Esso damages--Lessons for MAI and Media (fwd)

Victor Guest vic at
Tue Sep 29 09:40:09 EDT 1998

Brian Jenkins

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As a Permaculturist, the situation that Victorians find themselves in is
one which needs careful consideration.
It is only 2 years ago that floods on the nullabor put WA (who has lost 
most of our food manufacturing capabilities to the Eastern States) in the 
insidious position of having our supermarket shelves being depleted, because 
we couldn't get fresh supplies. We talk in world terms of days of grain 
In America the manufacture and supply of food is now in the hands of 4
companies. The supply of energy and the disruption and cost to Australia
are real hazards. Allowing the sources of energy and food to get into
the hands of smaller and smaller numbers of people is no doubt a recipe
for disaster. 
This is also the possibility as one of Australias Institutions Arnotts
biscuits now a wholy owned Multinational get closer to being able to
manufacture in Indonesia.
The manipulation of oil prices by Industry when cheap Arab oil was denied 
to them twenty years ago still highlights the vulnerability of our local
society .
 People who have a solar hot water system, and who have had
the temerity to design a solar house must be in great demand in Victoria.



The potential liability for compensation of multinational Esso and the
government of Victoria for the consequences of their failed management of
gas supply looks like running into hundreds of millions of dollars.

This highlights the need for the OECD to install rigid two-way
accountability into its negotiating text of the Multilateral Agreement on
Investment (MAI) when its ministers meet next month.

An equitable MAI should not only facilitate the payment of just compensation
by an investor to a government and/or private plaintiffs but should also
provide for private citizens to sue as a class in MAI tribunals whenever
such bodies preempt or override civil law courts.

Failure of national government and influential news media to publicly
discuss and challenge the present unjust terms of the MAI must also be
recognised as an alternative ground for legal action and just compensation
in the event of future similar disasters.

An equitable MAI must therefore contain mandatory insurance provisions to
prevent corporations from transferring the burden of compensation to
taxpayers or non-culpable investors.

Brian Jenkins

14 Crowcombe Way
Karrinyup 6018
Western Australia

Phone +61 (0)8 9246 3882
Email  brian at

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