Billionaire salaries, women on boards, Rich List and preview of tomorrow's political donations deluge

January 31, 2011

Dear Readers with a political bent (including everyone who lodged a donations return with the AEC in 2008-09),

Greetings for the first time since our last major email edition on January 12 and don't forget you can unsubscribe from this email list by clicking here.

Tomorrow is a big day in politics because at 9am we get the annual deluge of politicians donations data for 2009-10.

Will Murdoch and Lowy take a pay cut?

But before we get to that, check out today's column on the Fairfax websites arguing that Frank Lowy and Rupert Murdoch should cut their hugely inflated salaries, especially when compared to what other billionaires draw from Australian public companies. We've listed close to 20 examples of comparatively modest billionaire salaries in the story which is the first shot in what will be an on-going campaign leading up to this year's Westfield and News Corp AGMs. The comments have been coming in thick and fast, including plenty alleging the "tall poppy syndrome" is at work.

How to cover the annual donations deluge

Former Daily Telegraph editor Col Allan once confided to me that the media never really covers the annual February 1 donations data deluge very well. And that, of course, is precisely what the major political parties want through a system of delayed, hard to search and incomplete disclosures of their funding sources.

The AEC previewed the release in this update on Friday.

February 1 is arguably the latest disclosure of any crucial information for the 2009-10 financial year - public companies had to release their full year earnings by the end of August. And registered political parties are the only major public institutions which don't have to publically disclose their balance sheets. It's an absolute disgrace for a supposedly first world democracy.

Hopefully, with the new paradigm of sunshine and disclosure, this will be the last February 1 dump we'll have to deal with.

A few tips on what to look for

Click here for the website that will become very popular at 9am tomorrow and here are a few questions to ask:

Did the Liberals receive a surge of funding from mining companies between the period from when the Resources Super Profits Tax was first announced on May 2 until Kevin Rudd was ousted on June 23? Unfortunately, donors do not reveal the timing of their contributions and the savvier ones will have made commitments but then not coughed up the cash until July 1, meaning we won't know about it for another 12 months.

Do the Victorian Liberals still have a huge share portfolio with almost $30 million worth of bank shares, as was explained in this Crikey story last year: Revealed: the $58m share portfolio that can topple Brumby. Don't be surprised if the Victorian Liberals change their disclosure form so this can't be calculated by tracking back the individual dividends payments from each stock they own?

Which divisions of the ALP will continue last year's trend and voluntarily embrace the John Faulkiner disclosure proposals which were rolled by the Liberals in 2008?

Did the ALP make the usual $500,000 profit the four pokies venues it runs in Canberra?

How much did various left wing unions given the Greens ahead of the Federal election?

Has the Queensland Labor Party continued to run down its Labor Holdings investment fund which used to have a $10 million margin loan with Comsec supporting a $40 million portfolio with a Suncorp stake that peaked at more than $20 million?

Did anyone get near Graeme Wood's $1.6m donation to the Greens which was first disclosed by the Fairfax papers on January 7?

Is Clive Palmer once again the biggest individual donor to the Liberals?

Did the various scandals over dodgy NSW developers lower the cash flow for the NSW ALP which has previously mastered the dark art of extracting cash out of property regulation, hotels, pokies operators and the like?

Historical coverage of campaign finance issues

We've been banging on about Australia's weak campaign finance laws and some of this is a useful guide on what to look out for tomorrow:

Brumby's poor disclosure over donations and jobs for relatives
Crikey, March 17, 2010

Joe Ludwig's dad shows the real campaign finance agenda
Crikey, February 8, 2010

Mayne digs some donations data dirt
Crikey, February 1, 2010

Will Woolies pay Labor $20m for Canberra pokies?
Crikey, May 26, 2009

Rudd's brilliant disaster diversion from China donations scandal
Crikey, February 3, 2009

Political donations: Gems aplenty in the annual deluge
Crikey, February 1, 2008

Did Dick Pratt's donations influence Costello's cartels backflip?
Crikey, October 9, 2007

Labor and gambling - thick as thieves
Crikey, September 11, 2007

Media slack on political donations
Crikey, February 2, 2007

PM's generous golfing mate to join the billionaires club
Crikey, January 30, 2007

Liberals dominate the political gongs again

Crikey, January 29, 2007

Preparing for a smaller deluge of political donations figures
Crikey, January 16, 2007

Australia worst on donations, gaming policies and bank cartel rip-offs
Crikey, April 11, 2006

Tabcorp rolled over pay, fesses up to more political donations
Crikey, November 28, 2006

Phil Burgess, deductable donations and QANTAS perks
Crikey, April 10, 2006

AWB, donations, Liz Knight, pokies and Ian Law
Crikey, February 3, 2006

Donations, The AFR and upcoming talks
Crikey, February 2, 2006

Donations special edition
Crikey, February 1, 2006

Radio Commentary

5 February 2010 ABC National interest with Peter Mares

774 ABC Melbourne with Jon Faine

1 February 2008 5AA Adelaide with Nick Xenophon

Email editions of The Mayne Report

Political relationships, pokies, Seven, Macquarie, female directors, Rich List, nursing home, Suncorp, water and more
Mayne Report, March 28, 2010

Political donations, Stokes, Westfield tower, Richard Colless, Manningham nursing home, state debt, Rich List, Grand Prix and more
Mayne Report, February 23, 2010

Defending councillors, political donations, BHP board, Rich List, QBE webcast, classic Cornwall and much more
Mayne Report, February 1, 2010

Women on boards update

We sent this email to Australia's top 100 headhunters for ASX listed companies today, encouraging them to help out with the campaign to get more women on public company boards.

Meanwhile, it was great to see Davos imposing a gender quota on its strategic partners for this year's all-powerful gab-fest as was explained by The Guardian. And what about the French passing legislation to impose a 40% quota by 2016 for women on major public company boards.

The Cornwall collection

Former Fairfax and Crikey cartoonist Mark Cornwall has been contributing to The Mayne Report since March 2009. Here is a collection of his best cartoons and there are now also some amusing animations.

We'll have a fresh batch in the next major edition which will be out before the end of the week after our Manningham council meeting tomorrow night.

Donate to help keep us going

The Mayne Report has wracked up $300,000 in losses (excluding six-figure gains from capital raising plays) since we launched in 2007 and it has been heartening to receive recent support from donors keen to keep our service going:

For instance, here is what "Les the banker" wrote in an email after donating $50 last month:

I feel I owe you more. Love your work. Appreciate the investigative work you do.

You have helped me make over 16k in the last two years in on two capital raisings. Pac Brands (a while ago) and Karoon Gas (which I luckily dumped all shares when I cashed in after the raising).

I have a family like you and we are on one income. The extra money has helped a lot. Having people like you look out for us small guys is a good thing.

Best wishes, Les

If you fancy giving us a hand to help fund our activism and keep us going on the political and AGM circuit, just click on the image below:

Tracking former federal government staffers

We're still tracking former political staffers in Canberra since Bob Hawke's election in 1983. Updates rely on emails to or use of the anonymous tips box and here's an example of some fresh information:

There have been a few other updates so check out the three lists below and send through any corrections or feedback:

Tracking the former Hawke-Keating staffers

Where Howard staffers finished up

Where Rudd government staffers went

The Mayne Report Rich List

BRW magazine does a great job with its various Australian Rich Lists but we've broadened their efforts to track any Australian who has ever been worth more than $10 million. We've got more than 1500 names with those who've fallen back below $10 million now italicised. Below are our latest new or updated entries:

Dean McEvoy: the 32 year old founder of online buying group Spreets who owned 42% when it was sold in early 2011 to Yahoo7 for $40 million.

Justus Hammer: a Sydney-based internet entrepreneur who was one of the major shareholders in online buying group Spreets which was sold in early 2011 to Yahoo7 for $40 million.

Burgess sisters: the furniture maker and businessman Ernest Henry Leonard Burgess bought the bulk of an 1121-hectare property north of Melbourne in 1979 for about $920,000 and his two daughters stand to collect up to $300 million out of a long term progessive sale to developer Stockland struck in late 2010. See The Age's coverage.

Nicholas Garling: the Morning Star Gold CEO topped up his stake to 29 million shares in early 2011 which at the time were worth about $15 million.

Richard Avery-Wright: The AFR reported in early 2011 that he was a CFD trader who was aiming to sell his Mosman mansion for more than $7 million.

Bradley Gordon: after a run-up in the share price, the Intrepid Mines CEO cashed in $6 million worth of shares in early 2011 but retains a further 3 million rights.

Ross Dobinson: the chairman of booming pharmaceutical play Acrux owns 3.35 million shares worth about $10 million and this investment banker has a number of other interests.

Prof Barrie Finnin: a Monash university academic who is co-inventor of the technology behind the success of listed Melbourne-based pharmaceutical play Acrux Ltd.

Peter de Rauch: an entrepreneur who sold Eagle Lighting to a Swedish company for a reported $50 million in 2006 and in 2011 made a hostile tilt for the board of the North Melbourne AFL club.

Scott Penn: a healthcare entrepreneur who has owned the Manly-Warringah NRL club since 2006.

Andy Penn: the Axa CEO picked up $17 million courtesy of the $15 billion takeover by AMP and its French parent.

Vivian Findlow: listed in the top 20 shareholders for REA Group with 282,037 shares which were worth about $4 million in early 2011.

Ian Wallace: Perth property developer who is President of the exclusive Peppermint Grove Shire but has run into trouble recently with a residential development known as The Tuarts.

BC Iron joins capital raising shame file

BC Iron is currently in receipt of a takeover offer which has raised a few eye-brows given that it has only just completed a selective share placement.

On November 10, 2010, the company announced an $18.4 million placement at $2.30 per share. There was no follow through share purchase plan for retail investors meaning that the company has now joined our "SPP shame file" list.

That's all for now.

Do ya best, Stephen Mayne

* The Mayne Report is a multi-media governance website published by Stephen Mayne with occasional email editions. To unsubscribe from the emails click here.