Roger Awards: British American Tobacco NZ Ltd Wins
The Roger Award
for The Worst Transnational Corporation
Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand in 2008
Organised by CAFCA & GATT Watchdog
TOBACCO NZ LTD WINS
RIO TINTO ALUMINIUM NZ LTD IS RUNNER UP
BUSINESS NEW ZEALAND WINNER OF ACCOMPLICE AWARD
Finalists: ANZ; BAT (British American Tobacco NZ); Contact Energy; GlaxoSmithKline; Infratil; McDonalds; Rio Tinto Aluminium NZ (nominated under its former name of Comalco); Telecom. Criteria: 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. Judges: Geoff Bertram, Wellington, a Victoria University economist; Brian Turner, Christchurch, immediate past President of the Methodist Church and social justice activist; Paul Corliss, Christchurch, a life member of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union; Cee Payne, Dunedin, Industrial Services Manager for the NZ Nurses’ Organisation and health issues activist; Christine Dann, Banks Peninsula, a writer and researcher; Bryan Gould, Bay of Plenty, a former Waikato University Vice-Chancellor.
The Judges’ Statement on BAT says: “Its product kills 5,000 people every year and ruins the lives of tens of thousands. It perennially refuses to take responsibility for the social and economic consequences of its activity, while maintaining a major public relations effort to subvert the efforts of the Government to reduce cigarette consumption”. It is “a conspicuously bad corporate citizen”. The Financial Analysis reveals that BAT NZ’s 2007 profit after tax was a staggering 81% on opening shareholders’ funds, and a questionable borrowing and reinvestment arrangement with other BAT companies outside NZ that allows BAT to reduce its NZ income tax liability by $10 million per year, while hypocritically posturing as a socially responsible corporation.
Rio Tinto Aluminium was runner up because of its “single act of political intimidation”, threatening to close the Bluff smelter if the former Government’s proposed emissions trading scheme went ahead. “Business New Zealand and (CEO) Mr O’Reilly merit an Accomplice Award for their major PR contribution to sustaining the New Zealand government’s spineless record on non-regulation of monopolies and failure to control foreign investments into key sectors of the local economy”.