Corporate Governance

Debunking more shameless taxpayer-funded climate alarmist crap from SBS

Yet more ridiculous climate alarmist rubbish was published from the taxpayer-funded SBS claiming we rank dead bottom (true) in one of the lower weighted (it didn’t mention that) categories of the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI). The CCPI measures the emissions, renewable energy share and climate policies of 57 countries and the European Union. It released the document at the COP25 summit to bathe in the spotlight with alarmists pals. Where was the journalistic rigour?

Who were the Aussie based “experts” (activists) the CCPI relied on to provide really in-depth qualitative opinions on our climate policy evaluation?

Doctors for the Environment Australia
Australian Conservation Foundation 
Oxfam
The Australian Institute

All climate activists. Precious little objectivity there. It is isn’t hard to work out why Australia scored a 0.0 on climate policy. Seriously? Any think tank with the remotest thirst for integrity in reporting and data collection should have questioned a zero score.

According to Bloomberg NEF, Australia has the 3rd highest clean energy spend per capita! We spent twice as much as France yet these climate alarmists marked us down because our democracy supported Adani. No doubt the experts just hurled toys out of the pram.

Why can’t the SBS do the slightest bit of fact-checking? What prevents it from reading the document and finding out that the credentials of the experts handing out the lowest score (relative to what?) with a lower weighting in the overall score is pretty low. Note the other three categories are based on actual data, not the whims of activists with an axe to grind against the current Morrison government.

And the summary for Australia was as follows,

National experts observe a lack of progress in these areas with the government failing to clarify how it will meet the country’s insufficient 2030 emission reduction target and inaction in developing a long-term mitigation strategy. While the government is not proposing any further targets for renewable energy beyond 2020, it continues to promote the expansion of fossil fuels and in April 2019 approved the opening of the highly controversial Adani coalmine. Experts note that the new government is an increasingly regressive force in negotiations and has been criticised for its lack of ambition by several Pacific Island nations in the context of this year’s Pacific Island Forum. The dismissal of recent IPCC reports, the government not attending the UN Climate Action Summit in September, and the withdrawal from funding the Green Climate Fund (GCF) underpin the overall very low performance in the Climate Policy category.”

This CCPI document is frankly laughable. Such is its desire to heap scorn and shame on nations, the Top 3 overall rankings were withheld from all nations. CPPI noted,

Still no country performs well enough in all index categories to achieve an overall very high rating in the index. Therefore, once again the first three ranks remain empty.

And would you look at the softball it tossed China,

National experts emphasize that China exerted huge efforts to cut fossil fuels and emissions in a coordinated way, however due to the turbulence of economy and trade still performed under expectation from the international community. Further, the national experts acknowledge that China put a lot of effort to overachieve its 2020 goals in the run-up to national GHG emissions 2030 targets. However, more efforts are needed to be in line with a well below 2°C compatible pathway. As the country is on track to fulfil its targets and promises made in Paris, experts hope that China will increase its targets next year. While the country could further increase its share of renewable energy in the energy mix over recent years, the rating in the Renewable Energy category remains medium. Despite a positive trend, current shares of renewable energy are rated low and national experts critically note the country’s high dependency on coal. By implementing a pilot emission trading scheme, China is showing positive efforts in national climate policy, which leads to a high rating in the Climate Policy category.

So could the CCPI tell us why renewables investment in China has slumped 40% as the government has said it won’t approve any such projects unless it can compete with coal?

USA’s overall emissions & emission per capita have declined since Trump took office but the CCPI could restrain its TDS.

National experts emphasise that the national climate policy has worsened under President Donald Trump’s administration and they highlight the importance of state-level measures. While renewable energy and energy use reduction targets are in place in some states, these vary greatly in terms of strength and implementation. At the international level, the performance completes the picture on a national level, with the US acting as a destructive player in international negotiations on all levels. The very low performance is further underpinned by the Trump administration officially having started the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, due to be finalised on 4 November 2020.

Yep, capitalism has allowed the US to experience declining emissions. No need for a socialist construct to hand over billions of dollars to rent-seekers. CCPI asked more activists including the Union of Concerned Scientists for the US bashing.

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So take the CCPI report with all of the irrelevance of its compilation. Based on subjectivity. Just like the 11,000 signatories to a climate emergency, where the site that pushed the narrative overlooked the fact that Mickey Mouse, Aldus Dumbledore and Araminta Aardvark were included.

It is worth quoting Thomas Sowell again,

Those who cry out that the government should ‘do something’ never even ask for data on what has actually happened when the government did something, compared to what actually happened when the government did nothing.”

Well done on the SBS for yet more splendid journalistic integrity.

NBA ratings take a dive post HK/China saga

Last October, Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted his support for the Hong Kong protesters. Little did he know that the Rockets, the NBA and several key basketball stars of the game bowed to China by slamming Morey and apologizing on his behalf.

Rolling over was no surprise for the league given the attempts to drive the game into that populous market to make lucrative sums. LeBron James stands to make up to $1bn from Nike by the time he is 64 thanks to the China market.

Unfortunately, fans at home seem displeased. If the lessons from the NFL kneeling drama weren’t evidence enough, the NBA has also seen ratings plummet so far. Could it be that fans only watch to escape the stresses of a large mortgage, family and work?

Variety noted,

Viewership across ESPN, TNT and NBA TV is down 15% year-to-year overall, according to Nielsen figures. TNT’s coverage is averaging 1.3 million viewers through 14 telecasts, down 21% versus last year’s comparable coverage, while on ESPN the picture isn’t much prettier. The Disney-owned network is down 19%, averaging 1.5 million viewers versus just under 1.9 million viewers at the same stage last year.

Yet more evidence of how getting woke makes you go broke.

Naturally the league has blamed it on the absence of key stars due to injury. Or maybe it is because paying customers are sick of being lectured to?!

If Mitsubishi studied pigs and aviation closer

In 2007, CM suggested that the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) was doomed to failure at the concept stage.

All the tea leaves were there to be read. A simple study of the widely available Boeing & Airbus 20-yr commercial market forecasts at the time revealed how the regional jet market was set to shrink 40% in favour of larger jets.

Yet the Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp (MAC) pushed on ahead regardless hoping for a 20% share of a collapsing market. What would possess a company to target a dying segment with a product that wasn’t a game changer? A plane that promised to use composites to reduce weight yet was forced back to conventional alloys and to resize because customers had no demand for the original design.

With 90% of the regional market occupied by Bombardier and Embraer, airlines get great efficiencies by sticking to the same brands during upgrade cycles – minimal marginal costs required to train ground staff and pilots. For airlines to pursue a brand new aircraft that offered little in terms of superior economics nor extensive after sales services, it was always going to be the Achilles’ heel for MAC.

Airlines would not only take on extra costs to train existing staff, but would run huge financial risks with leased MRJ’s (now called the Spacejet to rebrand the failure) if they needed to downsize fleets because there would be next to no other airlines to sell or release them to unlike Bombardier & Embraer. Pilots who chose to be certified to fly the Spacejet also risked limited career options if an airline collapsed.

So it is refreshing to read this great summary on Wolf Street of how terribly the aircraft program is (not) progressing in 2019.

It would make a great Harvard Business Review study on how not to crack into a market.

Rugby Australia chokes on its own incompetence

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After exchanging a politically correct, vomit-inducing and nose-bleedingly insincere prepared statement drafted by professional media consultants -not lost on anyone – the fact remains that Rugby Australia (RA) is the loser in the Israel Folau saga. We can forget the original source of the dismissal and the rights and wrongs of it. If RA thought it had a proper case, the legal fees (which it claimed were worth saving and settling out of court) would have been way less than the $10m payout he was demanding. So much for supporting the very communities the RA plasters all over its website.

The outcome was the result of management incompetence in thinking that appearing woke trumped legal due process. In full knowledge that Folau had a $1.6mn war chest (courtesy of Christians, free speech advocates and rugby fans alike) to take up the case against his former employer, the board was forced to buckle and issue an apology to the former rugby star, which would never have been necessary if it had a smidgen of judgment in the beginning.

RA CEO Raelene Castle can laugh off “wildly inaccurate” speculation on the $8mn rumoured settlement but the fact is the board knows the exact amount. Israel and Maria Folau wouldn’t have been grinning like Cheshire cats were he to have signed away for less than his rescinded contract. It will be fascinating to see the composition of the 2019/20 reported figures that will be published in due course. Expect some accounting trickery to fudge it into the numbers.

Castle said a few months back that the franchise could weather paying out Izzy Folau’s $10m claim. Although CM is not sure that paying out $10m + costs – which would wipe out almost 2/3rds of the $18mn in cash on the balance sheet – is something a CEO should think is worth boasting about. What she has long needed to focus on is arresting the declining operating performance. Yet she stated emphatically that the RA won’t have to make changes to the budget. Maybe her lawyers pieced together a multi-year drawdown of the sum to be paid to smooth out the ultimate impact. 

The RA franchise is the laughing stock of the rugby world. So transparent is the lack of accountability, woeful internal coordination and deteriorating financial results that it requires nothing more than a drastic overhaul if the entity is to thrive.

Former coach Michael Cheika let loose that it was no secret he had no relationship with the CEO and a very poor one with Chairman Cameron Clyne. This coming from the very individual running by far the biggest RA franchise. Despite possessing by far the worst performance record of any Wallabies coach, management persevered with a man who didn’t have a leg to stand on but cast aspersions on the executive team.

Therein lies the problem. RA can push all of the woke causes (e.g. LGBTQI+, gender equality) it likes, but if the ultimate end customer derives no value from it, it is a fruitless exercise which can’t escape the scrutiny of the free market come time to pay bills.

Castle may believe that this was a commercial decision for the sake of providing certainty. Had she done the right thing from the start she could have avoided getting embroiled in a scandal that has exposed the poor governance within.

Isn’t it odd that the LGBT activists are now attacking the very institution that set out to promote them – RA. CM has never thought much of his tweets but the reaction to them has been so over the top. The faux outrage mob finds oppression in everything.

Castle should resign and if she won’t the board should fire her despite her defiance against the bleeding obvious – she is in over her head. Fans won’t return with the status quo.

Get woke, go broke.

Harvey Norman Derangement Syndrome

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CM attended today’s Harvey Norman (HVN) AGM as an observer. This was a 2-hr lesson in HVN Derangement Syndrome by a handful of shareholder activists.

Two key takeaways – 1) there was overwhelming shareholder support for reappointments to the board, & 2) agitator and activist Stephen Mayne did little more than draw the ire of the audience as he rattled off what he believed to be a value-added commentary on the company’s approach to governance and supposed lack of independence, neither which he made a credible case for.

The ultimate irony expressed by Mr Mayne was his confession that he and his proxies would be voting FOR the reappointment of CEO Katie Page as a director, despite his constant interjections at the questionable state of governance at the firm. Seems 91% of shareholders want her to stay. Hardly a vote of no confidence.  Surely if he believed the board is the worst on the ASX for governance, why own shares at all? Crikey!

The flipside was the proposal for Mayne’s appointment to the HVN board received a 91% rejection by shareholders, reflective of their desire to maintain a winning formula. Chairman Gerry Harvey quipped, “who are the 8% of shares that voted for you?

Perhaps the area of focus by the media will be when Gerry Harvey decided to demolish Mayne by running through his trail of digital footprints, including one which described the activist ranking Aussie female politicians by looks with lewd comments such as “oozing sex and fun”, “very very tasty” and “dark, sensual and very attractive.” The chairman questioned whether Mayne was a “sexual predator?” Inappropriate? Whatever one’s personal view, Harvey and most present won’t be losing any sleep over it. Mayne can’t complain at being deprived of time on the microphone. Harvey was harsh but more than fair. It was not lost on anyone.

Mayne said to the media afterwards that, “He’s the worst in the market for governance and he’s only proved it here.” CM only hopes for more Gerry Harvey’s in the market. The leaders that don’t bend to all of the ridiculous woke causes which prioritise irrelevant factors over shareholder returns. As we pointed in an earlier CM, those industry super funds which prioritise social responsibility have all underperformed the ASX200.

It was hard not to be impressed by the global expansion. Katie Page ran through the enhanced footprint throughout Malaysia, Singapore, Ireland, Croatia and the poshing up of stores domestically to a premium standard.

This company has 18% compound returns since its listing. Dividend yield at present is 8%. One for the SMSF. This is a quality business. Management has conviction. There is a tangible track record.

Who on earth would want the likes of an activist who has now been rejected 50 out of 50 times to join ASX boards to occupy a spot at HVN? With such a resounding defeat, will Mayne sell his minuscule shareholding and move on? There are plenty of companies that will indulge Mayne’s desire for woke practices. This was nothing more than a display of Harvey Norman Derangement Syndrome.

ScoMo does Westpac a favour via first home buyer scheme

What a joke our government is. Whack Westpac over the head again because it has been a “very naughty boy” by banning it from the government’s first home buyer deposit scheme. While it might look good in front of voters to bash a bank, what they don’t realize is Westpac actually wins.

Westpac should count it’s blessings. Honestly. Piling first home buyers in at the top of the property bubble is hardly the best scheme for prudent risk management. Given the banks haven’t been granted the ability to properly risk adjust for these buyers, it works in Westpac’s favour to be booted from this ridiculous plan.

Here is the deal. Although ‘owning’ one’s own home has always been part of the Game of Life in Australia, at what point will our law makers look to failure in policy as a reason kids can’t join the property ladder instead of trying to grant their wish and saddle them with negative equity right around the corner? Perhaps address productivity, tax reform and unnecessary red tape as opposed to bash a bank, tighten the regulatory noose and eject them from the sandpit by subsidizing a future car wreck.

In reality the scope of business Westpac may have made from this scheme is likely to be so small it would be a rounding error to the group. Yet more virtue signaling from our political class. Utter. Waste. Of. Time.

The greatest showman on earth

While he deserves all the credit in the world for his pushing the boundaries, this is where the “snake-oil” salesman in him grates the nerves of CM.

In his Cybertruck release, he had a tug-of-war with the world’s best selling pick-up truck, the F-150. AutoBlog noted that the Tesla truck pulling the F-150 was disingenuous for a number of reasons.

  1. it appears to be the F-150 STX model which is a base model with a 325hp 2.7l eco-boost engine, not the full-fat 450hp version.
  2. the F-150 appears to be the 2WD version as it only spins the rear wheels, not the 4WD where the Cybertruck most certainly was.
  3. We don’t know what version of the Tesla Cybertruck it was. Most likely a twin or tri-motor which would not be a strict apple for apples comparison.
  4. The F-150 would be a lighter vehicle than the Cybertruck.
  5. A higher motor-spec Cybertruck should still have been able to defeat a 450hp version of the F-150 but it wouldn’t have had the visuals of kicking sand in a wimp’s face.

As ever these stunts always call into question the governance of the company. Integrity matters. Or does it nowadays?

However Tesla disciples won’t care. 200,000 orders guarantees that. They’ll frolic in the pond of early adoption and cast scorn on the Neanderthals like CM who still love internal combustion.

CM has long said that governments should not be “forcing” adoption of EVs. We all know the results of, “Hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to help!

The best solution is to hand over complete technological freedom to the engineers at auto firms and allow their creative juices to hit zero emissions by whatever means possible. As Milton Friedman once said, “Einstein didn’t discover his theory by an edict from a government bureau