November 18, 2016
Dear Mayne Report readers,
Greetings for the first time since our last bumper email edition on October 25. If you'd rather not receive these occasional email newsletters, click here to unsubscribe.
Comprehensive coverage on Victorian council elections
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to these 4 emerging lists on our website which have provided the most comprehensive coverage of Victoria's council elections across the whole state.
Full 16,000-word call of the card of state-wide council elections
List of 160 council election winners and losers who are members of political parties
Almost 100 comeback councillors - how did they go?
Tracking Victorian mayoral outcomes - record 32 females elected
Despite all this Green triumphalism, Labor still has council majorities in Dandenong and Hume, but the tide has clearly turned with Green Councillors now out-numbering their Labor competitors for the first time in Darebin, Yarra, Moreland, Port Phillip and Hobsons Bay.
The Greens really are the party for women and young people as you can see from this photo of their winning candidates.
The Greens have had mayors such as Moreland's Sam Ratnam, Yarra's Greg Barber, Amanda Stone and Alison Clarke, Whitehorse's Helen Harris and Bill Pemberton, Glen Eira's Neil Pilling and Maribynong's Janet Rice over the years, but now we are likely to see multiple Green mayors in the likes of Yarra, Darebin and Moreland over the next 4 years, with a chance in Port Phillip too.
Pushing for more female mayors in Victoria
Firstly, thanks to the Municipal Association of Victoria for producing this fabulous 3 page compilation of interesting data on the election results, which has assisted our qualitative list, particularly with information on retirements and defeats.
However, MAV has to be neutral whereas we can add plenty of colour and analysis about who is good and who is not.
After helping deliver a historic first ever majority of female directors at MAV in 2013, we are now united on the quest for increased gender diversity.
After the shock defeat of veteran MAV President Bill McArthur in Golden Plains, the remaining 11 MAV directors have a unique opportunity (Nillumbik's Helen Coleman was the other defeated MAV director) to elect a female President when they meet next Friday.
In more than 100 years, the MAV has never had a female President elected for a full term, but we have seen two other interims get up.
The leading candidate looks like Boroondara's Coral Ross who is the current metropolitan vice president and she did indeed get the nod.
Rural vice president David Clarke is considered likely to run for President next February and some are arguing neither of the existing VPs should be given a leg up for a future presidential run.
Maybe, but at the very least the board should appoint an interim female President given its dreadful record when it comes to gender diversity at the very top.
With support from the MAV and the VLGA, female councillor numbers in Victoria rose from 34% to 38% in this election but the game now is reaching the magical number of 40% female mayors.
Given we only had 24 this year, getting to a record 32 out of 78 in the coming fortnight will be a stretch but it can be done and this list shows how it happened.
We are directly lobbying where possible and encourage you to keep us posted by reply email or through @maynereport on twitter.
Mayne Report publisher ousted from City of Melbourne
Let's not bury the lead here folks. Australia's most unsuccessful candidate has lost again. Yep, turfed from City of Melbourne after 4 years with a primary vote that went backwards from 5.98% or 3808 primary votes in 2012 to 5% or 3619 votes in 2016 after a supposedly strong contribution. Such a disappointing result teaches a good lesson about the importance of turning up, working hard, not annoying resident groups by being the most pro-development councillor, raising funds, doing the hard yards on preferences with tiddler candidates, running with a Lord Mayoral ticket and actually campaigning for re-election.
It's a tough ask reaching a quota of 10% as an independent councillor candidate without the benefit of a well known Lord Mayoral candidate drawing votes, attracting media, raising funds and rolling out policy as a team.
Too much time was spent on the AGM season and pontificating about other council elections rather than focusing on the backyard.
Chair of Finance and Governance is the most inward focused portfolio role at City of Melbourne. It's important but you don't get out and about much and there's clearly not many votes in transparency reform - particularly if people don't know about it.
With 40% of our residents students, it is not easy taking on the Green juggernaut and it is equally challenging reaching offshore or out of town property owners and businesses to take votes off Team Doyle, given Robert does such a good job and has Kennett-esque mainstream media support from the likes of Neil Mitchell and the Herald Sun.
Leaving aside Team Doyle and the Greens, ultimately it was Phil Cleary who ended my council career. He soaked up the maverick "stick it up 'em" vote that helped me last time. This also explains why the two Labor incumbents, Jackie Watts and Richard Foster, both saw their vote halve, with Cr Watts lucky to return courtesy of preferences from Foster and other feeder tickets.
However, after 8 years in local government, it is actually a bit of a relief to be out and from a journalistic point of view, the shackles are completely off, although there are no plans to get stuck into the City of Melbourne colleagues. It was a great experience and they are a well run council.
There's an outside chance things could change with the Brooke Wandin challenge but, frankly, I hope she is allowed to be sworn in as Melbourne's first Indigenous councillor. As it happened, she ended up resigning and the countback is expected on December 12. Her running mate Nic Frances is favoured to get up, unless the ticket is declared invalid. If that happens, the vacancy would probably go to Joseph Sarraf from Melburnian Voice, who polled less than 1% of the vote but received preference support ahead of me from Brooke, the Greens, Animal Justice and Strengthening Melbourne. For now, Robert Doyle has a casting vote majority with 5 of the 10 councillors so it will be interesting to see if he uses this when allocating portfolios.
It was quite sad listening to the audio of council's swearing in ceremony on Wednesday where there was a terrific welcome to country and tribute paid to Wurundjeri elder William Barak, but his great, great great niece was not there to be sworn in.
Anyway, assuming that out remains out, the game going forward will actually be legacy defence on governance reform and spreading the message throughout the local government sector about the importance of transparency, balanced decision-making and diversity.
You might have noticed that theme in these campaign updates which went to more than 2000 candidates and councillors over the past 6 weeks:
Update for candidates and councillors
Friday, November 4, 2016
The biggest day in local government in 4 years
Saturday, October 29, 2016
Murdoch AGMs, pokies, council elections, AGM season, Skippen and plenty more
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Special edition on council election results and City of Melbourne preference flows
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Council elections, NAB on donations, ASIC vs Dawkins, pokies court case, Directors Club and more
Thursday, October 6
Special edition for Victorian council candidates
Friday, September 23, 2016
Running in Melbourne, council elections, Eddie McGuire, JB Hi Fi, NAB political donations, Jeff Kennett and plenty more
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Finally, remember that anyone can come along to Melbourne Town Hall on the first or third Tuesday of the month and ask a question in front of all City of Melbourne councillors. If there's any back-sliding on governance reform, I might even turn up and ask a couple myself from time to time.
And if interested in governance reform, check out this list of the 50-plus transparency reforms that City of Melbourne has implemented over the past 4 years, as well as this list of more than 50 motions we have put up since late 2012. (If Trump gets up it might be worth reprising that defeated motion proposing a council campaign to lure the headquarters of American multi-nationals to Melbourne.)
It's a good template for others who want to go down the journey of governance reform and we're available to lend a hand if anyone wants some assistance on how to go about it.
Paula Piccinini - the successful member of the Piccinini-Mayne household
She's done it again! The reluctant candidate has shown her husband how it's done and got herself elected - this time in City of Manningham's Heide ward. Who knows, we might yet see her sister's famous Skywhale floating above Westfield Doncaster!
It was a tight vote, but preference support (none of which was directed) from other female candidates, Greeks and Italians saw Paula finish 4th on the primaries but then get narrowly elected 2nd in a 3 member ward.
Unlike the past 8 years, Tuesday nights will now be me home with the kids and Paula spending 4 hours at council.
This is a bit like 2005 when we both ran for the RACV board and Paula beat me by 20%, although we still finished 3rd and 4th in a 4 person field chasing 2 vacancies. The next year she ran solo, topped the primaries and got elected to the RACV board, serving for 9 years and defeating a long-serving male incumbent. What a winner!
The only time Paula seems to lose elections is when she either associates with me or wants to lose. She ran in Manningham's Mullum Mullum ward in 2012 but asked everyone to preference her last as she didn't want to get elected. She finished second on the primaries and ended up helping Paul McLeish get elected, who has proved to be a very effective two-time mayor in Manningham. Paula wasn't anyone's dummy candidate because she only made the decision to preference McLeish (who she'd never met) late in the day after sizing up the field and assessing that he had the most to offer.
Paula has also lost elections when associating with her loser husband. She was unsuccessful when running as my number two on the ticket in the 2010 Senate contest and for the Northern Metropolitan state upper house region later that year.
But forget all that, she's now the PPPPPPPP - Paula Piccinini: Preposterously Poorly Paid Part-time Ponticificating Politician.
AGM season 2016 sees ASA hitting plenty of bulls-eye
One of the key performance indicators for the company monitoring operation of the Australian Shareholders' Association is being on the right side of any major protest vote.
A few years back, we were too negative and people like BHP Billiton chairman Jac Nasser would complain that we kept voting against their remuneration report despite regular mandates from shareholders above 95%.
This view is not necessarily shared by everyone, but I reckon ASA needs to be the toughest critic in the market but not crying wolf too often. The worst outcome for us is supporting a resolution, particularly a remuneration report, where there is a strike with more than 25% against.
If the protest is on, ASA needs to be at the scene, teasing out the issues, leading the AGM debate, intelligently explaining what is wrong, feeding the media and pushing for reform. So far this season, we've had the best balanced performance I can recall in terms of hitting bulls-eyes and taking on the right issues. Here's how some of it has rolled out over the past 6 weeks:
AGL: remuneration strike - ASA were part of the 37% against vote.
Boral: remuneration strike - ASA were against.
Carsales: big remuneration strike - ASA were against.
CSL: first ever remuneration strike and pay protests across the board - ASA were against the CEO's incentive grant and the pay rise for the NEDs.
Slater and Gordon: remuneration strike - ASA were against.
Super Retail: Slaters chairman John Skippen was forced off the board and ASA voted against.
At APA Group we said we would only vote in favour of remuneration committee chair John Fletcher if the board committed to having a remuneration report vote at the 2017 AGM. Chair Len Bleasel delivered in his formal address to the AGM. Job done.
In terms of upcoming meetings, we will be on the right side of Lend Lease suffering an historic rebuff this week when it's proposed constitutional amendments go down at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne on Friday. (I'll be State-side with Rupert). See why this defeat will occur in ASA's well-crafted Lend Lease voting intentions report.
Similarly, ASA has been tough on Cabcharge over the years and the board's backflip on the retirement of taxi industry veteran Donn McMichael is expected to see him voted off by furious institutional investors upset at stalled reform by the old guard. This one is still in the works but it will be a very interesting AGM on November 24, not unlike 2014 when another insider Cabcharge director, Rodney Gilmour, was also voted off the board.
The Harvey Norman situation is quite remarkable with proxy adviser Ownership Matters recommending a vote against the accounts because of the failure to consolidate franchisees who in reality are totally controlled by head office. This is a complicated issue, so we've wisely gone in "undecided" on the accounts and will make a decision on the day after listening to the debate. In the end we voted against the accounts as Gerry Harvey lost the plot, generating a truckload of publicity for ASA.
Donate to help hold Rupert Murdoch, Gerry Harvey and others to account
The Mayne Report is free and no longer supported by City of Melbourne, but we'll still be hitting Rupert Murdoch with the hard questions at his two AGMs inside Fox Studios Los Angeles on Thursday, November 10. If you fancy giving us a hand to help fund this specific activism project, just click on the image below:
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PS. Any surplus funds raised will be invested in funding trips to Sydney AGMs such as Harvey Norman and Cabcharge.
Big run in the media for ASA this season
As you can see from this list, ASA is getting quoted extensively in the media this AGM season. Much of this is because of the good work of new director and NSW company monitoring committee chair Allan Goldin. Allan is pretty much volunteering his services full time and making himself available to media across the board. It also helps being furnished with plenty of data and facts by the ASA staff, led by Head of Research Anna Lau.
Allan did an hour on Sky Business on Friday night, which is where the Lend Lease constitutional issue was first raised in the mainstream media. This needs to be explained in detail so read on.
David Crawford's campaign to stop outside board candidates
Lend Lease chairman David Crawford might be the doyen of Melbourne directors but he's got an unhealthy obsession with building in entrenchment devices for public company directors which sees caps on board size and annoying nomination hurdles for outside challengers.
If more than 90% of ASX200 companies have very low barriers to entry and there aren't large numbers of serial candidates running, why does Crawford keep insisting on the requirement that candidates must show support from 5% of issued capital or 100 shareholders to even get on the ballot?
He first did this when chairman of Foster's by inserting the entrenchment clause into the new Treasury Wine Estates constitution when it was spun-off. No one was told about this at the time.
The same thing happened when BHP Billiton spun-off South32 two years ago, as was explained in this Crikey story. Crawford controversially took on the South32 chair after finally agreeing to quit the BHP Billiton board after 21 years, but he clearly didn't want anyone to run against him. As the only person who regularly runs for public company boards (48 failures - count 'em 'ere), it may as well be called "the Stephen Mayne clause", but I've promised not to run for any boards whilst serving on the ASA board so it's hardly a "problem" at the moment.
It was particularly sneaky at Lend Lease as the proposed constitutional changes weren't property explained in the notice of meeting. ASA's Anna Lau only spotted the change when looking at the actual constitution online, and the new clause in question wasn't even marked up. Talk about trying to pull a swifty! All the major proxy advisers are opposing the Lend Lease constitutional changes so it will go down this week. See ASA's public rationale in this voting intentions report.
If even Lend Lease tries it on, what other constitutions are shareholder unfriendly?
This cynical exercise might very well be the catalyst for a future campaign next year around "constitutional normalisation".
Several recently floated companies, including Medibank and Healthscope, have also inserted such an entrenchment clause so it will be interesting to see if they agree to take it out, on request.
If not, there is nothing stopping shareholders getting together and putting it up themselves. All the proxy advisers agree that boards should not create barriers to entry so it would succeed and you can't imagine boards enjoying having constitutional change imposed upon them by shareholders.
Just have a look at the way Sims Group back-tracked this week after realising that it's constitutional amendments were headed for defeat after it tried to impose a board cap of 10. This is what they told the ASX on Wednesday:
"One of the concerns raised by shareholders relates to the proposed amendment to clause 19.1 to limit the maximum number of directors to 10. Given these concerns, if Resolution 3 to amend the Constitution as proposed is passed by shareholders at the upcoming AGM, the Board has decided to propose a resolution at the 2017 AGM to reverse this amendment to clause 19.1 so that there will be no cap on the number of Directors."
Revealed: the companies which need to move on board caps
Okay, so who else out there has a needlessly low cap on director numbers which would allow the incumbents to declare "no vacancy" if a slate of new directors were put up?
Here is a unique piece of Mayne Report research for your interest revealing those companies which should probably follow the lead of Sims Group and lift their needlessly low cap on board numbers:
AFIC: 10 directors
ALS: 8 directors
Ansell: 8 directors
Argo: 9 directors
Aurizon: 10 directors
Blackmores: 10 directors
Cochlear: 10 directors
Computershare: 10 directors
DUET Group: 10 directors
Dulux Group: 9 directors
Graincorp: 10 directors
Healthscope: 8 directors
Medibank Private: 8 directors
Orora: 8 directors
Ozforex: 10 directors
Macquarie Group: 10 directors
NIB Holdings: 10 directors
Regis Healthcare: 8 directors
Santos: 10 directors
Spotless: 10 directors
Treasury Wine Estates: 9 directors
Tap into ASA's excellent research lists
Any retail investor worth their salt should be a member of the Australian Shareholders' Association. The ASA website has an interesting list of research lists, some of which are member-only behind the paywall. Here are a few favourites:
Longest serving ASX 200 directors
New CEOs who embrace write-offs
Measuring independent chairs for "skin in the game"
Capped SPPs which were then expanded
How retail investors do worse with separate bookbuilds
The 100 most important remuneration protest votes
30-plus examples of where retail investors gathered 100 signatures
And if you want to see all the research plus the full archive of AGM reports and voting recommendations since 2009, you really should become a member. Click here.
A trip down memory lane on our Youtube channel
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.
However, when you look back at all the video we've got spanning our own productions, one-off interviews, profiles or lengthy interviews, or webcasts of AGMs, it turns out we've got a rather large library of material, some of which is now available on our Youtube channel.
Some of the playlists on our video site including the following:
Macquarie model a dead parrot
Video packages of battles with Rupert Murdoch
Cracking a few bad jokes after OZ Minerals and Zinifex merger
The Mayne Report loves lists and here are a few favourites
We love a good list at The Mayne Report and here are a few favourites we've worked up over the years:
18 years of remuneration excesses by the Murdoch family
140 local govt councillors who made it into Parliament
The great honorary doctorates list
Prominent Australians who have sued for defamation
Claimed assets of companies at time of collapse
The great Australian cheque-book journalism list
The Mayne Report Rich List (needs updating)
Cranking things up with Crikey
Since Crikey was sold in March 2005, the freelance contributions to Australia's best known and longest running independent ezine have continued at a steady pace.
However, after 8 years of being distracted by local government, we're in discussions with Crikey about potentially exploring new editorial projects. Nothing is finalised yet but we'll let you know in good time if we come to an agreement.
Anyway, here is the full Crikey back catalogue:
2016: 50 stories so far
2015: 108 stories
2014: 51 stories
2013: 19 stories
2012: 56 stories
2011: 71 stories
2010: 64 stories
2009: 50 stories
2008: 264 stories
2007: 354 stories
2006: 295 stories
2005: 257 stories
Sign up for campaign and governance Tweets
Click on the image above to join almost 28,000 followers on Twitter. We are regularly dropping out observations about journalism, politics, breaking stories, local government and shareholder activism.
From the member edition archive
If you're a relatively new Mayne Report reader, here are links to some of the more interesting email editions sent out over the past nine years.
2016 - 16 editions so far
Running in Melbourne, council elections, Eddie McGuire, JB Hi Fi, NAB political donations, Jeff Kennett and plenty more
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Melbourne transparency reforms, council elections, pokies, capital raisings, long serving directors and MenziesSunday, September 4, 2016
Go Malcolm, denting Kevin, AEC goes nuclear and plenty more
Thursday, July 7
Final Menzies email blast
Friday, July 1
Campaign update, more pokies donations, Menzies ignored, ASA leave and council governance reform
Monday, June 27
Kevin's getting worried, campaign update, pokies, News Corp dispute, City of Melbourne and family news
Friday, June 17
Kevin locked in, so Make Menzies Matters campaign hits top gear
Friday, June 10
Menzies update, "Fake Liberal" corflutes, AFL pokies push, gift register and much more
Saturday, June 4, 2016
Menzies update, Westfield rate dodging, The Australian's gossips and candidate betting
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Menzies update, ASA board, pokies and Four Corners
Monday, May 23, 2016
Mayne announces Menzies tilt as Kevin Andrews embroiled in stacking scandal
Saturday, May 7, 2016
Turnbull, Warburton, pokies, AICD, IOOF, Quills, internal audit and much more
Monday, March 22, 2016
Bank royal commission, ASA tilt, Copyright, Piccinini, pokies, Kevin Andrews and Cabcharge
Monday, April 11, 2016
2015 - 8 editions
AGM season, PAITREOs, pokies, MAV, Copyright, Piccinini sisters, ANZ carbon and transcripts
November 5, 2015
Global Integrity Summit, Macquarie, pokies, council update, AGM season and family news
October 12, 2015
Battling Slaters, a Stokes shocker, council, CBA litigation, ASA conference and RACV reforms
April 30, 2015
Tenth anniversary of Crikey sale, Aristocrat AGM, council transparency and then some
March 9, 2015
Why Ministers should support the Liberal leadership spill
Monday, February 9, 2015
2014 - 8 editions focused on back half of the year post ASA gig
Special edition on the Victorian election result
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Vic election, Herald Sun, Rupert votes, Tex, Xenophon and much morey
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Rupert AGMs, Cabcharge, Costello, Bolt, Ten and Victorian election
Sunday, November 16, 2014
CBA tilt, LA visit, Rupert AGMs, Cabcharge and state election
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Cabcharge, donations for Rupert visit and governance reforms at City of Melbourne
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Tilts, Fairfax, CBA, Brickworks, Albert Park, ASX, Woolies, pokies and Crown
Friday, September 20, 2014
We're back: inside a post-ASA election season blitz
Monday, September 15, 2014
2013 - 10 editions with 5 favourites below
Capital raisings, Ansell, IAG, Packer, pokies, Rich List, City of Melbourne and ASA update
Monday, December 23, 2013
Franking robbery, East West trust breach, BHP bonuses, John Gay and plenty more
Sunday, August 25, 2013
ASA policy paper, Kevin Andrews on the pokies, Senate preferences and much more
August 19, 2013
ASA, Billabong, Westfield, Newcrest, Shorten, Turnbull, pokies and then some
Monday, July 22, 2013
Rudd v Gillard, referendum, Labor sleaze, Clive Palmer, ASA, City of Melbourne and plenty more
Monday, June 24, 2013
2012 - only 9 editions given council and ASA commitments
Backing Rudd, Lachlan, Bob Brown media debate, Manningham governance, Gunns and St Kilda AGM
Monday, February 20, 2012
The OZ goes mad, Murdoch piracy, AFR, pokies double rate, Gina, council super, BoQ rip-off and power speech
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
2011 - 21 editions but slowed down after elected to ASA board in May
Murdoch special, media inquiry, pokies, Manningham, Zara, secretive Shortenite crs and Vodafone take-down
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Elected to ASA board, pokies, Rio, Santos, RHG, Hartigan, Manningham, capital raisings and Rich List
Thursday, May 19, 2011
2010 - 39 editions and last year with paid staff
Paperlinx, Packer, Murdoch, Manningham, pokies, Rich ex wives, foreign takeovers and much more
Saturday, October 23, 2010
DJs, women on boards, ex Lib goes no pokies, preferences, Pratt-Shorten, Labor's debt and Manningham council audio
August 3, 2010
Director rankings, Rio, Westfield, MAP, Manningham, Paatsch, state election, rich list, pokies and much more
June 9, 2010
Political donations, Stokes, Westfield tower, Richard Colless, Manningham nursing home, state debt, Rich List and Grand Prix
February 23, 2010
2009 - 40 editions but was slowed down by Manningham council
Seven AGM, crazy Perth visit, Fairfax, Telstra, Transfield, capital raisings and much more
November 9, 2009
News Corp AGM, Packer, Fairfax, James Strong, Woolies, Eastern Golf, Kohler-Gatto and much more
October 20, 2009
Bad Bendigo, Mark Day, Manningham, pokies, NAB, Asciano, Rich List, Paladin and hostile EGMs
September 15, 2009
Macquarie AGM, Melbourne's decline, Asciano EGM, capital raisings, Goyder's pokies and AGM diary
July 28, 2009
2008 - 172 editions in our first and best full year of operation as the GFC hit and before we got overloaded at Manningham
71% backing at Centro, $11bn backing at BHP and huge Qantas protest
November 28, 2008
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