Activism: a matter of conscience 

ON MONDAY an anti-coal activist played an elaborate hoax on the Gunnedah district mine, Whitehaven Coal.

So successful was the jape, it went on line briefly as a genuine news story.

It also caused the value of the stock of the coal mine to plunge briefly by eight per cent with losses of up to $300 million.

However once trading was suspended and the hoax uncovered that value was recovered.

The activist celebrated his success even though proffering an apology to any who may have been hurt.

Coverage in the metropolitan media indicated the penalties for hoaxing the stock exchange could land a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a possible fine of $495,000.

There are two ways to look at this hoax. If you're anti-coal [and thus happy to pay for even more elevated electricity prices] it's a win for the little guys.

But for the shareholders, often mums and dads as well as institutional investors, the blow could have been a hard one.

Activism is becoming the way to put a spanner in the works. However, this opposition does not proffer an alternative - and if it does, for example, solar or wind power the increased costs are not presented along with the alternative.

Take wind powered turbines and this twisted logic seen on a sign north of Scone: Save the environment, stop wind turbines.

It will be interesting to see the lengths the ASX will go to armed with the Corporations Act? Will the activist become just another martyr, or will they be treated, like the rest of us, within the guidelines the legislation insists?

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