On the face of it, the thought of crown owned companies hiring people to infiltrate and spy on a protest group, would fill most people with unease.
However before condemning Solid Energy, it is worth considering that Save Happy Valley is not just a protest group, but often breaks the law in their attempts to physically disrupt Solid Energy’s legal operations.
If a group is known to be planning what might effectively be sabotage, are you then justified in trying to find out to protect the company?
As far as I know it is not illegal to pretend to support a group, and to reveal information from that group to others, so long as you were legally entitled to that info (ie did not ransack the office for papers after the meeting)? The ethics are quite a different matter – especially from a crown company.
But most of all, I look at the irony that the story is from Nicky Hager. Nicky Hager makes tens of thousands of dollars by publishing a book based on either stolen e-mails or information from a spy in National. He has no problem with spying on National MPs. But he has outrage when a group which breaks the law, is spied on by the target of its law breaking activities.