And so Grid Australia, the peak body for the transmission giants, is trying to muzzle him with legal threats.
The thing that really irks Bruce Robertson is not just that the giant power companies are threatening to sue him but that their lawyers are demanding he pay for their costs.
“It was a service I never requested," quips Robertson, who has had to resort to black humour since the letter from Grid Australia arrived out of the blue last week.
In the quintessential act of corporate bullying, the nation's electricity transmission giants are threatening to sue the corporate-analyst-turned-cattle-farmer from the mid-north coast of NSW.
Robertson has been a constant thorn in their side this year, revealing how the industry's 'gold-plating', dodgy forecasts and misleading rhetoric have been the main factors behind the nose-bleed rise in power bills.
This story is not just about power companies gagging an outspoken critic. It is about governments too. Grid Australia's members are mostly state-owned power companies. They speak for $10 billion in network assets and they don't like Robertson accusing them of gold-plating one little bit.
Here's the catch. Governments are not allowed to sue their citizens (this is a good thing).
Nor are the other two members of Grid: Victoria's SP-Ausnet, which is controlled by a Singaporean multinational, or South Australia's transmission provider, ElectraNet, which is a consortium of powerful financiers. Both are too big to sue.
Under reforms to the defamation laws seven years ago, big companies are no longer permitted to sue (Section 9 Defamation Act, 2005). The intention of these reforms was precisely to stop this sort of intimidation by large vested interests.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/powerless-legal-heavyweights-used-to-silence-farmer-20121114-29bnl.html#ixzz2CAlKwerC