The system works, now and then

Among other activities, I write or sign on to, lots of emails to business leaders and others, protesting against environmental failures, abuses of workers rights and so on. Occasionally that contributes to a win, but hardly ever do I get reply.

I recently wrote to the CEO of Siemens, , protesting against the decision of the Australian branch of the business to work with Adani on rail signalling systems for the rail line to the destructive Carmichael mine. I was quite surprise to get a response, as follows:

Dear all,

Thank you for your mails addressing your concerns on Siemens delivering rail infrastructure for the Adani project in Australia.
I have not been aware of the matter until most recently. Likely given the relatively very small number of the rail signaling business associated with it. But maybe I should have. 
I take your concerns seriously and will look into the matter diligently. This may or may not change Siemens’ view and decision, but all of you who have respectfully spoken up on the matter deserve at least an answer and an explanation.

I will get back to you in due time.
Thank you again for speaking up.

Sincerely,
Joe Kaeser 

I was quite surprised to see a global business like Siemens risking its reputation for such a small deal, especially given the high probability that the deal will fall through, either because the whole project is abandoned or because Adani repeats the longstanding pattern of stiffing its partners. I plan to point this out in a return email.

17 thoughts on “The system works, now and then

  1. Rather than a comprehensive, thought through agenda it seems what is needed is a simple message that press people’s buttons. Plus tacit agreements with major media outlets to take their side. Who was it predicted a future where media conglomerates become the political parties?

  2. Oops – comment above was meant for Fudge.

    We got that reply too – and it got a positive response. I have no doubt Siemens has a bigger stake in the renewable energy rollout than it could ever have with Adani, but it is also another sign of a shift in attitudes within those aligned to the political Right.

  3. Good to receive a reasonable and polite reply. Spare a thought for the fire chiefs who have been trying to get a meeting with the PM (Smoco) Morrison, to discuss the (now realized) warnings of a catastrophic fire season. No response. Still waiting, so they are planning to hold a summit, with or without the PM or his relevant minister. It reveals a system so broken, it is ridiculous.

  4. Maybe a nod in the OP to these activists too? Good on you for going straight to the top.

    https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/protests-lead-engineering-giant-to-review-adani-deal-20191216-p53kgv.html

    “The German engineering company Siemens won a rail signalling contract and in the past two weeks has been targeted by activists. Its chief executive, Joe Kaeser, said on Monday its work with Adani was now under review.

    “Global engineering firm GHD concludes work on Adani’s Carmichael coal project

    “Exclusive: GHD announcement it has ‘no ongoing contracts’ on project comes as Siemens considers backing out. ”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/17/global-engineering-firm-ghd-concludes-work-on-adanis-carmichael-coal-project

  5. No CEO of a major capitalist entity is a ‘good guy’. The test, as with politicians, is whether they are prepared to resign on ethical grounds. Nobody ever does.

  6. HC, follow the money for once. Joe Kaeser at Siemens AG currently earns US$9,598,000 p.a.. Kaeser chooses occasionally to play to some audience or other that’s important to Siemens big bucks – a message massage. There is always much more going on under the surface when he does this, not to mention here his 400k employees globally, tRumps tariffs, or the dem primaries kicking off. A lefty? Don’t hold your breath

    https://www.dw.com/en/the-complicated-life-of-an-opinionated-siemens-ceo/a-49726732

    Kaeser’s Twitter profile says he is “One of 387,000 dedicated Siemens employees worldwide. Passionate about innovation, inclusive capitalism & transformation of business & society. Enjoy 70s music.” It’s a folksy approach for the boss of a company that works in 190 countries around the world.

    Yet the biggest criticism of Kaeser is that many of his statements are insincere or even hypocritical. He is loud when there is little to lose and often quiet when big contracts are waiting to be signed.

    In the past, he has curried up to many governments accused of human rights abuses like Saudi Arabia, Iran and China. He also kept to business as usual after the Russian invasion of the Crimea and even personally visited Russian President Vladimir Putin to reassure him of Siemens’ strong ties to the country.

    In response to criticism surrounding Siemens’ work in Saudi Arabia after the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Kaeser admitted on LinkedIn the difficulties he faces: “Yes, it’s complicated to manage a company that has an impact all over the world and therefore receives a lot of attention and scrutiny. And, yes, it’s not always easy to find the right balance between values, interests and timing.”

    At the same time, he wrote that “an open, honest speak-up culture are so important,” while also reminding readers that the Middle Eastern country offered a “business opportunity worth up to $30 billion by 2030.”

    Criticizing Trump, however, is something else, not least because of the US leader’s famous thin skin. But, perhaps tellingly, Kaeser’s latest hard-hitting tweet about Trump is in German. Even Trump can let out a tirade one minute and the next minute be at the negotiating table, like with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

    In the end, what may at first seem like tough political stances are in reality soft responses to current situations. They are not groundbreaking ideas. When Kaeser praises the work of Carola Rackete, the captain of the Sea Watch, for rescuing migrants and asylum-seekers, he is joining a big chorus and it is unlikely to scare away customers. For many Siemens customers, there are hardly any rivals.

    And this is how the thousands of Siemens employees and shareholders like it. Kaeser should uphold European values, but at the same time he needs to fill the order books with lucrative deals, even if that means working with unsavory leaders or dictators. It is a nearly impossible balancing act and no matter where he steps Kaeser will continue to be criticized.

    Hopefully Siemens does get back to peddling some type of renewable deal in Australia.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siemens#Products,_services_and_contribution
    Siemens also completed a world record in 2012 for the most electricity generated by bicycles in an hour. Generating 4,630 watts in an hour in Melbourne, Australia, on December 11, 2012.

    Maybe Kaeser will back pedal Siemens away from stressed Adani coal and have Siemens renewables division do something solar with Adani’s renewable operation. But don’t hold your breath, I can almost hear Matt Canavan’s LNP voice in the background dictating Siemens’ latest:

    https://press.siemens.com/global/en/news/engagement-australia

    After a competitive tender process, we can now confirm that Siemens has been awarded a contract to deliver rail signaling systems for the Carmichael Rail Network. The digital system is designed to keep the trains running safely and efficiently. The mine has received the necessary approvals from the Australian regulators – including stringent environmental approvals – and has the support of the country’s major political parties. While we understand why people focus on this one project, we follow a broader approach in order to fight climate change and supply people around the world with affordable and reliable electricity. (…) Today, the world’s coal power plants emit 10 gigatons of CO2 each year. Siemens has the most efficient technology for coal-fired power plants with an efficiency of 45%. If all coal-fired power plants worldwide were replaced with this highly efficient technology, it would help reduce global CO2 emissions from such plants by two gigatons – a reduction of 20%. This amount would be equal to reducing total worldwide CO2 emissions from power generation by 15%..

  7. Kaeser runs with the hares and hunts with the hounds. This is not a criticism. He is CEO of a company whose business model is based on winning big contracts, often from governments, many of which are run by people you wouldn’t invite to your place for a cup of tea. It’s worked for Siemens since 1847.

  8. My innocent, factual remark promotes a healthy outpouring of class hatred. Glad to be of service.

    Of course, my basic argument remains sound. Joe Kaeser is one of the good CEOs who listens to critics such as John Quiggin and who criticizes the social unfairness of Trump and his ilk.

  9. Which class are you referring to Harry?

    I know people have their biases, cogito ergo sum and all that jazz, but I need to know how you define these class lines.

  10. Basic arguments, HC? Tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, have deluged Siemens and Kaeser’s email inboxes and social media fronts. It continues. Also, HC,

    talk is cheap, when spoken in a language and place foreign to the targeted subject it’s cheaper still (German, Germany, tRump), and when there’s not much of it and it’s often fudging things at cross purposes then it’s cheapest.

    In FY18 Siemens main Australian business income was approx. $1.15 billion, see https://new.siemens.com/au/en/company/about/investing-in-australia.html but an indication there of how cheap their words may be is how they conflate GST collected from customers and forwarded to the ATO, and PAYG income tax collected from employees and forwarded to the ATO, to boost their own claimed Australian taxation expenditure to $214m… Siemens Ltd company tax payable alone as a percentage of taxable income in FY18 was 28%, yet Siemens says the group effective tax rate was only 22%. When the other two large Siemens Australian businesses are included per the ATO “2017-18 Report of Entity Tax Information” that group tax payable as a percentage of taxable income in FY18 was still 28%, not 22%. – the lower figure is due eligible R&D investment and participation in PPP (Public Private Partnership) infrastructure investments alone is it? Creative numbers? Something seems at odds in their talk on how they figure things. I stand to be corrected, HC.

    Some numbers:
    Corporate Tax Transparency
    Australian Taxation Office / Created ‎08‎/‎12‎/‎2015 / Updated ‎12‎/‎12‎/‎2019
    2017-18 Report of Entity Tax Information (XLSX)

    ABN Total Income Taxable Income Tax Payable FY
    SIEMENS GAMESA RENEWABLE ENERGY Pty Ltd 90614784575 290,647,422 19,703,175 5,910,952 2017-18
    SIEMENS HEALTHCARE PTY LTD 83604853938 203,268,172 14,743,386 4,423,016 2017-18
    SIEMENS LTD 98004347880 1152602985 96,331,483 27,093,591 2017-18

    Effective tax rate of Siemens Ltd
    27,093,591 / 1152602985 = 2.35%
    27,093,591 / 96,331,483 = 28.12%

    Effective tax rate of Siemens companies combined
    5,910,952 + 4,423,016 + 27,093,591 = 37,427,559
    19,703,175 + 14,743,386 + 96,331,483 = 130,778,044
    37427559 / 130778044 = 0.2861914573366765 or 28.7% approx.

    ato.gov.au/Business/Large-business/In-detail/Tax-transparency/Tax-transparency–reporting-of-entity-tax-information/

  11. Harry, akarog svante and I certainly deserve to hear from you about “class”.

    Especially as you state “promotes a healthy outpouring of class hatred. Glad to be of service.”.

    Your quote iabove s an example of all the negative in the recent threads re vitue / vice signalling.

    And this Harry; “A noise not a contribution to a discussion”.

    In your controlling opinion.
    https://johnquiggin.com/2019/12/19/total-failure/#comment-217500

    Please enlighten us on class and ‘noise’.

  12. Per “The Economic Times”, India…
    economictimes.indiatimes.com/

    ETMarkets.com|Updated: Dec 30, 2019, 11.00 AM IST
    Share market update: Power shares advance; Adani Power rises 1%
    Adani Power (up 1.24 per cent), Siemens (up 0.95 per cent) were among the top gainers
    //economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/73025547.cms

    ETMarkets.com|Updated: Jan 01, 2020, 11.03 AM IST
    Share market update: Power shares up; Adani Power rises 1%
    Adani Power (up 0.97 per cent), Siemens (up 0.18 per cent) were among the top gainers
    //economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/73054684.cms

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