Monday, January 14, 2013

Punish Greens fraudsters

The press release hoax by anti-coal activist Jonathan Moylan represents a new and insidious form of sabotage by green extremists against productive activity in this country.

A member of the green activist group Front Line Action on Coal, Moylan distributed a fake press release to media outlets stating that the ANZ Bank cancelled a $1.2 billion loan to the developers of the Maules Creek coal project, located in the expansive Gunnedah Basin of NSW.

The share price for Whitehaven Coal, the Nathan Tinkler-owned company granted a tenement to develop the mine, fell from $3.52 to $3.21 within less than half an hour on the back of the fake release.

The fall in share price effectively wiped about $314 million from the value of Whitehaven, a significant blow for many shareholders with a stake in the company.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Green politicians and prominent left-wing commentators have quickly lined up to praise Moylan's actions.

Federal Greens leader Christine Milne supported Moylan's actions as being ''part of a long and proud history of civil disobedience'', whereas Lee Rhiannon tweeted a congratulatory note to Moylan ''for exposing ANZ investment in coal mines''.

The former head of the green think-tank Australia Institute Clive Hamilton described the action as a ''highly creative'' example of ''virtuous malfeasance, hostile actions motivated by the public good aimed at damaging a company's interests''.

While the green-left might seek to elevate Moylan's actions to those of Mahatma Gandhi, it is closer to the truth to contend that the Moylan affair is a white-collar extension of systematic attempts by extremists to sabotage the mining sector, just as they have done to the native forest industry.

The symbolic epicentre of green activism against forestry companies and workers is in Tasmania, the political home of the Greens leader who herself has been intimately involved in campaigns to halt value-added production within the industry.

When people with extreme mindsets cannot win an intellectual argument in the first instance, they tend to resort in exasperation by throwing their own bodies against their perceived grievances.

And this was certainly the case for at least three decades, with many scenes documented of ecological protestors chaining themselves to trees, sabotaging bulldozers and other forestry capital equipment, and marching in numbers down the streets of Hobart and other capital cities.

Law enforcement authorities, who gradually dealt with violations of private property and infringements upon productive activity with an increasingly light touch, have done little to deter the desire of the extremists to oversee the demise of forestry as a viable concern in the Apple Isle.

Subsequent efforts to alter public opinion, such as indoctrinating school children into accepting the environmental agenda and tiring a protest-weary general public into acquiescing to the extreme green point of view, translated into the gradual infiltration of the original anti-foresters into houses of parliament.

The counterintuitive emergence of wealthy green patsies, such as Graeme Wood and Jan Cameron, led to unprecedented funding for the Greens not to mention the unconscionable act of buying the Triabunna woodchip mill for the purpose of closing it down.

The consequence of the unrelenting campaign by extremists to clamp down on timber production is the state of Tasmania has been diminished to that of a mass shrubbery, with residual eco-tourism activities on the side acceptable to the greens' expectations.

With an underlying world view that any productive activities which add value to natural resources is sacrilegious, the environmental campaigners have wandered from the dark, locked-up-by-regulation forests onto the plains of rural and remote Australia to repeat their anti-development mayhem against mining.

Just as their compatriots did in Tasmania, the green extremists have been fond of chaining themselves to railways and port infrastructures attached to coal and iron ore mines, blocking access to mining company-owned vehicles and other equipment, and unfurling anti-mining banners across bridges, buildings and other public places in the capitals.

The white-anting of Whitehaven's share price by Jonathan Moylan was applauded by the likes of Greenpeace as a new twist on the age-old protest movement adage of ''sticking it to the man''.

The immediate problem here is that the man, Nathan Tinkler, has by virtue of being the company's largest shareholder provided the company with equity finance assisting it in its endeavours to build a capital and employment base, benefiting thousands of men and women both directly and indirectly.

The broader problem is that this episode signals to the global mining investment community of the risks of attack by wilful anti-mining agitators against prospective ventures in Australia.

So, what is to be done?

In the first instance fraudulent activities of the nature conducted by Moylan ought to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and there have been reports suggesting the Australian Investments and Securities Commission is presently investigating the matter.

But there are also broader issues that must be confronted.

Companies should take a more willing stand against environmental NGOs and other extremist groups who demand that they exercise ''corporate social responsibility'' or cough up some ''social license'' to exist.

After all, one does not rationally deal with terrorists by acceding to their demands so why bow to the agenda of economic extremists who demonstrate no limit to their preparedness to frustrate growth and development?

With a federal election expected for later this year the Greens political party should be repudiated at the ballot box for its consistent hostility towards the mining sector, which has arguably held the Australian economy afloat during the post-global financial crisis stagnation.

The microscope of scrutiny should also be firmly trained on the federal government, presently on political life support thanks to Green preferences.

The maintenance of stringent environmental approval regulations are inducing significant delays for lucrative mining developments, and the bevy of carbon dioxide and mining taxes unduly erode the bottom line of profitable firms that do little but employ many thousands of Australians and augment our export incomes.

Although Australia has already inflicted much economic self-harm upon itself in response to the extremists' pressure, the best way to start rolling back the damaging green policy legacy is to draw a firm line against sabotage in all its forms affecting the mining sector.

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