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TransAlta winner of Roger Award for 1999 - media release

18 February 2000

Chief Reporter

TransAlta winner of Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation in NS in 1999 - Tranz Rail and Monsanto get dishonourable mention

Canadian power company, TransAlta, which owns energy retailers in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch (Southpower), has the dubious honour of being the winner of the Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation in New Zealand in 1999. The Award was announced in Christchurch today.

The judges were: Maxine Gay, president of the Trade Union Federation, Welington; Moana Jackson, Maori Legal Service, Wellington; and Professor Jane Kelsey, Auckland. To quote from their report: 'TransAlta’s brief foray into New Zealand is a warning to the world of what can happen when basic infrastructural services such as electricity are privatised and deregulated' . Having made its money, TransAlta has this year agreed to sell its NZ assets to an Australian company for a tax-free capital gain of almost $300 million. During its seven years here, TransAlta:

  • Raised prices for domestic consumers and for small and medium businesses, while cutting prices for big businesses.
  • Sacked workers to an extent which is causing those left to fear for their safety.
  • Was a partner in building two gas-fired power stations which produced about half of the total increase in NZ carbon dioxide emissions from 1990-98.
  • Blatantly attempted to blackmail the NZ Government into abandoning a proposal to force energy companies to split their lines and retailing businesses by threatening to leave the country if the change went through.
  • Campaigned to wind up the Hutt-Mana Energy Trust which was elected democratically in local body elections, because its minority stake in TransAlta NZ was an obstacle to the Canadians’ plans to sell out at an even greater profit.

The criteria for judging were by assessing the transnational that has the most negative impact in New Zealand in each or all of the following fields: unemployment, monopoly, profiteering, abuse of workers/conditions, political interference, environmental damage, cultural imperialism, impact on tangata whenua, running an ideological crusade, impact on women, health and safety of workers and the public. TransAlta contravened acceptable standards across virtually all the criteria.

Tranz Rail (1997 winner; 1998 Continuity Award) was given another Continuity Award because its persistent failure to maintain the safety of its rolling stock has continued to put its customers and workers at risk of crippling injury and death. Monsanto (1998 winner) was put on the Roger Watchlist because it 'is trying to make New Zealand a site in the international development of genetic engineering'.

The other finalists were: News Ltd, which owns the INL media chain; WestpacTrust; Telecom and Waste Management. Full copies of the judges’ report are available upon request.

Murray Horton
for the organisers

Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa GATT Watchdog Corso

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