We will be at the forefront of sustainable practices, contributing to a positive future for our customers, our communities, our investors and ourselves.
A message from the MD
Since listing on the ASX in 2000, Origin has strived to defi ne what it means to be a sustainable company. At the core of sustainability for us are the trust and goodwill of our stakeholders – the most important being our communities, investors, customers and employees. We rely on our key stakeholders for access to land and resources, to fund the growth of our business, to buy our products and services and to provide a skilled workforce.
In last year’s report, we laid out sustainability objectives and accompanying fi ve year strategies for each key stakeholder group. We also described for each strategy a series of actions to be completed over the following 12 months. In this year’s report we assess our progress on each of those actions, and commit to new actions for 2008/09.
A highlight of the year for Origin was the award by Ethical Investor Magazine of Sustainable Company of the Year 2007. We also won the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) Environment Award for our Reverse Osmosis Plant at Spring Gully in Queensland, and were the recipient for the fourth time of the Green Electricity Watch accolade for the best green energy product.
While 2007/08 was a year with signifi cant achievements, there is much more to do if we are to deliver against our fi ve year strategies and beyond.
2007/08 sustainability highlights
The past year has seen a renewed focus in Australia on the complex issues surrounding climate change and emissions reduction. We engaged strongly in the development of government policy in this area in 2007/08, through our contributions to the Garnaut Review and other government processes, and participated in media and public debate. We also took a series of measures, discussed later in this report, to understand and reduce our own carbon footprint.
While climate change affects all of us, many of our most important activities in 2007/08 were targeted at specific issues and at key Origin stakeholders. A particular highlight was the progress we made on employee and contractor safety over the past 12 months, reducing the Total Recordable Incident Frequency Rate (TRIFR) by more than 47 per cent, from 16.3 to 8.5 per million hours worked. A safe working environment is fundamental to a sustainable business and is a key element in our fi ve year strategy for employees.
We continued to provide award winning products to our customers. Our accredited green customer base grew by 57 per cent to 423,000, and through our Carbon Reduction Scheme™ we provided 140,000 tonnes of carbon offsets to customers such as Intrepid Travel, Network Ten and the Australian Football League. We continued to help customers play their own part in emissions reduction, with sales of both solar photovoltaic and solar hot water units increasing by over 250 per cent on the prior year. Origin remained Australia’s largest green energy supplier and the largest provider of solar rooftop installations.
One of our most signifi cant environmental and social initiatives for the year was the $20 million Spring Gully Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Plant commissioned in December 2007 and launched in May 2008. Highlighted on page 12 of this report, the Plant is the first of its kind in Australia and every day produces nine million litres of additional surface water capable of use in surrounding communities and in the natural environment.
Our community engagement programs continued in 2007/08, including an expansion of the innovative driver training and community skills scholarships launched in 2006/07 and described in last year’s report. Our employees also took more than 2,500 hours of paid volunteer leave, making our volunteering program one of the most successful among large Australian organisations, and we continued to match dollar for dollar the $87,000 donated to Australian charities by employees through our Matched Giving Program.
Investors enjoyed total shareholder returns of 66 per cent in the reporting period. Organic growth and project development were funded internally, as they have been in previous periods.
Focus on the future
Origin’s ongoing effort to build a successful and sustainable business will be guided over the next 12 months by the five year strategies laid out in last year’s sustainability report.
We will work hard over the coming year to build on the substantial improvement we made in 2007/08 on safety performance, and we will continue to strive to create a rewarding workplace where employees can thrive through personal development and equality of opportunity. The results of our 2008 culture and engagement survey have provided us with an insight into how our employees feel about working at Origin, and will inform leadership and development programs to be introduced over the next 12 months.
Origin will maintain our commitment to providing Australians with green energy solutions. Our green products will evolve as we commit to helping customers improve their energy efficiency. We will continue to promote green energy solutions, providing opportunities for all Australians to reduce their environmental footprint. Our community and hardship programs, such as Power On, will grow with the extension of supporting activities to a broader geographic area.
We will continue to consult and work with the communities in which we operate. We commit to expanding over the next 12 months the resources we put into community engagement and community investment, especially in those parts of Queensland where our upstream exploration and production activities make Origin a core and rapidly growing part of regional communities.
Since listing in February 2000, Origin shareholders have enjoyed Total Shareholder Returns averaging around 35 per cent per annum. Continuing to deliver attractive returns while investing for the future is at the core of Origin’s sustainability.