Ending Adelaide Bank donations with Nick Xenophon

By Stephen Mayne
May 4, 2019

Former South Australian Premier Rob Kerin would later publicly blame this episode for the Liberal Party's financial woes, given that Adelaide Bank stopped writing cheques after this unfolded at the AGM on October 23, 2003.

Crikey spent a few hours in Adelaide on Friday courtesy of no-pokies MP Nick Xenophon who wanted to put some pressure on the Adelaide Bank for their excessive political donations.

He had a point as this sleepy regional bank with a capitalisation of about $800 million managed to donate $110,000 to the Libs in 2001-02 and $100,000 to Labor, making it the third largest donor in South Australia after the pokie-pushing Australian Hotels Association and Gerard Industries.

Whilst Crikey is keen to work with Xenophon beating up on the gaming industry, the lad is genuinely committed to reforming campaign finance and points out that South Australia has no laws requiring disclosure so any funds given to him or other SA-registered outfits can remain secret. Mike Rann should close this loophole pronto.

The AdBank chairman was decidedly vague as Xenophon fired in two questions but at least he revealed there has been no more political donations over the past 16 months.

Chief executive Barry Fitzpatrick came across as someone who'd been in the job about 10 years too long. After 19 years as CEO, overpaid Baz wants to stay for another 4-5 years.

He's doing pretty well. There's an annual salary of $1.2 million, more than $3 million in retirement benefits already accumulated, a shareholding worth about $7 million and another $1.6 million in free shares which have already been fully provided for in the accounts assuming that he'll meet the short and long term incentive hurdles.

Baz certainly regards his bank as being virtuous as he lauded the "pristine" balance sheet and even made the odd declaration that, "I don't have to remember what I say because it is always the truth."

When Crikey asked why he was taking out new loans from the bank, he tugged on the heart strings by saying he'd borrowed $200,000 to put his mother into a retirement village but failed to explain what the other outstanding loans were for.

We also highlighted the $10 million line of credit that the bank's Leveraged Equities margin lending business had provided to sharemarket scavenger David Tweed but they closed all the accounts as soon as this was made public.
Therefore, it was only really a case of hammering home the point in front of their shareholders that you catch fleas if you lie down with dogs.

Xenophon is quite a media tart and mustered a bit of coverage from the electronic media during the day. However, it was weak of the Adelaide Advertiser not to mention Xenophon's attack over the political donations in a long piece in Saturday's paper.