was driving her government car when it hit a tree in East Malvern on February 16 but later changed her story, admitting her 18-year-old son was driving. Ms Cleave last week avoided a conviction for hindering police and was placed on a diversion program by a magistrate. Premier Ted Baillieu said Ms Cleave resigned as head of the chief executive of the State Services Authority on Monday. "It's a decision that she's made and I think in the circumstances that is understandable," he told reporters on Tuesday."

Such is the level of degradation inside Australia's state governments. The Premier batted away questions with his normal (no pulse) reaction. He did not condemn the woman for her perversity and betrayal of her public service role. How can Mr Baillieu, like all other politicians in Australia, issue condemnation on ethics when they have, to my mind, no personal credibility on ethics, and morality. The response of people in power in Australia, particularly governments, is to use their position to silence, denigrate or belittle critics. Would they disadvantage people's livelihoods also? In my opinion without a second thought. Australia has its version of a "political mafia" elite class, mired in self interested governance.


"HSBC 'sorry' for aiding Mexican drugs lords, rogue states and terrorists Executive quits in front of US Senate as bank faces massive fines for 'horrific' lapses that resulted in laundering money for drugs cartels and pariah states." (Source: Dominic Rushe in New York,, Tuesday 17 July 2012 18.29)

That is what they do now, they apologise. These people are no sent to jail nor are they personally penalised. The shareholders of the banks, and the customers, wear the billion dollar fines and losses. The executives thumb their nose and the political lobbyists move in to ensure legislators all obey the game rules. This is a club and the club cost you billions and billions in the GFC and will continue to do so. Like property developers the big bankers and
corporations own the major political patties, in Australia, and in the rest of the world. These are the "commercial mafia".

"Bank Lobby Widened Volcker Rule, Inciting Foreign Outrage, By Yalman Onaran - Feb 24, 2012 7:56 AM ET: U.S. banks pushed regulators to widen proposed restrictions on trading and hedge-fund ownership by foreign firms, then encouraged governments around the world to complain about the rule's reach. The two-pronged lobbying strategy resulted in foreign officials joining U.S. lenders to push back against the Volcker rule, named after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul A. Volcker and incorporated in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.

Last year, U.S. banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley lobbied the Fed and other regulators to apply the Volcker rule more broadly to companies based outside the U.S., according to four people with knowledge of the discussions who asked not to be identified because the talks were private. Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg “The criticism of foreign governments on behalf of their banks is helping U.S. banks fight the rule,” said Anat Admati, a professor of finance at Stanford University. “It also muddies the water, shifting the debate away from the main issue, which is reducing the risks banks impose on the economy.”

"Losses by JPMorgan's London traders soar to $5.8bn
Bank makes $5bn profit despite bad bets that fuelled criticism of the City

The City's reputation suffered another blow yesterday as JPMorgan revealed a sharp escalation in losses from the activities of some of its London traders. Bets on credit placed by the bank's London-based Chief Investment Office (CIO) racked up losses of $4.4bn (£2.8bn) between April and June, more than twice the initial estimate of $2bn. Combined with first-quarter losses of $1.4bn, the total stands at $5.8bn. Jamie Dimon, the chief executive, admitted that the bank "had shot itself in the foot". He said an internal investigation had raised questions about the values that traders placed on certain bets, and that the traders may have sought to mask losses. " (Source: The Independent, JAMES MOORE, NICK GOODWAY, SATURDAY 14 JULY 2012)

"Former Securency CFO pleads guilty 19 July 2012 7:04am The former company secretary and chief financial officer of Securency International, David Ellery, yesterday entered a guilty plea in the Supreme Court of Victoria on a charge of false accounting. The Age reported on the plea. The charge related to a payment of A$79,502 to a Kuala Lumpur-based "arms broker". Ellery will testify for the prosecution at forthcoming trials of several Securency colleagues. The company is also a respondent to criminal charges. The Reserve Bank of Australia, through Note Printing Australia, owns a half share in Securency. The firm manufactures substrate used in production of plastic banknotes. Allegations of corrupt dealings at the firm were first reported by The Age in 2009." (Source: Banking July 19, 2012)

"The report of a Fair Work Australia (FWA) investigation, tabled in parliament on Monday, alleges that Mr Thomson, who was elected to the NSW seat of Dobell in 2007, had breached workplace laws over the spending of $71,300 in HSU funds on his campaign. A further $154,713 was spent on one staffer and $41,707 on another connected to his campaign. Fair Work Australia has found Mr Thomson spent almost $500,000 of union members' funds on escorts, cash withdrawals, meals and electioneering, including $1425 after he became a federal MP." (Source: MP Craig Thomson lived high life on union funds Steve Lewis and Andrew Clennell The Daily Telegraph, Sydney Australia, May 08, 2012)

"Regulators are investigating Credit Agricole, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale over the Libor manipulation scandal that claimed the boss of British bank Barclays, the Financial Times reports.

Barclays was fined STG290 million ($A441 million) after admitting attempting to manipulate the Libor and Euribor rates between 2005 and 2009. Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) is a flagship London instrument used as an interest benchmark throughout the world, while Euribor is the eurozone equivalent. The rates play a key role in global markets, affecting what banks, businesses and individuals pay to borrow money." (Source: Four bank giants probed in Libor scandal13:39 AEST Thu Jul 19 2012, AAP)

Supermarkets vs. Australia, Posted by: 3AW NEWS, 6 July, 2012 - 8:33 AM

FRIDAY: Woolworths suppliers claim the supermarket giant has made brutal price cut demands and threatened to stop selling their product. The Age reports that Woolies has told suppliers to cut their prices by 10% within two weeks, or have their goods removed from shelves. The moves prompted Independent Senator Nick Xenophon to call for the grocery chain to face a Senate Inquiry to explain it's actions. Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce says suppliers feel intimidated because they have limited options.

"A fired-up Jeff Kennett has used his spot on the Neil Mitchell program to hit out at misleading tactics used by a major supermarket which he argues is forcing Australian manufacturers out of business. The former Premier raised the issue about the 'predatory action' of supermarkets back in March and says he has since received more information to confirm his initial concerns." (Jeff Kennett: The Coles freshly baked "con" Posted by: Michael James & Ned Franklin, 5 July, 2012, 3AW, Melbourne Australia)


"VICTORIA's new fire chief was in charge of South Australia's rural fire service when it was slammed by the state coroner.

Euan Ferguson has been hired by the Country Fire Authority to replace embattled former chief Russell Rees after he resigned amid scathing criticism of his performance on Black Saturday, especially over the failure to warn communities and for failing to adequately warn people of a bushfire that killed nine people and destroyed almost 100 homes. But Mr Ferguson was in charge of the Country Fire Service in 2007 when the deputy coroner Anthony Schapel found the CFS mismanaged the response to the fatal Black Tuesday fire in Port Lincoln and he withstood continued calls to resign. Mr Schapel found the CFS failed to warn the public when the fire began and did not adequately respond to the fire, which started from a car exhaust spark....... The coroner also found Mr Ferguson did not act on a "significant incident" pager message because he thought the State Incident Controller would have got it and it was the controller's job to respond. Mr Ferguson -- who will start his role on November 15 -- was also the subject of a performance review in 2008 that recommended he should be placed on a formal mentoring program and be subject to key performance indicators. It found he had problems taking directions from government ministers, had a "self-promoting management style" and identified 25 areas that needed "considerable development". But Mr Ferguson told The Weekend Australian yesterday the coroner commended him for his leadership of the CFS, saying it was in "good hands". He said he had learned a lot from Black Tuesday, the coronial inquest and the process of implementing all the recommendations made. Mr Ferguson -- who previously worked for the CFA -- said his experiences would make him best placed to implement all the changes made by the royal commission into Black Saturday." (Source: Euan Ferguson defends his appointment Milanda Rout From: The Australian October 02, 2010 12:00AM)

Findings in the matter of Following the Wangary fire, the CFS Chief Officer, Mr Euan Ferguson, ... A report entitled 'Outcomes from the South Australian Country Fire Service Project ... Pursuant to section 25(2) of the Coroner's Act 2003 I am empowered to make ...
Go to Corner's Report

There is something seriously wrong with the methods of appointment and the processes of accountability under Australia's state governments, particularly in the state of Victoria. Within this web site you will learn about these and see the results. The Premier, John Brumby, seems to be distant from the ethical and moral attributes that define good public service, good government and sound processes. In November 2010 the people of Victoria go to election and it is hoped that they discern the two parties are less than exemplary in their offerings and capabilities.


Victorian Planning Minister Justin Madden has absolved himself of responsibility for a plot to deceive the public about a multi-million dollar development. Mr Madden has laid blame for the plan squarely with media adviser Peta Duke, who has been dumped from the government's media unit and planning portfolio.... Ms Duke accidentally sent an ABC journalist an email containing a media strategy for dealing with the proposed $260 million redevelopment of the heritage-listed Windsor Hotel in Melbourne. ..... The plan, which Mr Madden says was written by Ms Duke, was to conduct a public consultation on the application, then block the proposal and claim credit for listening to the community. Mr Madden suggested Ms Duke was solely responsible for creating the strategy, without any input from himself or senior staff. "This strategy was not mine," Mr Madden told reporters in Melbourne on Friday." (Source: Madden blames staffer for hotel strategy February 26, 2010, Sydney Morning Herald)

Justin Madden repeated this blame before the Victorian Upper House enquiry being conducted during September and October, 2010. In Mr Madden's world he operates in isolation of knowing anything nasty or compromising. This is true.

"Madden media plan shows the inner workings of spin March 7, 2010, the Age Melbourne: The government yesterday repeated that the plan was an "internal speculative working document" and refused to answer further questions. But, as the opposition pointed out, there is little that is speculative about the eight pages. The plan is actually considered, detailed, strategic and well-informed. Duke, who was blamed for coming up with the strategy to scuttle the Windsor development and has now been moved from the media unit, was actually very good at her job." (The Age)

The Ministers of Australia's governments know full well that there are games and unethical practices going on and there is a process to isolate the Ministers from accountability. This is a corruption of government that is common place and entrenched. Justin Madden is an example of the quality of our politicians - a political mediocrity in practices, and ethics, that now is embedded within government.

April 2010: SAME OLD SAME OLD:

The Minister for Planning in the Australian state of Victoria, Justin Madden, is in the spotlight again. It is reported that he was approached to fast track a development application near Warrnambool. Turns out his first cousin is one of the owners. Kustin said on television that he was not aware of this fact. The council knew, public servants knew and Justin Madden did not, the reason he stated was that he had lots of relatives down there and they "breed like rabbits". This Minister of government is a buffoon. Below in this web site are other examples of his lax attention to ethics and good portfolio management, particularly the exposure of a media adviser in his office proposing to rig a consultation process.

"Madden under fire for considering cousin's development
Updated April 14, 2010 07:22:00, Mr Madden says he was not aware of his cousin's association with the proposal. (ABC TV)

It has been revealed Victorian Planning Minister Justin Madden did not disqualify himself from deciding whether to fast-track a development proposal involving a close relative. Mr Madden was examining whether to fast-track several industrial areas in Warrnambool, one of which his first cousin wanted to develop. Local residents are opposed to the proposal.

The revelation has placed Mr Madden under renewed pressure, with Opposition planning spokesman Matthew Guy saying he should have disqualified himself and should now resign. "When the Minister signs on a council recommendation to fast-track his own cousin's development re-zoning, that is a conflict of interest," he said. "If Justin Madden doesn't understand this, he should not be in the position of Planning Minister."

In a statement, Mr Madden says he was not aware of his cousin's association with the proposal. He says he has rejected the fast-tracking application and will delegate any future decisions on the matter to the secretary of the planning department." (source of extract: ABC Gippsland,

There is an Upper House enquiry under way into Mr Madden's staff member's proposal top rig the consultation process for the Windsor Hotel site in Spring Street. The Premier John Brumby and Attorney General Rob Hulls have exhibited a lack of moral integrity and ethics by stonewalling the enquiry. According to Mr Hulls past practice of the parliament and its conventions rate above the right of the peoples' house to carry out its operations unfettered. The conventions to which Mr Hulls refers are there to protect the hides of the politicians and to serve the interest of the government and its Minister above the public interest.

Further evidence of the poor ethical behaviour of the government and some senior public servants can be seen in the furore around the appearance of the former Police Commissioner, Ms Nixon, before the Bush Fire Royal Commission and calls for her dismissal.

"Premier John Brumby backs Christine Nixon despite damning evidence at Bushfire Royal Commission Stephen McMahon, Geraldine Mitchell From: Herald Sun April 15, 2010 12:00AM

Nixon's silent night
Former Chief Commissioner didn't speak to any colleagues for three hours on night of Black Saturday

JOHN Brumby has used the example of Russell Rees to defend his decision to keep Christine Nixon on following damning evidence at the Bushfires Royal Commission. Despite the explosive revelations about her actions on Black Saturday in the Bushfires Royal Commission yesterday, Premier Brumby said today he won't sack Ms Nixon. Asked whether his own credibility could suffer for supporting Nixon, Mr Brumby compared it with his decision to keep the CFA chief amid calls for his head soon after the fires. “I stood by Russell Rees at the time. There were lots of calls for him to go. I believe I made the right judgment. (Source of extract: Herald Sun, April 15, 2010,

" Jeff Kennett calls for Christine Nixon's head Stuart Rintoul From: The Australian April 10, 2010

CHRISTINE Nixon had lost all credibility and should be sacked as head of Victoria's bushfire reconstruction authority, Jeff Kennett said yesterday, as the Black Saturday royal commission confirmed it would recall the former police chief to the witness stand. Mr Kennett said Ms Nixon's decision to dine with friends as the state burned on February 7 last year was "mind-numbing". The former premier said he would have immediately sacked Ms Nixon for abandoning her post during the state's worst natural disaster, in which 173 people died. "The fact that Christine Nixon withdrew herself from her responsibilities at a time of need is, in my opinion, untenable," he said. "It is just mind-numbing in terms of a failure to accept responsibility." (Source: The Australian,

During her appearance at the Royal Commission on Wednesday she became belligerent, changed her evidence from a previous appearance and appeared to try and avoid open responses. Following her resignation as Police Commissioner it has emerged that during her tenure poor management within the information technology division resulted in tens of millions of dollars of waste, questions about receipt of gifts by police administrative personnel and other questionable practices. The Premier John Brumby demands, and enforces, no accountability nor responsibility in government (Ministry, advisers or senior public servants) by anyone at any level. The record shows that he appears to place political expediency above good and open governance. The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has come out in support of Ms Nixon.

"Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Premier John Brumby defended Ms Nixon. "Christine and the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority have been crucial to helping fire-affected communities rebuild," Mr Brumby said in a statement. "The government supports Christine continuing in her role at VBRRA." Mr Rudd backed her to stay on as head of the joint state-commonwealth body. "The prime minister has full confidence in Christine Nixon and the work she is doing leading the bushfire reconstruction in Victoria," a spokesman for Mr Rudd said. (Source: Weekly Times Now, AAP & April, 2010, PM backs Nixon who won't quit,

It is not surprising that Mr Rudd would support Ms Nixon given his own record in office and that of the Labor Party generally in Australia. Mr Rudd demands no accountability and responsibility and would rather engage in obsfucation and cover up of the performance of his failed policy actions and those of his Ministers. These are reported on the Mosaic Portal Australian
Rudd and Australia web site and also on the Mosaic Portal Australian Politics web site.

Ms Nixon may well be a good person, well meaning and think that she has acquitted herself accordingly. There is another question brought about by the revelations of her time as Police Commissioner (information technology waste and performance as leader), and her apparent lapses of judgement regarding the bush fire crisis, it is, is she competent to undertake the roles she has been given and do her employers get good value for the $A360,000 (Bushfire reconstruction) and $A200,000 (Member of the Board of Fosters) for their money?

There are many examples of the Peter Principle, in operation, within the State of Victoria, in the rest of Australia's governments, institutions, public service and corporations. The global financial crisis has exposed quite a number.

"The Peter Principle concept was introduced by Canadian sociologist Dr. Laurence Johnston Peter in his humoristic book of the same title. In his book, he describes the pitfalls of the bureaucracy in organizations witnessed during his extensive research into business organization and its management.

The Peter Principle book has attained such renown that The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as "The theory that employees within an organization will advance to their highest level of competence and then be promoted to and remain at a level at which they are incompetent." ... "In a hierarchically structured administration, people tend to be promoted up to their level of incompetence," or, as Dr. Peters Principal explained more simply, "The cream rises until it sours."

Peter Principle Management is the concept that in bureaucratic organizations, new employees typically start in the lower ranks, but when they prove to be competent in the task to which they are assigned, they get promoted to a higher rank, generally management. This process of climbing up the hierarchical ladder can go on indefinitely, until the employee reaches a position where he or she is no longer competent. At that moment the process typically stops, since the established rules of bureaucracies make it very difficult to "demote" someone to a lower rank, even if that person would be a much better fit and happier in a non-management role. The net result of this principle is that most of the management levels of a bureaucracy will be filled by incompetent people, who got there because they were quite good at doing different (and usually, but not always, easier) work than the work they are currently expected to perform.

According to Laurence Johnston Pieter: Work is accomplished by those employees who have not reached their level of incompetence.

The Peter Principle is so appropriate and meaningful a lesson for business, that it has found its way into Masters Degree (MBA) curriculae as a foundation for the next generation to protect itself. But it seems that this hierarchy within companies continues to be the organizational structure of choice for government and big business." (Source: The Peter Principle, Bureaucracy At Work, Envision Software Incorporated,

The above critique, and commentary, was authored by Kevin Beck, Melbourne Australia, except where attributed to another source.


Every week almost without fail the Victorian labor party and its senior parliamentary members and political staff are shown to have questionable understanding of, or regard for, ethics as they pursue personal, and political agendas, for the maintenance of power and office. The Premier of Victoria, the Honourable John Brumby, has brushed aside the contemptuous document that opens the door to the murky world of the Ministry of Justin Madden.

Beyond the walls of the parliament operates the labor party owned "Progressive Business". The fund raising corporation for selling access, and perhaps (perceived) favours, to those who can afford to pay. The annual programme of dinners, breakfasts and special functions clearly links attendance to the presence of the Premier and/or senior decision makers. The organisers who run "Progressive Business" want more senior politicians and political staff to attend functions and play a higher profile.

What does "Progressive Business" precisely mean? It implies a special status and agenda towards doing business in return for cash? Its existence is a constant risk to the labor party and the Premier, John Brumby and the Ministers who attend the functions. Fiona McRae, a so called spokesperson for the Mr. Brumby clearly demonstrated a lack of understanding or regard for perception and ethical standards. She claimed that Progressive Business events were conducted with high standards and strict probity arrangements. (Source: The Age Newspaper, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday April, 1, 2010, page 1)

This is quite simply cant. Probity is a common tool used by politicians, political minders and public servants to distance themselves from accountability and responsibility. Ms Mcrae perhaps might benefit from attending an
ethics class

"PB has put in place a number of measures to ensure there is confidence in the integrity of the forums and to protect against even a perceived possibility of influence", she said (Source: as above) Is Ms McRae serious? Does she think that we are all gullible and stupid? She should look at what she said, how do you protect against perception? What an idiotic concept. Progressive Business' whole platform is about selling access to senior politicians on masse. Ms McRae goes on to pontificate that the Premier Mr Brumby and the Treasurer Mr Lenders were permitted to "take private meetings" with business people who were tendering for government business. (Source; The Age, as above) On what ethical measure is this proposition correct? She may not read the various codes of conduct, and the oaths, regarding the holding of public office.

Her whole argument fails on the statements on one man. In November 2009 Mr. Alan Blood, whose company bought a gold sponsorship paying $A10,000 for a table at last year's dinner, sat next to the Premier. Mr Blood gave a frank description of the night and exposed the fanciful justifications of Ms McRae, and hypocrisy of the labor party, the senior politicians of the Victorian parliament and, to my mind, the Premier John Brumby who claims that access cannot be bought. So, on that basis, why wasn't Mr Blood's attendance free?

My perception is that Progressive Business is the proof of corruption in the Australian labor party, generally, and in Victoria's political system and government. The other incidence's, such as a media staff member, in Minister Justin Madden's office, putting a proposition to create sham consultation perverting the planning system is just icing on the cake. That these unelected people, including Ms McRae think it is okay to conduct government, and relationships, this way is a reflection on the people above who fail to inculcate and demand ethical behaviour. McRae's probity system seems to be a failure in my case, for my perception is that John Brumby, and many of his political colleagues and the Victorian labor party machine people, do not seem to possess an ethical compass. They are desperate to raise funds, by any means, to fight their presidential style election campaigns. "Whatever it takes", in the words of former labor party federal Minister Richardson.


February 2010: The state of Australia's moral decay in governments is appalling. Yet the electors seem either oblivious, or ignorant, of this fact. They tolerate dishonest and unethical behaviour at state government levels as displayed in Tasmania, Queensland and lately in Victoria. What culture pervades our system of democracy to the extent that political staff would deem it acceptable to propose, in writing, strategies of lying, and misrepresentation, and corruption of public consultation and planning processes? What is the respect that advisers have for the electorate, the democracy and their own political leaders? At the federal level Kevin Rudd is over sighting, and implementing, a destruction of the quality and ethical base of the Commonwealth Public Service and ministerial integrity. He blathers on, over and over, repeating the same inane statement - "I am stepping up to the plate". Good, go play baseball in the United States. Political commentators seem to think that the voters are so immune to corruption and lying, waste and dismal ethics that they will re-elect the corroders of the character of Australian democracy and public service. (Kevin R Beck, Melbourne, Australia


May 23, 2009: The current economic and financial crisis has been blamed on many things most notably on the failure of regulators. There has been some mention of greed but little examination of the role of world government leaders and the business community in the current situation where banks and companies and whole governments collapse. In Australia, the Liberal Party has cast itself as the consummate economic manager. It is to my mind quite the opposite. The Australian political leaders of the late nineties (1996), in all governments (labor and conservative), up to today, may be determined to be abject failures for having brought us here. That would be far better than the alternative of either grossly incompetent, or complicit in the activities. Politicians, public servants and their advisers all claimed to be far more than they are. They have taken large amounts of public monies, in their political and public sector careers, and returned very little. Labor NSW, has been so incompetent in government, along with the public service, that they managed to destroy the economic base of Australia's largest state (NSW) leaving a legacy for the current Premier, a government shackled by party thugs and others who are criminals, They will, of course, all go through their careers believing the opposite, in self delusion.

Either they were, and are, incompetent in not noticing what was going on, theft, greed, corruption and poor policy or they were prepared to overlook it. The latter is what I think since they are all well educated and intelligent and they consort with, and embrace, criminals in their midst, and ranks, and in many cases laud them.

Alongside them, to be questioned as to competence are the Australian Treasury, members of the Board of the Reserve Bank, Australian prudential regulatory Authority, Australian Security and Investment Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Then there are boards of Australian banks and corporations. They all appear quite happy to reap the money, the largesse, and the surpluses in government, that would in 2008 - 2009 - 2010 - 2011 make millions destitute. They rubbed shoulders with the world economists and business leaders. They examined the books, made budgets and predictions. They told stories and untruths. They manufactured their own facts. They were all wrong. In 2009 Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan are fuelling an overpriced housing market either they are dumb or they are after short term political capital. Either way it seems that it is a sin for a government to be in debt quite okay for every citizen to be over burned in the economic, and political, interest. The financial crisis is the greatest example of the failure of ethical conscience and moral integrity.

A few weeks back Richard Pratt passed away. He was the creator, and majority owner of the Visy Corporation, one of Australia's largest package manufacturing. During his life Mr Pratt and his wife became one of Australia's most philanthropic couples. They were apart form the generally measly contributors in the wealthy society. They rubbed shoulders with Prime Ministers and the elite. They were held in high esteem.

When he died the members of the power collective, and the elite and the media, turned up to pay their respects. The prime ministers past and present showered praise on his life and generous contribution. A few years back Mr. Pratt confessed to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that Visy, and he personally had engaged in price fixing, with a competitor Amcor. The senior executives and Board of Amcor turned whistle blower to avoid prosecution and paid their fines and one spent some period in jail. Visy and Mr Pratt were fined tens of millions. Mr Pratt had participated in an illegal, and now soon to be criminal activity, stealing hundreds of millions from every person in Australia who bought a product packaged here. It was likely that the wealth he donated had at its core been illegally obtained a few cents at a time. It turned out that this was irrelevant to many of Australia's government legislators, public servants and the people who have a hand in running the nation's governments, institutions and major businesses.

Last week Malcolm Turnbull, the leader of the Opposition in the federal parliament, manufactured a proposition that the Rudd labor government was engaged in covering up rorts of expenses. he was trying to leverage off the British scandal. He said that the government had published its expenses responses to questions on the day of the budget. He knew that this was not true since the government had supplied answers to the asked questions previously to Senator Minchin, an opposition senior politician. Malcolm Turnbull was quite happy to mislead. To put it bluntly he was lying. This is common amongst most senior politicians. he also demonstrated unethical and poor judgement trying to belittle and degrade politicians as if our system is anything like the British House of Commons. He ought to spend more time, effort, and intellect, in building respect for the political class. Instead he limits his vision to puerile opportunities.

NSW government and business are so corrupt and intertwined as to make good governance in the state and any hope of ethical behaviour and integrity a forlorn hope. Their the Premier Nathan Rees is a lame duck that quacks when told to by his political (unelected masters) within the party machine. He has to appoint Ministers of limited capability, devoid of integrity and morality to senior Ministerial portfolios. There is no mechanism in the Australian states to rid the state political system, and government, of crooks and thieves once they are elected.

Victoria the politicians and the Premier are more urbane and sophisticated in their corrosion of the system of governance. It is similarly manipulated and contrived and there is large scale corruption in local government and other sectors of the government structure. The Premier resists appointing an independent body to investigate preferring to maintain surveillance through an under funded Ombudsman's office. Like all governments al large number of parasites infest the government and corporations, their function is to create misleading scenarios, smoke and mirrors. They degrade government, society, business and community as they ply their trade. The ignominy is that, in the case of government, these people work in the Ministries and agencies, paid from the public purse to corrode our government and treat us as idiots unable to think beyond a thirty second ten word sound bite on the television. John Brumby will leave no legacy to good government as similarly Nathan Rees will not. Yet they will both collect healthy pensions for life and will one day leave the offices they hold believing that they were significant successful politicians who gave it a red hot go. The spin doctors and poorly talented media and the members of the power collective will help maintain this facade.

The scandals of the 1980s, extending into the 1990s, came as a profound shock to Australians and New Zealanders. Both countries have prided themselves – somewhat smugly and naively – on being open, fair and honest societies. So it was very disillusioning to see both corruption and gross dereliction of duty exposed in virtually every sphere of public life. Perhaps the most positive outcome, however, amidst an almost daily diet of amazing revelations, has been the ability of the system – and especially the judiciary and the media – to expose and deal with corruption even at the highest level. Following an extensive survey and literature review, it is clear that there is now widespread awareness of the need for reform in many areas of public administration, corporate governance and professional behaviour. However, a continuing cause for concern is the lack of leadership in identifying and addressing complex ethical dilemmas, particularly in the areas of conflict of interest and disclosure." (Source: Business Ethics in Australia and New Zealand Journal Journal of Business Ethics, Publisher Springer Netherlands , ISSN 0167-4544 (Print) 1573-0697 (Online), Issue Volume 16, Number 14 / October, 1997, DOI 10.1023/A:1005898611568 Pages 1485-1497)

when it comes to opinions as to the ethics and honesty of Australian politicians, or trust in the federal government, the standing of Australian politicians has clearly fallen. While many commentators may overplay the extent of the drop, the fact that it has occurred is not in question. Moreover, during the same period, confidence in government slumped in various other industrial democracies. And the trend shows little sign of abating. This has led to a burgeoning body of literature on the topic of why trust in government is falling, and what can be done to arrest the slump." (source: Explaining distrust: Popular attitudes towards politicians, in Australia and the United States, Andrew Leigh1, In The Prince's New Clothes: Why do Australians Dislike their Politicians? edited by David Burchell and Andrew Leigh, UNSW Press, UNSW, Sydney, 2002, Chapter 2)

This is not a new phenomena and the fact that people distrust politicians and business (particularly banks) has been around for decades:

The most reliable data on attitudes towards Australian politicians is found in the Morgan Poll data on how various occupations are rated for ethics and honesty. This survey conducted in 1976, 1979, 1981, and annually since 1983 ” provides not only a means of observing opinions on federal and state politicians, but also of comparing those with other occupational groups." (Source: ibid)

What is frustrating, annoying and deeply disappointing is that the politicians and business leaders have done little to nothing to rectify this and have actually made conscious decisions to employ sophisticated mechanisms and processes to lie, cover their tracks, mislead and obsfucate, dissemble and even corrupt the system as described above in this article. A whole industry (public relations) has arisen and expanded to facilitate this decrepit and nauseating activity. Adding to this we have the now embedded, and corrosive use of market responses to determine whether our governments are effective. These are the people who also manipulated the system creating the 2008 - 2009 current financial crisis. The people who promoted greed and theft and who still think that they have a place in society and a contribution to make. We still look to rating agencies and con artist for commentary and analysis of our government.

"The astounding success of Hansonism is, as much as anything else, a product of the failure of spin. It is the result of the in authenticity of Australian politics in the 1980s and 90s, and the ultimate inability of the spin doctors to sustain in the electorate a belief in the sincerity of political parties. The issue then is why Australian politicians are seen to be so untrustworthy at this point in Australian history.

Spin doctoring has become a highly sophisticated and apparently indispensable political art. Labor under Hawke and Keating used it to conceal the fact that it had stolen the conservative's economic policies, and to exaggerate the differences between Labor and conservatives in order to hide their essential similarity. It used spin to persuade a suspicious and disbelieving electorate that economic rationalism was inevitable, that globalisation was an irresistible force. It used spin to convince the people that although the medicine may be unpleasant, the health effects would be wonderful.

Spin became essential in order to conceal the essential bipartisan on economic policy. This bipartisanship can be traced to the demise of the Whitlam Government. Whitlam's election coincided with the profound events that initiated a new era in world history, the era we now refer to as globalisation. Whitlam and his fellow social democrats were prepared to take Australia out of the stultifying miasma of Menzies' post-war cultural sink. But the Labor reformers were wholly unprepared for the new world that unfolded in the early 1970s initiated by collapse of the Bretton-Woods system of fixed exchange rates, the oil price shocks and the onset of stagflation. Whereas economic management had always been an important aspect of good government, now it became the touchstone 2 of political success. The era in which the commentators look first to the reaction of the markets to judge their governments had begun." (source: Hansonism and the politics of spin, A talk to Politics in the Pub Harold Park Hotel, Sydney, Friday September 4th 1998, Clive Hamilton)

The use of misrepresentation (which is a nicety for lies) and "spin" was on full display when Wayne Swan and Kevin Rudd delivered the 2009 budget.

THE post-budget political debate has degenerated into public farce, thanks to the antics of the Prime Minister and Treasurer, a performance matched by an Opposition trying to scare the pants off us with faux horror stories about deficits and debt, which may be having an effect. They have certainly succeeded in frightening Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan, who have developed a curious but amusing speech impediment that makes it difficult for them to pronounce the word billion in association with figures for deficits or debt. It follows an earlier impediment that prevented them pronouncing the words deficit and recession." (source: Rudd's spin more worrying than Treasury forecasts Font Size:DecreaseIncreasePrint Page:Print Alan Wood | May 22, 2009, Article from: The Australian)

In dealing with the office of the Prime Minister one might come to the conclusion that the operation is not about informative government, answers and open communication, but about management of crisis, communication and information, to the benefit of Kevin Rudd and the members of the labor government. The office is staffed and operated with substandard skills, systems and processes focused on the narrow prism of political, self interest. There is little credibility here and the persona of Kevin Rudd that promised so much has turned out to be yet another manipulative and corroded old school politician. This corroded. old school ideology infects the public service and they are straight jacketed into obeying by the same parasitic characteristics that have degraded government in Victoria, NSW,
Queensland and every other state and territory to varying degrees. In many ways we allow charlatans and questionable characters to take control of our governments and businesses and then bleat. Alternatively we turn a blind eye and deal with them out of all sorts of justifying motivations. The larger number of Australians are workers. They are narrowly educated and experienced. They have little knowledge, awareness or interest of the complexities of the systems and the issues raised here. they are "hip pocket" driven and many embrace low level ethics in their own lives. They are inured to the Brimbanks, the manipulation of prices and the behaviour of the corrupt and greedy. This detachment enables Brumby, Rudd, Rees and the behind the scenes manipulators to ply their wares and trade without too much worry about being held accountable. The task is to stay long enough in office to reap the never ending reward. This may seem harsh and even contemptuous of the senior leaders of Australia's governments and businesses but so be it. They rely upon silence and reticence, wield power to bring about compliance or they look the other way denying any knowledge of such things. Like Sol Trujillo at the Future Review conference in the USA, may 2009, they often invent their own version of reality.

" Public administration in Australia seems to be distressed and ineffectual, due to poorly conceived efforts to improve it over the past 10-15 years involving 'new public management' models which trashed government institutions and in effect transformed them into politicized pseudo-businesses which merely pretend to govern.

Change in public administration had been sought in the 1990s especially in relation to naive assumptions that Public Service resistance (rather than real-world complexity) had been the major obstacle to implementing idealistic / overly-simplistic political agendas in the 1970s, and that increased production efficiency for public services and infrastructure should be sought through business-like methods so as to provide cheaper economic inputs and cut the cost of government.

In practice 'new public management' has led to (a) politicisation of administration (b) emasculation of Public Services; (c) and ineffectual governance with symptoms including: unbalanced economic gains; consequent social stresses; and chronic weaknesses in infrastructure, service delivery and regulatory roles. The dominant goal of Public Services shifted from helping the public by ensuring good government, to 'helping' the government of the day to retain political power. Ironically this model often led to unexpected electoral backlashes against state administrations who were seen as 'autocratic' after 5-6 years incubation, probably because they had surrounded themselves with 'yes men' and thus lost touch with the fact that not everyone shared their assumptions. This approach was reportedly being put in place in the federal government in 2000.

Blaming failures on 'teething problems' in models that have great future potential is much less credible than blaming mis-management of change and defects in the models themselves. While mismanagement of change has been a major issue, this can not be separated from apparent misunderstanding of three key issues in developing 'new' models - namely (a) the nature of the economic challenge; (b) whether governing involves nothing more than running a large business; and (c) the Public Service's role - both in the failure of past political initiatives and in effective administration. As a result, governments' ability to 'govern' or deliver public goods and services declined and institutions needed to enable the community generally to generate highly productive job opportunities were not developed." (source: THE DECAY OF AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

The internet has given the ordinary person an extraordinary tool to vent their opinions, beliefs and perhaps misunderstandings and biases. A slow dawn is coming on the politicians and the business leaders. The internet reaches far and wide and crafty web masters can circumvent monitoring creating the question - where does all of this commentary reach, how far and who reads it?

Finally, who are the most unethical, and immoral, in Australian society? The board members, and managers, of Australia's banks and other corporations or the politicians? Perhaps they are equal in measure?


There are many examples where the politicians of Australia have exhibited low grade ethics and mediocre to reprehensible examples of unethical and questionable behaviour. The politicians of the Australian labor party, in NSW and Victoria, are way out in front in the self interest and corrupt practice of government and manipulated democratic process, as shown in the Brimbank local government investigation.

"Claims of bullying, intimidation, branch-stacking in local council, The World Today - Thursday, 7 May , 2009 12:50:00 Reporter: Alison Caldwell
PETER CAVE: Victoria's Ombudsman has lifted the veil on allegations of branch-stacking, abuse of power, bribery and intimidation involving city councillors involved in the Victorian Labor Party, some of whom worked for state and federal MPs. The scathing expose recommends the State Government consider suspending or dismissing Brimbank Council, the second-largest in Victoria. The report describes the council as dysfunctional and marked by infighting. It recommends that some councillors be investigated for possible breaches of the law.

Alison Caldwell reports.

ALLISON CALDWELL: The grubby factional brawl inside Premier John Brumby's very own faction erupted publicly in July last year when an MP used parliamentary privilege to accuse a fellow party member of treachery and branch-stacking. In his sights, rising ALP star and former Brimbank mayor Natalie Suleyman, a confidant of senior federal Labor figures Senator Stephen Conroy and Bill Shorten. MP George Seitz compared her to none other than Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. GEORGE SEITZ: I grieve today on behalf of the people in the Keilor electorate in the city of Brimbank, in particular because of Natalie Suleyman who is the Robert Mugabe of Brimbank. She runs Brimbank same as Robert Mugabe runs Zimbabwe. With her supporters, they are controlling Brimbank and those councillors that form the majority in Brimbank. ALLISON CALDWELL: But it seems George Seitz's gamble may have backfired. A report by the state Ombudsman raises serious concerns about the influence George Seitz and his colleague MP Theo Theophanous wielded over several Brimbank councillors, some of whom worked for state and federal MPs at the same time. Speaking soon after the report was tabled this morning, Attorney-General Rob Hulls said he was disgusted and outraged by its findings. ROB HULLS: The report table today by the ombudsman in relation to the Brimbank Council shows that many councillors engaged in conduct that was inappropriate, that was not in the interests of their constituents and can I say was frankly bloody disgraceful. This is just totally inappropriate." (Source of extract: Australian Brodcasting Corporation,

Minister Hulls sttetches credibility in the response that no one at Ministerial level knew of this. This is simply not the case. Ministers have denied in parliament that they did not know until the report came out. That is a blatant falsehood in my opinion. The evidence will show the contrary. In November 2005 the current Minister Justin MAdden was advised in writing of corruption and the very content of the Ombudsmen's report. What other assumption can be made other than Justin Madden mislead the parliament? telling untruths and misleading people is not a once off event. Parliamentarians across Australia, at Ministerial level and higher, lie constantly in and out of Australia's parliaments. John Brumby is the Premier of a corrupted, and corroded, state government and leader of a corrupt political party in the Australian state of

Labor party members at the highest levels of Australia's federal parliament have their factional power base in many seats across Australia where corruption is a way of operation, endemic and to the core of the labor party heart. They will slither out of the limelight and claim ignorance.

Across the nation every day corruption is uncovered. Labor
Queensland and has had a go at the title from time to time and Tasmania make a dull run when the Premier accepted freebies from Crown Casino in Melbourne. The relationship between Tasmanian members of parliament and business in Tasmania is quite a bit suspect.

In Western Australia everyone wants to be at the front of the money line, and they like NSW, and Queensland, have had the odd politician go to gaol. In Victoria a Minister stands accused of rape. These are all very respectable politicans and high ranking members of the Labor Party. John Howard, as Prime Minister and Peter Reith as Minister, all vied to degrade the nation in some way through with the Children Overboard and the wharfie war. No one cares because corruption, lack of ethics. lying, cheating and stealing and sometimes thuggery, is all part and parcel of political life. Donations are made by criminals to the party, one can be a philanthrop and rob every citizen in the nation and the politicians will all stand, and laud, the individual's unique place in Australian society. One only has to pay a fine or maybe do some small time in gaol and its all back to normal.

These special types in our society can break the marriage vows and take a mistress and be assured that the most senior members of our government, and corporations, will turn a blind eye to their lies and misdeameanours. Stealing millions? Well that is just one of the fpibles of the members of this special clique. Politicians, and senior people in society, across the board, may even help in the cover up. Gangsters, and criminals, send their children to the best schools and can even get a reference from a politician especailly a politician in Victoria. Their money, and donations, are as good as anyone else's. One can buy time with Ministers of Governments within the Parliaments of the nation. Everything is for sale in the governments and political parties of Australia and probably within the corporations as well. There is a one common denominator in all of this - money. These people have lots of money and others including politicians will fawn and ingratiate themselves and the corporate high fliers will treat them all as bothers and sisters of a very special privileged group.

Voting in elections is compulsory in Australia. Why? Not for the reasons put about by politicians. It is because if it was not many of the existing incumbents would not be there because they are not worthy of representing electors nor worthy of their high office of trust. When one of their lot dies there is grand funeral and all the characters of public life including the criminals and the charlatans all turn out for the cameras. They make special remarks and extoll the greatness of the person. All the sins and misdeamanours are forgiven. These are truly giants amongst us. To be respected and never doubted for theirs is the Kingdom and the cake.

Lacking Moral Compasses

The state of NSW has a government that is the property of the Labor Party and the labour unions. The make up of government, the persons who hold senior office and the decision makers in the state, including a proportion of the Parliament is controlled not by the voters but by a cabal of corrupt, corrosive, unethical and immoral power brokers. The state of NSW is in economic, and social, decline. It was set on this destructive road during the period of the Premiership of Bob Carr. Mr Carr is a high ranking party member likely to transfer from state to federal politics. A practitioner of the black arts known as "media manipulation". There has been no investment in infrastructure and the taxes garnered from the people, and business, have been squandered on political self interest and political self benefit. Criminals, and thugs, and people with really bad manners have been, and are, Ministers. They have really thick hides because these people are a collective quite unique , ridiculed and lambasted in the media and hed in contempt by people across Australia from all walks of life and society. I sometimes recommend that my clients not do business with these types. In NSW it is particularly a waste of time and resources.

Gangsters have traded with labor controlled Local government councils and party branches, bribes are paid and sexual favours are given and taken. The parliament of New South wales is dysfunctional. It is a house of cowards unwilling to make hard decisions and people of questionable intellectual capacity.

The bureaucracy serves the political criminal. The state's highly paid public servants will not, as one, and revolt. Alternatively they will not resign. The public service is lead by people with no apparent moral compass, a moribund forest of deadwood growing like algae on the public purse and swimming in the the labor party sewers. The NSW power brokers, of the Labor Party, act in their own interest and not in the interest of the people of the state. Over 3,000,000 people are held to ransom for there is no mechanism in the NSW Constitution for them to rid themselves of the cancer and the shit that rolls out of the corridors of the labor party. The government of Nathan Ress will not resign. Rees has no ethical leadership credentials afor he is a puppet of the labor power brokers put there to maintain their control. They will take everything they can until their term ends. There is little that the people of NSW can to look forward in the ranks of the opposition. Therefore they must march on the parliament of NSW, on mass, and demand that the criminals surrender.

In Victoria the Premier, John Brumby, also seems to lack a moral compass. The Chief Commissioner of the Victoria Police accepted a $A30,000 gift from Qantas. When questions arose to the efficacy of this she re0plied that there was no problm. It was inferred by spin doctors that her husband, a former Qantas employee, was the beneficiary and she was merely accompanying him. The Premier supported the Commissioner. He made no comment as to the ethical considerations because, on past record, like his predecessor, he is probably oblivious to them. He too is a member of the Australian Labor Party. Finally the Police Commissioner resigned and issued an apology bleating that she had made a mistake. The Office of Police Integrity has investigated and pointed out that she has breached her own code of conduct. John Brumby as Premier has not said anything because he has no discerning code of conduct upon which to draw. He is a person that might be held in contempt for his weakness and failure to show leadership. If you are oonsidering, or are already, doing business with members of the NSW, and Victorian, governments, watch every step and check everything carefully. If one can pay a fee to get an audience with a Minister, aht does that say about the
quality of our governments? Victoria is a more sophisticated government and their corrupt, and corrosive practices and self interest, are not so evident. Yet underneath they are all tattooed with the same brand - "labor".

It would appear that the Marketing and Public Relations people at Qantas, and senior management, up to the Board level, also seem to lack moral compasses. Qantas issued a statement that they gave the trip to Commissioner Nixon in her role as Police Commissioner. Qantas gives gifts to public servants. For what purpose?

In Western Australia parliamentary Ministers of the parliament, current and past raise ethical questions as to capacity, judgement and their behaviour. They do neat things such as sniffing chairs that females have sat on. They accept bribes and are chraged criminal offences. In Queensland similarly labor party members are charged with criminal activity. One would think that goven this much of a hand up the liberal party could make hay while the sun shines but apparently not. They too are cut of a cloth that is labelled "to be worn with self interest".


May 2008: The two major retailers, Woolworths and Coles, entered the petrol retailing market some time ago. They promote discount vouchers in their supermarkets and chains, offering up to four cents a litre off the price of petrol at their petrol stations. The consumer has to spend $A30.00 to get a voucher. Smaller independent retail chains have followed suit but instead have created alliances with the oil companies. Woolworths, and Coles, own their outlets. They have taken a large slice of the petrol sales market. To opine that there is competition in Australia's retail marketplace for groceries and petrol is to tell stories of fantasy and spin. It is a contrived competition.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
(ACCC) published a commentary on petrol prices in the week of May 5, 2008 pointing out that Coles Express outlets were as mcuh as $A0.14 cents higher than competitors negating the value of the vouchers. A Coles spokeswoman responded immediately with the proposition that Coles was disappointed because, inter alia, it was "competitive" and she implied that in some way the ACCC was wrong. This was simply rubbish using the tactic of plausible denial. The ACCC was reporting fact whilst she was running her mouth off wit fantasy. The company was responding with typical off the cuff shallow spin. Treat the audience as if they are dumb. Ramp up the response with aggressive bullshit and trun the exrecises into a circus so that the media will resport thes toush and not the foundation. Shopping vouchers are in my opnion a marketing tool for the unthinking and gullible.

The spokesperson represents a segment of corporate, and political life, that I believe is reprehensible in its moral and ethical capacity. Today this discipline (PR, Communications and Media Adviser) has as one of its primary objectives the representaton of whatever truth is deemed to be in the company's interest. This is not public relations in the real sense. As such it does not require a person of intellect to occupy the role. They only have to follow template. Best that they be subservient to the will of their master and have as little a moral conscience, or deep analytical capacity, as is necessary to maintain the basic job description provided. PR and spin merchanst fo tobacco companies are particularly nauseating. They are, in many respects, a blight on society and should be treated with the same contempt they show the public. They corrode and degrade the quality of corporations and government. The focus on the ability t lie with conviction undermines the discipline of communications, media and public relations. Now we might say that this career discipline, and academic trait, is a light weight regime of study. We can argue that it is based on the inate ability to lie and misrepresent as its primary core of skill and competency.

One propositio is that the behaviour and response of the spokesperson, and media spin doctor, of a corporation or government, is reflective of the quality of leadership and the role models conveyed from the management and the Board downwards and outwards.

At the same time that the ACCC is looking at petrol it is also engaged in a study of the Australian grocery market place. The Chairman expresses frustration that farmers, and others, will not provide solid evidence beyond anecdote of the manipulation of the market" by major retailers suchas Woolworths and Coles. They will not give actual evidence of the threats and practices they esnure. For example it is common knowledge that Coles and Woolwroths impose systems on producers well beyond the legislated requirements. It is known that there is an underlying threat of losss of contract.

Woolworths in particular lacks credibility because it has been fined millions of dollars for anti competitive behaviour and for misrepresentation. The Australian Retailers Association also has spokespeople who fall into the questionable ethics category spinning the "etical qualities" of their members. Their function is to deny any impropriety regardless of fact or opinion. The Chairman of the ACCC lives in a vacuum of reality if he thinks that a farmer is going to risk their livelihood by telling the truth or exposing the rorts and dramas and the implied retaliation that comes from the expose.

Many Australian corporations are on a moral slide downwards and even if they are caught out they simply believe that the fine is worth it. One only has to look at the example and attitude of Qantas caught in a global price fixing agrreement to see the slide, decay and arrogance of its management and Board on display. As if they were nort aware of the price fixing? There is no jail threat in Australia for collusion, price fixing and telling lies. Until there is the slide is eating at the social fabric of the nation.


The Board of one of Australia's leading banks met to discuss the significant damage to the bank's reputation arising out of the loss of millions of dollars of peoples' invetsments via a company associated with the bank.

"George Lekakis April 15, 2008 12:00am: Herald Sun - "ANZ chief executive Mike Smith was forced yesterday to take control of an internal investigation of the group's role in the Opes Prime affair. The move follows an emergency meeting of the ANZ board last Thursday at which directors discussed the damage to the bank's reputation from the Opes Prime collapse. "It has obviously bruised the reputation of a very fine institution," Mr Smith told BusinessDaily. "You always have issues in a bank . . . this is a particularly serious one."

The Australian Securities Exchange refused to comment yesterday on claims that liquidity problems at Opes Prime had been reported to the ASX a month before the broker collapsed."

A process known as margin lending has been put into the full spoitlight as tens of thousands of investors learn of the practice of share lending. There is a significant questioining of the regulatory framewokr as the Australian Security and Investments Commission comes under scrutiny. Many critics feel that the agency is botb incompetent and negligent. A glaring conflict of interest in the role of the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) as commercial participant and regulator goes unaddressed by successive governments. Questions are also being asked about the capacity of the labor government Treasurer, Wayne Swan to handle the growing unease, growth in misconduct and failure of the
regulators, and the consequential damage to Australia's reputation.

" ASIC asleep on the job - Bryan Frith | April 10, 2008 - The Australian (Business section)

THE manifest unfairness of the treatment of many clients of collapsed sharebroker Opes Prime reveals a complete failure of the corporate regulator, ASIC, in one its fundamental roles - to ensure market integrity. Quite simply, ASIC should never have allowed Opes Prime and the troubled Tricom Securities to operate stock lending on the basis that it acquired legal title and beneficial ownership of securities lodged by clients as collateral for margin loans. The Australian Securities Exchange also must share the blame. It is the main market regulator and is responsible for supervising brokers. It should have been urging ASIC to ban the practices adopted by Opes Prime and Tricom. One of the responsibilities of ASIC under the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 is to "promote confident and informed participation by investors and consumers in the financial system". ASIC's website proclaims that the commission contributes to Australia's economic reputation and well-being "by ensuring that Australia's financial markets are fair and transparent, supported by confident and informed investors and consumers". Those claims will have a hollow ring to many Opes Prime clients. The practices of Opes Prime appear to have been well short of transparent, and many clients of Opes Prime patently have not been treated fairly. As a result the confidence of investors in the integrity of the market has been undermined and the Australian securities market will have suffered reputational damage, both in Australia and overseas." (end of extract"

There is a grwoing element of moral turpitude and questionable activity within the corporate sector particular the financial sector and this includes banks. Executives and Board members are pushing away liability and defelecting blame for incompetence, arrogance and perhaps turning a blind eye to behaviour of those who make the enterprise a lot of money.

Australia's legislators, following on the heels of international best practice have created, and groomed a monster, the corporation.

Over time the behaviour of the Australian banks will be revealed. Their relationship with sellers of financial investment packages will be exposed. How they beef up the appicant's profile. 2011 - 2012 will come the exposures. An entity that is a
legal person the sole objective of which is to make money, even at the cost of human livelihood and life.




(Source of following extract: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission web site,, "Bevilles Jewellers corrects two-price advertising Bevilles Jewellers has acknowledged that its two-price advertising of some jewellery items may have been misleading. From September 2005 to June 2006 Bevilles Pty Ltd, a jewellery retailer operating 24 stores located in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, published and disseminated a number of catalogues in which some jewellery items were advertised with two prices, a high price struck through with a line above a more prominent lower price.
For example: 50% Off
$399.95 (crossed out on sale ticket implying a "was" price)
$199. 95

In response to the ACCC's concerns, Bevilles has provided the ACCC with court-enforceable undertakings to:
not engage in two-price advertising of jewellery items unless the higher price is no greater than the price at which Bevilles most frequently sold the item in the eight weeks prior to the promotion or, where Bevilles had not made any sales, it had offered the item for sale at the higher price in the eight weeks prior to the promotion

distribute a correction notice to residential letterboxes in the regions in which Bevilles' April/June 2006 catalogue was distributed, and display the correction notice within its stores and on its website, and implement a trade practices compliance program that includes complaints handling procedures and practical trade practices training for its employees. "Businesses need to be particularly careful should they engage in price comparison or two-price advertising that they do not overstate the level of savings on products," ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today. (19 June 2007)

"Price is at the heart of competition and misrepresentations about price and the level of savings not only mislead consumers in their purchasing decisions but is unfair competition and harmful to competitors. "The ACCC has been active in urging businesses, including in the jewellery industry, to be wary should they choose to engage in two-price advertising that they do not misrepresent prices and potential savings. It will continue to monitor such advertising to ensure compliance with the law. " (end)

However it appears that other retailers, and their managers and store operators, are ignorant or oblivious to the Beville's case. One might even assume that many retailers, and businesses, think they can do whatever it takes to make a sale and survive. Take for example another jewellery store chain.

(Source Australian Competition and Consumer Commission web site 18 February 2008, and the Federal Court of Australia)

"Prouds 'was/now' discount advertising misleading

The Federal Court has held 'Was/Now' discount advertising by Prouds Jewellers Pty Ltd to be misleading in breach of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

In proceedings commenced in December 2006 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission claimed that Prouds discount advertising of certain jewellery items in its mass distribution catalogues published to coincide with Valentine's Day and Mother's Day in 2006 contravened the Act.

The advertising was in the form of price comparisons such as 'Was $199 / Now $99.50' and appeared in Prouds' February 2006 Summer of Love catalogue and its May 2006 Love You Mum catalogue. Numerous jewellery items were advertised in this way in each of these catalogues. The case related to the 'Was/Now' price advertising of 17 items that appeared in both catalogues.

Justice Moore concluded that the 'Was/Now' advertising conveyed to consumers that the jewellery items had been offered for sale for a reasonable period immediately before the catalogue promotion at the 'Was' price. He also observed that: "The difference between those two ['Was/Now'] prices would be seen by the hypothetical consumer as the savings that would be achieved by him or her by purchasing an item during the sale period."

Justice Moore found that each of the 17 items had not in fact been offered at the 'Was' price in that period and concluded that the 'Was/Now' advertising of each of the items in both catalogues was misleading.

In reaching this conclusion he observed: "…the evidence, overall, plainly points to Prouds not being concerned about whether items in a promotional sale had been offered for sale at the 'was' price immediately before the promotional sale commenced." ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said the decision was an important warning to businesses who consistently conduct 'sale' promotions of the need for accuracy in advertising particularly in relation to price which is so important to consumers' purchasing decisions.

"Comparison price advertising is a common practice in a number of industries," Mr Samuel said. "The ACCC will carefully consider the judgment and its implications for those who engage in such conduct in a way that may mislead consumers. Advertised discounts must be real and not illusory. "It is not enough for the seller to simply decide what would be a 'fair' higher price before discounting from that high price. If you make a was/now price comparison you must have genuinely offered the product at the 'was' price for a reasonable period immediately before your sale promotion." (end).

In the latter days of the Howard lead Australian government, Federal Treasurer Peter Costello failed to deliver changes to the trade practices act to provide for gaol terms for price fixers and for managers and board members in companies such as those cited above. In doing so he allowed the consumers of the nation to be ripped off, some might say a lack of action by governments implies irresponsibility or back hand support for the politician's mates that dominate Australia's business sector.

It can only be hoped that under the new Prime MInister, Kevin Rudd, the changes will be made and those who engage in such conduct get their just desserts. The state governments could do something but the problem is that they are corrupt, and corroded, themselves.

(Source:, " Sex scandal reaches Iemma's office: By Imre Salusinszky and John Stapleton, February 22, 2008

Allegations of bribery at Wollongong council
NSW Health Minister Reba Meagher now involved
Scimone 'hit up' Labor Party for jobs

THE NSW Labor Party has gone into damage control over sensational allegations of bribery and corruption within Wollongong City Council, suspending five party members implicated in the scandal. Three ministers have been dragged into the widening furore, with the Government of Premier Morris Iemma reeling from claims of jobs for mates and a trail of political donations from allegedly corrupt developers, The Australian reported". (end)

A Minister of the NSW Labor Government has ben charged with multiple sex offences and faces years in gaol if convicted.

In Western Australia Ministers of the Carpenter labor government have lost their jobs for lying and for engaging in misconduct. In Victoria the police authority has been eroded and the government has ben shown to have engaged in back room deals and manipulation of the service via the police union and a number of senior officers. In Queensland a ,e,ber of parliament was found guilty of trying to bribe the former Premier. Bag men of the party permeate the nation's boardrooms and the corridors of power

The stench of corruption in the Australian labor party reaches into Canberra.

It is not just the owners, and managers, within the small retailer chains who lack ethics, and morals, it is also the politicians, and those who run the larger enterprises. It is also the super rich, and powerful, as evidenced further in this web site content.


December 2007: In the final weeks of 2007 I am confused by the signals coming from the new labor government regarding two key perceptions I have of governments in Australia. The first is that I beleve that there is a significant decline in ethics and standards. It has been announced that Ms Barbara Bennett will retain her role as the head of the Workplace Relations Authority. Her appearance in television advertisements, thinly veiled political advertismets I believe compromised the Public Service Code of Conduct.

Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper, Damien Murphy, July 30, 2007

"BUFFED and coiffed, with the tightly wired friendliness of an actress on Desperate Housewives, Barbara Bennett is the soft-focus spruiker of the Federal Government's industrial relations hard sell. The director of the Workplace Authority, Ms Bennett is now appearing in lounge rooms across Australia, turning the idea of public service independence on its ear by taking part in the prime-time multimillion-dollar television, print and radio advertising blitz aimed at countering the ACTU's apparently successful "your rights at work" campaign. Her participation has annoyed public servants and incensed Labor figures so much that she would be unlikely to survive in the event of a Labor victory in the election." (end of extract -

Many unions are annoyed that the authority will be retained but I care little for that aspect. There is clear trend of decline in the standards of the Australian public service independence. The line between an information parting advertisement and a political clear was not evident in this episode. Ms Benntt imparted no information as to the process, possible reference of questions or any other enlightening facts. She simply told, in general terms, the broad concept of a fairness test. There is also the question of her rumoured salary and the role of her husband in the political arena. All in all she should not have made any advertisements during a period of high politics and electioneering even though a formal campaign had not been declared.

Do we assume that Mr Rudd, and Ms Gilard, put expediency, and pragmatism, before high standards? It is obvious the Prime Minister takes a softly softly approach wanting to offend no one. Thus he creates a picture of a leader who will compromise principles for political interest.

I believe that this is the first error of judgement of Mr. Rudd and Ms. Gillard and sets the tone for what we might expect when confronted with complex issues of ethics and .
Ethical values underpin democracy. Our Australian governments are all sadly lacking in embracing, and enforcing, ethical standards.

Another questionable matter is the government's stand on David Hicks. He was incarcerated without trial for six years on spurious charges. The Australian government lead by John Howard, and labor opposition, were mute as the Americans abused their place in the world. They still do and for this they are truly ignorant and uncivilised. Hicks's crime may well be stupidity and the desire of the simple minded to be in a bigger frame of reference than a mundane life in the burbs. Perhpas he read boy's own books of high adventure? Whatever he served the years and then was brought home because Howard knew that his incarceration was becoming intolerable amongst the legal fraternity and thinking people.

The government Minister has said little. Similarly he stalls on Doctor Haneef, also treated reprehensibly by Australia's poor performing Commonwealth authoritiesm, namely the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Haneef deported and Hicks taken to an Australian court to be put on a curfew and report order least he go and train with, or talk to, terrorists and dissenters. The French heroes of democracy must turn in their graves. Labor is allowing ASIO and the AFP to retain draconian powers without consideration of the competency of the people in whose hands these powers are held. An acquiescent magistrate and a gullible media and population allow the decline of our democracy. We apparently are a nation that requires that we should fear the probability of dissent, conspiracy and unknown events and place restrictions on people accordingly. We are a nation where our governments are turning inwards to mediocrity and this is sad. What price is too much? Mr. Rudd does not inspire and apparently does not know the answer, that is if anyone has bothered to ask him. The Attorney General, well I have no idea who that politician is because they have said nothing that I have heard or seen.

The Ethical Corporation

Australian Consumption


The most dangerous news, and current affairs, network in the free world

Distoring journalism

Corrupted Journalists
Politician's Media Staff

How the Government controls the news, July 1, 2005, The Age Newspaper, Melbourne Australia

"Media advisers are being paid from our taxes to spin us a line, writes Sushi Das.

Spin doctors, or propagandists, to use their old name, are a strange breed with disagreeable mannerisms that set them apart from the rest of the population. They have the extraordinary ability to be insincere, obscure the truth with irrelevant claptrap, hang up the phone mid-sentence and still be able to sleep straight in their beds at night.

Without them, the federal and state governments would barely be able to control the point of view presented in the media, or "spin" stories, as it is called. Premier Steve Bracks' media unit employs 20 advisers. Several of the state departments also have media officers. Here are a few examples of how they go about doing their jobs.

Last week I called the media unit and spoke to Kate Leonard, a media adviser to Transport Minister Peter Batchelor, in the hope of arranging an interview to discuss the Spencer Street Station redevelopment. I was subjected to a barrage of questions about my "agenda". I soon realised it would have been easier to ring Buckingham Palace and get an interview with the Queen.
Leonard asked me to submit a list of questions I wanted to put to the minister, presumably so he could script his answers. I refused. Then I was asked what the "angle" of my story would be. When I said I didn't yet know, I was asked whether it would be a "soft or hard" story. The conversation went round and round before she said: "I don't want you to ambush the minister." (Source of extract,

Corrupting Journalism

Man, Woman and Child

Australia: November 3, 2007: Russell Jones and Richard Pratt, as heads of their companies, Amcor and Visy, engaged in corrupt and unlawful behaviour rigging the price of packaging of consumer, and other goods, in Australia. These two men, and their senior executive management engineered a cartel that robbed everyone everywhere, for years. They did this while the Australian government sat on its hands. Howard and Costello effectively greenlighted their behaviour by not changing the law to bring in criminal sanctions. For this negligence alone they deserve to be kicked out of government at the federal election.

Was it greed, was it hubris and what would lead Mr. Pratt to claim that he was not aware of the full provisions of competition law? Is he incompetent as a Chairman? His half arsed apology did not extend to giving back what he and others have stolen. Estimated at $A700,000,000 plus. He and his croney conspirators have stolen much more than money. They deserve to be barred from being in business.

The senior executives of Visy and Amcor who did this, including Jones have left their positions and some have been fined. Pratt is the major shareholder in Visy. He stays. Why? The system sucks and the rich have immunity in many ways. The fine of $A38,000,000 levied on Visy, with no personal fine on this ignorant cancer in Austraian society, is deemed to be sufficient? Is Mr Pratt fit for the senior role he occupies at Visy or anywhere else? At this time there are no criminal penalties just civil ones for rigging the market in Australia. The politicians want an after life in the corporate world so they are lap dogs to the criminals in the corporate world. Theys erve them in political and parliamentary life. In the cess pool that infests our democracy.

The Australian government, through Treasurer Peter Costello's administration of the portfolio failed to enact criminal penalties legislation for years. The Treasurer in 2002 said that the government would. It never did, and in doing so allowed people like Jones and Pratt to avoid gaol. Why? Politics and self interest. Power corrupts absolutely. The Australian government is complicit in condoning unethical behaviour and corrupt activities like the above. These men should be in gaol. The poor accountability within our regulatory systems provides every major Australian corporation, and its executives, with ample riggle room. They all take advantage of this. Even as the federal court judge is scathing the Board of Carlton football club, where Pratt is President, plan to restructure the gambling interests of the Club to esnure that Pratt maintains his role in case the regulatory authorities decide that he is unfit to be in charge of a registeed gaming enterprise. This is the state of ethics in the nation. The lacl of ethics is on display and the fact that Pratt engaged in conduct that tobbed people of millions over the years is of no consideration. The people who turn a blind eye lack a moral and ethical compass. The "specila interests club" protects its own and is not subject to any principles except those that are chosen for their owns elf interest and benefit. On the face of it it seems that Carlton Football Club follows the lead of the Australian Football League (AFL), and its member clubs, consorting with, and some might say supporting high profile criminals.

September 2007: Responding to the arrogance and victimisation metred out by corporations

There is a decline in both ethical and moral imperatives in today's business world. It may well be a byproduct of the rise of individualism and the notion that people assimilate the perecption 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 tendeancy 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 witout 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 cmpany 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 unconscienable conduct under the Australian Competition and Consumer legislation - Trade Practices Act? Below is the response of the Director of Tower Boooks, Michael Rakusen to the A&R correspondence, which ahs 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)

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 thefundamental 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.

Michael Rakusin
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

Emperors who have no clothes
In Governments, the Public and Private Sectors
Modern Case Studies and Contemporary Examples

September 2007 and the former Premier Steve Bracks squirms as the spotlight comes on him from a state parliamentary enquiry into how lottery licences are awarded in the state. Steve Bracks has always claimed that he acted above board and he disputes other people's testimony to the Upper House Committee. He declines to appear. Thus his denials are hollow. This enquiry may very well be a political witch hunt but it has great public interest value. It shines a light into the murky world of enterprises who make billions from the citizens of the state and other gamblers. It shows us how the game is manipulated and the stakes in play. It also shines a light on the nature of the relationships of the people (business, politicians and lobbysists) at these heady levels as well as on the relationships within the Victorian state labor party. This light may be annoying to the people, on whom it shines, but that is democracy. Unfortunately Steve Bracks when he was Premier never effectively demonstrated tat he understood or lived his days in politics according to "world's best practice", whatever that might mean. The new Premier, John Brumby, similaroly seems to find democracy whatever he deems it to be. He has failed to deamnd probity and compliance and demeans the parliament of the people when he is quiet and supportive of Bracks' non appearance. He similarly echoes the "witch hunt" line. In the world of labor party government democracy is wahtever they say it is and the parliament can like it or lump it. Small men in big jobs taking big money under their own terms.

When Steve Bracks was elected to the office of Premier of Victoria in 1999 he promised an open and consultative government. Well just over seven years on he has a record somewhat different. In place of these high aspirations the state got a mediocre, secretive and corrosive government ethically challenged and lead by a Premier who critics in industry and commerce as well as general community describe as challenged when it comes to distilling complex matters and policy. Victoria is folowing the
trend in declining ethics in Australia's governments.

"Yet when it comes to opinions as to the ethics and honesty of Australian politicians, or trust in the federal government, the standing of Australian politicians has clearly fallen. While many commentators may overplay the extent of the drop, the fact that it has occurred is not in question. Moreover, during the same period, confidence in government slumped in various other industrial democracies. And the trend shows little sign of abating. This has led to a burgeoning body of literature on the topic of why trust in government is falling, and what can be done to arrest the slump." (Source: Explaining distrust: Popular attitudes towards politicians in Australia and the United States
Andrew Leigh, In The Prince's New Clothes: Why do Australians Dislike their Politicians?
edited by David Burchell and Andrew Leigh, UNSW Press, UNSW, Sydney, 2002, Chapter 2)

"The Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks, has defended spending $1 million on an advertising campaign to sell the Government's water strategy. Local Tony Eake says there has been no consultation with landowners about the desalination plant and says it will ruin his business plans for his property. "We will fight as hard as we can, we will fight it," he said. (Source: "Desal plant ad campaign vital, says Bracks, Posted Wed Jun 20, 2007 2:00pm AEST, ABC News, )

It appears that the government prefers to spend the tax payers money to avoid having to face their critics and explian themselves where they can be challenged and questioned. There is a history of cowardice and the media spin specialists act as gatekeepers corrupting democracy. They are, to my mind, ethically challenged and there should be a legislated charge of bordering on criminal intent to pervert the course of democracy. (Kevin R Beck)

"But sometimes democracy can be very annoying. And when you're a Government that hasn't planned very well for a water crisis or a port's capacity to bring in supercargo ships carrying Chinese steel you sometimes throw process and consultation to the wind. This is precisely what the Bracks Labor Government has done with the two major capital works projects on its books. A couple of Fridays ago, the Port of Melbourne Corporation announced it had begun a "procurement and investment program covering public tenders" as part of the proposed channel deepening project. In plainspeak, the port had booked the dredges that will deepen the bay's shipping channel and secured the steel and concrete required to cover the Hobsons Bay sewer crossing under the Yarra for a January 2008 start. All this while the independent inquiry assessing the impact of channel deepening was still hearing evidence. It was breathtakingly arrogant stuff. In short, the Port of Melbourne Corporation, a statutory arm of the State Government, had started spending our money on a project before it has been approved environmentally or politically. And all while the people opposed to the project ordinary citizens concerned about the future health and amenity of Port Phillip Bay were putting together submissions for a public inquiry so they felt part of a democratic process.

Perhaps Bracks should simply tell the people planning to deliver their opposing submissions to the channel deepening inquiry next week they shouldn't bother? It would certainly end what is already making a mockery of "process" and mugs out of anyone opposed to the project. How can a public inquiry call itself a public inquiry when the public can't actually challenge of any of the pro-channel deepening "data" being presented? But if you thought that was brazen, the channel deepening "process" isn't a patch on the Government's $3 billion desalination plant in South Gippsland. No consultation. No process. Just a government announcement that it's happening. Both projects have been presented to the people of Victoria as a fait accompli. In the case of the channel deepening, the initial findings of an inquiry that found 137 reasons why it shouldn't go ahead were thrown out by the Government and a new, streamlined panel of non-experts convened to re-assess it. In the case of the South Gippsland desalination plant, not even the Mayor of Bass Shire knew it was coming, let alone the landowners who'll now have a massive industrial development on what is one of Victoria's most pristine coastlines. How on earth Victorians can have faith in the integrity of either of these projects is anyone's guess. But the risk they pose to the very notion of democracy in this state has far more sinister implications." (Source: The Bracks way means to hell with democracy Tracee Hutchison, July 14, 2007: The Age Tracee Hutchison is a Melbourne writer and broadcaster.)

"If politicians want the electorate to believe they are awash integrity then they have to behave with integrity. It seems Thwaites has stepped over the line between public duty and private interest and if he had any of Jessica's "intenstinal fortitude", he he would admit it. It is this sort of thing that trips up pollies all the time - when "caught out", they try to justify their behaviour, take the offended moral high ground approach and spin such "Yes Minister" clangers as if they think the public will swallow their tosh. I suspect the public would have more respect for pollies they put their hands up to goofing up occassionally and accepting responsibility, rather than trying to defend their own suspect actions." (Source: Kat on June 21, 2007 11:06 AM, The Age Blogs)

September 2007 and the CEO of the Australian Football League (AFL) has learnt nothing. The code is embroiled in another drugs scandal and it responds through the players association banning interviews with the journalist who broke the story. The media published transcripts of medical reports of footballers. These are private. The taking, and peddling of drugs, on a small, or grand, scale is a crime and covering it up is not in the public interest. Yet there are according to these high flyers one set of rules for them and one for the ordinary person. Footballers who are publicly known to be drug users and who have been taped in telephone conversations by police, have not been charged because they are celebrities? Does this mean that the state goverment political, and legal systems, are corrupt and subject to influence by pwoerful organisations? Are there separate standards for classes of people? Of course there are. Are the police, and politicians, under the thumb to someone not visible? Why has no football player in recent time (2007) been charged with drug related offences, by police anywhere, since these scandals began piling up, day after day, week after week? Even the media appeared cowed before the blackmailing power of the players. It is alright though, because the AFL has a three strike drug policy code. It is above the law and provides for a number of tries at using drugs and getting caught.

The Australian Football League
(AFL) leads the way in public demonstrations of unethical behaviour and a lack of moral compass not to mention arrogance and perhaps even stupidity. In Australia it is apparently condoned for a footballer to take drugs. The AFL is not at this time (May 2007) a signatory to the world anti-doping agency (WADA) agreements that cover other sports. The AFL has problems with WADA. It is it seems, quite okay for AFL football senior players to be taped by police discussing the purchase and consumption of illegal drugs. It is apparently so acceptable, to the AFL and to football clubs, that certain football clubs can send their stars for drug rehabilitation in the USA and then ask the AFL to contribute. They spend teir money on drug users.

"Should Cousins pay his own way? Your say, 17th April 2007, 14:15 WST Reigning premiers West Coast have defended their decision to fork out $60,000 to help former captain Ben Cousins beat his drug addiction and risk breaking the AFL salary cap, raising the possibility of incurring serious sanctions." (source:the

"Ben Cousins admitted to rehab, by Mark Robinson and Sam Edmund March 22, 2007 12:00am Nws Limited, the Australian newspaper,

"Cousins admitted to Perth medical clinic, Speculation of West Coast drug use Doping agency says users should be named FALLEN superstar Ben Cousins is fighting back by starting rehab after months of drug abuse. Cousins went to a Perth medical clinic with his father on Monday and again yesterday. And it is believed Cousins is considering flying to Arizona in the next few days to attend a drug and alcohol rehab clinic. It also emerged yesterday that Eagles coach John Worsfold was warned five years ago that drugs were a problem at the club."

Drug users are under Australian law, criminals, but the football stars identified in the police tapes and by others, are not treated as such for they occupy a separate plant. No footballer has been arrested and charged in the latest scandal. In one major football some six players are known to be avid drug users. Does the AFL penalise the club, take their pennant or championship points? No. The CEO of the AFL has denied that he has had knowledge of such drug taking contradicting more credible people. Why do Australian governments give the AFL money if the administration of the sport are going to engage in questionable practices, and place themselves and their stars above the law? Added to the drugs are rape, bashings and a plethora of antisocial behaviour reported in football codes.

There are many people in Australia's communities who are as limited in their conceptualisation of ethics and morals. Gere are some comments from blogs: " The Eagles are to be commended for their loyalty and willingness to help Ben. Why kick him while he is down? Drug addiction is the same as any other addiction and deserves the same help. Where are all the people who have been singing Ben's praises over the years and how proud we were of all his efforts as captain to bring the Eagles to being one of the top teams in the AFL? Are we blind?"(source:the

On the other hand:

"The Eagles paying for Cousins rehab would just be sending a message to other drug-taking footballers that should you be caught then the club will bail you out. Last weekend's win shows that life goes on without Cousins; this is a team, not a one-man band. (identifying name deleted)(source:the"

Alan Jones is a Sydney, Australia, radio (2GB) broadcaster. He holds an extraordinary influence over Australia's federal and state (NSW) politicians and governments. It is not clear why this shoulkd be so since his broadcasts and editorial comment are invariably shallow in content and breadth of intellectual debate. His audience of several hundred thousand listeners are at the conservative spectrum. Jones' reach is largely limited to the metropolitian area of Sydney so it cannot be said that he is a national broadcaster. He has been investigated for his practices in broadcasting. In April 2007 the Australian Media and Communications Authority foundn that he had incited racial villification and committed breaches of the broadcasting code of practice.

"The Australian broadcasting watchdog has found that 2GB and its prominent breakfast presenter Alan Jones breached the radio code of practice during broadcasts just before the infamous 2005 Cronulla riots. The Australian Communications and Media Authority today found that the company and Jones broadcast material - specifically comments made by Jones between December 5-9 - was "likely to encourage violence or brutality and to vilify people of Lebanese and Middle-Eastern backgrounds on the basis of ethnicity". (Source: Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
Jones rapped for pre-riot 'scum' remarks, Dylan Welch, April 10, 2007.

Jones immediatley used his broadcast to rant about the unfairness of it all and to whip up outrage and support. He attacked the Chairman of the Auithority in a baseles and typically bullying fashion of the egotist who finds his personal perceptions of his own wroth and contribution in society threatened. This is in itself is not the thrust of this article. It is the sad fawning on our most senior politicians particularly the Minister for Communications, Senator Helen Cooonan. She described Jones in glowing terms. This, from my perspective lowered the respect for the Minister who until now may have demonstrated levels of integrity and competency in her role without too much of a blemish.

"COMMUNICATIONS Minister Helen Coonan has refused to support the nation's media regulator in its ruling against broadcaster Alan Jones. Asked by The Age to respond to the Australian Communications and Media Authority finding that the Sydney broadcaster had encouraged violence and vilification of Australians of Lebanese and other Middle Eastern backgrounds, Senator Coonan issued a statement backing Jones. She also hinted that the Government was prepared to review the broadcasting rules which Jones had been found to have breached." (Source: The Age Newspaper Melbourne, Coonan gives her support to Jones, Matthew Ricketson and Russell Skelton April 13, 2007)

There is no doubt that Jones would have found this comforting reinforcing his view of his personal political power and special person to the government and not only them but also to the leader of the Australian federal labornparty, Kevin Rudd.

" PRIME Minister John Howard has backed embattled Sydney radio identity Alan Jones a day after he was found to have incited violence and vilified people of Middle Eastern descent in the days before race riots in Sydney." (Source: Howard quick to back embattled broadcaster, by staff writers and wires, April 11, 2007)

" JOHN Howard described Alan Jones as an "outstanding broadcaster" and Kevin Rudd insisted he would be happy to appear on his show as the Sydney radio host took to the airwaves yesterday to savage the media watchdog that has found him guilty of inciting violence during the Cronulla race riots." (Source: The Australian Newspaper, Guilty Jones attacks media watchdog,Michael Bodey and Patricia Karvelas, April 12, 2007)

The Australian governnment has a questionable history of special friends and a tendency to overlook the law and to separate the general public out from the special people. An ordinary citizen would be pilloried as would a lowly newspaper journalist, but not Alan Jones. Kevin Rudd has only begun to demonstrate his questionable moral and ethical compass, firstly in the testimony of his life, secondly in the Channel 7 Sunrise programme debacle with Rudd's office. They were exposed for considering a fake dawn service involving Rudd. And now this one. Kevin Rudd likes the Sunrise programme because it rates well? Or is it that he is not goijng to be tested since the two hosts are unlikely to set the political world on fire by any deep debates and thought provoking questions of Kevin Rudd.

"THE office of Kevin Rudd was warned more than two weeks ago that plans for a stage-managed pre-dawn service at Long Tan, Vietnam, in which the Labor leader was slated to take part, risked "seriously offending" veterans and others. A series of emails obtained by the Herald also reveal Mr Rudd had booked flights and was confirmed to attend the event, which was scrapped only four days ago when it became public. Last night Mr Rudd admitted his office had received the email which warned about the possibility of causing offence, but said it had not been brought to his attention." (Source: Sydney Morning Herald,Rudd admits gaffe over TV dawn service in Vietnam, Phillip Coorey, Chief Political Correspondent April 13, 2007). Of cpurse Rudd would not know would he? What sort of morals and ethical values do you think Rudd's staf may have and does he think they are okay and good for his pitch at being Prime Minister? They seem to be the normal run of the mill, low grade staff political staff models of behaviour don't you think? He will probably have a good chance at the tilt in November 2007 with them by his side. They already know how to be sleazy, misrepresentative and stealthy, in politics. They will surely be spectacular in government.

In reviewing Mr Rudd's interview on the ABC Melbourne radio 774, (April 2007) I note that he appears to avoid doing interviews where he will be questioned by a competent interrogator.

The quality of role models in our political spectrum at any level in the nation is as demonstrated above, very poor. Why would any citizen have respect for a government authority such as the Australian Communications and Media Authority when it is undermined by the very people we might expect would give it substance and authority. As Jones railed against the ruling he demonstratede that not only did the government agency not have authority but it was singularly lacking in the senior politicians, cited above. This is yet another reason why Australia's senior government leaders and politicians generally are held in such low regard. As poses the question there are many who would say it has already been answered.

Does the Communications Minister back her own regulator? In case of Alan Jones, what comes first? Gloria or governance? Does the Parrot take priority?" (Source: 14 April, 2007).

"Uhr distinguishes ethics from morality. He sees ethics as emphasising rules and safe behaviour and so as ultimately concerning self interest, but morality as a trait of character and so about making decisions in the public interest. The trend here is towards an appeal for elected governments to trust public servants more and to show the kinds of leadership that will cause the bureaucracy to behave with integrity. Unfortunately governments seem less interested in setting such examples than they are in demanding loyalty from their bureaucrats." (Source: Review: Terms of Trust: Arguments over ethics in Australian government By John Uhr, Sydney: UNSW Press, 2005, 238 pages, paperback, $39.95. Reviewed by Tony Smith in the August 2005 issue.
Australian Public Intellectual Network.

Tristar is a Sydney, Australia, based car components manufacturer. The company's Board, and management, have been in the Australian media, and political spotlight, for a range of reasons. I think they got to this place through their own management incompetece and ineptitude and not least a lack of possessing an ethical and moral compass.

There is concern in the Australian community about
corporate ethics and morality. Concern as to the lack of integrity displayed by those in positions of business influence and power. Despite the apparent disreagrd for such weakness in the maucho world of corporate power, ethics is important and it often comes back to bite the unwary.

"About 500 people were employed by the car-parts manufacturer when Arrowcrest, Tristar's parent company, bought the business from TRW Pty Ltd seven years ago. All but the longest-serving employees have been given redundancy in the past year or two, as Tristar wound down in Australia and prepared to set up operations in India and China. That still left 35 men and women. Since last winter they have reported for work to a corner of a large, empty shed in the inner-Sydney suburb of Marrickville. Their case hit the headlines when the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union tipped off Jones about company accounts manager John Beaven. Tristrar had refused to accept his application for voluntary redundancy after Beaven told the company he needed the money for his three children because he was dying of cancer. The company gave him a $50,000 redundancy payment two days before his death." (Source:Elisabeth Wynhausen,February 03, 2007, The Australian Newspaper).

The questionable human resource management practices, the ethical and moral nature of Tristar's management, and Board actions and for general ignorance and some might term stupidity. The company now finds itself embroiled in a situation of its own making and one they seem intent on making worse in every aspect. Firstly by denying that they were deliberately keeping a number of workesr without work in order to manipulate redundancy and other employment provisions and secondly by foolishly embroiling a federal Minister of Parliament into their scheming tactics.

"WORKPLACE Relations Minister Joe Hockey has denied he ever told a Sydney car components company to sack its workforce and re-employ workers on individual contracts. "The minister suggested we make them (the workers) redundant then re-employ them on contracts," Mr Hong told the (Industrial Relations) commission in Sydney.: (Source: March 23, 2007 03:10pm,

The company is being legally challenged on a number of fronts. The company executives calimed that they meet Minister Hockey in Canberra where he, according to them, asserted that they should manipulate the Australian government's Wprkplace Relations Act. Now I )Kevin R Beck) find this personally difficult to believe. I meet federal and state members of parliaments and Ministers formally and socially. When I meet them formally about business issues or in their Ministerial capacity there is an adviser in the room and often another person taking minutes. In my experience where the matter is politically as charged as this one the Minister never is as blase and likely to behave as described by Mr. Hong.

Listening and watching the Board and management of Tristar I am lead to be suspicious of their claims. There is no history of this company, that I can see publicly, that indicates they are high minded and at the forefront of modern management practices and business ethics. " Mr Hong told the commission on Friday that representatives of the Office of Workplace Services had attended meetings in Canberra during which, he alleged, Mr Hockey suggested alternative courses of action. "The minister suggested we make (the workers) redundant, then re-employ them on contracts," Mr Hong told the commission hearing. "Our financial director said that's probably going against the law." However, OWS director Nicholas Wilson yesterday denied representatives of his agency were at the meetings." (Source:Sid Marris March 26, 2007, The Australian Newspaper).

I personally find it a stretch that the company's "financial director" would be cognisant of the law of employment given the practices that got the company where it is today. What would possess them to enter the murky waters of politics? Perahps they feel they are well versed in questionable ethics, are well experienced themselves, capable of mixing it with those who make an art of fine line wriggling.

It is not plausible that a seasoned politician, and senior member of the government, Joe Hockey is going to act as cavalier as Hong implies. I also have some interaction with Mr. Hockey's office and with his Chief of Staff and Joe Hockey is very unlikely to engage in the unethical and immoral practices claimed by the "lacking in credibility" management of Tristar. The federal labor party and state labor party immediately jumped on the claims demanding Hockey resign. Jula Gillard, a front bench member in the federal (labor party) parliament wants Hockey to front the NSW tribunal.

"If Mr Hockey said this, it would be a breach of the law," she said. "If he wants to be taken seriously he has to front the NSW Industrial Relations Commission and deny it under oath." (Source: Sid Marris March 26, 2007, The Australian newspaper).

I am fairly sure that Ms Gillard would decline the invitation herself if she were being accused. This only resulted in demonstrating a lack of ethical and moal disposition that has infested the Australian labor party over the past decade. They are among the most corrupt of Australia's politicalparties and governments and yet have the gall to point the finger at others in the corroded political system.

How long should executives, and Board members, hang on and drive a great company into the ground? Is it hubris and ego, or the unshakeable belief of some, in the heady world of Australian business, about their abilities? The demise of the great creation and legacy of G. J. Coles raises the issue of morality and ethics and the failure of so many in corporate life who place their own careers and interests before the interesst of others. Decision makers take away peoples' livelihoods and savings and they too often destroy the creations of others.

It seemed to me that Senator Santo Santoro could not bring himself to be open, and admit his errors and duplicity, when he resigned from the Australian Senate in March 2007. The Senator persisted with a charade, and facade, of propriety and quality performance in office. When Minister for Ageing it is reported that he visited state offices of his portfolio unannounced. He liked to catch people out? As a Senator he wasted time and public money on a frivoulous, and quite stupid, pursuit of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation misusing his parliamentary office to ask inaiodiculous that everyone knew he was impotent. He tended by this wasteful and pernicious exercise of power to look like the fool some hais not one to be applauded or emulated. He degraded the already corroded and corrupt systems of governance and democracy in Australia. The judgement of the Prime Minister, in appointing Santo Santoro as a Minister in the Australian government, may be called into question.

"Good riddens to bad rubbish" is a saying that may be applicable in the demise of some from the high office of government and representation within our parliaments.


"The Tasmanian logging company Gunns has been ordered to pay the legal costs of 17 environmentalists and 3 environmental groups, after the third version of its $A6.9 million ($US5.2m) damages claim was thrown out of court. The legal costs are estimated at more than $A1 million ($US760,000). Since December 2004, Gunns has filed three statements of claim and sacked two legal teams. Victorian Supreme Court Justice Bernard Bongiorno gave the company until November 2 to file a fourth claim. Gunns' legal actions have sparked calls for an overhaul of Australian laws to ensure that corporations cannot initiate legal actions aimed at stifling community participation in public policy debates, or SLAPPs. Earlier in the week, Gunns informed the court that it had dropped one part of its claim in which it sought $A500,000 ($US378,000) in damages, alleging a co-ordinated campaign involving all defendants."
SOURCE: The Australian, October 20, 2006, for more information or to comment on this story,
click here

Manipulating Victoria's State Election in November 2006

There is an advertisement running in Victoria for the 2006 state election. It uses a segment of material from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, without approval. It also uses the voice of the opposition leader Ted Balleiu, from an ABC interview, without approval. It is a labor party advertisement and they have refused to remove the segment. They effectively have pirated it and they are now going to spend money in the federal court. This is the quality of the Australian labor party and in particular the Bracks' lead state labor government.

The Premier either feigns blindness to principle or simply has no moral compass to guide him. In the state of Victoria the Bracks government spends a million or so dollars on a handful (about six) senior media staff and more to pay the salaries and costs of an additional fourteen. He needs twenty people to advise and control, corrode and manipulate. This is the man who told us how terrible the liberal Premier, Jeff Kennet, was in controlling information, in being secret and manipulative. The function of the six senior staff in the Premiers media unit is, among other things, to corrupt, and defile, the democratic process. It is a common belief that the unelected staffer, Media Director, Ms. Sharon McCrohan, wields as much power and influence as the state Treasurer, John Brumby. It is also reported that Ms.McCrohan interferes in the activities of elected members of parliament. There is a particular incident where she actively thwarted a member of parliament's intention to put forward a private member's bill. Apparently she berated this member, Ms. Carolyn Hirsh, who attempted to act in good conscience or personal belief demanding that they get with the programme and toe the party line. Nothing can be put to the parliament without the Premier's approval. I do not think my statement is quite accurate. The
Premier is very substantially an image creation. Millions are spent to make him look sqeaky clean and on top of things. Listen to his speeches and one gets the impression that he is the main character in an orchestrated show with little human substance and marginal quality in tems of governance and innovative policy and vision.

The reality is that nothing gets into the parliament unless it is sanctioned by a handful of faceless people who include the unelected and the morally questionable. Why do we bother to elect representatives if this is the case? The members of Victora parliament are treated as if they are lackies of the leadership rather than elected representatives of the people. This is an outragous corruption of democracy and if true people such as Ms MCCrohan shouild be barred from holding public office in Australia. These people are not there to represent citizens they are paid out of the public purse, not political party coffers, to carry out partisan political functions. The labor government has spent half a billion dollars in the past three years on political advertising. Not from party coffers but from the public purse. The Premier's media group are a blight upon Victoria's democracy. Bracks, who lambasted Jeff Kennett over his penchant for secrecy has turned out to be a hypocrite. If it were not for the experience and talent of Treasurer of John Brumby, the Victorian labor party would be a very average lot.

Continuing the Corrosion of Australia's Democracy

Senior labor party politicians across Australia should hire a shuttle bus and go out together to get a mass purchase of moral compasses. They might also consider hiring tutors to ground them on basic public policy and democratic principles.

A Minister in the New South Wales (Australia) parliament, Carl Scully, mislead the parliament about the existence of a damaging report in to race riots at Cronulla Austalia, in 2006. The Premier Morris Iemma stood by the Minister and supported him. On a second occasion it suited Minister Scully to attempt to spin fact and circumstance. On display in the full glare of public light was a senior labor party politician who represented the propensity of the modern politician to lie, scheme, misrepresent, spin the truth and play everyone for a fool. There are no ethics left in Australia's political system. Labor, in power at the state and territory levels, seems to have taken this trend to new heights.
Public policy and public interest have well and truly taken a back seat over political interest and personal interest. Labor members of parliament are intent of keeping position and power at all costs. On Wenesday 25th October 2006 the Premier finally asked Mr. Scully to resign his Ministerial portfolio. Even as Scully annnounced his resignation he could not keep to the truth and showed the under lying core of our seemingly rotten representation. Every effort is made and no public cost is too much for the in house media to try and make it look like we have a quality governments across the nation. He described how it was no longer feasible to persist with the charade. I did not see contrition, or remorse, in the face of Scully, just arrogance and hubris. Under the labor system in Australia he can be resurrected. Factional power is everything in this moribund and immoral political party. Carl Scully obviously believes he has that. Now we can wait for the pay back and the petty puerile tantrums and egotistical displays that are the hallmark of the NSW labor party.

The people of NSW and the nation observed the unedifying and arrogant display live on their televisions as it was relayed from the parliament and broadcast on the news programmes. The question arises: does the Premier, Morris Iemma, have any standards? He protected a Minister who was blatantly lying and treating the house of the people, the parliament, with contempt. A Minister educated within the factional political system of the labor party which shows nothing but contempt for the people whilst taking the spoils of public office as their own. The liberals cannot "cast the first stone". The people have come to understand that politicians, without exception, lie. The additional question s whether Morris Iemma condones and endorses liars? The evidence on balance does not seem to be in his favour. He apparently does.

There are little lies, big lies, core and non core promises. There is corruption in the labor party in Victoria. A sitting member of the Victorian parliament's upper house, George Seitz, under investigation for corrupt behaviour is protected by the Labor Premier, Steve Bracks.

In Tasmania, two former labor Ministers of the parliament are also under investigation for corrupt behaviour, interferring with a public official. The Premier Mr. Lennon appeared on the front page of Australia's press for accepting free hospitality from Crown Casino, in Melbourne, owned by Mr. Packer, just as the Tasmanian state government, awarded Mr. Packer's enterprise and Betfair a gambling licence. There are tremendous political role models for our children to emulate and for others in public and corporate life to copy. The Gunn Company, in the article above is the major employer in Tasmania. Does it have Director's who are ex politicians? Does it have deep links to labor and the conservative parties? Does the copany enjoy political largesses by the bucket load? Does the Tasmanian government Forestry Department raise questions about probity, neutrality andarms length dealing in the state? Are the senior public servants there leading lights in Australia's bureaucracy?

In Western Australia Brian Burke, labor light and former political party senior identity, mired the state in scandal and corruption. Some time later he was allowed back in the fold. He was even allowed access as a consultant and lobbysit with access. The new Premier, Mr. Carpenter lifted the ban imposed by the former Labor Premier. Now Burke is under investigation over certain payments to local government councillors and the activities of a development company. The Australian labor party is a party made up of good people, very few who are in office or allowed to participate. The to ecehelons and power brokers are lowly educated trade union thugs, criminals, semi literate buffoons and highly educated, but it seems quite immoral individuals. They are of course vengeaful and not keen on negative opinion. In amongst the party are the hacks and the sycophants.

Kim Beazley, leader at the federal level, and the aspirant Prime Minister in 2007, pleads to be elected Prime Minister. The writing is on the wall that he will never be allowed to contest the 2007 election. He is a very nice bloke but no one takes him seriously as a contender for Prime Minister unless they are wearing blinkers.

Australian Labor is the party of national scandal and a very bad and expensive blight on democracy. In Victoria, Steve Bracks will go to election in November 2006 and Morris Iemma, some five months later in 2007. They do not deserve trust, and high office, yet the majority of the population apparently cannot read, think or care, about the state of the democracy. The duopoly of labor and liberal is held in such general contempt, that one can only wonder what Ted ballieu, leader of the Victorian liberal party and Peter Debnam, leader of the same party in NSW, think they may have to offer that is so scintillatingly different? This is indeed a sad state of affairs, and one where we may well "cry our beloved country".(Kevin R Beck, October 26, 2006)

John Howard appears to have methodically trudged across the landscape of Australia implementing his idealism in a series of minute steps. It is not clear if those close to him politically are aware of this or are knowledgeable in the mosaic of his strategies. It seems that he has a very talented team of advisers and workers who put the flesh to his idealism. On the other hand the Australian labor party and its leaders, advisers and strategists appear to be inept and under performers by comparison. There is no one in the labor decision making team in Canberra that has the lateral thinking capacity to go back in time and find each influence that has set John Howard on his path. When Pauline Hanson stormed onto the political scene in the latter years of the nineties the academics, commentators, media and outraged politicians particularly labor and the even some conservatives saw her in isolation of the psyche and the social landscape. I doubtJohn Howard saw her like that. He probably saw her in the context of "Australian Values" as enunciated in a hidden study from 1984. He knew well enough what well she was tapping. Today in 2006 the labor party lead by Kim Beazley is as mystified, and ignorant, of the under current as it was then.

In the week of September 11, 2006, the leader of the Australian Labor in the federal parliament, the Honourable Kim Beazley announced that labor would seek to have immigrants, and tourists, commit to a respect for the laws and values of Australia. In this manner the Australian political debate entered the nebulous world of ideas largely founded on ill thought precepts and rubbish. There has been no deep thought given to the rush to set an agenda as to who can "out politicise" the other (all over the place federal labor opposition versus federal conservative coalition) on making those people who scare us and threaten our way of life toe the line. Kim Bezaley and John Howard et al, would be totally at sea if they had to define coherently and in detail what they are talking about. The message politicians have to give is one of simplicity, the quick media grab. For this reason they are failing to enunciate the substance because this topic does not lend itself to quick media bites except in an inflammatory and confronting way.

"EDUCATION Minister Brendan Nelson has bluntly told Islamists who do not want to accept and teach Australian values that they should "clear off". And John Howard has warned that mosques, prayer halls and Muslim schools will be watched" to the extent necessary" to ensure they do not give comfort to terrorism. A day after the Prime Minister's summit with Muslim leaders, the Government stepped up its push to get "Australian values" epitomised, it says, by the Anzac story of Simpson and his donkey taught comprehensively to Muslim children." (Melbouren Age, August 25, 2005: Gratton, M)

So what is the liberal and national party doing and what has it been doing? What has labor been doing or not doing? Perhaps the answer lies in a prescient piece of reaserach conducted by the Roy Morgan Group, which Mr. Howard may well know.

"The left, with the connivance of the media, have been allowed to set the agenda of public debate. Thus, sensible and well-reasoned right wing perspectives are labelled as extremist, reactionary, etc. On the other hand, social engineering schemes and even extreme policy decisions are presented in the guise of moderation. The reason is that the right (including the Liberal/Country Parties), with a few exceptions, have not stood up for values which are likely to gain widespread community support and which are in tune with liberal principles. They have also not been willing to attack social engineering schemes and demonstrate their true radical, counterproductive nature. If such an onslaught were launched, ridicule could be expected from sections of academia and the media. However, the public would be very receptive. The political opposition must lead such an onslaught but it does not have the guts to do so. It does not (a few exceptions apart) challenge the agenda of public debate laid down by the left and the media."
(The Australian Values Study, Roy Morgan Research Centre, Sydney, Melbourne, (August, 1983).

"As post-modern Australia seeks to articulate its place in the regional and global order inevitable focus is given to the cultural values and norms that underpin our society. Many commentators, it seems, agree that there is a dominant or underlying set of 'shared values' that somehow serve to unite Australians' thinking and perceptions – especially when events impact the national consciousness. Some have characterised their analysis of values against a backdrop of apparent ambiguities(i). They highlight that, while the economy is doing well many seem not to be sharing in the benefits and many feel pessimistic about their futures, we are diverse but not divisive, that we are great consumers of technology but not dominated by it, that we care deeply about the human condition and yet apparently approve of the government's response to those seeking asylum in this country.

One commentator speaks of the significant impact that the prevailing Australian culture has on our values and refers to what he calls the 'bush culture' forged in the 19th century and the 'suburban culture' of the early to mid 20th century. He adds there appears to be emerging a third culture – a 'beach culture' and that this will itself “define a new demographic concentration of Australians during the early 21 century.” This commentator questions what value changes are underway at present in Australia and how might these impact the mass market and business?(ii) What then are the so-called 'shared values' that appear to be so enduring in Australia? These might be said to include respect for democracy, a strong sense of justice, a sense of fairness, of tolerance, a caring for others, a powerful sense of egalitarianism, a less selfish society, loyalty and freedom of self-determination.

Running in parallel with these apparent 'shared values' are we seeing in Australia the emergence of a new set of values that the so called 'baby boomers and Xers' readily relate to and which appear unfamiliar to those over the age of fifty? (Intro:
AUSTRALIAN CULTURAL NORMS AND VALUES, Research Paper for the Business Council of Australia, Scenario Planning Project, 'Aspire Australia 2025')

The need to appear to be proactive is making many in the debate look particularly stupid. According to Mr. Beazley, this commitment would be incorporated into tourists Visas, above the signature line. The policy announcement was echoed by labor's spokesperson on immigration, the Honourable Tony Bourke, who then tried to put substance into an open ended topic with little effect. Having failed to do so it was the Honourable Stephen Smith's turn. He looked decidedly ill at ease as he grappled with advanced sociology 101.

One might wonder where Mr. Beazley gets his advice or if he actually talks to anyone with common sense or knowledge? Firstly Tourist Visas are in most cases electronically generated, if required at all. Secondly one wonders what values it is that the tourist, and immigrant might have to sign on to? Is it
traits or values that the politicians are referring to? Do they or their advisers and media spin doctors actually know the difference.

There is the nebulous "fair go" principle which is being challenged constantly across the nation by all sorts of Australians as a result of the Australian government's newly enacted industrial and employment legislation. The principle of a fair go is thoroughly tested by the
immature, confrontational, aggressive and from time to time illegal, activities of governments, employers, unions and vested interests.

Then there is the politician's notion of equality of the sexes. This was trotted out by who knows whom on which side of politics, despite the fact that women earn less than men and are required to work, raise children and perform other non paid duties which are not recognised as contributory by any government or political party, whether it be labor, liberal or national party. The national accounts do not reflect the non paid contribution of women so how is it that politicians can espouse that immigrants sign on to equality? Perhaps it is a narrow than rather broadly defined value for women that is implied here such as allowing them to go to school, not castrating them and not making them cover their faces and bodies from head to toe. Is that the values types the politicians mean? The debate is not helped by the maturity of the Parliamentary Secretary, the Honourable Andrew Robb, (he is new in parliament) who talks of chucking citizenship around like confetti" and laughs at serious questions put to him on radio only to realise his gaff. Could it be the value of "mateship" which is a nebulous concept? A mateship overtaken by a self interested, individualism, gripping the nation creating the class of "aspirants", "the haves" and the "have nots". When politicians were asked about going to other countries and being required to sign on to values there was a perplexing look and of course there are problems such as countries with the death penalty, torture and other unpalatable hobbies and beliefs.

It is indeed ironic that Australian government politicians, particularly, would lecture on values when they display appalling judgement. The Prime Minister and senior Ministers accused people of throwing children into the sea, whilst unknown persons doctored the pictures they relied upon, to suit their erroneous claims. There is the engineering of the waterfront reform by Minister Peter Reith. People were persuaded into taking on training contracts in Dubai and politicians, in concert with business and associations, organised elements of the Australian community to confront Australian waterside workers creating violent confrontations to bring about reforms. Then there is the myth of the weapons of mass destruction to justify invasion, now the videoed record of Australian soldiers emulating the stupidity of the American soldiers in clowning around in Iraq, and scenes portraying the humiliation of Arab persons.

Perhaps we could have immigrants sign on to the values espoused by the Ministers of the Howard government who were dismissed in the first term of government or they could adopt the values of the politicians who rorted their travel allowances. Alternatively they could be advised of the values of the One Nation party subtly and not so subtly adopted by the Howard government. The immigrants could be asked to adopt the values of the senior management of the Australian Wheat Board and Tigris described below in this site. They seemed to be quite "matey" with members of government and the bureaucracy. This could be "mateship" in all of its mendacious and corrosive effects. There are a plethora of values to choose from. Mr. Beazley could offer a truly broad set of values including the "whatever it takes" values of one of Mr. Beazley's former labor colleagues, a Minister of government, Mr. G. Richardson.

It is indeed a great irony when seemingly hypocrites demand things of others that they themselves have extraordinary problems with.

Even as Prime Minister John Howard, stood in a club, expounding the need for immigrants to understand English so that they might make a contribution, above him a large number of Australian citizens,
who cannot speak English, were going about their daily lives as good contributing citizens. Perhaps Mr. Howard might like to subject some of the politicians of Australia or other citizens such as aborigines, to English tests to
see the results. Politicians walk into a minefield when they start dealing in the sociological intangibles. Particularly if they are not well versed and not expert in the field in which they are pontificating. Perhaps even more so when the debate is created with a particular agenda and targeting of specific groups of people. The sad thing for labor is that it is reduced to a party scampering hard to demonstrate that it can be as ignorant as its nemesis.

Senator, the Honourable Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Immigration, demonstrated the fine line of unethical behaviour, and standards, that are demonstrable of political behaviour in Australia today. The Minister, subjected daily to a barrage of unethical behaviour and exploitation by employers in Australia, of immigrant workers, resorted to questionable action to counter her critics, the Australian trade unions. The Minister, Amanda Vanstone, had her advisers and departmental officers, access the files of her department to determine which trade unions were employing immigrant workers.

The Australian Department of Employment and Workplace Relations could be described as the major Australian human resources agency. This is largely due to its activities in the employment marketplace, through Job Network and its carriage of the Australian government's industrial relations agenda. The Department or DEWR as it is known does not have a public reputation for ethical reporting or practices as indicated in reports of the Australian Productivity Commission, statistical analysis and publishing, media and Journals such as the Institute of Public Affairs Review, Number 2, July 2006, Cutliffe, T, "Bureaucratic ego and Aboriginal Employment". There is an extensive reporting of DEWR and the industrial reform and other matters in the human resources web site DEWR (Australian government department) is the evolution of privatisation of the former federal government's Commonwealth Employment Service. It is a social experiment that is touted world wide as a first of its kind. Therefore DEWR has an interest in ensuring that its performance looks good. This creates a conflict between its public interest activities as a public service agency and its commercial objectives and ego. DEWR is bound by the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct however continued adverse reporting of the operation of its Job Network, waste of public funds, misappropriation of monies by agencies and questionable statistical counting methodologies and public claims raises questions as to the adherence to the code.

As a person with some hands on experience of DEWR activities through years of engagement in providing services to the long term unemployed and a major research thesis on DEWR published in the University of Melbourne, Education Faculty in 2004, I have a strong mistrust of DEWR. I have seen the department place employment advertisements and attended sessions where presentations and claims of future opportunities have not been converted into reality. Cutliffe in his article quoted above charges DEWR with "devising unemployment strategies in total isolation of the on the ground reality in Shepparton, Victoria, Australia". I am inclined to the proposition that DEWR does this nationwide as a practice and accordingly makes the figures suit the story they want. This is not politicisation because I believe the Minister in charge of DEWR, Kevin Andrews is credible and wants to help the unemployed and the Aboriginal people particularly. I think he has no idea of how DEWR calculates the figures and what goes on inside the bureaucracy. According to Cutliffe, "For public service reputations, careers and promotions to be protected, the bureaucracy must build measurement structures that create the chimera of success by assembling discordant and selective achievements into press release headlines". This assertion I find credible as my own master's degree research thesis lead me to this conclusion about DEWR and its reporting in the years 1996 - 2002.

I think this misrepresentation continues into 2006. DEWR counts an aboriginal person, who is on Community Development Employment Programme payments as being employed. By whom? The Australian government or its agents? This is welfare not employment. There is little training, supervision or career development in a DEWR managed employment initiative in the nation particularly aboriginal programmes of this type. People who find a job for fifteen hours per week for one week are counted as employed. Research and media exposure demonstrates agencies in the Job network and DEWR multiple count the same person through multiple service providers. The DEWR Job Network system is grounded on the payment of success fees for outcomes. Any outcome regardless of quality and content. Cutliffe states, "and government figures will count this as six jobs created. Thus the Australian governhemnt's published claims of job creation in a any period are suspect. "The system is heavily geared to mythical figures", Cutliffe says. The jobs have been double claimed by agents. Some believe that DEWR deliberately puts successful competitive projects out of action (Ladders to Success Programme in Shepparton) through removal of funding in order that their lesser performance is not exposed. Employers in Shepparton appeared to express a preference for the locally managed Ladders programme as against dealing with DEWR. DEWR ensured that the actual costs of the Ladders programme against their own efforts would never see the light of day. There are incidences where this is similarly so across the nation. Tafes were successful because they had local influence. DEWR is Canberra bound and managed by bureaucrats in offices.

When DEWR was formed very successful public programmes managed by Tafe Institutes across Australia under the former labor government initiatives were simply disbanded. They were ineligible to apply. This was a deliberate government policy. Some might argue, and believe, that DEWR has maintained, and reinforced through questionable and perhaps unethical practices, the facade that the government's initiative is delivering when the reality is it not. For so may people to question DEWR's ethics and practices casts a blight on the credibility, and codes of practice, Australia's public servants and other agencies.

In another of the government's linked portfolios, the Department of Immigration, barely a week goes by without another scandal of exploitation of international workers granted temporary work visas to fill Australia's labour shortages. The government passed its punitive industrial reforms focused in denuding union's influences and power in workplaces. If it were not for unions the exploitation, robbery and perhaps even slave labour conditions would not come to light. The Department of Immigration and DEWR in no way take the same level of interest and care about people and their conditions of employment. Political ideology and public service indifference and incompetence are potent mixes.
Valuing human talent is not a forte of the Howard government Ministers and the relevant public service agencies. This might be attributed to a number of factors. The decline in public service standards and capabilities and loss of corporate memory. Altered service parameters and notions of serving the "government interest" as against the "public interest" with and assumption that they are the same. Poorly experienced divisional managers, and staff, as evidenced by the scandals that have enveloped the Immigration Department during the past years including erroneous arrest, incarceration and deportation of Australians.

"New scandal sweeps Immigration Department AM - Saturday, 7 May , 2005 08:08:00, Reporter: Nick Grimm ELIZABETH JACKSON: Now to the latest scandal enveloping the Department of Immigration. Fresh details are emerging about the Australian woman who was mistakenly deported to the Philippines four years ago". (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)"

" The Herald now has documents which detail the lengths gone to by Immigration and Foreign Affairs officials to keep a lid on the Alvarez scandal.." (Sydney Morning Herald, August 22, 2005)

This article directly raises questions about the ethical values of the Australian public service, its management and the Ministers of the government to whom they report. The citizens of Australia are derelict and do not demand a better quality of
ethics, behaviour and performance from those whom they employ in public service and in politics. Similarly we do not hold corporate executives to account except when they are openly engaged in criminal behaviour. Even then they seem to be able to maintain their status in society.

"And dealing with under performance when it occurs is not something we all do that well in the public service". (
Launch of Better Practice Guides: Workforce Planning, Performance Management & Absence Management Mural Hall, Parliament House, 22 June 2006)

From my experience and belief the behaviour and performance of people in their work environment is a direct outcome of the quality of management and the leadership, including that of the Ministers and their advisers. In the latter case stories abound around the public service of abuse heaped upon public servants by advisers out of Ministers offices at state, territory and federal levels. Particular Ministers and their staff are internally, and externally known, for exhibiting poor traits. Advisers who "cream" at public servants who purport to speak for the Minister, who breach their authority and position. These people are known and will be outed if they continue their diatribe.

Abuse is not the province only of advisers. Even contractors employed, in departments, have heaped abuse and vitriol upon people outside the public service, people such as myself. I have been subjected to abuse and breach of public service codes by a contractor working in the Australian Department of Defence. Their justification for their action was that I had communicated with the Minister. I reported it to the Secretary, received a speedy reply that it would be investigated and that "we take these matters seriously" and nothing happened. This is no surprise since that particular Secretary is retiring and the Department of Defence has its own public reputation for poor performance. Doing business with them is not a pleasant and rewarding experience. It is quite costly with little return on courtesy and professionalism. They have little regard, and to my mind appreciation, for an individual's commitment to the national welfare. Still one can only persist in attempting to participate in the national security agenda against the tide.

Perception in a complex society is shaped by many forces, education, events and experiences and isolationism. There is a tendency for governments and agencies to be secretive as indicated in the content of the Mosaic Portal web site on
Australia's governments. Many Australians do not educate or inform themselves and rely uon anecdote, their social circle and talk back radio and tabloid news and television grabs for their information. Perceptions are dangerous and feed conspiracy theories and beliefs and anti-social behaviour. These perceptions can feed into social framing creating pockets of unethical behaviour and other malignant forms of social corrosion.

"Vic police squad under investigation for corruption - The World Today Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Thursday, 6 July , 2006 12:30:00

Reporter: Josie Taylor
ELEANOR HALL: The Victorian Police force is itself in damage control mode today over revelations that one of its most prestigious crime squads is the target of a major corruption investigation. Victoria's independent anti-corruption body has called for the entire Armed Offenders Squad to be disbanded. And the Office of Police Integrity says criminal charges could be laid over allegations that officers from the squad bashed and intimidated suspects.
In Melbourne, Josie Taylor reports.
JOSIE TAYLOR: Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon fronted a lively press conference this morning, and said she'd been completely aware of the Office of Police Integrity's investigation. She named herself and two other senior police as supportive of the OPI's actions, and their raid on the Armed Offenders Squad offices yesterday." (end of ABC extract)..

Elite armed police squad scrapped: By Gary Hughes, Courier Mail newspaper Brisbane, Australia, September 08, 2006 11:47am
VICTORIA Police is disbanding its elite Armed Offenders Squad ahead of planned public hearings into its activities by the state's police anti-corruption watchdog. The scrapping of the squad, which had been the subject of an investigation by the Office of Police Integrity, was announced by Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon this morning. It will be replaced by a new taskforce called Taskforce 700, which will target serious armed offences. It is understood the OPI has scheduled public hearings into the activities of the squad, including allegations that suspects were seriously assaulted, from September 18."(end of extract)

"Police told to give evidence on intimidation claims, Nick McKenzie, Michael Bachelard and Dan Oakes The Age newspaper Melbourne, Australia, September 9, 2006
THE state's police watchdog has ordered a quarter of Victoria Police's armed offenders squad to give evidence at public hearings over allegations they assaulted and intimidated suspects. Only hours after subpoenas ordering nine of the squad's detectives to appear at the hearings were issued by the Office of Police Integrity, Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon announced the disbanding of the 35-member squad." (end of extract)

Some commentators have noted the move by the integrity body to publish its hearings and video tape showing police assaulting suspects violently, just prior to a state election. The leader of the liberal Opposition, in state parliament, The Honourable Ted Ballieu, demonstrated yet again why it is that the liberal party can get no traction in state politics anywhere in the nation. He said that if elected the Ballieu government would examine the contract of Chief Commissioner, Christine Nixon. Why and on what grounds? Ill though out, off the cuff and in my view an unethical promise. The issue of police assaulting criminals, and suspects, is a complex and grey one yet Mr. Ballieu's naivety would place it in black and white terms. Does he condone vigilante tactics and behaviour? Does he condone breaking the law? The police involved broke the law and in doing so they broke their oaths to uphold the law. They also break their oaths when they stand arrogantly and deny the obvious in the hearing. All of this appears to hold little import with Mr. Ballieu. His hold on the office of Premier is slipping and in 2012 or 2013 he will be replaced.

The Chief Executive of Australian television station Channel Nine has a penchant to "bone" employees. This is Chief Executive, Eddy McGuire speak for giving them the sack. He has a target number of 100. He also likes to deny things only to be exposed for telling porkies a few weeks later. Mr. McGuire demonstrates the endemic, some would claim, unethical nature of modern corporate executive behaviour particularly in relation to human resources management and the devaluing of people. Perhaps in his limited experience in managing a multi-million dollar enterprise (does he have any?) he equates ratings, and advertising revenue, with brand.

The Federal Court of Australia has just (June 2006) ruled that one of the nation's largest retailers, Woolworths, committed illegal acts engaging in activity to reduce competition. The company, under the leadership of Chief Executive Roger Corbett pressured independent smaller retailers in the liquor industry to sign agreements limiting the products they could sell. Roger Corbett responded to the finding with a defence that what he and the company executives was, to his mind, legal. He claims the New South Wales legal regime supported compromise negotiations to settle objections between parties over new licenses being issued. Corbett seems oblivious to the matter of ethics. What he presided over was the destruction and belittling of people who did not have the resources to fight back. Some might think Corbett is a corporate thug. I think he is a person who gets his power and self esteem from borrowed resources. Since he demonstrates a low ethical sense he might be nothing without his CEO trappings. His is a referred status and prestige. Roger Corbett is praised for his management tole at Woolworths by people who value share price above ethics and a human approach to running an influential corporation. Coles, another large retailer admitted its guilt in a similar approach paying the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission just under $5,000,000 in fines. Coles would not admit guilt over reducing competition. The executives of both of these companies will escape any personal liability. Demonstrating a lack of moral compass and ethical sense is not a crime even though in this case it has damaged the livelihood of others.

Eddy McGuire, the CEO of aforementioned Channel Nine, may have inadvertently demonstrated that he is both ethically, and senior management skill, challenged, in his role, when he spoke of "boning" an employee, Ms Jessica Rowe, openly to others. Apparently this term is not to be interpreted as we might expect, that is wanting to engage physically but measn something quite different.

Instead it is purported to mean giving her the sack from her job. Unusual choice of words. This was not the only example of poor judgement that has been the bane of Mr. McGuire's early days at the company. He has gone about sacking one hundred employees. That seems to be the only methodology that Eddy has in his management arsenal. Perhaps he is neither experienced nor well read. Meanwhile the two leading executives of the owning entity, PBL, Messrs. Packer and Alexander, are off enjoying their extraordinary wealthy occupations, not for them the sack. Some at Channel Nine have to eat a "shit sandwich" and take massive pay cuts. But not Packer, Alexander and McGuire. They are far too important and valuable. All of these CEO's will still be welcome in the world of business and politics. The latter is a world of similar characteristics to the corporate empires above.

People in Australian political spheres exhibit poor morals, questionable ethics and low quality values. We have to stretch the imagination to believe that a moral vacuum has values in it. Among the many demonstrations of questionable ethics we note that a number of Australia's senior political leaders have little regard for findings in a court and the quality of the people with whom they associate. They too, like many of Australia's corporate executives, seem plagued with a lack of moral and ethical sense.

John Howard, Alexander Downer and Philip Ruddock have demonstrated very poor ethical judgements in their own right. Their most blatant, bordering on criminal behaviour, in public office is their treatment of Australian, David Hicks. They act illegally every day that they leave him in Cuba. They offend the democracy and the nation's legal heritage. Held illegally in Cuba, at the pleasure of the President of the United States, he has been abandoned by his Australian government. He has committed no crime under Australian law. He has committed no crime under US law and under any other law. He has been judged guilty of doing something that Howard and others do not like. He has been judged guilty of training to be a terrorists without ever having engaged in a terrorist act. He has been judged guilty of hanging out with people who carry out terrorist acts. He has been judged guilty of consorting. What an irony there is in that when we look at the people with whom Messrs. Howard, Downer and Ruddock consort with.

John Howard has judged that treating David Hicks in this fashion has no political consequences about which he should worry. The farce is that both Bush and Howard profess christian values. They neither know what the word "christian" nor the world "values" means. The three Australian politicians have pronounced, continuously, the legal foundation of the incarceration was valid. They were all wrong. Two of them are lawyers. The bigotry of this passerine trio should lead thinkers to conclude that the judgement of the Honourable John Howard, The Honourable Alexander Downer and the Honourable Philip Ruddock could be suspect in many spheres of Australian governance. Their competency in such high office is clearly in question though the greater number of Australians are simply dim witted when it comes to deep analysis of governments' deprecatory inclination towards those who disagree with, or challenge, the power collective. These three liberal politicians, among others, have been proven wrong on all the significant moral and ethical issues they have addressed during their ten years in government to June 2006. The cost of their misjudgement, maladministration and incompetence is very high, valued in tens of billions and in intangible damage to the nation's prestige. Such incompetence in an employment role would normally lead to a poor performance review and subsequent dismissal from employment. The problem is that there is no performance appraisal of the talent of our senior politicians. Australia finds itself without a remedy to this terrible affliction. As for David Hicks, blatant ignorance. and abuse of power, keeps him in a cell.

Many people are suspicious that rigging the price of petrol might be a national pass time, in Australia, for petroleum company executives, operating in concert with a clubby international cartel. Politicians, governments and agencies such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission must tread warily for this is the most powerful corporate mafia on earth. Energy is the life blood of nations. The method used to control the avaricious tendencies of this industry, and its executives, is a mixture of complex economics and corruption of the market. Australia's governments. like others throughout the world, profit extensively from high fuel prices in more ways than just revenue in taxes.

From a public policy angle they cover up the real action through the payment of subsidies and tax breaks and other incentives.

"Senators to Big Oil: Where's the money?

Considering a bill to block industry mergers, lawmakers call on executives to explain record profits, and offer ways to rein in prices. By Steve Hargreaves, staff writer March 16, 2006: 7:10 AM EST.

( Senators, considering a bill to restrict energy industry mergers and tax breaks, grilled oil executives again Tuesday as to why they are reaping record profits while consumers pay record prices at the pump."

Every now and then a small fish in the pond is captured and used as an example to at least create an impression that governments, and agencies, are not cowed by, or captive to, the oil giants.

"Federal Court orders $470,000 in penalties for Brisbane petrol price-fixing. Pecuniary penalties totalling $470,000 were ordered by the Federal Court yesterday for price-fixing ..... Issued: 1st December 2005 Release # MR 294/05, source: Australian Consumer and Competition Commission".

The Presidency of George Bush similarly is engaging in a smoke and mirrors action to appear to be challenging the corporations' power in the market place.

"Bush orders probe into possible price-rigging for gas, cites no evidence Tue, 25 Apr 2006 11:21:13 EDT, Source: CBC News, USA:

Former Texas oilman George W. Bush said on Tuesday he has put several government departments to work trying to learn whether high gasoline prices are the result of price-rigging".

"In other words, this administration is not going to tolerate manipulation," the U.S. president said. "We expect our consumers to be treated fairly." He also said the government will pump less oil into its strategic petroleum reserve over the summer to limit the drain on supply. "So by deferring deposits until the fall, we'll leave a little more oil on the market," he said. "Every little bit helps."

One can hope that the rise in
"whistleblowing" will expose the entrenched activity of cartels and executives in electricity, oil, telecommunications, food, drugs and every other facet of big bucks international enterprise. They adopt the justification that their activities are not illegal, or immoral, but are the realities of a complicated international world of competition. They meet regularly to discuss aspects of their particular industry, trends, challenges and possible new sources of revenue and profit.

"What are the profits that are raising eyebrows? Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP and Royal Dutch/Shell reported total earnings last quarter of nearly $33 billion. The industry's third-quarter profits jumped 62 percent. And, Exxon Mobil, the nation's biggest oil company, posted the biggest corporate profit in history."
Source: NOW, PBS - Gas Price Politics. Politics in Australia, and elsewhere is corrupted by donations. The Australian government is changing the law to enable donations to be hidden across a number of external political related entities furthering entrenching the corruption of democracy. This is music to the ears of corrupt business and the cartels for it means less exposure. In this regard the western nation's politicians, are a more polished version of less developed nations. Australia's petroleum producers do not want to invest in new plant when they can take maximum revenue from the economy. and the government can cream taxes from higher prices, without either having to invest in infrastructure. Why is this different to say Nigeria or Zimbabwe?

Uncle Sege was not satisfied. In the year 2002 he gave what he considered to be a warm new-year speech to the people of Nigeria by hiking petrol price from N22 to N26 per litre, diesel from N21 to N26 per litre and kerosene from N17 to N24 per litre. Attempt by NLC to get a price reversal through a strike was not as effective as the 2000 experience following arrests of labour leaders and an indecisive court of public opinion which felt a marginal increase of N4.00 was affordable. The hikes, according to him, marked the beginning of the liberalisation of the oil marketing industry. "Another obnoxious fuel price hike by the General Olusegun Obasanjo administration, which was made known to the public by Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi, the chairman of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), on Friday June 20, 2003 was a confirmation of his pledge for "continuity" during his campaign.

According to the new pump price structure, petrol was to sell for N40, diesel N38 and kerosene N38. As usual, he was forced to reduce the price through with the effort of the NLC and its affiliated unions to N34.00 per litre for each of the products.

Barely three months on, the president, who was not satisfied with the N34.00, now came up to announce another increase to N40.00 through the major oil marketers on the eve of Nigeria 43rd anniversary. This act of the government has clearly revealed the extreme callousness and insensitivity of the Obasanjo/Atiku administration, which has increased the prices of petroleum products four times since its inception in 1999 - a period of 4years and some months without giving thought to fixing the nation's four refineries."
Source: Africa Today

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
Petroleum companies hike fuel prices
Shame Makoshori, issue date :2005-Apr-09

PETROLEUM companies have hiked fuel prices in Harare amid reports that reserves have dwindled due to panic buying by motorists in response to indications that imminent shortages are looming.

Petroleum Marketers Association of Zimbabwe (PMZ) president Gordon Musarira this week expressed ignorance of the shortages despite the re-emergence of winding queues in the few outlets that had supplies. However, a survey carried out by The Business Mirror in the city centre on Thursday showed that most fuel outlets had run out of petrol with only two of them selling diesel.

Motorists swum the Fourth Street Engen service station, the only outlet that had both petrol and diesel where at least half a kilometre long queue formed stretching from Fourth Street into Robert Mugabe. Out of 10 other service stations visited, officials said fuel supplies had suddenly disappeared in the past week and were in a quandary as to when supplies would resume. Managers at most outlets said they suspected that suppliers were holding on to stocks in anticipation of price adjustments, pointing out that the nation could be bracing for a fresh round of astronomical hikes."
Source: Zimbabwe Situation

Across the world the cartels are plying their trade, masking their activities behind the curtains of war, acts of God and calamity and the greed of despots and the corporate person, an entity that has no soul.

"The world-wide rise in fuel prices was at first a blessing to Arab nations and their citizens. Until now. For the first time in 25 years there was real panic on the streets. The night before Black Thursday, the 1st of September, saw residents of Dubai rush in vehicles of of all shapes and sizes to the nearest petrol pump before fuel prices increased. Traffic came to a standstill for several kilometres around petrol stations as everyone tried to obtain that low price just one last time.

For the first time in 25 years the price of petrol (or gasoline) increased from 4.75Dhs (USD1.29)a gallon to 6.25 Dhs (USD1.70). Before Katrina hit and raised prices in North America, Black Thursday saw petrol prices rise in an area that had taken the oil for granted to the extent that the next day saw several SUVs up for sale. A price change like this would not be unusual in Canada or the US, but for the inhabitants of a country like the United Arab Emirates, where petrol has remained a steady and reliable commodity for so long, it is a crisis.
Source: By Isaac Oommen, Guerrilla News Network Enron, the Australian Wheat Board, World Com, and every other example of corruption, will continue, until such time we as citizens take control of our democracy and say very clearly to the politicians, and the executives, you will not donate money to political campaigns, you will not hide from us the manner of your ways or if you do you will not be allowed to hold down your jpb. The agencies, law enforcement, the competition watch dogs and so on are the tools and agencies of the people not the politicians. In Australia the governments of the day are dictating to the agencies and to the public servants what they will, and will not, reveal or do in the public interest. Every government in Australia is in some way corrupting our democracy. Is this any different to the rest of the world? IN Victoria the Bracks labor state government employs well over 700 people working on the public payroll in "spin" communications and spends another $100,000,00 on false, misleading and unproductive, advertising. This is but one of eight governments in the nation that engages in this questionable activity. They copied the models, and practices, from corporations. It is effectively the "cartel model, of politics and government" under the control of the duopoly of Australian politics, the labor and liberal parties.

A selection of Australia's emperors are appearing before the Cole Enquiry. One can follow the lapses of memory of the senior executives of very big and prestigious companies. But far more enlightening are the lapses of memory and selective responsibilities of senior Minister of the Australian government. They decide what parts, and what level of responsibility, they will comply with in federal legislation about the responsibilities of Ministers of the Crown.

Seven years ago BHP (before it merged with Billiton) sent a $5,000,000 wheat shipment to Iraq. They were told by the Department of Foreign Affairs that the wheat must be a donation. Ignoring the advice (perhaps direction) of the federal department the BHP management proceeded to treat it as a debt. They took steps to recover it with interest. In doing so they showed their contempt for the public service, for the government of the nation and for law and ethical management. They corroded and tarnished BHP's image for in their belief system, arrogance and limited world of accountability, they are the owners of BHP not the shareholders. They are beyond the law and if caught will lie to escape judgement.

In many respects the governments of Australia generates this contempt, by business and the corporate world, through their own questionable ethics, practices and examples. These BHP executives showed contempt for the rule of international law and for the people, around the world, people working hard for the people of Iraq. Greed and power. The executives of BHP who participated in this unethical behaviour should be dismissed from Billiton BHP forthwith. If they are gone then they and anyone still there, with knowledge of this, should be individually prosecuted, and hopefully jailed, for their contempt. The perpetrators should be banned from working in any company, within Australia, and any that has dealings in international trade even to the [point of being banned from working internationally by a United Nation's sanction or an international tribunal. They should be shunned for their actions as stewards of one of the world's largest corporations. Since their memories are so bad, and their moral compasses out of whack, they should be referred for psychiatric counselling and treatment for public interest dysfunctionality.

Paul Lennon is the labor premier of Tasmania, in Australia. There is some basis for asserting that he should not be in a parliament in Australia. He became premier through the death of Jim Bacon. He is now facing an election (March 2006).

The people of Tasmania have rarely experienced quality, ethical governance. It is a small island state, with limited working population and a small bureaucracy. Such is the economy and political landscape that it is difficult to avoid nepotism, conflict of interest and breaches of
law and morality that does not plague the other Australian states to the same extent. The merging of public and corporate interest is common place (under labor and liberal governments) in Tasmania as if they are synonymous. This is largely due to the size of the economy but also the attitudes and quality of executives (government and corporate) . Paul Lennon however has taken conflict of interest and slip siding on the ethical slope to a new dimension. He has been captured, by the media, accepting largesse (gifts, in the form of favourable accommodation and other services) from Melbourne's Crown Casino whilst personally negotiating, approving, signing and licensing a $700M gambling deal with BetFair and PBL. He did this in the face of opposition from every other state that had refused to issue Betfair and PBL a license.

He fobbed off the question of ethics and as is usual became aggressive and belligerent. He simply ignored the arguments put by other states who had refused the license.

"Later, Harry told
The Mercury there was a bad, second-rate and sleazy smell about the Government's dealings with Gunns, Federal Hotels and now Betfair. It all gives the appearance that this place is up for sale to the highest bidder and that money talks." (Tasmanian Times, archives)

A similar thuggish response emanated from him when questioned about funds flowing to his
brother's business from departments for which Lennon has responsibility. The Auditor General gave him a clean card stating there was no impropriety. The Auditor General's audit was less than thorough. Paul Lennon, and his brother, deem it unnecessary to answer questions about the allocation of public monies. He has publicly endorsed his brother's company whilst offering no similar endorsement to other businesses. One may assume that the premier is available for product and service endorsements of anyone should ask. Paul Lennon is not one of Australia's stellar political figures and will upon retirement from parliament fade into obscurity. Unfortunately for Tasmania and the quality of governance in Australia, it may not be at this coming election. Yet on balance he should be turfed out.

And so it goes. Corruption of Australia's ethics is in large part administered by our governments. People who take an oath to serve the public interest. Here is Queensland's contribution.

"Mr. Clare gave
evidence that governments of both political persuasions in the period of his tenure from 1997 (initially the Borbidge Coalition Government and then the successive Beattie Labor Governments) abused the Cabinet process in order to avoid information deemed sensitive or politically embarrassing falling into the public arena. This was because s36 of the Freedom of Information Act 1992 provided for an exemption from Freedom of Information disclosure of documents which, in effect, were submitted to Cabinet.(558 Exhibit 387; T6075-T6088, Queensland Public Hospitals Commission of Inquiry Report

Mr. Clare gave evidence that, during the period of the Borbidge Coalition Government he procured a 'fridge trolley' in order to deliver and retrieve documents associated with Cabinet submissions which collected surgery waiting lists in Queensland public hospitals. In response to a Freedom of Information application which had been lodged seeking hospital waiting list documents.559 In this way that Government concealed from the public the surgery list.

Following the election of the Beattie Labor Government in 1998, Mr. Clare said the remitting of such waiting lists to Cabinet was continued and formalised by the inclusion of the same on Queensland Health's 'Cabinet Forward Timetable'. 6.533 Mr. Clare said that, on a number of occasions, his instructions were received, in relation to this issue, from Dr Stable. It was plain that Mr. Clare inferred that Dr Stable was responsible for submitting waiting list information to Cabinet. 6.534 Dr Stable gave evidence that the decision was a political one made by the Minister and Cabinet of the day in a conscious endeavour to engage the Freedom of Information exemption.560 I accept Dr Stable's evidence in this regard.

Below when dealing separately with the conduct of former Minister Edmond, I again address this issue of waiting lists. Her conduct, consisting of a campaign by press release, was plainly undertaken with the full knowledge of Cabinet.

All this reflects poorly on the politicians involved in the stewardship of Queensland Health. There was a bipartisan (in the pejorative sense) approach to concealing from public gaze the full waiting list information. Only the (shorter) surgery list was published from 1998."

All of this, and more has come to light when one nurse spoke out because she could no longer stand by and watch
people suffer, and die. Then what did the bureaucrats, doctors, managers and politicians do to her? They ridiculed her, humiliated her, abused her and punished her. What did the people of the state do? They re-elected the Ministers and the Premier and the government. In 2006 who is fixing the broken, and dangerous, system of public health in Queensland? You already know the answer. The people who created it, ran it and degraded it, less a few embarrassing ones.

Australia has been developing a long history of unethical and seriously flawed politics and governance.

In the early days of John Howard's government he lost several ministers and parliamentary secretaries to breaches of codes of behaviour and ethics. It varied from conflicts of interest, non declaration of interests and travel expenses rorts. Yet nothing much changes in the government of John Howard. Ethics and standards are not high on his list of ministerial and parliamentary members performance criteria.

Within Australia's parliamentary frameworks is a declaration register of interests. This register has existed, and been focused on, by the media and the parliamentary question time,for decades. You might think it is a vital part of the honesty, and integrity, of Australia's parliamentary process and democracy. It is supposed to demonstrate that parliamentarians are free from conflict and self interest.

Think again. All Australian parliamentarians seem to treat the register as a joke. The former leader of the federal National Party, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport, John Anderson, tells us that he forgot to complete the register when he sold his shares in the
Australian Wheat Board (AWB) a few weeks ago (February 2006). This is particularly relevant when you read the material about AWB below. There is a Royal Commission into AWB and the payment of bribes to Suddam Hussein in violation of international laws and United Nations sanctions. Testimony at the AWB occasion like that of leading people in Enron, One Tel, HIH Insurance and any other public scandal revolves around loss of memory, forgot and being deaf or unable to read due to a disability. Anderson is in good company since James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch also suffer from forgetting.

AWB shares have crashed. How convenient for John he sold them and therefore he cuts links with an embarrassing company. John Anderson simply forgot. Australia's wheat trade is in crisis and the government is under fire, the media are prowling and Anderson simply forgot. AWB is obviously not a big issue for this man who is semi- retirement looking forward to the public pension whilst being casual about important ethical issues and practices.

There is no mechanism in place in the federal parliament despite all of the past history that this register has. There has been no system put in place despite the appearance of corruption of members of parliament who always seem to forget. Why is there no system? Because to have one might actually expose these people to registering actions enabling anyone who wanted to look at the register at an inconvenient time. Rather than accept that John forgot, why would we not lump him in with the opportunistic hypocrites, who demand standards and compliance by public servants, by companies, by Directors, by citizens. Complaince from everyone except their own kind, Prime Minister Howard will chastise him in the parliament and that will be it. Many Australian politicians are in a class that we might label the "weasels, and stoats", a term I have borrowed from the famous literature works, "Wind in the Willows" or on this occasion, John, to use an Australian colloquialism, "blow the excuse out from where all hot air tends to come".

Then a mere matter of weeks later we learn that more senior Howard government ministers have failed to register their interest, among them the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Alexander Downer. The Prime Minister in usual style, has dismissed this as trifling. As the Prime Minister, and senior members of Australia's government, travel the world and negotiate trade deals and other ventures, is it that they deal only with like minded people? Those whose moral and ethical compass is skewed and bent like John Howard and a number of his Ministers? What happens when ethical people have to deal with these politicians? Do they feel nauseous?

Why are ethics almost non existent in Australia's governments and corporations? Apart from the fact that the electroral system is rigged by the duopoly, and the same bunch of directors control the major company board rooms, politicians love inanimate objects. Things that have no heart and soul, like markets. Australia's governments, politicians and corporate leaders are besotted with economy and the narrow short term objectives of profit. Intertwined is a growth in greed, personal interests and a hollowing out of Australia's ethical core. There are few, if any Australian society, leaders who can claim the high moral ground legitimately. Political and corporate spin practitioners are whispering in the ears of the powerful. and hundreds upon hundreds of millions of shareholder and public dollars are spent, by them, without authority or accountability Every day we see examples of
corruption and corrosion of values. The greater number of uneducated, uncaring and apathetic public, are held spell bound by trinkets and consumption, engrossed in their own problems and individual self interest. The nation's ethical soul has shriveled and perhaps died.

Questions of legitimacy and consistency

The Cole enquiry into the payment of bribes to Suddam Hussein's regime for wheat shipments raises a number of questions, and issues, well beyond the pragmatics of how world trade works.
  1. Australia donated well over $1,000,000,000 to Asian governments for the tsunami. When it was discovered that our aid was being creamed off by political and business interests we were incensed. The Australian government has long argued that our aid is being misused. Yet when Australian commercial entities behave unethically, and engage, in greasing the palms of the business and political interests of other countries, to further our international trade, that is the way business is done. It is justifiable lest we lose trade and future business. People, justifying trade at whatever price, will tell us that only fools try and set an example in being ethical if it costs. Why did the Australian government sign the international agreements, and legislate, to outlaw bribery and corruption if it intends to ignore the laws? What respect do Australians have for their signed agreements and their laws? Apparently only where it is convenient for them and where they are not required to adhere to any hard moral action that might prove costly. What value do we place on ethics, on democracy and on our strength of character? Are these the values to which the Australian politicians refer when they lecture us and pontificate? If so we seem to be lacking in them, quite substantially. What values will we impart to immigrants who want to become citizens? The four most valuable that we hold dear and which our governments continually teach us and reinforce by word and action, their own tenets self interest, greed, expediency and money. These we understand and lovingly embrace.

  2. The Australian government has made security and the war against terror a platform of their superior performance in government. If that is the case why would they ignore warnings on this issue from the United Nations, the United States Congress, Canadian Wheat Board and others? The payment of $300M contravenes the international strategy, and complementary legislation by Australia, to track, and stop, the funding of terrorists and money laundering

  3. The competency of the administration of the Australian government, the actions of the Attorney General, Ministry and Department, particularly in relation to the tacit and blind acceptance of American hegemony, David Hicks incarcerated in Gauntanamo Bay Cub. The administration of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry and Department particularly in relation to the Australian Wheat Board and responsibilities to the United Nations.

  4. Why have legislation, in Australia, that makes the payment of bribes a criminal offence if an acceptable justification is to be a pragmatic," that is how things are done and it is okay?"

  5. Why have ethical codes of conduct, standards for corporations and legislation?

  6. What is the impact, on the quality and outcomes of our democracy, of unelected political advisers, and senior public servants, second guessing Ministers and deciding what Ministers, governments and the public should know.

  7. Senator Coleman from Minnesota, in the USA, is angry that Australia's former ambassador influenced him to cease an investigation into the payment of bribes by Australian wheat interests. The US is dribbling on about charging Australian business interests, and other people, with breaking US laws. Is the Honourable Senator willing to investigate his own country's corporate, and political interests, so assiduously? Do members of the US Congress think that thinking people, in the USA and around the world, are not aware of US hypocrisy, and sanctimonious, harping and lecturing? Many in the US seem to occupy a unique universe of their own fantasy.

Hypocrisy and Cant

Extract from the web site of AWB.

"Corporate Ethics and Code of Conduct."

"The Boards of AWB Limited and AWB (International) Limited are committed to clearly promoting and demonstrating that their business affairs and operations are at all times being conducted legally, ethically and in accordance with the highest standards of integrity and propriety. The AWB Code of Conduct policy is based on this principle and its observance provides the foundation on which the Company's reputation with growers, customers, suppliers and stakeholders is based.

The Code of Conduct policy sets out the values, responsibilities and obligations of all Board members and all people employed, contracted by, associated with or acting on behalf of the AWB Group."

View AWB's
Corporate Ethics and Code of Conduct Policy (PDF 205 Kb) Updated August, 2005

The Australian Wheat Board (AWB), and management, more than adequately demonstrate the decline in corporate ethics, and standards, in Australia. Prime Minister John Howard government is again caught in a spotlight of reality and exposed as the Emperor who has no clothes. The role of the Australian government, Australian Public Service Departments, the Australian Wheat Board, Billiton BHP and other Australian companies

in the scandal of the
Food for Oil programme in Iraq is yet another example of the corrosion of Australia's reputation and values by leaders of this nation. The Australian government under the pressure of exposure by the US Congress and United Nations has, under duress, established an enquiry with the powers of a Royal Commission. The government has deliberately, in a manner calculate to isolate it from the fall out, has limited the terms of reference. However the Australian government of John Howard has a solid reputation of lies, misrepresentation, bordering on fraud (altering pictures and documents) and denigrating the parliament and the peoples' democracy. This episode is more icing on a corrupt cake.

Senior legal counsel assisting Commissioner Cole, has queried whether the Managing Director of AWB is a fool? Time after time, under questioning, controversial Managing Director, Andrew Lindberg, stated that he could not remember specifics and he continually refused to give direct answers. This virus seems to spread rapidly amongst people, of (self perceived) elite status, when put on a witness stand. Like Mr. Lachlan Murdoch, and Mr. James Packer, appearing in an Australian court on the collapse of One Tel telephone company, Mr. Lindberg has memory loss. He cannot remember the details of major transactions and contracts particularly the dynamic Iraq contract which had international ramifications due to United Nations sanctions and Australia's involvement in the invasion and war.

Another senior manager of AWB has stated that it was normal business practice, for all companies, to
pay bribes to do business. Other major companies such as Billiton - BHP have been implicated along with many more. He also stated that he was not aware that Australia was a signatory on the international convention against paying bribes. He was not aware that it was illegal to breach United Nation published sanctions on the food for oil agreement for Iraq. He was not aware of any ethical issues, he was not aware, not aware, not aware...why are these managers employed when there are son many competent people without work who could do a better job?

In the wider
wheat farming community, it was well known that AWB was paying bribes.

"Farmers well aware of wheat kickbacks, COMMENT: Caroline Overington, the Australian Newspaper, January 16, 2006. " ASK any Australian wheat farmer whether they were surprised to hear Saddam Hussein was taking a cut of Australian wheat contracts, and they would likely say: "No, that sounds about right to me".

The Board, and management, have been described as arrogant, untrustworthy, focused on profit and their own self interest and benefits (bonus payments) and their actions
are damaging farmers. AWB was a publicly owned government enterprise when John Howard, and the national - liberal coalition, came to power. It was transferred into a corporation and given a monopoly to trade wheat through a single desk operation. The company's constitution shields the Directors from shareholder, and public scrutiny, and pressure due to a complicated tier share voting system. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, Agriculture (formerly Warren Truss and now peter McGauran) and Trade, Mark Vaile, along with the Departmental Secretaries and senior managers of Departments involved in wheat seem to have either had their heads in the sand, or to be have been derelict in their duty or perhaps complicit in corruption. Regardless this is another extreme example of the incompetence of the administration under John Howard and his hand picked Ministers and senior staff.

Officers of the Australian government department traveled to Iraq with AWB when the politics of war threatened the wheat contracts. Politicians, and senior bureaucrats claim that they had no knowledge of the payment of around $AUD300, 000,000 in bribes. What were they doing when AWB negotiated with Suddam Hussein's Ministers of government? Why were they there? It beggars belief that they were not aware. What was
Alexander Downer being told in regular meetings with AWB executives, and senior bureaucrats, about the problem of possibly losing wheat contracts? The Prime Minister trots out his standard, tarnished line, which he has used hundreds of time since becoming Prime Minister, "I was not told!", "I was not aware!" The record, in office and the number of scandals, financial losses and waste within departments and squandering of public money, implies that he is as incompetent, and derelict, in his public duty, and leadership ethics, as the people exposed in the Cole Enquiry.

Everyday there are
examples of members of the Australian government and major Australian corporations engaging in lies, a lack of ethical standards and cover ups and demonstrations of poor values and competency. As personified by the media, John Howard, is definitely average and so are many of our corporate, and institutional, leaders and managers. The economy is going gang busters, profits in companies are up and the citizens are collecting the eggs laid by the geese. John Howard, his Ministers and Australia's senior federal bureaucrats, are obviously held in high regard, by thinking Australians enamoured with the quality and operation of our democracy.

Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert in Perth, on 21st January, 2006, said, "The Government could confiscate AWB profits if Iraqi payments are found to be bribery if the Cole inquiry finds that AWB illegally paid $300 million to Saddam's regime to ensure AWB could sell billions of dollars of wheat, then the Commonwealth might confiscate profits from the wheat sales under the Proceeds of Crime Act. This could potentially add up to hundreds of millions of dollars of profit - at the expense of a UN humanitarian aid program." Under the Criminal Code (Bribery of Foreign Public Officials) Act of 1999 it is an offence to pay or provide benefit to a person in an effort to influence a public official (including contractors and intermediaries) in order to retain business or retain a business advantage. The Government needs to determine if 'compensation payments' and fees paid to Jordanian intermediaries qualify as bribes to foreign officials under the Criminal Code, The UN program was set up to ensure that food could get through to the Iraqi people in danger of starvation in the face of UN sanctions aimed at preventing Hussein's regime from buying weapons of mass destruction." For more information or comment call Chris Twomey 61 0 407 725 025 or email:

I'm in charge of the archive of features, which look at ethical issues, questionable actions and events that shape the world.

The tsunami in Asia has provided a wonderful opportunity "that has paid dividends for us" (Condoleeza Rice)

Telstra senior management join ethical desert

In the week of December 15, 2005, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) completed an investigation of Telstra's market disclosure procedures and their behaviour. It found Telstra engaged in unacceptable conduct but decided not to fine or prosecute Australia's largest corporation.

Immediately Telstra Company Secretary, Douglas Gration, told the media, and thus the market, that Telstra had done nothing wrong. Private manipulated briefings to certain parties and non disclosure of that information to the market as a whole is okay by him and the Board. He was confident that the company had abided by the regulatory provisions. So why have the ASIC investigation at all? Telstra has shown contempt for the government, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, its shareholders and its customers. Telstra has lost billions in investments and poor judgement and the corporation has been poorly managed, and operated, for the past ten years culminating in a devaluation approaching $14 billion. Its share price is around half of its last major tranche issue. In Mr. Gration's world it is all okay of his statement is taken as reflection of what he sees as benchmark standards and practices. The response from Telstra is typical of the modern day, arrogant approach of people who are besotted by the power of large corporations and their positions within them.

There has been much debate about ASIC's decisions and approaches to regulating market behaviour by publicly listed companies. The Telstra Company Secretary basically told the Chairman of ASIC, Mr. Lucy, that he and the government regulatory body are irrelevant and he does not care what they find or what they perceive about the behaviour of the company for which, in this case, he is responsible as Company Secretary.

The Australian government under John Howard, and his senior ministers, has denigrated and degraded public administration particularly in the area of in the rea of integrity and ethics. Economics always puts its soulless objectives before the intangible values. The Australian government are first, foremost and lastly, political economists. The Treasurer Peter Costello, Finance Minister Nick Minchin and the Telecommunications Minister, Helen Coonan, have nothing to say. This is typical because to respond on a matter of ethics, and integrity, raises questions about the government's moral compass and the conflicts of interests its policies continually generate.

In the absence of government leadership on these vital elements of our society, people like Mr. Lucy, in high public office, should fill the void and give the corporate world leadership to envy and aspire to.

We were told another porky

Ten days before the Australian federal election of 2004 the Environment Minister, Ian Campbell, made a solemn promise that about the government's plans for the location of a low waste level nuclear dump. He stated categorically that it would not be on Australian soil. He said, "the only options we are pursuing are on off shore islands. I think the reality of this is that there is no one on the mainland who particularly wants a nuclear waste dump in their backyard and that is why we are pursuing the practical option of going to an off shore island, so that the Northern Territorians can take that as an absolute categorical assurance." (Quote from source Australian Financial Review: Friday 18 November, 2005). The government was concerned that it would lose two federal liberal - country party member seats in the Northern Territory.

In July 2005, Education and Science Minister, Dr. Brendan Nelson, announced that the government had shortlisted
three potential sites in the Northern Territory.

I have a perception that morality, conscience, responsibility, ethics and accountability have taken a back seat to expediency and self interest in society particularly in politics, government and

Safeway fined $9m for price-fixing
PM - Tuesday, 31 January , 2006, 18:45:00
Reporter: Peter Ryan

The Australian supermarket giant Safeway has been fined almost $9 million for price-fixing and misusing its market power in the bread market. After what's been a long-running case, the Federal Court found Safeway's misuse of its market power against other retailers was anti - competitive. Justice Alan Goldberg ruled that Safeway had arranged for the price of bread to be fixed at the Tip Top bakery store in Melbourne's Preston Market in April last year."
Extract from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Safeway is owned by Woolworths, one of two largest supermarket retail chains in Australia. Safeway acted to damage competitor (small and medium) businesses.

"those I abhore are the unprincipled men who use unethical means to obtain undue profits they hoard currency or commodities to force the value up, or they dominate the markets to rob the commoners of their profit, or they encroach on others' land destroying the livelihood of the orphan or the weak, or they wander from one government office to another to look for profits to be made I will have nothing to do with such people."

  1. In business, ethics may be 'incidental.

  2. The underlying problem is community standards.

  3. When survival is the issue, ethics may be 'suspended'.

  4. Is greed good, bad or 'natural'?

  5. The quality of personal relationships (with customers and employees) is regarded as a symptom of corporate ethics.

  6. The person at the top is crucial.

  7. Corporate ethics have a direct impact on our lives.

  8. Extract from a speech by Simon Longstaff on Business Ethics

    St. James ethics centre, Australia

    These statements, and questions, apply equally to the state of Australia's politics and governments.

A high profile internationally recognised executive, who runs major public corporations, appears in a court case examining the billion dollar collapse of a company of which he was a Director when it collapsed:

"He then went on to say that he
couldn't remember anything ...."

There is a lack of integrity, and spine, in so man people at every level of society. Codes of conduct in the Australian parliaments and the politicisation of our public services may be nothing more than hollow documents designed to imply a situation that in reality does not exist. The governments of Australia preside over departments of the public service whose in competency, inter alia, can result in Australians being jailed (as illegal immigrants) and deported, jailed on the presumption they are illegal. They can be tortured mentally for years, branded and treated with contempt, in defiance of international law, conventions and human decency. The disadvantaged (aboriginals, the mentally ill and the handicapped) in our communities are left to their own devices and bitter existence, whilst the politicians, and the public servants and consultants draw the salaries and swan through life without a care. There is purportedly a link between ethics and performance, which implies that decline in performance might mirror a decline in ethics. They have enquiries and then the relevant government, federal, state or territory, says that there needs to be changes in the law or administrative procedures. No one takes responsibility and no one loses their job or their livelihood. Is there such a thing as legislative ethics? Can we expect the general population to engage with ethics when our political leaders, and Ministers of the Crown, are such poor role models.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are wasted, and lost, on
ministerial incompetence and substandard administration, compounded by errors of judgement, poor governance and lousy public policy, and a decline in ministerial responsibility in a system wasting billions.

In the case of the Australian Wheat Board set out above, no one is responsible or guilty of anything. It is all a misunderstanding, a lack of awareness, a lack of knowledge and ignorance of the law and ethics. It is all about achieving the objective at any price. The Australian Wheat Board (AWB) was a federal government statutory authority trading Australia's wheat. One of its major contracts was within the food for oil programme to Iraq, under the auspices of the United Nations. AWB freighted its wheat overland in Iraq using a Jordanian company, partly owned by the Iraqi government of Suddam Hussien. Hussein siphoned off billions in the food for oil programme including hundreds of millions paid by AWB using the Jordanian transport company. AWB's response to this is that they did not know. That the transport contract was approved by the United Nations. There was no aforethought by AWB to check that all of its contracts were above board in terms of international compliance, m,omey laundering, funding of terrorists, in breach of sanctions. None of that. It simply left that to the Foreign Affairs Department, which approved them under the Ministry of Alexander Downer. It left these issues to the United Nations.

John Howard says it is not the government's problem because the government floated AWB on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1999. This is a man, who in public office, conveniently side steps responsibility, where that would cause him political, and personal, embarrassment or damage. How convenient for everyone, the AWB Board, their management, the Prime Minister and the responsible federal Ministers. When it was in government control, the Prime Minister and the Ministers, were conveniently unaware. Yet evidence before the Cole Enquiry implies otherwise.

It is always someone else's fault but no one is responsible or accountable. When fined $9M for price fixing, Safeway put out a communication that it was something that happened ten years ago, that it had strenuously defended the claims, that it had advised all employees of their legal obligations. This implies that it hand clean hands, that it was something not really of concern, not really damaging and we should all forget it.

Governments in Australia, together with many corporations and other enterprises and institutions
adverse to telling the truth and engage in window dressing.

People who earn their living from such disreputable, and contemptuous means, spinning the truth and altering facts and engaging in minimisation of the value of ethical and responsible behaviour really are contemptible. They damage society, the nation and its values.

CCH News
Articles on Employment, Leadership and Ethics

Many Australian, and multinational companies large and small cut corners, as evidenced by the above example. Many mislead with false labelling and descriptions, they breach consumer and trade practices laws, willing to risk it until they are caught, every day across Australia as standards decline. Prominent people in business engage in criminal activity, fraud and questionable activities, misusing their positions. Regulatory agencies are selective in who they prosecute and are politically manipulated by legislation that shackles them. On November 12, 2005, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported (page 44) that "directors at the majority of Australia's bigger companies are trading shares in breach of Australian Stock Exchange rules and the Corporations Act....Directors at 123 of Australia's top 200 companies or sixty percent, failed in 2004 to meet ASX listing rules requiring them to notify the market of any change to their interests within five days". The paper goes on to report how Directors of Australia's leading companies loaded up their personal share portfolios several months prior to announcing takeovers and they traded in the "black out period" set by law between the results period and results announcement. Source: BT's Governance Advisory Service Report (Erik Mather) prepared for the Public Sector and Commonwealth Super Scheme, Catholic Super Fund, Emergency Services Super Fund, Northern Territory and Public Authorities Superannuation Scheme, Northern Territory Police Supplementary Benefits Scheme and VicSuper.)

Directors trade in breach of their own companies' policies and in breach of the law with impunity. They are sure of their security and position because they are in powerful corporate empires protected by the collective system. It is a simple matter to "buy politicians, and thus governments, of all colour" through party donations, largesse, patronage and personal favours. What politician in a major political party can resist the lure of an overseas study trip, a front seat at the Australian Grand Prix, the football final, the Melbourne Cup and Spring Racing Carnival? And when their political careers are done what about a seat on the board or a consultancy? For public servants, and former heads of senior politician's offices, there are CEO and other management roles. Thus a long serving politician, public servant or political hack, can double dip and get two or more income sources. One from their public pension and the other from their new jobs.

The executives of companies cannot be jailed, in Australia, for collusive behaviour to rig markets and for trade practices breaches. They can be fined. In cases where individuals have been fined, or jailed for insider share trading, they continue with their business activities, even in jail and admit little, if any, guilt. They appear to remain rich and comfortable.

Australia's iconic organisations,
banks, institutions, universities, and publicly listed companies, have been the homes of fraud, theft and maladministration. Institutional share traders are more concerned with the value of their investments and their own personal wealth interests than they are with ethics, morals and good citizenship or obeying the law. They are consumed by the culture of greed and excess. Ordinary people, with just one or perhaps no job, may well wonder if the things above are examples of blatant corruption or perhaps legiti