Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sydney Court rules on Smart poles


Innovative are the ways of people and in every country politicians try to make money browbeating the system in novel ways.
Perhaps the public utility on Indian roads were the electric structures, providing street lights.  In days of yore, people even studied on street lights and rose to great heights.  In Indian roads, you see lot of structures – there are electric poles which carry electric wires – one also sees television cables of private cable networks and host of other wires dangerously clinging everywhere.  There was a time when those electric poles stood majestically, uniform in size and structure and in distance.

Read about  Smartpole System in Australia and elsewhere  created out of a need to consolidate and refine street infrastructure onto one single system. The  smartpole  is an extruded alloy track that allows secure and simple mounting of any number of accessories at any height or face around the pole.  Flexibility and the ability to accommodate future services has allowed the Smartpole to become the most recognisable and useful piece of public furniture.  Smartpole got embroiled in controversy – alongside is  a former Australian politician of the Australian Labor Party.

It has out-reached many a countries – they are on Dubai’s  Palm Jumiereh, in front of the Atlantis Hotel,  a row of poles that lights the street at night.  Thousands of them are in Singapore.  The saga reportedly,  began in 1996, when an industrial designer at the council designed a pole to ''consolidate and refine'' the hodge-podge of poles in Sydney's streets - used for street and traffic lights, and to hang signs and banners - into a single pole.  The pole went into production just before the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and was used to spruce up the city for the Games; and a decade later, from their development the rights to the proceeds of their commercialisation - through sales to other councils in NSW, interstate and overseas - are in dispute.

The NSW council alleged the highly entrepreneurial Mr Obeid and Streetscape breached their licence to make the smartpoles by selling a large number of them in Dubai and Singapore without payment of any royalties.  The Company contended that it developed its own poles and has not sold any of the council's multifunction poles in the UAE.   So what was sold to Singapore  was only a multifunction pole but they are not smartpoles.  Mr Obeid on his part  alleged the council has reneged on promises it made to give him orders worth $6 million from a $300 million council capital works project and to sell him the rights to the poles in 2008.

Today [1st Feb 2012] there are news that  Moses Obeid, the son of  former Labor Party powerbroker Eddie Obeid, has been ordered to pay $12 million to the City of Sydney council. Justice Clifford Einstein has ruled that Mr Obeid and his company Streetscape Projects had deliberately gone behind the council's back to sell more than 10,000 multi-function street poles, known as "smartpoles", to overseas customers.  The  Supreme Court judge ordered Mr Obeid to pay the council $9,376,043.64 plus interest of $2.7 million. Mr Obeid had contended that the amount owing was only $550,000. This was rejected by the court.

The huge damages claim arose after the council discovered Mr Obeid had been secretly manufacturing and selling the council's smartpoles in Singapore and the United Arab Emirates since 2003, and had avoiding paying the council $8.6 million in royalties and a further $350,000 in licensing fees.  In Justice Einstein's preliminary judgment in the matter last October the judge said he had formed an "unfavourable view of the truthfulness of his [Mr Obeid's] evidence".  Apart from spending an estimated $3 million on his own court costs, the City of Sydney is demanding that Mr Obeid pay the council's costs of approximately $4 million.

The parties will return to the Supreme Court at a later date to argue over the costs.  Edward (“Eddie”) Moses Obeid OAM  is  a former Australian politician, was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council who served between 1991 and 2011, representing the Australian Labor Party. He was the Minister for Fisheries and the Minister for Mineral Resources from 1999–2003. Despite his term in the Legislative Council due to expire in March 2015, he announced his decision to retire early on 10 May 2011, citing family reasons.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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