Update No. 271 – 10/06/16

I am a huge fan of logic. Insofar as it is possible, I try to ensure every view I hold stands up to logical argument and well considered reasoning. If a qualitative challenge to any position I hold is presented to me I am among the fastest people I know to change my position. But the argument must be sound, and not ideologically contrived.

For this reason, most people find me uncomfortable to argue with on political grounds, I hold views that fall across virtually the full spectrum of political thought, I am almost certain I would hold views both to the right and the left of at least three-quarters of the population. As a consequence, I don’t enjoy elections as much as some, I feel democracy is important, but I am rarely satisfied with the vote I ultimately cast.

An interesting challenge was made to my environmental beliefs this week. I am an unabashed environmentalist; my belief is that to the extent that it is reasonably possible, humankind should alter the natural world as little as possible, whilst we continue to pursue maximum prosperity for humankind. To this end, I make personal choices that pursue the ends I believe we should all seek. I live in a modest home, considerably more modest than I could afford, the four drivers in my household share a 1.2 litre Nissan Micra and a small-engine fuel efficient turbo-charged larger vehicle for occasional longer drives, I would very much enjoy driving a large, throbbing V8, but it is not the right thing to do environmentally. So I don’t. In fact, we rarely drive the vehicles as we all default to public transport where practicable. I likewise avoid overuse of air-conditioning (heating the house to only 16 degrees in winter and cooling it to only 24 degrees in summer), our energy consumption is in the lowest quartile of Australian households for the number of residents. Food waste or conspicuous consumption of all types are strenuously avoided. Substantially all of the considerable wealth my wife and I will inevitably accumulate over the course of our lifetimes will be directed toward eleemosynary purposes. These actions, rather than preaching one thing and doing another are how I choose to keep the inevitable harm of my existence to a minimum.

I am no halfwit NIMBYist hippy however, and I accept that in pursuit of human prosperity, we will inevitably change our natural environment. If we did not, we could never build a new house, or road, virtually any bit of economic progress we make will come at some sort of environmental cost. Even though I’m an environmentalist, I’m cognisant of the fact that the average windmill built in Australia uses something in the order of 500,000 litres of concrete covering around 45 tonnes of rebar, over 20,000 kilograms of glass reinforced plastics, with something like 2.5 tonnes of toxic neodymium, and each contains generator components (mostly mined) weighing around 50-odd tonnes, but progressing renewable energy, despite the fact it currently makes poor economic sense, makes long-term sense, so I accept the damage as necessary.

Even the poster vehicles of the EV age the Tesla is chock full of Copper, Lithium, Graphite and other minerals which must all be rent from the surface of the earth. And then we have madness like this…

So I am accepting of the fact that even as we move toward a less environmentally harmful future, we will still, as the apex predator and the lowest ranked animal on the IUCN red list, have an incredibly large impact on the environment. All I ask is that each person to the extent possible minimise their own environmental harm, rather than in DiCaprio-esque style, preach one thing and do entirely another.

For this reason, it is sensible in certain circumstances to alter the natural environment in order to avoid both the natural environment causing damage to itself and the natural environment causing damage to the built environment.

As such, this week, I mentioned the prevention of the building of a seawall at Collaroy in 2002 was a foolishness, especially obviously so in light of the preventable destruction that occurred with some storm activity earlier this week, to both the natural and built environment.

Now, I should make my views clear here. The fact that houses were ever allowed to be built in such a place is the height of idiocy. Where reasonably foreseeable natural harms to a potential site for a home (or a city for that matter) exist, no building should be allowed to occur.

My view changes however, once building has taken place. Reasonable steps to protect valuable assets and lives should be taken. The negativity in this case seems to stem from the fact that the homes that have come to harm as a result of the seawall not being built are those of relatively wealthy people. Invert that in your mind and imagine unsympathetic reactions because a given set of victims were poor. Here I should point out, lest I be accused of bias that I do not know a single resident of Collaroy to my knowledge.

The very substantial rates these valuable houses have paid over many years would have been more than enough to pay for the cost of the seawall. And forget the saved properties, the cost of making good erosion on some beaches every time there is a substantial storm makes some building of a seawall eminently sensible in some cases. There are numerous surf-beaches where erosion is not a meaningful risk, by all means, leave those free from walls.

I think that the fact that New Orleans exists where it does is also an example of the madness of lacking foresight. But, the city now exists where it does, and as such, the building of enormous levees to protect its residents is all right by me. The fact that the wealthier citizens from the parts of town that are not at risk from storm surge contribute via their taxes to a levee that is unlikely to ever do much for them is not unreasonable.

Just because someone has means, doesn’t mean they are immune from suffering harm. Likewise, just because someone lacks means, doesn’t mean they should be hung out to dry when town planning mistakes were made.

Does anyone really think it intellectually consistent to maintain that both the wealthy Collaroy resident and the poverty-stricken New Orleanian should be unable to alter the natural environment in pursuit of protection of the built environment?

Should they be equally subject to caveat emptor?

I thought not – Tony Hansen 10/06/2016


Apr 1st 2011

Jul 1st 2015

Current Price

Since July 1st 2015

Since Inception

EGP Fund No. 1












EGP Fund No. 1 Pty Ltd. Up by 14.64%, leading the benchmark by 11.20% since July 1st 2015. Since inception, EGP Fund No. 1 Pty Ltd is Up by 112.86%, leading the benchmark by 71.77% all-time (April 1st 2011).

*1 after a 31 May 2013 dividend of 2.333 cents per share (cps) plus 1.000 cps Franking Credit, a 31 May 2014 Dividend of 7.000 cps plus 3.000 cps Franking Credit and a 31 May 2015 Dividend of 8.6667 cps plus 3.7143 cps Franking Credit and a 31 May 2016 Dividend of 6.0000 cps plus a 2.5714 cps Franking Credit

*2 calculated based on dividends reinvested