Suncorp security – check your webserver dudes?

Doing some research for end-of-year tax planning and found this via Google – it’s a Broker Bulletin with the inside knowledge for brokers of Suncorp’s product.

I was rather fascinated that it is indexed by Google, and doesn’t have any security over it, and yet it clearly states that the bulletin is ‘not to be given to applicants or customers’. 

Maybe they should take a look at their web security.  Not that there is very much in it that seems controversial.  Ah well.  Maybe it’s poetic justice given the way my Suncorp shares have tanked.

Propositions of the Theory of Technology Dominance

My research at the University of Queensland is examining the theory of technology dominance, as set out in Arnold & Sutton (1998).

This theory sets out to explain three things:

  1. Factors that determine the likelihood that a decision maker will choose to rely on an available decision aid
  2. Conditions under which a decision maker using an intelligent decision aid is susceptible to dominance by the technology
  3. Long-term impact of intelligent decision aid use on de-skilling domain experts and impeding epistemological evolution

This theory has eight essential propositions:

  • Proposition One: At low to moderate level of experience, there is a negative relationship between task experience and reliance on a decision aid
  • Proposition Two: Positive relationship between task complexity and reliance on a decision aid
  • Proposition Three: Positive relationship between decision aid familiarity and reliance on the decision aid
  • Proposition Four: Positive relationship between cognitive fit and reliance on the decision aid.

Further, the theory, relating to the susceptibility of a user to dominance by technology, sets out two propositions:

  • Proposition Five: When the expertise of the user and intelligent decision aid are mismatched, there is a negative relationship between the user’s expertise level and the risk of poor decision making
  • Proposition Six: When the expertise level of the user and intelligent decision aid are matched, there is a positive relationship between reliance on the aid and improved decision making

And finally, the theory of technology dominance considers the long-term effects of dominance by intelligent technologies through the following two propositions:

  • Proposition Seven: There is a positive relationship between continued use of an intelligent decision aid and the de-skilling of knowledge workers’ abilities for the domain in which the aid is used
  • Proposition Eight: There is a negative relationship between the broad-based, long term use of an intelligent decision aid in a given problem domain and the growth in knowledge and advancement of the domain



But maybe I’m a knowledge labourer after all

For some time I’ve been one of those accounting/ICT people who delves into the world of knowledge management every now and then.  This is an area of practice where buzz words abound – communities of practice, centres of excellence, and the venerable ‘knowledge worker’ to name a few.

In the past week I’ve had cause to think of these terms, particularly ‘knowledge worker’.  It sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it?  After all, you work with knowledge to create all sorts of good things of value for the business.  However recently I’ve been swotting up on the ‘theory of technology dominance’ and a presentation by Steve Sutton in 2006 implied another term for when you work with ephemeral ‘knowledge-based’ stuff but with little latitude for exercising professional judgment due to the constraints of technology:  ‘knowledge labourer’.

And then there was the video recently relating to the ‘mother of all demos’ where Doug Engelbart referred to ‘intellectual workers’ in 1968.  Clearly that term didn’t much catch on – possibly there are elitist overtones.

It seems that we have as a result three terms here that apply – I’ve tried to put my twist into the definition:

  • knowledge labourer:  works to rule creating and storing information and data within the rules set by an information system, and as a result getting little opportunity to develop or exercise professional judgment.  Such people can be recognised by a bureaucratic insistence upon rules and an oft-stated desire to unplug the computer.
  • knowledge worker:  has more freedom to create ‘knowledge’ such as documents, strategies, and developed information, but in response to a business need and with a commercial imperative.  These people spend a great deal of time trying to explain the value they provide to the business, and generally look nervous in recessions.
  • intellectual worker:  tends to be working on several high-brow things at once, mainly because it interests them rather than out of any commercial necessity.  These people use their intellectual smarts to advance the body of knowledge rather than their bank balance.  Such people can usually be recognised as frustrated PhD students who used to have higher-paying jobs as knowledge labourers or workers before becoming ‘bored’.

By my definition I’m at risk of being an ‘intellectual worker’.  Although @sjjoyner probably put it best when describing a ‘knowledge labourer’: "@maxelsen Here I was thinking you were being witty. Now it sounds serious and a deeply awful occupational class."

I wonder how many people are more knowledge labourers than knowledge workers…

The mother of all demos – and ‘intellectual workers’

Wowsers.  Saw on this video:  ‘the mother of all demos’ by Doug Engelbart in 1968: 

I haven’t seen all of it yet – you’ll need to set aside a chunk of time – but it promises to be really, really interesting.  Considering that this is back in the day when you wrote your own OS for every computing machine you bought, it’s very futuristic (and some of it ain’t here yet).  Admittedly it is in the tradition of demos where some of it is smoke and mirrors (‘backed up by 30 people at Stanford University’). 

I love how in the first word or two he comes up with ‘intellectual worker’.  I’m all done with being a knowledge worker – from now on I’m an ‘intellectual worker’. 

An introduction to the Carbon Emissions Reporting regime in Australia

This is a blog post from a CPA Australia Carbon Emissions Reporting Discussion Group meeting – the inaugural meeting – that I attended on 18th November 2008.  Danny Power from PwC is the convenor. 

There will be an election of office-bearers at the end of the next meeting.  The topics under discussion are going to be quite broad-ranging.  Danny is linking it to the sustainability reporting issues, and Danny seems to think the label might change later.  However, Carbon Emissions Reporting is the current label for the group – thinks we might need to break into several discussion groups at some point (I’m not sure about that – see how popular it is).  There were about 40 people in attendance at this first meeting, though, which is always a good sign. 

Why did Danny set up the discussion group?

  • Compliance issues
  • The accountant’s role as a business advisor and in managing the reporting systems
  • Impacts for all organisations whether direct or indirect
  • “The Science” – still seems controversial, and if you’re going to report on it you need a working knowledge of what the processes are and how it works. 
  • Possibly the most important – to create a support and peer group for each other.

Schemes, coverage, compliance and impacts

This section of the presentation was given by Mick Zeljko of the Climate Change Team of PricewaterhouseCoopers. 

The finance function of most companies will be generally involved it seems in managing the reporting process, which is a substantial – very substantial – part of the new CPRS. 
Emissions Schemes

Current programs:

  • Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET)
  • NSW Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme (GGAS)
  • Qld Gas Electricity Scheme (GECS)
  • Greenhouse Challenge Plus
  • Energy Efficiency Opportunities

The scope of these current programs is fairly limited and tend to be industry-specific.  There is a general feeling that perhaps people have been a little bit lax about the current programs, and it’s been pretty relaxed with the result that there has not been a lot of accuracy in the numbers that are currently being reported.  Probably a lot of companies don’t really have a lot of confidence in their reporting schemes. 

New Schemes:

  • National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting System (NGERS)
  • Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS)

NGERS will cover a lot less companies than those that are affected by ETS.  Types of gasses – six Kyoto gasses – CO2 and Methane and so on.  All measured in terms of CO2 equivalency – for example, methane is 20 times stronger than CO2, so 1 tonne of emitted methane is 20 CO2 Tonne Equivalents.

The NGERS does get down to 200 terajoules and 50 kilotonnes in 2010.  ETS will require only 25KT in 2010 so it is a little disconnected from NGERS – you can probably expect that the two programs will come into alignment. 

The Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) is now officially called CPRS – Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.  The feeling is that it sounds better to be reducing carbon pollution than trading the rights to emit pollution.  The scheme generally caps Australia’s emissions, and then identifies industries subject to the cap.  These industries are then allocated permits and at the end of the year have to have permits to cover what they emitted or pay a substantive fine.  If you don’t have the permits, you have to go buy them from someone who does.  This is the essence of the ‘cap and trade’ system.  

Under the scheme:

  • Government allocates or auctions permits up to the cap annually.
  • Companies compete on the market to acquire required permits.
  • Permits can be traded at market prices between firms and third parties.
  • Scheme requires robust monitoring, reporting and assurance of data.
  • Transitional assistance measures are included
  • A number of elements are yet to be finalised
    • Including emissions target trajectories, penalties for non-compliance and complementary measures for non-covered sectors. 

A green paper was released in July.  Everyone affected is throwing a submission at the government.  The government is aiming to have draft legislation ready by the end of the year.  There remains a whole bunch of stuff that is yet to be finalised, particularly emissions trajectories.  We don’t know what the limits will be yet though – what the targets will be. 

Covered sectors:

  • Stationary energy
  • Industrial processes
  • Fugitive emissions (e.g. mining and landfill)
  • Waste
  • Transport
  • Reforestation (opt-in – gets you credits)
  • Agriculture may come in later, around 2015.

Liability generally relies upon the emitter.  Generally it is upstream supply liability.

Emissions covered include:  Scope 1 (i.e. direct for example emissions from a generator) emissions only.  Contrast with NGERS which includes Scope 2 (e.g. indirect such as a factory’s use of electricity) across all 6 Kyoto Greenhouses. 


  • Direct emissions of 25,000 tonnes of CO2e (Carbon Equivalents). 

The affected businesses will need to be collecting up systems, processes and governance to get NGERS into place. 

I wonder what the definition of an entity (i.e. a ‘business’ will be in the covered industry?). 

The first NGERS reporting period has commenced, those these systems etc will need to be in place from the point of view of affected NGERS entities.  CPRS Green Paper submissions are now closed.  The draft legislation is due out in early September, and they seem to want to have the legislation in place by the end of the year.  The Government wants to set medium-term national trajectories soon, and are aiming for a 1 July 2010 start.  These trajectories will affect how many permits are available – they will not determine who is affected by CPRS. 
We in Australia will have two full reporting periods and  given thethen full trading will commence under CPRS.  Unless it doesn’t  current financial crisis. 

Under NGERS – compliance is about registering and reporting.  Penalties apply for corporations and CEOs.

Project Definition

There are a a whole lot of rules and legislation around wh`o effectively owns the emissions.  A big mining site will have a lot of issues just working out what are we reporting on.

Systems Implementation

  • Collect greenhouse and energy data
  • Calculate greenhouse and energy data – there is a measurement determination that tells you how you work out how much CO2 you emit.  There are proxy things in place. 
  • Got to have good storage of records for any audit down the track.

Maybe I have a large IT bent, but I can see that this is going to be a problem for anybody seeking to implement Greenhouse Gas Reporting Systems and implement it through the accounting information system.  Or even if they don’t. 

Clearly it will have an impact upon reporting processes, and who does it – and I suspect this job will often fall to the finance function. 


  • Register with GEDO
  • Prepare and submit data using OSCAR.  (See Greenhouse Challenge Plus).
  • There will be a lot of internal reporting as well particularly for companies that are CPRS-liable. 


  • Need a whole lot of things covering all of this to make sure it keeps ticking along. 

Companies will have to be NGERS compliance at a minimum. 

Assurance – large emitters (>125KT CO2) will require third party assurance of the information prior to submission.  Beyond these core issues we don’t know much around how it is taxed and so on.  The draft legislation hasn’t come out yet.  There are thousands of submissions being put in place.

If you are liable there are serious financial implications and also some compliance costs.  Indirect impacts will result in price increases it seems – which will be the main issue for SME’s. 
Indirect impacts are going to be increasing on just about everyone.  Transport and logistics – may see a complete change in the competitive position between transport for example.  For instance you will need to reconsider where you get your services from e.g. road vs rail.

Need to do a risk assessment now.  Carbon due diligence.  Green paper submissions were a big thing a little while ago.

Strategic Response – can do a lot of stuff now.  There are opportunities for new services and products – carbon market planning and financial advice.

CPRS Accounting Issues:

  • Permits acquired to satisfy obligation = intangibles
  • Permits acquired for trading = inventory
  • Measurement choices available
  • Impact of CPRS on impairment calculations
  • Accounting disclosures which may be required.
  • How to account for forward purchase agreements of carbon pollution permits
  • Broadly – what impact will the acquisition, trading, hedging and surrender of carbon plollution permits on reporting.
  • Tax treatment?  Still yet to be decided. 

We also noted in the presentation that cashflow issues exist potentially for people that have to buy permits up front. 

There will be another meeting in February, probably, of the Discussion Group.  It was a very interesting discussion and it will be interesting to see where these compliance issues around the Carbon Emission Emissions Reporting processes take us.  And as we can see above – there are assurance implications (although supposedly only for >125KT emitters?).

More notices as events warrant.