The Press Editorial:
Senior Government figures made it clear that Solid Energy, which is a State-owned Enterprise, must not itself stoop to such tactics nor countenance its so-called security consultant, Thompson and Clark Investigations, doing so. But TCIL director Gavin Clark has again attempted to hire a paid informer. Even if Solid Energy had no knowledge of this, its continued commercial relationship with the security firm places its own credibility on the line. It is time that Solid Energy cut TCIL adrift.
They really have no choice. It just does not survive the credibility test that TCIL’s activities were not motivated by having Solid Energy as a client, even if not explicitly mandated in this episode.
Can I suggest that if TCIL are gong to continue as amateur spymasters, they get better at it. You don;t try and turn an existing greenie – no wonder they keep getting exposed.
If I was TCIL, and wanting to infiltrate the Save Happy Valley Coalition I would go along to Act on Campus, and hire their scruffiest new member and give him or her a two to three year mission. Now your typical AoC member will do anything for enough money, so you probably need to be thinking $1,000+ a month to supplement their student allowance.
You need to pick someone who has not been publicly identified as an AoC member, and have them join up. But the key is not to have them start spying too soon. You need to be prepared to invest in just having them spy for a year or so, and then start having them produce the bacon.
Now after a while they may develop a conscience. More money will help with this problem, but a good spymaster will also start giving them some perks they’ll miss. You see they are probably investing all their spy money on the stockmarket. So every six months or so you send them and their boy/girlfriend to Queensland for a holiday – that will keep them motivated to keep spying.
Anyway back to The Press:
On the face of it, the Government’s unambiguous directive to Solid Power last year had been breached. This might explain the speed with which the SOE chief executive Don Elder specifically ruled out his organisation having any involvement in or knowledge of the second effort to hire a paid informer.
For Solid Energy this latest spying row is hugely counterproductive. A coal company in this age of heightened environmental awareness is always going to struggle to get good publicity. But the SOE does have some positive stories to tell, such as its entry into the biodiesel market and its involvement in the first Southern Hemisphere carbon storage project.
Instead, it has become mired in accusations about a private espionage operation, an activity which was last year shown to be distasteful to most New Zealanders. Compounding the perception problem, the accusations could also create sympathy and publicity for the targeted protest groups which they do not necessarily deserve.