Warner Brothers Wins 2010 Roger Award
BUPA 2nd; Imperial Tobacco 3rd

John Key & His Government Winner Of Accomplice Award
Sir Peter Jackson Wins Quisling Award

- Murray Horton

The full Judges’ Report accompanies this issue of Watchdog and/or can be read online at http://canterbury.cyberplace.co.nz/community/CAFCA/publications/Roger/Roger2010.pdf
The finalists were: BUPA, Imperial Tobacco, Telecom, Vodafone, Warner Brothers and Westpac. The Government (specifically John Key) was the only finalist for the Accomplice Award – (as part of the nomination of Warner Brothers). The annual Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand is given to the transnational (a corporation which is 25% or more foreign-owned) which is worst in each or all of the following: Economic Dominance -Monopoly, profiteering, tax dodging, cultural imperialism; People - Unemployment, impact on tangata whenua, women, children, abuse of workers/conditions, health and safety of workers and the public, cultural imperialism. Environment - Environmental damage, abuse of animals. Political interference - Cultural imperialism, running an ideological crusade. The judges were Paul Corliss, from Christchurch, a life member of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union; Christine Dann, from Banks Peninsula, a writer and researcher; Sue Bradford, from Auckland, a community activist and former Green MP; Joce Jesson, a Senior Lecturer in Critical Studies in Education, University of Auckland and an activist in various community organisations; and Wayne Hope, Associate Professor, Communications Studies, Auckland University of Technology.

Warner Brothers won despite being a first time nominee (in racing terms, it was “the bolter” of the field). The Judges’ Statement says that: ''The ‘Hobbit’ affair was an extraordinary example of transnational capital interfering in local politics, and overtly influencing the actions of the NZ Government (which richly deserves its Accomplice Award). It was an overt display of bullying that humiliated every New Zealander, and deliberately set out to do that… such interference in New Zealand politics sets a precedent for all future negotiations between the New Zealand government and transnational corporations”. It won because of its interference in NZ politics and governance and treatment of employees and contractors.

BUPA (which is the second biggest retirement home chain in NZ) came second “primarily because of its poor treatment of both its staff and its clients” (one of whom, a 100 year old woman, died after suffering considerably for several months from misdiagnosed and untreated scabies). Imperial Tobacco came third, not only for selling a product which kills and addicts its users, but because of its role in setting up a fake citizens’ organisation to lobby for its product, a tactic which the judges described as “despicable and deceitful”.

John Key and his Government won the Accomplice Award for their ignoble role in the whole Warner Brothers/”Hobbit” affair. “It has apparently given rise to a whole new men’s fashion garment in Hollywood – Warners of Wellington trousers. They have an arrow printed on the seat, and the words ‘kiss here’”. The judges announced a special Quisling Award for Sir Peter Jackson (to be awarded to the individual New Zealander who does the most to facilitate foreign control of New Zealand), once again for his role in the Warner Brothers/”Hobbit” affair. “Sir Peter Jackson – you are fully worthy of joining that other blackened knight, that other exemplar in selling out your country to foreign corporations, the one for whom this award is named – Sir Roger Douglas”. So, a triple sweep for the movie industry – the Roger, the Accomplice and the Quisling. Says it all really, doesn’t it.

The winner was announced at an event in Auckland on April 4th, in front of a small but very enthusiastic audience. The speakers were myself, on behalf of the organisers (my speech is online at http://canterbury.cyberplace.co.nz/community/CAFCA/publications/Roger/2010Horton.pdf), and Chief Judge Christine Dann, who announced the winners. Musical entertainment was provided by veteran Auckland activist Roger Fowler (who vowed to me that he will change his first name before accepting another such invitation) and there was a surprise appearance by Bugs Bunny. “I would like to accept this award on behalf of Warner Brothers as recognition for our longstanding union-busting efforts... As for workers rights – all Warner Brothers have to say is – That’s all folks!”. You can view a short clip of the event, featuring myself, Christine and Bugs, plus an interview with me recorded the next day, at http://www.youtube.com. As always the event was great fun, and got some good mainstream media coverage. And, also as always, one finalist (Vodafone this year) got in touch with me just before the event to dispute why it was nominated and to stress what a good corporate citizen it is. That just goes to show how on target the Roger Award is, it makes the transnational miscreants squirm. Long may they do so!

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Foreign Control Watchdog, P O Box 2258, Christchurch, New Zealand/Aotearoa. August 2008.

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