Pacific Media Watch

22 April 2014

NZ: Rio Tinto judged worst company of the year

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A protest in the US against Rio Tinto's activities in West Papua.

NEW ZEALAND (Pacific Media Watch / Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa / Southland Times / Nelson Mail): Giant mining corporation Rio Tinto has won the award for New Zealand's worst transnational corporation for the second time.

The "Roger Award" was handed down last night to Rio Tinto on the grounds that it had negatively affected most New Zealanders who bought electricity from the grid.

Rio Tinto had "politically interfered" in the democratic process in order to receive preferential treatment over pricing levels (in a market which it dominates) with  resulting effects on residential power bills.

Murray Horton, spokesperson for the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa said: "The scale of Rio Tinto’s impact on people is greater than that of any other finalist. Secondly, Rio Tinto’s political interference in the democratic process was very high, systematic and continually reinforced."

Rio Tinto won the Roger Award in 2011 for its "50 year history of suborning, blackmailing and conning successive New Zealand governments into paying massive subsidies on the smelter’s electricity; dodging tax, and running a brilliantly effective PR machine to present a friendly, socially responsible and thoroughly greenwashed face to the media and the public”.

The corporation was the runner up in 2008, 2009 and 2012.

Gambling company Sky City Casino was judged to be the second worst transnational corporation in NZ, while Chorus - New Zealand's largest telecommunications infrastructure company - was third worst.

Poker machines
Sky City Casino was  nominated by several people, Horton said, because of its recent deal with the conservative National government where it was allowed to increase the amount of poker machines on its premises in exchange for building a convention centre.

Chief Roger judge Associatem Professor Wayne Hope said: "Sky City was a star performer in the political interference category. Any future government with a mandate to end or modify the Sky City Convention Centre deal faces the prospect of legal action.

"This level of interference in the democratic process ranks alongside the machinations of Warner Brothers in 2010. Their interest in New Zealand employment law equates with Sky City’s attempt to future proof their circumvention of the electoral mandate."

Telecommunications company Chorus, won a Roger award for the fist time for "economic dominance and profiteering".
"It strives to preserve a monopoly; it grossly overcharges and tries every trick in the book to keep those inflated prices, including special pleading to its backer and accomplice, the government. This story is very far from resolved at the time of this nomination and it remains to be seen how it turns out," Horton said.

The Nelson Mail newspaper reported that Talent2, the company behind Novopay won the People's Choice Award. The newspaper quoted primary school teachers union, NZEI Te Riu Roa's national secretary Paul Goulter saying he was unsurprised by the award.

"It's an obvious choice. This is a company that has been causing immense problems for thousands of teachers and school support staff throughout the country for almost two years now.

"The judges commented that Talent2's Novopay had become a byword for an expensive IT failure, costing teachers and school support staff millions of dollars in missed or mucked up salaries as well as costing taxpayers many millions more in trying to sort the mess" Goulter said.

Horton said transnational companies were assessed to see which had "the most negative impact in economic dominance - monopoly, profiteering, tax dodging, cultural imperialism; people - unemployment, impact on tangata whenua, impact on women, impact on children, abuse of workers/conditions, health and safety of workers and the public; environment - environmental damage, abuse of animals; and political interference - interference in democratic processes, and in running an ideological crusade".

The full 2013 Roger Award Judges’ Report

The 'ugly truth' about Rio Tinto


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Pacific Media Watch

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