Asylum seekers in limbo on high seas

Elite officer suspected of key role in smuggling bidPolitics Live with Judith Ireland
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More than 150 asylum seekers, including about 40 children, face living in limbo on the high seas in an Australian customs vessel for weeks, while their fate is decided in the High Court.

Lawyers for the Abbott government and the asylum seekers agreed on a timetable for court action on Tuesday after the government promised to give 72 hours’ notice in writing if it intended to hand the asylum seekers to Sri Lankan authorities. A directions hearing will be held within three weeks, raising the question of where the asylum seekers will be held in the interim.

During the hearings, the government revealed that it had intercepted a boat carrying the asylum seekers outside Australia’s migration zone and transferred them to a customs vessel. This follows the revelation on Monday that it had already handed over to Sri Lanka 41 asylum seekers on another boat after they were subjected to ”enhanced screening” at sea.

Lawyers representing those on the second boat say they will challenge any transfer of the 153 people to Manus Island or Nauru while the case proceeds, on the grounds that such a transfer would be unlawful because the boat was intercepted on the high seas.

Another option would be to transfer the asylum seekers to Christmas Island until the case is decided. Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young urged the government to bring the asylum seekers to Australia to assess their claims, saying they had already been at sea for three weeks and were ”anxious and frightened”.

Labor’s immigration spokesman, Richard Marles, argued the group could have been assessed on Christmas Island or Manus Island.

”The government has options,” he said. ”The reason they are not taking those options is because they want to protect nothing other than a political scoreboard – and that is not good enough and in the process what they are doing is trashing this country’s international reputation.”

Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said the government had offered no commitments on what it would do with the asylum seekers in its custody.

”I have no doubt [Immigration Minister] Scott Morrison is currently working the phones trying to find some godforsaken place to dump them,” he said.

In Parliament, the government’s Senate leader, Eric Abetz, defended its hard line on boat arrivals, declaring: ”I see no sense of social justice whatsoever in giving priority to those who bypass safe haven after safe haven after safe haven and then pay a criminal to get them to the front of the queue.”

Human rights lawyer George Newhouse said after the hearing: ”What the government’s decision today means is that a group of vulnerable men, women, and children will not be sent back to their persecutors in Sri Lanka.”

Mr Newhouse said the asylum seekers would be given access to legal representation.

High Court Justice Susan Crennan said during the hearing that a challenge to any handover would be heard ”expeditiously” by the full High Court.

Counsel for the government Justin Gleeson, SC, said the boat carrying the asylum seekers had been intercepted outside Australia’s migration zone, ending more than a week of secrecy by the government. Appearing via video link from Sydney, Mr Gleeson said the government had the executive discretion to determine where those detained ended up under the Maritime Powers Act.

Ron Merkel, QC, acting for the asylum seekers, claimed the government did not have the power to lawfully return the asylum seekers to Sri Lanka against their will before their claims were determined.

Mr Merkel has issued writs on behalf of 50 of those on board, including eight children aged between two and 16. He said that once an assessment of the claims had begun, the government was lawfully bound to take it to its conclusion under the provisions of the Migration Act.

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A plan to sell the workwear division may have spurred the exit of Pacific Brands CEO John Pollaers

Workwear was a poor performer. Photo: Glenn HuntPacific Brands chief executive John Pollaers may have quit over a proposal to sell the company’s workwear division, which owns such brands as Hard Yakka, KingGee and Stubbies.
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Workwear was one of the worst performers in the Pacific Brands stable in the first half of 2014 and the company was forced to write down the value of goodwill by $248 million after a near 40 per cent fall in workwear earnings.

But despite declining sales and profits in recent years, Pacific Brands remains the global leader in the workwear industry and Mr Pollaers was confident about its longer term prospects.

Analysts believe a strategic review by Macquarie Capital may have recommended the sale of several brands and businesses, including workwear, flooring and the Brand Collective division, which includes footwear and sportswear brands such as Clarks, Hush Puppies, Volley, Dunlop and Everlast.

They believe Mr Pollaers may have baulked at the sale of workwear, given Pacific Brands’ historic links to the category, the strength of its brands and the potential for a rebound in earnings when mining activity picks up.

”Flooring has been non-core for a long period of time, he’d be happy to get rid of that … Brand Collective changed at the half-year and there’s no goodwill or brand value in that division,” said one analyst, who declined to be named.

”But John was keen to make workwear work – it’s been under the hammer for the last few years but he wanted to be the dominant player in workwear and that well could be the reason for the disagreement,” the analyst said.

Workwear accounts for about 28 per cent of group sales but is expected to generate only 17 per cent of group earnings in 2014.

”That business would be more structurally challenged than the other divisions and that would be a more likely area of dispute than Brand Collective,” the analyst said.

Mr Pollaers quit unexpectedly on Monday after a dispute with the board over the socks and jocks maker’s future direction.

Chairman Peter Bush said the ”divergence in views” had become clearer after the board hired Macquarie Capital in April to conduct a strategic review.

The company declined to comment on the strategic review, saying it was incomplete and shareholders would have to wait until August for details.

Mr Pollaers’ departure after less than two years has rattled major shareholders, who had backed his long-term vision for the company.

But the shares, which slipped 0.5¢ to 54.5¢ on Tuesday, are underpinned by takeover speculation. Private equity investors including KKR have been running the numbers on the company.

JP Morgan analyst Shaun Cousins said finding a replacement for Mr Pollaers would be more difficult because of the strategic review and the strong views of the board regarding the path forward. This suggests that the board may delay making a decision or will make an internal appointment.

Parliament freezes in a moment that stopped time

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a joint press conference in Canberra. Photo: Alex EllinghausenDefence alliance to anger ChinaComment: Abe speech all about the National that Must Not be NamedAnalysis: World citizen Japan prepares for the worst
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Should Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have strolled from his hotel in Canberra’s frigid morning, rehearsing what would be the first speech by a Japanese leader to the Australian Parliament, he would have found himself in calming territory.

A few steps from the Hyatt, just down the hill from Parliament House, is a serene Japanese garden, complete with pagoda and large stone lanterns.

It is called the Nara Peace Park, celebrating Canberra’s twin-city arrangement with Japan’s ancient former capital Nara.

If Mr Abe had wandered a few steps further, he might have discovered his peace disturbed.

Canberra has a second, newer sister-city relationship – with China’s capital Beijing.

Workers are transforming an area next door to the Japanese garden into a Chinese garden, with its own pagoda and Chinese stone sculptures.

China and Japan: facing off even on the shore of peaceful Canberra’s lake. The past and the future colliding in a park.

But Mr Abe was about to confront another past in a way not heard before in an Australian parliament.

Settling history and looking to the future in uncertain times is in Mr Abe’s genes. Fifty-seven years ago, his grandfather, Japanese PM Nobusuke Kishi took the first step to put the bitterness of World War II behind Australia and Japan when he signed with PM Robert Menzies an agreement that supplied gas to fuel Japan’s postwar industrial rise.

And so, when Mr Abe, pictured with PM Tony Abbott, rose in the Australian Parliament on Tuesday, seeking more sorely needed energy, the grandson took another step. ”Now, ladies and gentlemen, when we Japanese started out again after the Second World War, we thought long and hard over what had happened in the past and came to make a vow for peace,” he said. ”We will never let the horrors of the past … repeat themselves.”

And then came words too late for those who were there but which still sizzle in history.

”Our fathers and grandfathers lived in a time that saw Kokoda and Sandakan,” Mr Abe said.

”How many young Australians with bright futures to come lost their lives, and for those who made it through the war, how much trauma did they feel years later from these painful memories?

”I can find absolutely no words to say. I can only stay humble against the evils and horrors of history.

”May I most humbly speak for Japan on behalf of the Japanese people here in sending my most sincere condolences towards the many souls who lost their lives.”

Sandakan … to Australians who know the story, it was the greatest atrocity of the Asian-Pacific war.

Of 2351 Australians and British imprisoned by the Japanese at Sandakan, Borneo, all but six died in the camp or on a subsequent death march.

And here, finally, was a Japanese prime minister using the name of that place, offering condolences, if not an outright apology, in the Australian legislature.

In a world moved on and a region colliding in new ways, it was a moment to stop time.

Office assets prove irresistible to investors as sales top $1b

More than $1 billion of office, hotel and retail assets have been bought by overseas investors in the past six months, including in joint ventures, proving that the stable economy is a drawcard for international investors.
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The sales have come from China and Europe and the inflow is expected to continue to remain strong for a range of properties, with a focus on city offices that can be converted to apartments.

There are suggestions several Chinese buyers are looking at 4 Bligh Street and AMP’s 338 Pitt Street. Aside from the pending sale of 52 Martin Place to REST Super Fund, other assets on the market include GIC Real Estate’s 175 Liverpool Street, worth $450 million, and the Dexus Property Group and Perron Group co-owned 201 Elizabeth Street, worth $350 million. The latter two are considered residential conversion plays.

There is also the potential sale and probable lease-back of the four David Jones department stores.

According to the latest data from Colliers International, Australia is still a preferred destination for offshore and domestic investors as new groups enter the market – despite some predictions that capital could begin to depart Australian shores.

Nerida Conisbee, Colliers International national director of research, said between 2007 and 2012, the commercial property transaction landscape was dominated by offshore investors.

Ms Conisbee said she found that while a lot of attention had been paid to the volume of offshore dollars still to land here, Australian institutions made a remarkable comeback last year, becoming net buyers of commercial property for the first time in this property cycle.

”While institutions and offshore groups were net purchasers overall in 2013, not all of these groups are in acquisition mode,” she said.

Shinzo Abe’s condolences for those lost at Sandakan: a horror from the past, a moment to stop time

Should Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have strolled from his Canberra hotel rehearsing what would be the first speech by a Japanese leader to the Australian Parliament, he would have found himself in calming territory.
杭州桑拿网

A few steps from the Hyatt, just down the hill from Parliament House, is a serene Japanese garden, complete with pagoda and large stone lanterns.

It is the Nara Peace Park, celebrating Canberra’s twin-city arrangement with Japan’s ancient former capital, Nara.

If Mr Abe had wandered a few steps further, he might have discovered his peace disturbed. A new garden marks Canberra’s second, newer sister-city relationship: with Beijing. China and Japan: facing off even on the shore of peaceful Canberra’s lake. The past and the future colliding in a park. But Mr Abe was about to confront another past in a way not heard before in an Australian Parliament. Settling history and looking to the future in uncertain times is in Mr Abe’s genes. Fifty-seven years ago, his grandfather, Japanese PM Nobusuke Kishi, took the first step to put the bitterness of World War II behind Australia and Japan when he signed with PM Robert Menzies an agreement which supplied gas to fuel Japan’s post-war industrial rise.

And so, when Mr Abe rose in the Federal Parliament on Tuesday, seeking more energy, the grandson took another step.

”Now, ladies and gentlemen, when we Japanese started out again after the Second World War, we thought long and hard over what had happened in the past and came to make a vow for peace,” he said. ”We will never let the horrors of the past … repeat themselves.”

And then came words too late for those who were there, but which still sizzle in history.

”Our fathers and grandfathers lived in a time that saw Kokoda and Sandakan,” Mr Abe said.

”How many young Australians with bright futures to come lost their lives and for those who made it through the war, how much trauma did they feel years later from these painful memories? I can find absolutely no words to say. I can only stay humble against the evils and horrors of history. May I most humbly speak for Japan on behalf of the Japanese people here in sending my most sincere condolences towards the many souls who lost their lives.”

Sandakan. The greatest atrocity of the Asia-Pacific war. Here was a Japanese Prime Minister using the name of that place, offering condolences in the Australian legislature. In a world moved on, it was a moment to stop time.

Financial advice seekers are out on their own

Low hurdles: The entry bar to financial planning is inceredibly low Photo: Jessica HromasThe authorities have given consumers a false sense of security about the professionalism and protection they can expect when seeking financial advice. Most advisers do the right thing by their clients. However, the entry bar to financial planning is extremely low.
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There is also no getting around the fact that many advisers are working in environments pervaded by aggressive sales cultures. Exhibit A, of course, is the Commonwealth Bank, Australia’s largest financial institution.

As a consequence of a report of the Senate committee looking into the financial planning at the bank and role the regulator released in late June, the bank was forced to re-open its compensation program to the victims of shoddy advice. However, for those seeking quality advice, it is the strong criticisms levelled at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) by the committee that will be equally worrying.

The committee said the regulator is not tough enough. And without a credible deterrent there can be little surprise that institutions are going to push the boundaries, if not break them, as has been alleged to have occurred at the Commonwealth Bank, in order to grow their profits and reward their shareholders. The committee has really showed that ASIC, at least with respect to financial planning, is a toothless tiger.

The Commonwealth Bank is unlikely to be alone is having the kind of aggressive sales culture described in the report, but which the bank says is now in the past. But with the majority of advisers tied to a big financial institution, it hard to see how the links between advice and sales can be severed.

The business model is to maximise sales of financial products while keeping within the bounds of the laws and regulations. That is why financial institutions love ‘tick box’ compliance. They want to be able to have their planners’ tick a set of boxes and be safe in the knowledge that their planners have a safe harbour from any regulatory action. Tick box compliance is not good enough for an occupation that is aspiring to professional status.

Not only are entry qualifications into planning far too low, there is not even a public register of those giving advice, let alone showing anything else about them. The regulator is aware of all these issues. It wants a central register of all planners that can be searched online by anyone, as is the case in the US and Britain, and to have planners undergo a regular examination.

It wants the size of financial penalties increased. It is also calling for greater powers to be able to put the executives Australia’s biggest financial institutions in the firing line for wrongdoings at their financial planning arms.

ASIC’s resources are stretched. It has good people, but needs more of them. The government has cut ASIC’s budget. Then there was this from ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft at the press conference after the Senate committee report was released: the regulator has only 30 staff to cover more than 40,000 advice providers.

Call for maths, science expert teachers to lift primary grade

Education Minister Christopher Pyne announced a review into teacher education. Photo: Ken IrwinThe traditional role of the primary school teacher as a jack-of-all trades should be scrapped because too many teachers have deficient mathematics and science skills, one education body says.
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Primary school students would be taught by three or four subject specialists rather than a generalist covering the entire curriculum, under a proposal to the federal government’s review into teacher education by the Australian College of Educators (ACE).

The country’s oldest professional teaching association also argues a minimum university entrance score of 70 should be introduced to boost the status of teaching.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne announced a review into teacher education in February that identified encouraging more teachers to specialise in maths, science and languages as a key aim.

In its submission, the ACE says ”specialised primary teacher training in mathematics and science needs to be introduced” to improve teaching standards.

”Students then are taught by a group of three or four teachers, each with complementary discipline skills, so that between them they cover the whole curriculum,” the ACE says.

”A lot of people say the early years of high school should be more like primary school – I say the opposite is the case,” said ACE president Stephen Dinham, chair of teacher education at the University of Melbourne. ”If we’re going to address poor maths and science results in high schools, we need to start in primary schools.

”Many primary teachers lack competence and confidence teaching maths and science.”

Professor Dinham suggested universities emulate the University of Melbourne model where teaching students spend 25 per cent of their time specialising in maths and science.

The number of teaching places should also be capped to avoid the current glut in primary teachers and shortage of secondary maths teachers, he said.

The NSW Board of Studies criticises the ”undoubted oversupply” of teachers in its submission to the review. More than 40,000 NSW teachers are on a waiting list for permanent jobs.

Australian Primary Principals Association president Norm Hart said specialisation had merit but would be difficult to implement. ”Using specialists would make it difficult to get high quality staff in all disciplines all of the time,” he said. The personal relationship between teachers and pupils in their early years should also be maintained.

In its submission, ACE says: ”Low academic entry standards into teacher education jeopardise the quality of teaching and learning in Australian schools.” As well as scoring an ATAR of 70 and minimum grades in year 12 maths and English, teaching applicants should be profiled for communications skills and resilience using interviews and personal statements.

Review head Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Greg Craven has argued against minimum entrance scores, saying they are ”as easy to rig as a bush picnic race meeting” and discriminate against disadvantaged students.

Woolworths takeover of David Jones a corporate chess game

Time’s up for Solomon Lew if he wants to throw a precisely placed grenade at Woolworths of South Africa’s $2.2 billion takeover of David Jones. He had until Tuesday to buy enough shares to block the deal but no large trades in the stock were recorded.
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It appears Lew has instead chosen to remain at 9.9 per cent – which won’t be enough to derail the takeover unless there is a groundswell against it from smaller shareholders that either don’t like the price – this is unlikely – or register a protest vote against the scheme – possible but also unlikely.

Given Lew has been closely guarding his agenda his actions – or inaction – on Tuesday are the only guide to his strategy.

Woolworths insists it has had no meaningful discussions with Lew and Lew won’t even comment on whether he has spoken to Woolworths.

He has refused to let the David Jones board in on his voting intentions, so it was probably watching trades very closely on the final day.

While the shareholder vote is not until next Monday the T+3 settlement period creates an earlier deadline to register stock.

Getting the vote across the line is not a lay down misere but if Lew is neutered as a show-stopper, the largest obstacle is out of the way.

One can never discount the possibility that Lew may have his foot on some additional votes through some kind of derivative transaction that would not require disclosure.

This is also looking less likely but is a wildcard that one can’t completely ignore.

If logic prevails Lew will be happy with the outcome to date. His greenmailing exercise has gone according to what we believe is his plan. He has now received a hefty $17 share offer for his 11.8 per cent stake in Country Road – thanks to Woolworths caving in to Lew’s implicit threats and making an offer to mop up the remaining Country Road shares.

It certainly looks as if Lew is getting close to his $400 million-plus pay day.

But the boards of David Jones and Woolworths, both of which are wholeheartedly pushing the David Jones takeover, are working hard this week to ensure this deal makes it over the line.

For its part David Jones is undertaking shareholder proxy solicitation – in other words ringing small retail shareholders, encouraging them to vote and warning them of the consequences of the failure of the scheme to receive approval – including the likelihood the share price will fall.

It is also running newspaper advertisements reminding them of the importance of their vote. Ads and soliciting proxies are not unheard of but they’re tools usually employed when the parties think the vote could be close.

The way the numbers now stand Lew’s 9.9 per cent will almost certainly not be enough to kill the transaction.

However, given roughly 40 per cent of shareholders won’t register a vote, Lew’s stake will account for proportionately more. And this is why David Jones is so keen to get the smaller shareholders on board to register their votes – which will most likely be in favour.

Woolworths has already done the heavy lifting to keep the David Jones deal on track by making the offer for Country Road shares.

By any financial measure the Country Road offer price is extremely generous.

The bidder’s statement for this takeover, which was released on Monday, in part justifies the price by pointing to various synergies around systems, processes, infrastructure and scale. These include opportunities with sourcing (lowering cost of goods) and increasing speed to market, enhanced logistics and amalgamation of service functions.

Woolworths estimates such benefits are worth about $30 million to yearly earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.

But it reiterates that the Country Road offer is conditional on getting the David Jones acquisition across the line.

The benefits are still not sufficient justification for the $17 price – and the $4 a share offer for David Jones – but Woolworths needs to sell the deal to its own shareholders.

Meanwhile everyone associated with this two-pronged deal needs it to look as if Woolworths is not paying a ransom to Lew or – in legal speak – that he is not receiving a collateral benefit that other David Jones shareholders are not getting.

Otherwise the finale to this corporate chess game could be the arrival of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission or the Federal Court with a call for it to be aborted.

Experts call to delete tax on foreign deposits

David Murray’s financial system inquiry should push to remove withholding tax on non-residents’ deposits in Australian banks to help diversify the funding base of local banks and create more competition from foreign institutions.
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Next week’s report from the inquiry should also drive the development of a corporate bond market, back the establishment of a multilateral framework to allow the cross-border marketing of investment funds in the Asian region, and recommend the Australian Securities Exchange should have its 15 per cent ownership limit reviewed, and its monopoly in clearing removed.

These views from the Australian Centre for Financial Studies are expressed in a research paper to be released on Wednesday, which examines the international links between financial markets. It is one of four papers it is releasing ahead of David Murray’s interim report next week.

International deposits comprise about $120 billion, or just 6 per cent of all bank liabilities, according to the ACFS.

Interest withholding tax denies Australian banks and other borrowers access to cost-effective funding, the Australian Bankers Association said in its submission to Murray.

The tax restricts the ability of banks – both Australian and international – to use foreign deposits to improve their liquidity and support their lending in the Australian market.

Outside some exemptions, the 10 per cent tax applies on the gross amount of interest paid by Australian borrowers to non-resident lenders.

Report authors Professor Deborah Ralston, executive director of the ACFS, and Martin Jenkinson, its research officer, find the tax also reduces the ability of international banks to compete in Australia, negatively impacting on competition in the banking sector.

Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States and Britain do not levy withholding taxes on non-resident deposits. The Johnson Report in 2009 and the Henry Tax Review in 2010 called for the government to reduce interest withholding tax.

The 2010-11 federal budget committed to phasing down the tax from 2013-14, but in late 2011 the date was deferred and the Abbott government said last year the phase-down of the tax would be discontinued.

Given the Coalition is planning a tax white paper later this year, the Murray inquiry’s terms of reference say it should “provide observations that could inform the tax white paper”.

The ACFS paper also calls for a financial system inquiry to support the Asia Region Funds Passport, a multilateral framework to allow local fund managers to manage Asian capital and Australian super to more easily invest in the Asian region.

The Financial Services Council has been pushing the passport at regional forums over the past year. Noting only 3.4 per cent of total funds being managed by Australian fund managers come from offshore (compared to 80 per cent in Singapore and 60 per cent in Hong Kong, the ACFS report says: “The potential benefits of increased international flows into Australian investment managers suggest that the implementation of the [passport] would be advantageous to the export of financial services.”

The ACFS also wants policies to assist the development of a more dynamic local corporate bond market, pointing to dangers of over-reliance on offshore funding. Professor Ralston and Mr Jenkinson find only 1 per cent of issued bonds in the Australian market are held by households; less than 1 per cent of Australian fixed interest securities are listed on the exchange; and 90 per cent of Australian non-financial corporate bonds are held by non-residents.

This is making it harder for the Australian financial system to manage longevity risk and is hampering the development of a deep annuities market in Australia.

But the report notes that encouraging the corporate sector to want to participate in a listed bond market is a big challenge.

Apologise, definitely, but insure against backwash

If you are going to apologise, make sure you do it properly.Apologies are a powerful force. They are an essential act of faith that can marshal support and goodwill in a crisis. But apologies reward some and punish others. In some cases, the apology itself can become the headline scandal.
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At the heart of a good or bad public apology is the attitude of a business and its leadership towards the situation and long-term brand damage. Given there are so many public apology case studies and lessons to draw from history, why are good public apologies still so rare? And why do so many great businesses get it so wrong?

Businesses trade on trust. When that foundation is rocked, we often see a tsunami of dire consequences: share prices tumble; employee morale sinks; productivity suffers; regulation tightens its squeeze; customers defect and boycott; and, the media circus sucks all the energy from the emergency room.

Every day business winds threaten with increased velocities in a cultural and media environment that demands honesty and ethical steadfastness. What is astounding, however, is how quickly genius in the senior ranks of great companies can turn to stupidity and arrogance when things go pear-shaped.

Warren Buffett once said to his employees: ”Lose money for the firm, and I will be understanding; lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless.”

Reputations run very deep and wide. They are usually built on a consistent and brilliant record of delivering on promises and how their cultures manage ethics, innovation, quality, safety, sustainability and security that shape stakeholders’ expectations.

Robust moral principles come under assault very quickly in a crisis and few chances are afforded to companies and their leaders when they fail to apologise with humility, empathy and sincerity, with the right message, at the right time.

Many events can turn into reputational firestorms. Such events can, however, be neutralised with an effective apology. But with too little, too late, any scandal will threaten a company’s brand and damage a leader’s reputation. While there are no guarantees, there are a few central guidelines to effective public apologies:

■ Don’t put your reputation in the hands of the lowest common denominator. You will not triumph.

■ Be in the media early, be clear with your message and provide a detailed account of the situation.

■ Don’t be clever or coy. Admit to mistakes immediately, take responsibility and be accountable. Acknowledge the damage that has been done and express regret.

■ Small gestures and actions have a huge impact. Make everything count. Make it matter.

■ Don’t be aloof. Remember it is not about you. Lock up your ego in the top drawer of your desk.

■ Express concern for customers, shareholders and employees and promise it will never happen again. They ultimately are the ones you are asking for forgiveness.

■ Avoid ambiguity, tricky words and figures of speech. Do not use qualifiers or be loose with the facts. Offering restitution is even better and will reduce anxiety.

■ Authenticity is crucial. Do not take short cuts and remember some words are better than others. You can only deliver a good apology with your best performance.

And when it’s all done, don’t expect applause.

Georgie Morell is a corporate affairs consultant. She has worked with ASIC, BHP Billiton and Wesfarmers.