Dear Mayne Report Readers,
Welcome to another bumper email edition which covers all sorts of lively issues spanning politics, business and media. If you'd rather not receive these newsletters, click here
to unsubscribe.Overpaid Rupert yields on board loyalists as shareholders put up 3 hostile resolutions
The 96 page proxy statement
for the News Corp AGM was released this morning and we're delighted that Rupert Murdoch has - as predicted in this piece
celebrating Elisabeth Murdoch's McTaggart lecture on The Drum
last week - farewelled Andrew Knight and Arthur Siskind from the board as voting directors.
Knight and Siskind copped the biggest protest votes
at last year's AGM after Lachlan and James Murdoch and will be replaced by two right wing partisans, as was explained in a pre-recorded interview for The World Today
that will air after 12.10pm today.
Then again, when you read the incredible Wikipedia entry
of incoming News Corp director and former right wing Colombian President, Alvaro Uribe, maybe he is just the person to stand up to undemocratic Murdoch bullying and drive some hard reforms like he did in Bogota.
After also appointing former George W Bush Labour Secretary Elaine Chao to the board, News Corp arguably has the most politicised board of any major US-based global company.
So much for media companies displaying editorial independence. It is great that Rupert now has 2 female directors for the first time since a brief period in the late 1990s, but Elaine Chao is also a former paid Fox News contributor.
Viet Dinh, who wrote the controversial Patriot Act for George W Bush, is another leading independent News Corp director, as is Jose Maria Asnar, the former right wing Spanish President who lost office after backing the Iraq invasion. What all these people think and know about phone hacking, page 3 girls, The Simpsons
, James Cameron, digital news models and realestate.com.au is not known.
However, it is not hard to guess how Fox News will play the last 2 months of the US Presidential campaign. Never before has a global media company emerged that played its politics so controversially across various countries and platforms.
News Corp's 2011-12 pay figures have also been released today and in a shameful move which totally goes against the trend in Australia, James Murdoch scored a pay rise from $12 million to $17 million, as is explained in this LA Times piece.
The bloke should have been fired for his role in the phone hacking cover-up.
Rupert scored a ridiculous 47% pay rise to $US33 million in 2010-11 and despite global austerity on executive largesse, he's only come back by 10% to $US30 million in 2011-12. This will be a bitter pill to swallow for all those News Ltd journalists currently being shown the door and it will be interesting to see how News Ltd papers report these figures given the big coverage that other pay cuts have been getting.
There is no sign of Murdoch family dominance over News Corp receding. The board has failed to remove the highly conflicted Lachlan Murdoch - who competes with News Ltd for programming rights, stories and advertising dollars in Australia through his interest in DMG and Network Ten.
It has also failed to elevated Elisabeth Murdoch, although this might be more about her resisting her father's requests (again, see last week's piece
in The Drum
The October 16 AGM at the Zantuck Theatre inside the heavily fortified Fox Studios compound in Los Angeles will this year see 3 hostile shareholder resolutions promoting governance measures such as separating the role of Chairman and CEO and unwinding News Corp's undemocratic gerrymander which sees the Murdoch family control 40% of the votes and just 13% of the stock.
Check out the details on page 7 of this 96 page proxy statement
I did a brief interview with Jon Faine on 774 ABC Mebourne shortly before 10am this morning and also spoke to Brendan Trembath from The World Today.
As the News Corp monitor for the Australian Shareholders Association, the question will once again come up about making the trip State-side for the AGM. After 11 encounters with Rupert at News Corp gatherings since 1999, maybe that is enough. Then again, the issues are many and varied and deserve a sold work out at the AGM. If you fancy supporting such a trip, see the item 2 down from here.From profit season to AGM season
The 2011-12 profit reporting season is over and now the mail box is starting to fill-up with notices of meeting for the AGM season.
Leaving News Corp to one side, stand by for the biggest cuts we've ever seen in executive pay as boards finally stand up to greedy executives courtesy of the embarrassment factor around the new two-strikes legislation.
There will be plenty of interesting elements to the coming season. How many of last year's 108 first strikes will translate to a second strike and the consequent board spill vote?
What will Nathan Tinkler's great mate Mark Vaile say at the Whitehaven Coal AGM on November 1 in Sydney? Is Tinkler broke? Just how much debt sits behind his 21% stake in Whitehaven which is still worth about $670 million, even after the stock halved from $6 to $3.
How will highly regarded media analyst Peter Cox go as an outside candidate for the Fairfax Media board at the AGM in Melbourne on October 24? Check out the impressive Cox CV here.
Will Gina Rinehart finally answer questions in public at the Network Ten AGM in Sydney on December 6?
How will the Get-Up! EGM on pokies go when Woolworths shareholders gather in Adelaide on November 22?
So many questions and we look forward to bringing you much of the action over what will be an exciting couple of months.Donate to help make a 12th encounter with Rupert Murdoch happen
The Mayne Report
has wracked up losses of more than $300,000 since we launched in October 2007 and we moved to a free model in June 2009 after struggling along seeking subscriptions for the first 21 months.
It has been nice to receive more than $20,000 worth of donations over the past two years and 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:
Resisting squeaky wheels and standing up for good Green policies
The biggest regret in resigning last month (see 3300 word letter
) from Manningham City Council to focus on the Melbourne campaign related to the risk that a path-finding $5 million water treatment plant in Doncaster would be voted down at the August council meeting.
And so it came to pass on August 27 when Manningham's 3 most negative councillors - Downie, Macmillan and Reid - teamed up with the perpetually timid Cr Jennifer Yang to try and win the acclaim of local NIMBYs and stick it up council's long-suffering professional officers.
It was a pathetic and craven effort just weeks before a council election.
All the worst features of self-interested politics were on display. Many of the complaining residents were rude and aggressive. They were wound up by a dishonest and misleading campaign which evoked images of stinking sewerage lagoons like Werribee 30 years ago.
What was actually proposed was a fully enclosed micro-plant which would strip out the water for recycling from thousands of apartments on Doncaster Hill and let the nasty stuff continue down the main sewer. The idea of mandating recycled water infrastructure ahead of building 20 apartment towers in a major urban in-fill development zone has never been tried before in Melbourne.
For two years our council has been forcing developers to spend big dollars building the purple "third pipe" into their plumbing for this recycled water and this has been used by real estate agents in marketing campaigns to environmentally conscious buyers.
But when it came to actually delivering the long-promised recycled water that both the Brumby and Baillieu Government's endorsed, weak Manningham councillors went to water.
The same jelly backs would probably abandon the other long-awaited infrastructure project, Doncaster Rail, based on concerns about noise and amenity from local NIMBYs.
The debate could have been won and many of the concerns addressed - if only all the the Koonung ward councillors had bothered to serve out their terms, turn up, comprehend the issues and articulate the arguments.
Cr Chuah, Cr Pick and Cr Villareal all resigned before their terms were up. Cr Ivan Reid is busy with his Footscray-based business and has missed most council briefings this year. He didn't bother to attend when Yarra Valley Water CEO Tony Kelly presented to councillors last month. Yet he then chaired the submitters meeting the night before the council meeting and let about 10 residents rant on for almost an hour. Yarra Valley Water was represented but only spoke for about 3 minutes and when it came to councillor questions, all were silent in the face of what would have been more sledging and cat-calls by more than 100 residents in the room.
If you listen to the audio of item 8.1
, you'll hear former Greens candidate, Cr David Ellis, and Liberal mayor Geoff Gough rise to the occasion and put the case strongly in favour.
The applause when the vote came through wasn't as strong as it might have been. I got a sense that some of the residents realised they'd behaved very selfishly and had been duped by a misleading campaign. Talk about putting perceived narrow self-interest on issues such as house values ahead of the long term interest of future generations on the driest continent on earth.
Here's hoping that Greens and Liberals will emerge as Koonung councillors in the next term as this proposal was a unique sustainability measure in Melbourne and the business community that is investing billions on Doncaster Hill deserve more certainty and consistency from their local councillors.
Yarra Valley Water do have compulsory acquisition powers and I hope they proceed with the proposal which, as the officer report
eloquently explains, poses no real amenity threats to residents and has so much going for it.
Emissions from a car starting in the morning pose a much bigger odour threat and as for service trucks and the plant's ugly "smoke stack", the local garbage truck and the light towers on the nearby Eastern Freeway should be of far greater concern.
I'm doing a double header at an upcoming Property Council conference with former Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe and wrote this scene setting column
for an industry magazine on life at Manningham and what lies ahead in Melbourne. Sadly, the Doncaster water treatment plant referenced in the column
has gone from a badge of honour for Manningham to a point of embarrassment.
Then again, when you consider the efforts by those same negative councillors out-lined in this resignation letter
, it shouldn't really come as any surprise. The biggest disappointment was Jennifer Yang's decision to kick sand in the face of the officers, developers and Yarra Valley water by voting against a deferral and then backing a hare-brained motion worked up by Cr Reid on the run which attempted to ban such a plant anywhere in the Koonung ward forever. Disgraceful!Why Gillard's union baggage deserves attention
The saga of Julia Gillard's crooked former boyfriend Bruce Wilson has been getting a run in certain sections of the media lately and the issues around union governance, corruption and cronyism are certainly worthy of public discussion.
After Andrew Bolt, Glenn Milne and Mike Smith over-egged their initial run at this story, it largely disappeared because then News Ltd CEO John Hartigan cravenly caved to the PM's implied threats of both defamation action and a fully-fledged Leveson-style media inquiry.
If you go back now and read this edition
of the The Mayne Report
from last August, it explains why the story is of genuine public interest and how some of the players have mis-fired in their attacks.
Sure, the likes of Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones and The Australian
have been partisan players on some issues seeking to destroy Gillard but this recent half hour session
that the Parrot did with sacked 2UE presenter Mike Smith is the best summary of the scandal produced to date.
I was very surprised that Crikey, The Age
, The SMH
and ABC radio largely kept away from the story as The Australian's
Hedley Thomas broke a number of new elements in recent weeks.
It was Mike Smith who did much of the research heavy lifting over the past year after his credibility took a hit when Fairfax ordered him not to broadcast an interview with former AWU boss Bob Kernohan and then sacked him over editorial differences.
As independent observers pondered what was going on with Andrew Bolt threatening to resign, Glenn Milne being boned as a columnist and John Hartigan ordering craven apologies to Gillard, the matter seemed closed when The Australian's
gun investigative reporter Hedley Thomas produced the following story
last September which included these important lines:
The Weekend Australian has examined thousands of pages of documentation and conducted numerous interviews to test long-standing allegations, referred to in last year's statutory declaration, that Ms Gillard – as a junior partner at the Melbourne law firm Slater & Gordon – was involved in wrongdoing by her then boyfriend, Mr Wilson.None of the material examined is capable of supporting the claims that Ms Gillard was a beneficiary of ill-gotten funds or that she knew at the time that Mr Wilson was involved in alleged fraud.On the material available, the most that could be said is that Ms Gillard and Slater & Gordon provided legal advice to Mr Wilson at the time and that she was unaware he was simultaneously involved in alleged fraud.
Kernohan's own credibility was damaged when it was revealed that former Pauline Hanson adviser John Pasquarelli had helped author the affidavit which Smith was talking up so much.
On reflection, this Hedley Thomas story seems to be more about defending the craven decision taken by John Hartigan who also unleashed his mate David Penberthy with this savage attack
on Andrew Bolt last October.
In hindsight, it was an extraordinary of the PM to try and extract an under-taking from Hartigan that no News Ltd paper would ever refer to the AWU corruption issue again after Glenn Milne made a couple of small and largely inconsequential mistakes. Despite its obvious newsworthiness, the issue was never raised by the mainstream media during Gillard's first year in The Lodge.
The detailed responses
to Media Watch
questions from the now departed News Ltd spindoctor Greg Baxter are worth reading again. Especially this passage towards the end:The Prime Minister sent us a draft of the apology with a demand that we publish it in The Australian and on The Australian websites and other News Limited websites. The draft sent to us from the Prime Minister included the following words: "The Australian will ensure these claims are not repeated in its newspaper or on its website or in any publication of any form under its control." AND "News Limited will ensure these claims are not repeated in its newspaper or on its website or in any publication of any form under its control." Given that the Prime Minister refused to tell us which particular claims concerned her, the demands contained in the two passages quoted above amount to a demand that no News Limited outlet would publish any information related to any of these matters at any time in the future. Not surprisingly, we did not agree to publish these passages as part of the apologies that appeared in The Australian and on News Limited websites and we do not agree to these demands in any terms.
It is now clear why the PM went so over the top in her denials and bullying of media outlets to suppress this story. Based on what we now know, she has much to be embarrassed about. She was indeed forced out of Slaters as the transcript of her exit interview and Peter Gordan's leaked draft statement confirms.
Apart from a basic issue of the PM's trustworthiness, here are some other reasons why the issues are relevant today.
Firstly, Gillard is totally dependent on the so-called AWU faction to remain in The Lodge as Peter Hartcher explained
in March after Rudd's failed challenge.
Secondly, Gillard seems to have learnt nothing about the need to crack-down on union frauds by her tardy approach to matters related to Craig Thomson and the HSU. Indeed, Mike Williamson's daughter Alex didn't depart until July 27, after spending 5 years in the PM's office. How much evidence did she need that the Williamson family had benefitted from inappropriate dealings at the HSU over many years. Whilst Alex herself may have had nothing to do with it, it's still a terrible look given the nepotism and cronyism which has long sparked cynicism about the NSW Right. If Gillard was "young and niave" during the Wilson fraud, surely as Prime Minister she would be all over union rip-offs.
And speaking of cronyism, the Gillard Government's decision to appoint her former Slater & Gordon mentor Bernard Murphy as a Federal Court judge last year was another interesting move.
When the $500,000 Bruce Wilson fraud emerged in the mid-1990s, Murphy and Gillard both resigned from Slater & Gordon. The departures were connected with the Wilson fraud - plus the so-called Smith-Harris case - as we now know thanks to former Slaters equity partner Nick Styant-Browne.
Gillard and Murphy never publicly admitted that they let Slaters down during this period and now Gillard's government has appointed her old mate to the Federal bench, even though he has never been a barrister.
The appointment was effective on June 13 last year, just weeks before the whole Bruce Wilson issue blew up.
Given that sacked Attorney General Robert McClelland re-ignited the whole issue with his recent speech in Parliament about the importance of union governance reform, you have to wonder how he felt about Gillard assisting in Murphy's appointment to the bench, a lucrative life-time paying gig that will deliver many millions in salary and pension benefits in return for 14 years of decision-making on the Federal Court until he hits the compulsory retirement age of 70.
It is well worth reading this full transcript
of Murphy's ceremonial swearing in, where the Gillard connections are observed, as is the rarity of appointing judges without any experience at the bar.Colin Nicholson talking as ASA Investor Hour in Melbourne today
Since the ASX pulled out of its monthly Investor Hour lectures after 27 years in June this year, the Australian Shareholders' Association has stepped up to the plate and continued to source interesting speakers to appear during lunch hours in CBD venues across the country.
The Melbourne leg of the September ASA Investor Hour is on from noon today at the Telstra Theatrette at 242 Exhibition Street . Details are here
and this speaker is usually very well received:Colin Nicholson BEc, SF Fin has been investing his own money in Australian shares for over 45 years. He is one of the very few teachers of investing who publishes his results on his website. Colin has taught both technical analysis and fundamental analysis for FINSIA, where he is a Senior Fellow. He has written five books on investing and written for Shares magazine, Smart Investor magazine, The Australian Financial Review, BRW and extensively on his website. He publishes a free newsletter (subscribe at www.bwts.com.au). He has spoken regularly at conferences for the Australian Technical Analysts Association, where he is a past national president.
Readers are encourage to come along today. It's free for ASA members who show their card and $5 for visitors.
Where do homeless Liberals go?
By psephologist Charles Richardson
Coverage of the Melbourne by-election result
was dominated, understandably enough, by the Labor vs Greens narrative. But the result was actually just as interesting for what it tells us about the Liberal Party.
Major party voters are generally a pretty obedient lot. Year after year they dutifully turn up and follow their party's how-to-vote card, even though when asked in surveys many of them claim not to. Most of the time that doesn't really matter, because major party preferences don't get distributed, but in inner-city Melbourne things are a bit different.
Twelve times in the last ten years, Liberal preferences have been distributed as between Labor and Greens. The Liberal how-to-vote card always favored the Greens until the 2010 state election, when it switched to favoring Labor. Liberal voters switched with it, but not as much as you might have thought: while more than three-quarters of them consistently followed the direction to preference the Greens, only about two-thirds sent their votes to the ALP. Here are the numbers: Melbourne 2002:
21.0% Liberal vote, directed to Greens, followed by 78.5%Richmond 2002:
19.8% Liberal vote, directed to Greens, followed by 77.0%Brunswick 2006:
17.4% Liberal vote, directed to Greens, followed by 74.7%Melbourne 2006:
22.1% Liberal vote, directed to Greens, followed by 74.4% Richmond 2006:
19.9% Liberal vote, directed to Greens, followed by 76.4%Federal Melbourne 2007:
23.5% Liberal vote, directed to Greens, followed by 84.0%Federal Batman 2010:
19.9% Liberal vote, directed to Greens, followed by 80.9%Federal Melbourne 2010:
21.0% Liberal vote, directed to Greens, followed by 80.0%Brunswick 2010:
17.0% Liberal vote, directed to ALP, followed by 66.3%Melbourne 2010:
28.0% Liberal vote, directed to ALP, followed by 66.4%Northcote 2010:
19.4% Liberal vote, directed to ALP, followed by 70.9%Richmond 2010:
22.8% Liberal vote, directed to ALP, followed by 64.3%
But in July's Melbourne by-election there was no Liberal candidate, so no Liberal how-to-vote card. Liberal supporters were on their own. Would they indulge their anti-Labor sentiments by voting Green? Would they follow their party's recent demonisation of the Greens by rallying to the ALP? Or would they just stay home and not bother?
Turnout in by-elections is invariably less than in general elections, but there's not much evidence that that's due to the absence of major party candidates - it's more likely to be the reduced publicity and the lack of absentee voting. For example, in last year's Broadmeadows by-election
, where there was no Liberal candidate, turnout dropped from 88.8% to 78.5%, but the decline was less pronounced, not more, in what had been the stronger Liberal booths.
This time the drop was even bigger, but as I explained in Crikey
previously, it doesn't seem to have been especially pronounced among Liberal voters. Most of them still turned up, although no doubt some contributed to the large informal vote. Many would have been looking for a surrogate Liberal candidate - someone like Andrea Surace, who got 12.5% of the vote in the Niddrie by-election
last March, or Celal Sahin, who managed 20.2% last year in Broadmeadows.
Surace and Sahin both got ahead of the Greens, but in Melbourne there was never any doubt that Labor and the Greens would be in it to the end. Liberal voters had to choose between the big two with their preferences, and for that, the precedents are pretty unhelpful. A decade or so ago, when the Greens were not major players, one could be confident that most Liberal voters would see beating Labor as the main game and so would preference anyone who was seen to have a chance against them (as, for example, in the Cunningham by-election
No doubt some still did in the Melbourne by-election. But anti-Green paranoia has become a much bigger part of public discourse since then, especially among Liberal Party opinion-leaders. The by-election showed that this isn't confined to the outer suburbs. Preferences overall flowed towards Labor, and among those candidates who were probably mopping up the Liberal vote, those who directed preferences to Labor enjoyed a much tighter preference flow. (The exception is the Sex Party, whose decision to preference Labor clearly went against the inclinations of its natural supporters.) David Nolte's votes in particular held very tightly, and on their own were enough to deliver victory to the ALP's Jennifer Kanis.
So it looks as if something is really changing in the psyche of the Liberal Party. On the other hand, there are limits: the religious fundamentalist parties, who all put the Greens last, still did poorly, winning just 6.1% between them - in Niddrie it was more than 10%. No doubt there are a few hard-right ideologues among Melbourne's Liberal voters, but the majority still have some affinity with their affluent latte-sipping neighbors.
The bottom line is that just because Liberal voters usually just vote Liberal and don't have to distribute preferences, we know very little about what they really think about the other parties. But despite the lack of a Liberal candidate, the Melbourne result has increased our knowledge base on that score. Related Crikey stories on Melbourne by-election
How a rainbow coalition saved Labor in Melbourne
Crikey, Friday July 27, 2012Could a Green-Libs deal knock off Shorten, Danby and Ferguson?
Crikey, Wednesday, July 25, 2012Greens-hating News Ltd confirms Howes on the payroll
Crikey, Wednesday, July 18, 2012ALP dossier attacks supporter as 'Green stooge'
Crikey, Thursday, July 12, 2012
Robert Doyle comes out swinging for James Packer's Crown CasinoThe Age
produced an interesting splash
last week which quoted Lord Mayor Robert Doyle making all sort of pejorative comments against councils and councillors who believe in hitting pokies venues with higher rates to fund problem gambling programs.
Bruce Guthrie responded with an excellent column
in The Sunday Age
giving Doyle both barrels.The Age
also ran the following letter from me last Wednesday:Robert Doyle's inflammatory language against councillors who wish to use differential rates to fund stronger anti-gambling programs demonstrates he is more interested in protecting Sydney casino billionaire James Packer than addicted pokies players.
The Lord Mayor also doesn't seem to understand Victoria's differential rates system.
Is it "crass populism" that religious organisations paying no rates? Is it an "ethically bankrupt moral crusade" for farmers to benefit from differential rates or should they pay the same as everyone else?
His gratuitous attacks on the "People's Republic of Moreland", the council which introduced Victoria's first differential rate on pokies venues, also ignores the fact Moreland has a DLP mayor in John Kavanagh.
Liberals like Robert Doyle need to recognise there is strong support right across the community for action to reduce pokies addiction, especially from the Religious Right parties which deliver preferences to the Coalition.
And with James Packer gloating about how much money he's making out of Crown, why shouldn't one of the world's biggest casinos pay a bit more in rates?
Former Manningham Councillor
The Greens have since come out
proposing a 300% differential rate on pokies venues in Melbourne. Whilst generally supporting the Greens for being tough on the pokies industry, I'm sticking with the double rates formula that was applied in Manningham.
Finally, check out the latest from Paul Bendat's Pokieact website
and this package
of our past pokies coverage.
And try watching this 30 second anti-pokies ad
made by Paul Bendat 3 years ago year featuring our daughter Alice, who was 6 at the time:Is the Victoria Government serious about Doncaster Rail?By David Ellis and Jackie Fristacky
Urban public rail transport, for years a low priority in Australia, is back at the forefront of transport planning. Projects mooted or underway in most mainland states indicate a major reappraisal of the efficiencies and economic potential of rail.
In Victoria, the Baillieu government ticked an easy election promise when it commissioned a feasibility study on rail to Doncaster in Melbourne's east. Are they at all interested in actually building
it? URS, lead consultants for the study may be about to find out. The first stage of their report to Transport Minister Mulder is due for release shortly.
Doncaster Rail has for years been on and off electoral agendas of several governments. We, as councillors of two municipalities in the notional catchment, take a keen interest in the benefits a rail link promises to the whole eastern sector.
The effect would be transformative. Rail in the 21st
Century offers not just easy commuting to work but all the economic and business synergies of rapid links between activity nodes of a networked city. Doncaster Hill, now zoned to accommodate another 8,000 people over the next decade, already contains several new multi-storey developments, as well as the Westfield retail complex with 15 million clients annually. Bunnings have recently applied for a combination retail/housing development with almost 400 apartments. Similar opportunities for economic uplift exist at strategic nodes along the alignment extending from the CBD.
Yet in their recent funding submission to Infrastructure Australia, the state government's priority was for an inner-city road tunnel: the East West link connecting private tollways EastLink and CityLink across the inner city. Unsurprisingly, the concept has little support in the inner suburbs – but the push is clearly on anyway with a media campaign (notably in the Herald-Sun
) canvassing input from motorists frustrated by traffic congestion.
Alleviating congestion is one thing the tunnel will not
do. A wealth of research (including from the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission) has established that adding road capacity has little or no effect on congestion due to induced additional traffic: something demonstrated through several widenings of the Monash Freeway.
Much of the government's case for the tunnel is based on road freight - but overwhelmingly the demand on the existing system comes from private cars. Over 120,000 vehicles daily use the Eastern Freeway – only 15% go through to CityLink. 80% are actually going to the CBD and inner suburbs. Nearly half turn off at Hoddle Street, Melbourne's Exhibit A
for traffic congestion.
It is a pattern made for the high-volume capability of passenger rail.
The car – freedom machine of the ‘50s and '60s – remains useful for individualised journeys, especially two or more persons with additional load. Where commuters follow a mass transit pattern the car becomes a weighty liability - for parking, road-space, fuel and all costs as well as the economic impacts of congestion, time-loss, downgrading of amenity and land values. It is a liability Melburnians have been persuaded to accept for want of the mobility systems now recognised as basic equipment for a well-functioning major city.
Is that message being heard where it most matters? Representatives of six councils, including our own, have commissioned a parallel study on feasibility, land value uplift and overall benefits of Doncaster Rail. Recently The Age referred
to a preliminary estimate by lead consultant Professor Peter Newman: Doncaster Rail could be built for as little as $840 million, with a further $300 million to link it to the proposed underground Melbourne Metro, a project already endorsed by Infrastructure Australia.
Unusually, Tim Gosbell, lead author of the government's own unpublished study, took to the media to cast doubt on the figures. Surprising. Professor Newman, who is on the board of Infrastructure Australia is not an authority to be taken lightly. Further, he and his experienced team have the advantage of close familiarity with comparable and cost-effective projects in Perth.
Perth's NewMetro added 76 km of surface rail, 1.7 km of underground rail, 15 new stations (two underground) rolling stock, and a bridge over the Swan estuary within a budget of $1.6 billion (2007 values). Compare that to the $1.5 billion Victoria has spent to date on the Myki ticketing system alone. $1.2 billion of the Perth budget went to creating an entirely new line 72 km to Mandurah. Again, compare Professor Newman's estimate (albeit using 2012 values) to build rail to Doncaster, just 14 km from Melbourne's CBD.
With a population of 4.2 million, projected to rise to 7.5 million within twenty years, Doncaster Rail will be essential in meeting the challenges of energy and carbon constraints, and to harnessing the economic efficiencies of a truly connected city. Whichever government first acts to make it a reality, will create an indelible legacy. * David Ellis is a Manningham councillor and Chair of Doncaster Rail Local Government Group. Jackie Fristacky is a City of Yarra councillor and former Chair of the Metropolitan Transport Forum.) Two amusing Cornwall animations
Former Fairfax and Crikey cartoonist Mark Cornwall has produced two cracking animations for your enjoyment:Aussie English for new migrantsShock jocks as PM for the day
Also, don't miss Cornwall's collection of cartoons
and this gallery of past animations
. Understanding John Della Bosca's Every Australian Counts campaign
Any Labor Party figure who accepts the $800 that Network Ten pays for a Sunday morning panel appearance on The Bolt Report
knows that the cash is somewhat tainted. Why would you give oxygen to the most viscerally biased anti-Labor journalist in Australia, with the possible exception of Alan Jones?
Does regular Bolt panellist John Della Bosca and his wife Belinda Neal really need the Bolt cash? Surely both have comfortable parliamentary pensions and savings from their many years in public life.
The only reason for raising this is that a couple of service providers in the disability sector have been asking about the funding and accountability models for the Every Australian Counts
campaign that Della Bosca has been running in favour of the NDIS.
After some persistent lobbying by one gentleman in particular, I agreed to at least raise the issues and solicit for any insights from industry insiders.
A quick look at the website
suggest a very professional outfit with 129,532 signed up email addresses, 18,765 Facebook likes and a well-credentialled line-up of state-based campaigners assembled by campaign director Della Bosca.
As we've discovered with unions and super funds, transparency and disclosure is not a strong suit elements of the labour movement, so we emailed the following query to the boss and will report back on his reply:Dear John,
I've had a couple of queries from agencies in the disability sector about your campaign.
Could you please disclose your salary and how you propose accounting for your campaign spending to the various agencies and individuals that have donated.
Kind regards, Stephen Mayne
There's no suggestion of anything wrong here and I'm fully signed up to the cause. But if some disability agencies are a little concerned about the arrangements, then there is nothing wrong with calling for a bit more transparency around what is clearly a very well resourced 7-figure campaign that has been highly successful so far.
And John Della Bosca should be commended for commiting his time and expertise to such a cause, unlike his NSW Right millionaire mates Karl Bitar and Mark Arbib who are pocketing huge dollars from James Packer to advance his cynical gaming empire.Firing up our Youtube channel again
When The Mayne Report
first launched in 2007 we were posting daily videos on our Youtube channel
. Alas, the cost and time of in-house video production, plus the lack of any revenue, made this model unviable. Besides, daily videos wasn't necessarily the best way to campaign for better corporate governance through shareholder activism.
In the end, it made more sense to channel our efforts into appearing on other people's videos, such as these two appearances
in 2010 on Ten's The 7pm Project
, rather than trying to build an audience from scratch.
However, when you look back at all the video we've got spanning our own productions, one-off interviews, profiles or lengthy interviews such as Nine's Sunday
program or ABC TV's Talking Heads
, the regular spot on Sky's Business View
and webcasts of AGMs, it turns out we've got a rather large library of material.
Cross-posting has become much easier now, so we have relaunched our Youtube channel
and hope you enjoy our many playlists of material.
Some of the playlists on our video site including the following:11 rounds with Rupert MurdochA few rounds with the Millionaires at Macquarie GroupBye bye Babcock & Brown The pokiesGender equity and media trustworthiness in Intelligence Squared debates
Lateline appearancesCampaigning to end the farmer gerrymander at AWBSkewering Col Allan on Channel Nine's Sunday programThe Mayne Report Rich List - will Tinkler survive
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. Poor old Nathan Tinkler looks like he might be headed for trouble based on recent headlines about his inability to satisfy various obligations. Couldn't happen to a nicer foul-mouthed bogan!
Crikey yarns (some unpublished) since last edition
There have only been the following two Crikey stories published since the last edition:Why the Big Four banks ought to be brought to heel
Crikey, Thursday, August 16, 2012Olympics performance and ranking the world's 45 most valuable companies
Crikey, Wednesday, August 15, 2012
I did submit two other stories on the Gillard-AWU affair but neither appeared.
Bizarrely, not only did Crikey spike these stories it then published this Bernard Keane story
effectively rebutting something that didn't appear in the first place and linking me with right wing nutters courtesy of the following lines:And there was the Mark Latham “s*x video” rumour in 2004, born on talkback radio and then given a solid boost by those noted pugilists Glenn Milne of News Ltd and Crikey's own Stephen Mayne. And there was Paul Keating's corruption, supposedly over a piggery (Mayne was still running with that in 2008).
My last major new piece
on the piggery was for Crikey in 2005 after a 20 minute conversation with Paul Keating which, even Keane would admit, was quite favourable for Keating.
Crikey's late co-owner Di Gribble rang on the day it was published to say it was fantastic and we've now got Bernard Keane completely misrepresenting Crikey's history on this story and equating me to right wing nutters recklessly spraying around corruption claims.Media Watch
host Jonathan Holmes ended up giving Keane's piece quite a spray
on August 27, especially the line that Hedley Thomas was reporting "vague claims...recycled from right wing hate blogs". Nonsense, indeed.
It would be nice to see Crikey make the effort to actually acknowledge its mishandling of this issue.Tales from the talk circuit
The talk circuit is all go at the moment as you can see from this list
of upcoming events.
Last Saturday there was a well-attended session
at the Melbourne Writers Festival involving John Quiggin, John de Graaf (co-author of Affluenza) and Jane Gleeson-Smith, all of whom have major problems with excessive focus on economic growth, including some of the key measures such as GDP.
The hour long debate covered everything from Scandinavian policies to murderous centrally planned regimes and how Steve Jobs could one day be blamed for resource depletion like Exxon-Mobil.
I was the moderator and at one point an audience member said: "Could we actually hear from the panellists." Indeed, although no-one else seemed to mind having a debating moderator.
Meanwhile, click here
to read feedback after some speeches and click on the image below if you fancy an engagement as the talk circuit helps keep The Mayne Report
going: Sign up for campaign and governance Tweets
Click on the image above to join more than 12,000 followers on Twitter. We are regularly dropping out observations about journalism, politics, breaking stories, local government and shareholder activism and here are some of the more recent Tweets:September 4
Exclusive: check out the cracking media CV of the man who just nominated for the Fairfax Media board before 5pm cut-off
Ex Dep PM & Tinkler mate Mark Vaile owned $20m of Whitehaven Coal shares when stock at $6. Now back under $10m. Is there a margin loan too?
Good to see former Vic Speaker Ken Coghill endorsing the disclosure which revealed Cr Meg Downie's conference splurge: September 3
Anna Burke is on her feet launching Manningham's pioneering $40m community hub, MC2. A great project, looks superb. September
Was a good move by the Melbourne Writers Festival to inject a lot more journalists and journalism into this year's very lively program. August 31
Love how this official News Corp calendar of upcoming events for investors only includes film releases. When is AGM?: August 30
Was good to see Get-Up! Had a stall at today's Responsible Investment conference at Sofitel in Melbourne. 300 high powered delegates. August 29
Just lodged all the forms necessary with a nice chap at City of Melbourne to be an elector courtesy of newly leased space on Collins Street.
Progress is being made. Reckon there's a good chance Cr Meg Downie will pay back some of record $60,000 expenses claim
Interesting session with an undeclared Lord Mayoral candidate. Just showed Paula new city digs ahead of RACV board meeting. August 28
Mick Gatto told Jon Faine he has been mates with incoming CFMEU boss John Setka for 20 years and that he should be Prime Minister.
Mick Gatto just told Jon Faine that he and Setka brokered EBA between Grollo & CFMEU. Slaters acting for Setka in defo case against Abbott.
Bailed after 70 minutes of council meeting. Just picked up local Murdoch paper. Huge p3 lead on Cr Meg Downie's $60,000 expenses splurge.
Mayor Geoff Gough just gave a strong speech slamming craven populism of vote against water treatment plant. Agree is a woeful effort.
Councillors are asking all these question on water treatment plant despite 4-3 defeat known. Questions should have been asked at submitters.
Trying 2 listen to Cr Meg Downie give another terrible speech - hope she speaks later on item about her record $23,000 spend on conferences.
Developers have been directed to spend big bucks building 3rd pipe for recycled water. Now same councillors have just canned water plant.
Pokies giant Aristocrat beats market expectations after 400% jump in Vic sales thanks to new venue-owned system From the member edition archiveThe Mayne Report
goes to more than 15,000 people but if you're a relatively new reader, here are links to our five favourite email editions from 2011:Murdoch special, media inquiry, pokies, Manningham, Zara, secretive councillors, Vodafone and then some
Thursday, September 15, 2011Bumper August edition: Bolt, Gillard, pokies, Murdoch, Gunns, unions, ASA, Manningham and Woolies
Tuesday, August 30, 2011Murdoch, hacking, councillor conduct, ASA, ranking Queensland councillors, Richo and capital raisings
Friday, July 8, 2011Elected to ASA board, pokies, Rio, Santos, RHG, Hartigan, Manningham, capital raisings and Rich List
Thursday, May 19, 2011Bumper March monthly edition: sued, Rio, Packer, MAV, Cornwall, Rich List, Westfield, AGMs and much more
Monday, March 7, 2011Bottom of the barrel: insights into soon-to-be former Manningham councillors
Lastly and least importantly in this edition, we may as well share a few more insights into Manningham City Council. Freed of constraints from serving, now is the time to start telling a few stories about what went on.
With council elections coming up right across Victoria, the most important thing that needs to happen is quality candidates running competent political campaigns.
That certainly didn't happen in Manningham in 2008 when the four Liberal politicians who represent the area in the state and Federal Parliaments - Kevin Andrews, Mary Wooldridge, Nick Kotsiris and Ryan Smith - all took precisely no interest in the outcome.
And the sensible incumbent councillors in 2 of the 3 wards ran complacent campaigns which led to defeat.
The biggest activist in the previous council, Labor lefty Charles Pick, was comfortably returned, as were my two sensible Heide ward colleagues, Grace Lavella and Geoff Gough.
There must be something in the water out in the Mullum Mullum ward because they delivered two new councillors, Graeme Macmillan and Meg Downie, who were hell-bent on going to war with the council.
Downie had been feuding with her Labor colleague Charles Pick over broken preference deals for the previous 3 years and it had even extended to legal threats, intervention orders and the like.
Macmillan was elected on the preferences of a running mate who remains the only person currently banned from entering any council building after many years of disputes, threats and even violence.
Downie was elected on the prefences of a running mate who has spent a couple of stints behind bars over issues such as contempt of court.
Downie and Macmillan teamed up from the moment they got on council together and have run a disruptive campaign on all sorts of issues ever since.
Former VLGA CEO Darren Ray was brought in as a mediator at one point and told Charles Pick and myself that the council should be split 7-2, with Downie and Macmillan carrying on as a noisy but relatively harmless minority.
We had the perfect opportunity to do this just 10 weeks into our 4 year term.
Graeme Macmillan was obsessed about side-lining the officers and calling in a Big Four accounting firm to conduct a sweeping efficiency and governance review costing up to $500,000.
After a big backlash from CEO Lydia Wilson, I was the councillor who led the charge saying we should ditch it and mayor Charles Pick fell into line.
Having voted for Pick to be mayor, Macmillan felt betrayed as he had explicitly promised support for such a financial review.
On Monday February 9, 2009, we all retreated to the councillors lounge after this decision was taken at one of the many councillor-only meetings that Graeme Macmillan was insisting we have in those early days.
I went home and about an hour later at 11.30pm received a very distressed call from mayor Charles Pick saying he'd just been threatened by Cr Macmillan in the car park who was shouting and promising to "destroy his career in the Labor Party."
The following day the mayor officially wrote to Cr Macmillan at his home on letterhead as follows:10 February 2009Dear GraemeI am writing this to let you know that your conduct in the carpark last night was totally unacceptable. I felt threatened and intimidated by your language, your personal abuse and threats and your aggressive body language. I do not have to, and I will not put up with this sort of behaviour.I am on council to represent and look after the community of Manningham. I will act as my conscience dictates in the best interests of the community. I will not be intimidated by your bullying tactics.I have kept notes of the threats you made against me last night. I am very upset at the moment and am intending to get advice on the legal avenues available to me to prevent any repeat of your behaviour.I am also concerned at your unsubstantiated comments about the Council, individual Councillors and Council officers. There are legal protections available to prevent these sorts of threats and aspersions.I hope that you regret your outburst and that you are prepared to apologise for your behaviour. I think you owe me nothing less than a written apology.I will reserve further actions until I hear from you.Yours faithfully
The councillors all gathered for a regular Tuesday night briefing with the officers the following night and after the presentations were finished, Charles asked the officers to leave so we could have a councillor only meeting at which he laid out what happened in the car park.
Cr Macmillan, to his credit, apologised for any offence taken and pointed to his consumption of alcohol as a contributing factor. But his great mate Cr Meg Downie was anything but apologetic and let fly at Charles for "carrying on". The following morning she sent Charles and CEO Lydia Wilson this email:Dear Lydia,After the officers had departed last night we had a shocking outburst from Charles and while I have overlooked his mistakes as part of his learning of the job, I am now questioning whether I can continue to support him.I am beginning to realise what a big job being a mayor is and I think maturity is a vital requisite (sic). Therefore, I am seriously thinking of moving a notice of of no-confidence in him. What are your thoughts?
Does Cr Downie really think drunken car park threats are perfectly fine? I was the only councillor who really stood up for Charles in the face of this outrageous conduct but should have gone much further in guiding and supporting a 25-year-old first time mayor. Instead, there were all the distractions of the GFC and over the subsequent months Charles eventually took the path of least resistance and formally signed up to a self-serving factional agreement with Downie, Macmillan, Fred Chuah and Ivan Reid.
It has taken hundreds of hours to limit the damage from this arrangement as was explained in this 3300 word resignation letter
on August 3.
All the way through, Downie and Macmillan have blamed me for "all" of Manningham's problems. You see, if only I'd agreed to roll the officers and back Graeme's $500,000 financial review, he wouldn't have got drunk and threatened the mayor in the car park.
If only I'd supported the deputy mayor engineering a change to Manningham's planning scheme there would have been no issues with tripling the size of a nursing home he chaired in the green wedge zone where nursing homes are expressly a prohibited use.
Whilst Macmillan and Downie have been the two most destructive councillors over the past 4 years, it was Charles Pick who promised them he would deliver on their various wacky agendas. And despite telling me that Graeme and Meg made his life hell for 2 years, not once as he expressed public regret for doing this.
This is probably understandable given the sort of abuse he sees me copping, but sometimes you've got to stand up to bullies.
Whilst I supported Charles during those dark days of the car park threats, he hasn't returned the favour when Downie, Macmillan and Reid turned their attention on me.
Given that his letter to Graeme, along with Downie's bizarre threat to move a motion of no confidence, are now both on the public record, it will be interesting to see if Charles Pick continues to take the endless phone calls from Downie and Macmillan.
For mine, he should cut off all contact and publicly express regret about his association and the hope that they won't be re-elected. However, he can't do that because they know too much about his various political dealings, including endless leaks to the Bill Shorten-backed Labor smear-sheet Vex News, run by notorious former bankrupt Andrew Landeryou.
Shorten will have plenty of problems when his connections to Vex are fully disclosed. And with Harper Collins having commissioned a comprehensive biography on the future Labor leader by two respected journalists, that day is coming soon.
Shorten and Vex are also backing former Darebin mayor Diana Asmar in her tilt at the dysfunctional HSU. That will be an interesting process when the Ombudsman report into Darebin is released. The Age
published this page lead
on that coming issue today. Watch this space!
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.