Hans Lovejoy, editor
Society really doesn’t do science well. Being outraged is an easier achievement.
And while it’s easy to damn Telstra for how it has treated Mullum residents concerned with 5G so far, from Telstra’s perspective, this was just a small risk management exercise. Large corporations and governments share similar values (including profit before people) and generally you can’t tell the difference between the two because their staff step through revolving doors.
Both entities will assess financial impacts against negative public sentiment, and it’s fair to say that Telstra’s decision was made some time ago in the case of 5G in Mullum.
After all, ignoring the community but claiming that feedback was considered is enshrined in legislation.
Local Labor MP Justine Elliot has presumably weighed up a similar risk assessment too. Backing loathsome corporate behaviour is a small risk here, as disenchanted and outraged hard left-leaning voters will vote Greens anyway. The Greens generally pass on their preferences to Labor. It’s a win win!
Even local councillors couldn’t get a majority vote to put the pressure on – an urgency motion by Cr Sarah Ndiaye was only supported by fellow Greens mayor Simon Richardson and Cr Michael Lyon. Cr Jeanette Martin was absent. Because it was unsuccessful, the motion does not appear in Council’s minutes, and public information of this relies entirely on those being in the chamber on the day.
Yay for this quasi-democracy!
Anyway, Dr Lindy Edwards is a senior lecturer in politics at the University of NSW. In her new book, Corporate Power in Australia: Do the 1% Rule? she undertakes case studies of how a few big companies shape laws.
It’s much the same in every so called democracy across the virus infected globe.
After taking a closer peek at Woolworths, Coles, News Corp, Telstra and the big four banks, she suggests that a few large companies exert excessive influence over parliament and increasingly scrape out the wealth from their supply chains.
She writes on www.michaelwest.com.au, ‘Economic power has become much more concentrated over the last 30 years. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reports that the ASX top 100 companies’ share of GDP has increased from 27 per cent in 1993 to 47 per cent in 2015.’
‘At the same time, economic power has become more concentrated, it has also been mobilised politically like never before. Business lobbying was fragmented, haphazard and unprofessional in the 1980s, but now it is a recognised career with an estimated 5,000 professional lobbyists in Canberra. In each of these case studies, the corporations were battling with government over laws which shape where profits sit in the supply chain’.
So in this case, Telstra won the battle to have a law that enables appealing corporate behaviour for its benefit. It’s all part of the hollowing out of trust in democracy for selfish gains, which is underpinned by fears that if you don’t control a market, another large psychopathic entity will.