06 June 2011

Former Woodside rep blames their "blundering arrogance" for Sunrise impasse

La'o Hamutuk has just published Cowboys, Ogres and Donors: A Decade of Corporate Social Responsibility in Practice by Mandy White, who represented Woodside in Timor-Leste in 2007-2008. The paper sharply criticizes Woodside's "ogres at the helm" and "sycophantic senior staff" for taking a Public Relations approach to Social Responsibility, "not making even tokenistic efforts" to develop Timor-Leste. Whyte describes the company's "blundering arrogance" in the negotiations over the Greater Sunrise  oil and gas fields:  "Woodside steadfastly refused to regard the Timor-Leste Government as a partner in the development of the Sunrise fields, seemingly characterising them not only as a 'thorn in the side,' but also as devious and untrustworthy. ...  [D]riving forward to a final investment decision without the Timor-Leste Government demonstrates an arrogant lack of regard for the relationship."

Follow this link for information about the debate over Greater Sunrise.

Cowboys, Ogres and Donors
A Decade of CSR in Practice – NZ, Australia, Timor-Leste and Indonesia
By Mandy Whyte, May 2011

Web-published by La'o Hamutuk at http://www.laohamutuk.org/Oil/Sunrise/2011/WhyteCSRMay2011.pdf


This paper looks at examples of the community relations practices by international mining companies within the framework of two traditional approaches: public relations and community development (or Corporate Social Responsibility). It argues that the second is a more effective means to gain mutually beneficial outcomes for the companies and the communities with whom and within they operate, particularly in the developing world where power differentials are greater.

It explores why, in the era of CSR, Woodside Energy Ltd has been ineffective in working with the Government of Timor-Leste and how it has created an impasse that has stalled the development of the Greater Sunrise gas field.

A third approach to community relations is put forward, ‘Us and Them’, which suggests CSR doesn't work for some companies - not because it is not understood - but because these companies do not have the will to apply it. While there are many tools available for CSR, some companies have not yet worked out why they should use them.

It concludes that forced legal compliance, being taken for example by Indonesia, may be necessary to curb unprofessional and ‘ogreist’ practices of companies working in developing countries.

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