Renowned political activist Susan George to deliver the 2013 Ted Wheelwright Lecture

27 August 2013

political activist Susan George
"It isn't just their size, enormous wealth and assets that make TNCs dangerous to democracy," George said.

One of the world's leading political thinkers and human rights activists, Susan George, will speak out against the growing influence of "illegitimate corporate power" in a keynote address at the University of Sydney this Thursday 29 August.

In her only public appearance while in Australia, the France-based political economist will take aim at the potential threats to democracy posed by transnational corporations (TNCs), and the methods by which they sway government decision-making, as presenter of the 2013 Ted Wheelwright Memorial Lecture.

At a time when multi-billion dollar corporations such as Apple and Google Australia have come under fire for abusing tax havens in Ireland, the need to curtail the authority of bodies that are not democratically accountable for their actions is paramount, George will argue.

"It isn't just their size, enormous wealth and assets that make TNCs dangerous to democracy," George said.

"As the late Professor Ted Wheelwright often pointed out, it's also their concentration, their capacity to influence, indeed infiltrate governments and their ability to defend their interest as a genuine international social class."

In her talk, 'The Growing Power of Illegitimate Authority', George will also consider the rising prevalence of Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) and their related 'investor-to-State dispute resolution' provisions.

"These allow investors—by definition TNCs—to sue governments if they believe that their present or even 'expected' profits are harmed by any government measure," she said.

For decades, George has remained an outspoken public voice on a variety of international issues, including global inequality, corporate globalisation, food insecurity, genetically modified organisms, tax and debt. She has authored sixteen books on these themes, including her most recent publication Whose Crisis? Whose Future? (2010).

In her current role as president of the Board of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam, George's latest work examines the ongoing effects of the European financial crises, as well as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership - a deal she describes as "the most important free trade agreement ever drafted" that will set the parameters for half the world economy's gross domestic product.

The Ted Wheelwright Memorial Lecture is the flagship public event hosted by the University of Sydney's Department of Political Economy . This is the sixth annual lecture in the series, held in honour of Edward Lawrence Wheelwright (1921 - 2007), one of Australia's leading critics of global capitalism and orthodox economics and an instrumental advocate for the establishment of the University's breakaway political economy program.


What:'The Growing Power of Illegitimate Authority', the 2013 Ted Wheelwright Memorial Lecture by Susan George

Where: Eastern Avenue Auditorium, Camperdown Campus. See map

When: 6-7.30pm, Thursday 29 August

Cost: Free, no bookings required

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Contact: Emily Jones

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