DJs, legislate women on boards, ex Lib goes no pokies, preferences, Pratt-Shorten, Labor's debt, AG's report, Manningham council audio and then some

August 4, 2010

Dear regular Mayne Report readers and 500-plus federal election candidates,

The campaign has really hotted up since our last missive on July 27. What, with fake Julia consigned to the dust bin, Tony Abbott rejecting a real Julia debate challenge on the economy next Sunday night, the polls narrowing, the preference deals revealed, more leaks flowing and Kevin Rudd continuing to dominate, all those complaining about a boring election should think again.

With a more free flowing debate, the anti-pokies movement is looking forward to finally getting Julia and Tony on the public record with their real views about poker machines and Australia's status as the world's biggest gamblers in per capita terms. As part of her meet the people routine, maybe Julia will drop by the biggest pokies venue in Victoria, The Werribee Plaza Tavern, just down the road from her electorate office.

Last night, Tony Jones declared after another lively Q&A that he's still waiting for both leaders to subject themselves to one hour live with his studio audience before August 21. That would be the perfect opportunity to raise the pokies question.

A big day for women - and a new policy for women on boards

Yesterday was also a big day for two other Australian women apart from the PM. Sonya Causer appeared in court charged with a $19.3 million theft from Clive Peters, a record fraud which helped send the retailer under. We'll never forget these exchanges at the last ever Clive Peters AGM.

And whilst I'm running for the Victorian senate primarily on an anti-pokies platform with a secondary issue being support for strong immigration, the third issue, revealed in this missive, is legislative action to fix the on-going scandal that is male domination of public company boards. For instance, there were no women on the Clive Peters board.

And that's why the blokey David Jones board has a lot to answer for with the spectacular $37 million damages claim launched by 25-year-old publicist Kristy Fraser-Kirk.

Have a listen to what the David Jones board, including then CEO Mark McInnes, was told at last November's AGM:

Stephen Mayne: Mr Chairman I'd like to support the re-election of Katie Lahey to the board. But simply have a dip at all you other blokes on the board, and point out that it is a disgrace that women only represent 8% of directors of Australian major company boards. If there is one company in the top 50, that should have a solid population of females on its board - it's this one.

A clear majority of your employees are female. A clear majority of your customers are female, and yet you sit here with a typical board - the banker, the lawyer, the accountant. You have one retailer in Reg Clairs. I agree that John Coates has a particular property expertise, but I can't believe that this board hasn't actually got that issue right.

In terms of how you represent yourself to the community, you should be progressive on this issue. Three of your top 9 executives are female, and I often think that it is worse to have one female, than none. To have one only, you should have at least 2 females on a board like David Jones to get that diversity of perspective, and I would be interested in hearing from Katie as to how she has felt being the only female inside a boardroom, which relies on females as its employee base and its customers like no other major listed company.

If Just Jeans, before Solly Lew took it over, could have 4 female directors, why on earth can't David Jones get with that program and be more modern, in terms of the way it populates its board?

See the replies from chairman Bob Savage and Katey Lahey in the full transcript.

Whilst David Jones appointed a second female director a few weeks later, female board representation in Australia remains disgracefully below 10%. It is time for legislative action to force every ASX200 companies to have at least two female directors. Call it a quota, if you like. Its time has come. If David Jones had more diversity on its board, surely the prevailing culture which allowed a pants man CEO to run riot with female staff would have been different.

Let's hope Kristy Fraser-Kirk's extraordinary claim is the catalyst for some real and long overdue change when it comes to female power in corporate Australia. I'm happy to be the only candidate in this election campaign publically advocating for a legislated 20% female minimum quota on ASX200 boards. If anyone wants more detail on why this is necessary and how it would work, the hotline is 0412 106 241.

Dumped Liberal claims bogus anti-pokies campaign ticket

At 10pm on Sunday night the disendorsed Liberal candidate for the federal seat of Chifley, David Barker, called in to 2GB/MTR during a Melbourne-Sydney simulcast and declared he was running on an anti-pokies platform with me and another independent from Queensland called Mark Smith. Check out the transcript here.

Barker is that huge bloke who was sacked by the Liberals for his anti-Muslim statements and was lampooned by The Chaser boys on Yes We Canberra last Thursday.

Have a listen to the full 5 minute catastrophe on 2GB/MTR as Barker makes a fool of himself and then I join the conversation and slam the racism whilst totally dissociating from him. It seems Barker made presumptions after receiving this email from Sydney Liberal fringe dweller Michael Darby sent to the three independent anti-pokies candidates on Saturday morning:


Congratulations to each of you in contesting the Senate on a platform of opposition to poker machines. I wish you all possible success.

Please consider establishing a united front, which will itself be newsworthy. Perhaps anti-pokie candidates from other States may wish to join you, and I'll do what I can to help. Poker machines exploit the poor and intensify their misery.

My father Douglas Darby was disendorsed by the Liberal Party in 1960 as a punishment for his opposition to poker machines, but he then won the Manly seat as an independent in successive elections. Fifty years later there are likely to be even more members of the public willing to vote for candidates of principle.

Kind regards
Michael Darby

I didn't reply to the email but after hearing the claims on 2GB noticed this email sent by Barker on Saturday afternoon:

Thank you Michael it is nice to see I am not alone in my fight against Poker Machines.

I am keen to do a press release with Stephen and Mark on this platform.

David Barker

Since when has sending an email to someone you have never met and getting no reply constituted an endorsement and joint ticket?

And how on earth did the Liberals preselect such a clown, especially given he was up against Labor's Ed Husic, who will become Australia's first Muslim federal MP on August 21, and was treated dreadfully when he contested Greenway at the 2004 election.

I've put One Nation last and am running partly on a platform supporting strong immigration and multi-culturalism, so it was unbelievable to have this racist claim association on the basis of nothing. Check out the clown below:

Cornwall on dopey David Barker

Happy to help the anti-pokies Greens get up in Victoria

The Group Voting Tickets have all been made public for the various Senate contests and the Greens are looking strong to pick up a new seat in Victoria with their impressive candidate Richard di Natale harvesting from a range of minor players including the Democrats, the Australian Sex Party and yours truly.

I've split my first preference 50-50 between the Greens and Family First because both have a very strong position against the pokies as demonstrated by actual voting or legislative initiatives in parliaments. This 50-50 Greens-Family First split is also what Nick Xenophon did in 2007.

The overall rankings go as follows on both tickets with the emphasis being on supporting smaller parties first:

1. Mayne-Piccinini
2. Greens-Family First 50-50 split
4. Carers Alliance
5. DLP
6. Democrats
7. Christian Democrats
8. Australian Sex Party
9. Socialist Alliance
10. Senator Online
11. Shooters & Fishers
12. Socialist Equity Party
13. Liberal Democrats
14. Secular Party
15. two ungrouped independents
17. Building Australia
18. Coalition/Labor 50-50%
20. Joe Toscano group
21. Climate Sceptics
22. Citizens Electoral Council
23. One Nation

The 50-50 split between the two majors was done after Labor's third Senate candidate, Anthony Thow, was prepared to place on the public record that he personally believed the Productivity Commission's proposed $1 maximum bet recommendation was a "sensible reform" which, if elected, he would advocate for in ALP and Senate forums.

As was discussed during this interview with Kathy Bedford on ABC regional radio last Thursday, the current maximum bet in Victoria is $5 and such a reform would instantly see the $2.6 billion in losses recorded across the state in 2009-10 reduce by hundreds of millions of dollars.

It was impossible to get anything out of the Liberals and with Senator Julian McGauran refusing to even sell down his personal interest in the family pokies venue in Altona, there was no way the Coalition was getting 100% of my major party preferences.

That said, the ALP declined to commit to dispose of the 4 pokies venues it runs in Canberra and it has been a combination of the Rudd-Gillard government and the Bumby Labor Government in Victoria which have been so negligent when it comes to reining in the pokies.

Preferences coming from the Carers Alliance

In terms of preference flows coming back, there is a first preference from the Carers Alliance which in Victoria is running the highly presentable Chris Monteagle on a platform that Australia needs a National Disability Insurance Scheme. Couldn't agree more. We have extraordinarily generous compensation schemes for workplaces injuries and, in Victoria, arguably the world's most generous no-fault scheme for road accident injuries, yet those born with a disability through no fault of their own are treated as second class citizens. It's time all this changed.

After that I'll probably be out given that it will be very difficult to get ahead of the conservative trio of Family First, the DLP and the Christian Democrats which are all preferencing in a circle.

The surprise packet was a high preference allocation from One Nation behind only the DLP, given that we had no contact and I put them stone motherless last.

Maybe One Nation's husband and wife ticket of Rosalind and Philip Townsend felt some empathy with the fact Paula was my running mate. Indeed, the 21 groups contesting the Senate in Victoria included three couples.

How to help the anti-pokies campaign

My better half and running mate Paula Piccinini is cautioning about getting too excited at this juncture, although we've got a few things planned for the next 19 days and still live in hope of a miracle on election day.

The first challenge is to try and raise a modest amount of cash, so if anyone feels inclined to kick the anti-pokies campaign along, click on the image below:

And if you've available to hand out some how-to-vote cards on August 21 at some of the 1866 polling places across Victoria, please email Paula on

Brumby's duck and weave on pokies report

The Victorian Auditor General Des Pearson released this report last Wednesday which slammed the Brumby Government's problem gambling programs on the same day the media were up in arms about the VCGR approving a glass child play centre in full view of the pokies floor. Read the detail for yourself:

Call for review after pokies venue gets approval for kids' play area
Stephen McMahon, Matt Johnston Herald Sun, July 28, 2010

Minister to review pokie playroom decision
ABC News, Wed Jul 28, 2010

Check out the way John Brumby ducked and weaved, according to this interesting column by ABC state political radio reporter Ryan Sheales, which included the following when the Premier was asked for a response:

"The Gaming Minister, I understand, will be commenting later today," he weaved.

But do you think the strategies have been effective? the press pack persisted.

"Well again, Minister Robinson will be out on this," came the reply.

The media soldiered on; But do you have a view as Premier? Do you have a personal view? Would you want a "pokies creche" in your electorate? Etc.

"He'll (the minister) be out later, and he'll give you all of the information you need."

That's pretty hopeless stuff. Here are some other relevent links on the pokies debate in Victoria:

Exclusive – more poker machines for Victoria,
Tom Cummings, Aug 1, 2010

Doubts cast over problem gambling policy
SMH, David Rood, July 29, 2010

Auditor-general exposes Brumby's problem gambling failures - Media Release
Liberal Party, July 28, 2010

Tougher rules touted for pokies kids
SMH, Catherine Best, July 28, 2010

28 July 2010 - ABC regional talking pokies and the senate tilt.

Gillard, the Western Bulldogs and the pokies

The following appeared in Crikey's regular lunch time email edition earlier today:

How does Julia Gillard get such a welcoming run out of the Western Bulldogs when it was only two elections ago that John Howard announced an $8 million grant for the club to redevelop its spiritual home? Indeed, the club's official history records the commitment as follows:

September 2004 – During Grand Final week the Western Bulldogs pull off one of the most exhilarating coups in the Club's history, with Prime Minister John Howard visiting the Whitten Oval to announce that his Liberal Government will be spearheading a $19.5 million redevelopment of the Whitten Oval.

Heaven forbid, the Doggies even wheeled out that Liberal stooge Godwin Grech to lobby Victorian gaming regulators over its controversial new Club Edgewater pokies palace near the Highpoint Shopping Centre in Melbourne's western suburbs. As this Herald Sun article indicates, the Bulldogs director fronting the pokies push was none other than the controversial former federal Labor MP for Burke, Neil O'Keefe.

O'Keefe departed the board last year but was replaced by another Labor luminary in Geoff Walsh – the former Kawke and Keating staffer who went on to become national secretary before landing a big package as head of government affairs at BHP-Billiton. BHP-Billiton is obviously very relieved that Gillard caved in on the resources super profits tax, so when it came to the question of whether the club's board should give Gillard open slather for wonderful picture opportunities in the middle of a federal election campaign, it would be interesting to know what position Geoff Walsh took. Then again, Tony Abbott is planning to scrap the tax altogether so Walsh should be cheering on the Coalition.

With former ACTU secretary Bill Kelty on the AFL Commission since 1998 and CEO Andrew Demetriou rising up through the players union, is it any wonder the Coalition regard the AFL and its constituent clubs as hostile territory – even after they've been deluged with cash like the Bulldogs were with John Howard? – Stephen Mayne (who is running for a Victorian Senate seat on an anti-pokies platform)

Failing to get support for disclosure of individual councillor expenses at Manningham

Whilst all eyes are on the federal campaign, local government politics continues on and we had Manningham's July public council meeting last Tuesday night. The most disappointing aspect was the failure to win majority support for a fairly basic improvement of councillor expenses disclosure.

I ended up being the only person voting against a compromise that would see a global figure for all councillor salaries and expense claims revealed in the annual report.

Sure, revealing an overall budget of, say, $350,000 and then an overall outcome against that will tell the community if councillors as a group are going on spending sprees, but where is the discipline on spending that individual disclosure would place on the hypothetical councillor who was tempted to spend a few nights at a conference in a 5 star hotel giving the mini bar a good work-out.

If a particular group of councillors blow the budget, everyone will get the blame.

I didn't want any reference to a budget because the hardest working councillors are those most likely to blow it. Instead, we should simply tell residents how much each councillor is costing them.

However, at least we've made some steps forward with the compromise in disclosing overall councillor pay and expenses and the publication of a travel register for officers and councillors is also welcomed. My push for website disclosure of political donations to councillors was also rejected by the officers and councillors, but at least that is information available on request and the privacy concerns with the addresses of donors being revealed is understandable.

Unanimous support for Manningham's tough new gambling policy

On a much brighter note, we had unanimous support for tougher gambling policy in Manningham last Tuesday and good strong speeches from Greens councillor David Ellis and Labor's Ivan Reid. The relevent audio is available here:

Full gambling policy debate with support from Councillors Ellis and Reid

Audio highlights from latest council meeting

Meanwhile, here are the other edited audio highlights from the Manningham public council meeting held on July 27 and check out the agenda and minutes:

Speaking in favour of Serpells Rd nursing home

Speaking three times in favour of better disclosure of councillor expenses

Full debate on councillor expenses disclosure

Defending greyhound training track expansion against dog lobby attacks

Supporting the Bulleen link on ring road extension

Full debate on ring road extension options

Revealing $800,000 cash gain from Manningham Centre operation

Updating progress on Doncaster Hill

Calling for more resources for septic tank inspections program

Slamming the major parties on climate change inaction

Supporting Manningham's economic development policies

Will Bill Shorten stand up to defend Dick Pratt's honour?

Stephen Mayne writes:

The Sunday Age's Michael Bachelard last week produced a crunching investigative piece supported by this strong editorial on the late Dick Pratt which painted the packaging magnate in a very dark light.

Whether it be cash payments to the late union leader John Halfpenny, contracts involving the Hells Angels, dalliances with hookers, inappropriate largesse for those awarding box contracts, aggressive tax planning or payments to endless current and former politicians, it was not a pretty picture.

There were few winners, although Peter Costello's reputation emerged in tact given the revelation he directly rebuffed pressure from Camp Pratt to call off Graeme Samuel's cartel probes.

Labor's factional strongman Bill Shorten, fresh from having helped organise the knifing of Pratt supporter Kevin Rudd, finds himself in an interesting position.

We love the way Shorten has elevated disability issues since entering parliament but it's his past role as national secretary of the Australian Workers Union which is raising eye-brows. Under Shorten's leadership, the AWU negotiated many deals on Pratt's sites and was apparently less militant than his left wing rivals at the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union whose members reportedly copped some Hells Angels treatment during a dispute in Dandenong during the late 1990s.

It was the left wing unions who denied Shorten his proposed 2005 job swap with Greg Combet to become ACTU secretary and after revealing this deal in The Australian, veteran industrial reporter Brad Norington went on to conclude:

Shorten attracted headlines in September 2008 after leaving his wife, Deborah Beale, for Chloe Bryce, daughter of Governor-General Quentin Bryce. Questions have been raised about future patronage. Shorten and Beale were regarded as a power couple, and his chief political benefactor has been billionaire Richard Pratt, whom Shorten met through her father Julian Beale. Pratt treats Beale like a daughter, and Shorten has often referred to Pratt as her godfather. The Pratt connection may or may not survive.

It certainly seemed to survive given Shorten appeared almost like a family spokesman in singing Pratt's praises publically as he neared death. The quotes in this 3AW blog are extravagant to say the least, especially given what Bachelard has now revealed.

Shorten has told many people he wants to be Prime Minister, but whilst he's performed well promoting disability issues, the company he keeps is an issue that will come back to bite as he prospers in the snake pit of Labor politics.

The theory seems to be that a successful Labor politician needs corporate benefactors, but why are some of them always so colourful?

Bob Hawke had Sir Peter Abeles, who was controversial in life and even more so after his death.

Graham Richardson milked Multiplex founder John Roberts and Kerry Packer over the years, but now Bob and Blanche have revealed that Richo requested something quite inappropriate off Abeles when he was expecting to be become Transport and Communications Minister after the 1990 election.

And then you have the Paul Keating friendship (not really a mentoring role) with the forever colourful Warren Anderson, who discredited Firepower boss Tim Johnston claimed used bikies to intimidate people.

In the case of Shorten and Pratt, there are clearly some questions to be answered, such as these:

* When Shorten stayed in Pratt's New York apartment, was it a freebie?

* Is it true that Pratt gave Shorten $50,000 as a birthday present one year?

* How many other times did Shorten borrow Pratt's corporate jet on top of the well known trip to Beaconsfield?

* Was the engagement party at Raheen a freebie as well?

* Why did Pratt travel to Canberra to attend Shorten's first ever address at the National Press Club when he was still a union official?

Personally, I reckon Shorten should total up the value of all the largesse he received from Pratt over the years and make a donation to the ATO. As a candidate in the Federal election, I'm probably in the minority who aren't representing a party that has enjoyed Pratt largesse.

For Shorten, such a close association to the biggest single Liberal donor over the past decade is a pretty ordinary look in its own right, even before The Sunday Age produced its colossal account of Dick Pratt's dark side.

Kevin Rudd and John Brumby are the two other Labor figures who really laid it on thick as Pratt met his maker. It would be interesting to know if they have any regrets after reading The Sunday Age.

That said, some of the letters in this week's paper were damning in their criticism of a man who is not around to defend himself.

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:

Andrew Haermeyer: the former Robert Ray staffer and Victorian police minister is now Trade Commissioner for Victoria based in Frankfurt and enjoys regular taxpayer funded trips over to Monaco.

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

Cornwall having fun with Abbott and Gillard

Cartoonist Mark Cornwall is having a fabulous time drawing our two federal political leaders. Check out this collection of his best Gillard and Abbott efforts which include these latest offerings:

Cornwall on Leaks

The big debt issues continue under Prime Minister Gillard

It was very strange to hear Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens make the following statement recently: "There is virtually no net public debt in the country at all in contrast to much of the developed world."

The Federal Government's own debt management website puts the gross debt figure at $151.5 billion and the bond issues haven't stopped for the campaign. Both sides of politics try to quote a net debt figure which includes the $60 billion held by the Future Fund. But this is outrageous double counting because Future Fund reserves are specifically set aside to pay for public service superannuation liabilities which are still more than $50 billion unfunded.

If anyone needs assistance on the debt questions, this list tracks all bond and treasury note issues by the Labor Government since it was elected in November 2007. The latest federal bond issues are as follows and you'll note that interest rates are still north of the 4% assumed in last year's budget papers:

Wednesday, July 30, 2010:
$500m tender of 9 year bonds expiring in March 2019 were sold for an average yield of 5.12% and was over-subscribed 2.7 times.

Friday, July 23, 2010: $800m tender of 6 year bonds expiring in June 2016 were sold for an average yield of 5.01% and was over-subscribed 2.9 times.

Sign up for our Tweets

With more than 1800 followers on Twitter, we are regularly dropping out observations from the federal election campaign, including preference negotiation meetings, forthcoming media and other developments. Click on the image above to get the latest updates from all our activity and here are some recent examples:

11.33pm August 1: Listen to bizarre claims of David Barker and rebuttal an hour ago on 2GB:

2.59pm July 31: Jeepers, we put One Nation 60th and last in Vic Senate preferences and they have put us quite high and ahead of Greens, ALP and Liberal.

2.55pm July 31:
Carers Alliance have preferenced us first. Not much on offer from others. See:

5.03pm July 30: Just filled in two prefs tickets supporting anti-pokies 1st and then as evenly split as pos. Only Sceptics, One Nation and CEC after majors

3.57pm July 30: Landed last of 21 grouped spots on Vic Senate ticket. Excellent outcome. 60 candidates including massive 18 registered parties. Aiming top 6.

1.45pm July 30: Missing 1st MacBank AGM in 9 yrs right now. They still think I'm on way to Sydney. Let flights lapse. Candidates declaration in Melb at 12.

11.36am July 29: Just interviewed by Brimbank Leader local paper - hopped into Bill Shorten given his seat has 3 of the 20 biggest pokies venues in Victoria.

2.39pm July 29: Getting closer to final prefs agreements and about to go into 3 hours of interviews for independent members of Manningham audit committee.

8.17am July 29: Chatted to ABC Vic regional radio's Kathy Bedford at 5.10pm on the pokies last night after Auditor General slammed prob gambling programs.

1.41pm July 28: On Gold Coast giving speech to 300 on invesment. Back tonight. Lib state director Tony Nutt left voice mail saying read/noted prefs email.

5.38pm July 27: Hooray, Telstra chair Cath Livingstone appoints Nora Scheinkestel as 2nd female director. CSL chair Liz Alexander should end solo reign too.

11.53am July 27: Just sent email update on pokies & election. Also previewed governance issues at Manningham council tonight. See

That's all for now.

Do ya best, Stephen Mayne

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