Monday, January 05, 2009

Veolia Transport Business Connex votes for the ALP

In a company newsletter, aptly known as “Connexions”, Melbourne Transport Operator Connex has gone to the trouble of articulating and thereby endorsing details of the Rudd Governments proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme for its 3000 + employees in Melbourne.

Produced and published by its “Corporate Affairs Team” the internal circular ran an article in late December entitled, “CPRS - WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?” It explained:

"The Commonwealth Government released its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) White Paper this week ( Our very own Environmental Sustainability Manager, (name), takes time to break down what it’s all about … He says, “Though conservative the paper marks a pivotal movement in the Government’s stance on the climate change policy and its commitment to manage emissions reduction … The White paper included the Rudd Labor governments targets for Greenhouse gas emissions, 5% below 2000 by 2020".
Presented thereafter are key features of the proposed scheme in addition to the likely impact for consumers. However, and in terms of the latter, the emphasis is placed squarely on the expected assistance measures put forward by the paper in terms of assisting consumers through a “package of $6 billion” to cushion the impact of the proposed measures.

The article is concerning on several levels. Perhaps someone ought to tell the corporate affairs team at Connex that “climate change” per-se, remains a highly contentious issue and that as we speak, many within the science establishment are coming forward to pronounce, in no uncertain terms, that Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is a scam, with no basis in science and that furthermore, dangerous human caused warming can neither be demonstrated nor measured. A call that is only likely to increase in the coming year. Put simply, while mainstream media has made it s mind up on the issue, a great body of science and indeed economics, is sounding the alarm bells on carbon constrained economies.

Not the first time

Earlier in 2008, the same newsletter ran an article endorsing a previously announced, Rudd Government transport infrastructure-spending package. Admittedly, I cannot recall the articles complete title however, one component of it is still vivid in the mind, “Rudd knows best”, need I say more…

Perhaps we ought to remind Connex that it is not a good look for company newsletters, particularly so pertaining to employers as large as Connex, to publish articles’ with, unambiguous political and/or ideological overtones.

That the term “Carbon Pollution” was created and put forward by the Rudd Government and his Minister for economic destruction Penny Wong in an attempt to seize the higher moral ground on the issue. On this note, I dare anyone to visit his or her local library and find a science text that refers to Carbon Dioxide as a pollutant.

Finally, we are merely referring to a White Paper which has not even been debated in our Federal Parliament. White papers refer to a proposed action and/or policy on the part of Government as to details of planned legislation.

We wonder whether the team at Connex/Connexions will make a similar effort to published details of the Oppositions response to the Governments White Paper upon release.

Intriguingly, the internal article concludes:
For further information visit the or contact Environmental Sustainability Manager (name) on extension …
Thus, we can be excused for thinking that Connex’s Environmental Sustainability Manager is a conduit for the Rudd Governments proposed scheme …

Undoubtedly, Connex would deny any support for any party or political persuasion, nonetheless we do know that it contributed to State ALP coffers in 2003-4.

I would venture to suggest that the editorial team behind the newsletter and the companies Environmental Sustainability Manager were and are, out of their depth on the issue. Moreover, I am compelled to add, would it not be wiser, more prudent and professional for the aforementioned manager to limit his office work and commentary to methods for making Connex more environmentally friendly – to reduce its own carbon footprint – as opposed to articulating the merits or otherwise endorsing and sanctioning proposed Government legislation - white papers for heaven’s sake ...

Connex, being a part of Veolia transport has been entrusted to operate suburban train passenger services in Melbourne until its contract expires in November this year. As part of the agreement, it enjoys yearly taxpayer-funded subsidies worth in excess of $340 million a year. It would be wise to focus on delivering a world class transport system commensurate with the greatness of the city it serves. As for its ALP spinsters within the companies corporate affairs team, and notwithstanding other elements of its “Connexions” newsletter - elements that are praiseworthy - perhaps it should focus on matters other than, the indoctrination of its own on issues pertaining to politics.
On present form, we can expect Connex and its corporate affairs Department to endorse the Rudd Government on the eve of the next federal election …

Image credit: ABCNews


Lisa said...

Wwe are glad you exposed this...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. My niece is thinking of coming to Melbourne Uni to study this year, so was interesting to get an Aus comment. Cheers for 2009.

AI said...

No worries Aggie and Melbourne’s is an excellent University. I hope you get around to visiting my American Interests blog.

Anonymous said...

"Earlier in 2008, the same newsletter ran an article endorsing a previously announced, Rudd Government transport infrastructure-spending package. Admittedly, I cannot recall the articles complete title"...Was it East-West Rudd knows best"?

AI said...

Anon: Sound very familiar, I think you have nailed it...thanks. Oh and why "Anon" lol? If my site meter is correct, you most certainly didn't comment from work ... How's the view from Spring St?

AI said...

Here's another link:

David said...

I'm glad you posted on this Otto, last we heard it was getting around...

Lisa said...

Hey Otto,

Connex has had shocker of a week, have you anything to add?

AI said...

Yes and no, or more to the point; does it matter what I say? Moreover, there are serious limitations on hand but having said that, Michael Hogan over at Smart Company has all but encapsulated my thoughts on the mess.

In the wake of the epic public transport meltdown in Melbourne last week, I wanted to talk a bit about trust. While the beleagered Connex media representative was assuring us all that they were working around the clock over the weekend to get things running again this week, I was thinking; but who will trust that the trains will actually run?

Trust is the currency of the relationship that a customer has with the organisation. When you obscure the truth from your customers, try to put a good face on things and then in the face of system failure simply abandon them to their fate, it’s easy to see why it might take some time for them to trust you again (if ever).

Now granted, while there were many things last week that were well beyond the ability of Connex to control, the things they could control (such as communications) were handled pretty poorly.

It’s great to have a list of cancelled services on your web site, but not everyone can get to that (especially when it crashes). It’s fine to hand out water and icy poles to stranded passengers waiting in 43 degree heat, but that doesn’t get you home.

These are five things that Connex could have done differently:

1. Save the blame game for after the crisis. Trying to blame others (rightly or wrongly) mid-crisis just makes it look like you are trying to duck your responsibility – and when the only time the CEO emerges is to make those accusations, all the worse.

2. You know it’s bad and going to get worse, don’t put a good face on it, fess up and let people know what they might face. Then, it can be their choice what to do next (and don’t leave it to the media representative to deliver the news; if you are the leader you are the leader in good times and bad, so lead!)

3. After the first day Connex had to know it was going to get worse. Be proactive. Put bulletins out on radio and TV and the internet asking people to find alternative means of travel if they can; put on buses to make up the shortfall of services on major routes for people who don’t have an option.

4. Free travel doesn’t mean much when there are no trains; better to let people make other plans and save the free tickets for when things get back to normal. Encouraging people to use the system only adds to the burden. (And yes, I know that the State Government made that call, but Connex should have thought it through and said ‘not now’).

5. Offer to subsidise parking for the duration of crisis (after all you have a monopoly and with that comes responsibility).

It will take some time before customers trust Connex again, and any time the temperature climbs, so will anxiety that another system failure is waiting to happen.

There have been many corporate crisis over the years and how the organisation responds – how quickly and what they say and do – pretty much determines whether their customers stick with them or not. Whether customers maintain any trust is not driven by how you act when things are going well, but by what you do when it all falls apart and can’t get any worse.

So the question is, did Connex step up early or play duck and blame?

One does not need Isaac Newton to answer that.

I think you know where I stand now, thanks for asking Lisa …