A good prank call ... ah, it can be a world of fun? Bart Simpson versus barkeep Moe? Classic comedy! Hours of laughter.
However, as we’ve recently witnessed, it can, literally, turn deadly. The Sydney DJs and the royal pregnancy prank phone call have altered FM radio forever.
I’m thinking anti-coal campaigner Jonathan Moylan was feeling pretty proud of himself on Monday. But he seemed a little sheepish on Tuesday, after getting raided by the corporate cop, ASIC, and being informed his prank could cost him $500,000 or 10 years in the slammer.
His hoax/prank statement delivering news that ANZ was pulling funding from Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek coal project was spectacularly, if ridiculously, successful.
For about an hour, he struck a, um, mighty blow against capitalism, with the very temporary loss of around $300 million.
When the hoax was revealed, the shares quickly bounced back to previous levels. In the meantime, an unknown number of people bought and sold stock. Some will have lost a wad, others will have gained.
But it sounds like greenie Moylan didn’t understand the potential consequences of his actions. He didn’t think the hoax would work. And when it did, he seemed surprised that it actually caused people to lose money.
Said Moylan to ABC’s 7.30 on Wednesday night: “I certainly don't, didn't intend any harm to shareholders in Whitehaven and, you know, for the record I do apologise.
“But I won't apologise for exposing ANZ's dirty investments in Whitehaven Coal.”
Jonny, mate, who was your target? Are you anti-coal mines? Or anti-banks?
Did you really think your prank was going to cause damage to a major bank like ANZ, for pulling a loan? Seriously? Jonathon, I don’t know what you’re mixing with your mung beans at your dusty base camp near the proposed coal mine, but you might want to ease up on the “herbs” a bit.
But hippy protestors will try what hippy protestors will try. If they do stuff without having a clue what the potential consequences might be, well, who knows what the consequences for them if they face some jail time. I hope they find Bubba to be a nice cuddly cellmate, if the magistrate feels so inclined. But that’s for ASIC to prosecute and the courts to determine the guilt, or lack, of.
For every one successful Moylan, there are undoubtedly hundreds of hoaxers whose epic failures go unreported. But as a fairly devoted capitalist, I’m sure you won’t mind if I don’t wish good luck to him or his kind.
What does concern me is who has put him on a pedestal for his actions.
Australia has had two big hoaxes in the last two months, the royal pregnancy and the Whitehaven hoaxes.
One Federal politician has taken very different views on both. Consider these two responses from Australian Greens leader, Senator Christine Milne.
“I am so sad that highly respected nurse and loved mum of 2 children is now dead because of radio prank. Aust hearts go out to her family.”
Apparently, the entertainers and their hoax are naughty because someone, tragically, died.
“Well, the Greens are saying we believe in backing people who stand up for what they believe in.”
Aah, but if you’re a hippy environmentalist who happens to be fighting coal miners, or is it banks?, then dangerous and costly pranks are, damnit, righteous, no matter how much financial damage may be caused to thousands.
Milne apparently believes Moylan’s prank is fine because no-one died. Would her comments be the same if someone had have lost even half their life savings, and, disastrously, taken the same course of action as the British nurse? (That would, actually, be a more foreseeable consequence of Moylan’s prank than that of the DJs.)
And what exactly are financial authorities, ASIC and the ASX, doing about these pranks?
The Whitehaven prank isn’t the first. There were also the hoaxes of a British takeover of David Jones last June and the Chinese takeover of Macmahon Holdings in October.
Senator Milne, your grin on the ABC’s 7.30 put former Treasurer Peter Costello’s famous smirk to shame.
But there’s a big difference. The intent of Moylan’s prank was to cause damage. The Sydney radio DJs had no such intention.
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Prominent financial adviser Bruce Brammall’s background is in journalism, where he spent about 15 years writing nationally for News Limited’s business and news sections. In 2006, he left to become a financial adviser and, in response to the success of Debt Man Walking, started his own financial advice consultancy, Castellan Financial Consulting where he now deals with a national client base. Bruce doesn’t own any Whitehaven shares, unless it’s indirectly through a managed fund.