23/07/2008 - 22:00

Early adoption could be risky

23/07/2008 - 22:00


Upgrade your subscription to use this feature.

The proposal for an emissions trading scheme has already provoked some sharp responses from business, especially Woodside Petroleum Ltd, which operates the country's single biggest CO2 emission site.

Early adoption could be risky

The proposal for an emissions trading scheme has already provoked some sharp responses from business, especially Woodside Petroleum Ltd, which operates the country's single biggest CO2 emission site.

Understandably, Woodside is miffed that dirty old coal will get a leg up compared with LNG.

Just how we nursemaid dinosaur industries through this period is a tricky one, but it is certainly not very fair to favour a dirty industry over a cleaner one if the objective is to reduce emissions.

There is a real danger that we may hurt our economy without making any positive contribution to the globe.

That is not simply based on a belief that the economy is all important.

I am factoring in the point that Australians in general are conscious of emissions reduction and reducing pollution.

It is ridiculous to damage a relatively clean economy, which is improving its act, just to make a point.

As a relatively small emitter, Australia's gesture is largely symbolic.

I realise that, per capita, we are quite high energy users, but that is in relation to the industries we have, not because we are inefficient or dirty.

Many companies and industry sectors are already leaders in reducing emissions.

I believe there are long-term productivity gains from reducing emissions and that we can do well from being an early adopter of a trading scheme and learning how to manage carbon costs in our economy.

Note I said early adopter. Never was the old business adage that pioneers get arrows in their backs more true. Being the first to punish ourselves for using energy would be a mistake.

Being advanced in our plans and prepared to act in concert with others is much smarter.

The federal government would be wise to develop its plans more slowly and get them right, especially for industries that compete with the developing world and already have huge disadvantages in terms of labour and regulation.

There will be few points for being first in this game because our key customers won't reward us for doing it.

They'll keep emitting and take our business. The climate won't win from that.

Firepower investigated

THE news that a bunch of companies and people linked to Firepower are being taken to court by the regulators is welcome, if not a little belated.

Having waded through some of the documents in this case, it's clear that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission has decided to build up a huge inventory of evidence to throw at the promoters of this business.

Actually, business is a strong word when you hear what Firepower's former CEO had to say on ABC's Four Corners this week.

While he has his own credibility issues, it's still bewildering to hear from him that every claim that the company had made when he was there was just fantasy.

It's an incredible story, especially when you see how many people appear to have been stiffed for considerable sums of money.

The list I have seen is long and diverse, containing quite a few household names.

But I do wonder that with so many of Firepower's claims clearly absurd and with so many shares allegedly sold without a prospectus, why it took the authorities so long to act.

It's another case of the horse bolting long before the stable was shut.

In this matter it's quite literally the case. Some of the key players are now offshore and hard to reach.

I'm no lawyer, but surely, if someone is selling shares without the proper documentation, you only need one or two examples to run a test case and attempt to convict these people before they have a chance to move their assets and lives to convenient out-of-the-way hiding places?

Instead, it's taken close to two years since suspicions were first raised in the media to get decisive action.

While it's possible that the promotion of the company had ceased by then and there was less risk of the alleged activity being perpetrated, I still find it surprising how slow the wheels of justice turn in cases such as these.

Lessons from failure

I promise not to become a regular book reviewer but occasionally I stumble across something exceptional enough to mention.

One of those rare exceptions was a book titled Typo: The Last American Typesetter or How I Lost 4 Million Dollars published by Scribe which really grabbed my attention because it was a book about failure rather than success.

We often hear the bad stories as fun anecdotes by business speakers and management gurus who all know they'll connect better with you if they can intimate that they've not always been perfect.

Typo is not just one of those anecdotes, it's a whole book of them. Here is a young guy, author David Silverman, investing his dad's life savings into a dream of an older colleague so they can take on the typesetting business, just as technology and offshoring start to cripple the sector.

It's really a how-not-to guide for people wanting to go into business. Why you should not keep bad people, why you should not have unquestioning faith in the judgement of business partners, why you can't rely on customers to look after your interests and many more lessons are outlined in this entertainingly written book.


Subscription Options