SEFE misrepresents ACCC decision

Letter to the editor Magnet, MNW, BDN.

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South East Fibre Exports (Magnet 8 Oct 09  or MNW 7 Oct 09) claim that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has “cleared” it of misleading advertising is wrong.

The ACCC has not cleared SEFE. The chipmill has escaped by the skin of its teeth on a technicality and has agreed to withdraw and redraft the offending pamphlet.

The complaint arose from a SEFE pamphlet which describes electricity to be produced from its proposed wood fired power station as “Green Power.”

Let me quote from the ACCC decision: “Having regard to the facts and circumstances and to legal precedent on the meaning of ‘in trade or commerce’, it is my view that the representations were not made ‘in trade or commerce’ as required by the Act but rather, in relation to trade or commerce.”

“The leaflet,” it says “does not seek to encourage consumers to acquire SEFE’s products.”

In other words, in plain English, SEFE is not yet marketing its wood fired electricity, so the law does not yet apply. Indeed, the ACCC warns SEFE that if it does it again, once its electricity is actually on the market, it “would then consider whether the representations are misleading and or deceptive…”

Not once in any of the 4 pages of the ACCC’s response does it say that the chipmill has been “cleared.”

SEFE’s interpretation of the ACCC investigation of its “Green Power” brochure as a victory demonstrates an astonishing capacity for optimism, to put it politely.

With a capacity for self delusion such as this, SEFE will be well placed to interpret any decision in the future to close the chipmill as a “victory.”

For SEFE’s sake, I hope the ACCC is not too sensitive about the crude misrepresentation of its own letter, otherwise the woodchipping company could be in real strife.

Yours sincerely



Harriett Swift

9 October 2009