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Having written and spoken extensively about ‘The Language of Leadership’ (or lack thereof); it was interesting to receive a concrete example submitted by Philip Wood via the scientifically based [now defunct] Climate Sceptics site:

“Last night I attended the Annual General Meeting and dinner of the University of Sydney’s Chemical Engineering Foundation. The guest speaker was Desmond King, the newsworthy CEO of Caltex, who gave a generally excellent presentation on the world’s future energy needs. In summary, he said the developing world in particular would need every source of energy it could get, but his premise was that CO2 was a problem.

“When I asked him whether Caltex, as a major producer of petrol, yielding CO2 when combusted, had formed its own view on whether CO2 drives harmful climate change, he answered unequivocally “no”, muttering something about going along with the findings of the IPCC. When I suggested that it was surely appropriate for a company to understand its own product liability (ask James Hardie) he said that Caltex accepted whatever is the prevailing political context.

“Various academics present, whom I know well and for whom I generally held a high regard, then went so far as to say that corporations should not get involved in politically contentious issues at all, even where their businesses are directly involved in these issues, but should leave these politically contentious issues for suitably qualified individuals (like themselves of course!). Like Viv Forbes, I find this abdication by the business community from any intellectual/scientific responsibility in the face of perceived public/political opposition quite astonishing.”

This was an interesting and entirely unsurprising anecdote about the CEO of Caltex, and it would tempt one to be a seller of shares in that company. Mr King may have given a good talk, but as a leader he lacks courage.

It is regrettable that the senior executive officers of similar large energy and utility companies adopt the same ‘appeasement’ attitude, not risking upsetting their political masters, all in the hope of squeezing out a ‘better deal’ from the government and the Greens.

At the moment, a ‘better deal’ equates to a larger subsidy funded by the taxpayers. Taking a leadership position would mean being more interested in scientific truth than with public perception and concern for their salaries and bonuses. There are some matters ― and fraudulent climate theory is one ― on which there is no middle or compromise ground, no matter how assiduously you may seek or desire it.

Ultimately this is immensely damaging for democracies such as Australia, and our corporate leaders usually abdicate their much needed role in rebalancing this one-sided debate coming out of Canberra and our crisis driven media.

Your own thoughts please?


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