Murdoch, hacking, councillor conduct, ASA, ranking QLD councillors, pokies, Tweets, Richo, Woolies, capital raisings and vale John Bingeman QC

July 8, 2011

Dear Readers,

Greetings for the first time since our last bumper email edition on May 19. There's plenty of meat below but if you'd rather not receive these monthly Mayne Report email newsletters on corporate governance, media, gender diversity, pokies and local government click here to unsubscribe.

Rupert blows up The News of the World

The phone hacking saga, including today's closure of The News of the World, is an amazing story.

The ABC website, The Drum, this morning published our take. Feel free to join the discussion by posting a comment.

I did a 10 minute spot on 702 ABC Sydney this morning with Deborah Cameron and once again drew in the independent News Corp directors, most notably Melbourne-based lead independent director Sir Rod Eddington.

The interview requests have been pouring in. I've given some grabs to a reporter from Ten's 6.30 With George Negus and Seven News, along with some radio interviews.

If you watched former UK deputy Prime Minister John Prescott on Lateline last Wednesday, it is clear there are very determined and powerful forces in Britain aiming to inflict as much financial and reputational damage as possible on News Corp, along with jail time for plenty of people.

Today Prescott has come out and declared that there is no point cutting off someone's arm if the cancer is in the body. Indeed, why sack 200 journalists but continue to employ Rebekah Brooks as CEO of News International?

This issue will eventually boil down to whether Rupert Murdoch is fit and proper to keep leading News Corp.

Personally, I reckon its time his children and the independent directors moved on him and dramatically changed the culture of a company which for decades has been an ethics free zone.

Pokies activists to sue governments over lack of action

It was good to see The Age carrying this story yesterday.

With numerous breaches of various codes of practice, it is overdue for the anti-pokies lobby to go down the legal route to ensure compliance by various operators and regulators across the country.

Moving forward at the Australian Shareholders' Association

Now for an update on the ASA after just a few short weeks serving as a director.

There's certainly movement at the station. For instance, check out the recently revamped ASA website which has come up well.

Driven by new CEO Vas Kolesnikoff, ASA has also just released this new 4-page vision statement on the way ahead. It's succinct, energetic and aspirational.

Our profile is also on the rise as you can see from the "ASA in the media" section on our website.

The membership offering has also been revamped. Click here for details as anyone who is interested in corporate governance or investing should be a paid up member of Australia's peak body for retail investors.

And finally go here to join more than 500 people following the ASA on Twitter.

Manningham backs actions on pokies

It was great that City of Manningham councillors voted 8-1 in favour of the following motion at the June 28 council meeting:

Notice of motion from Cr Stephen Mayne

That Council:

1. Endorse the Productivity Commission recommendation for a maximum bet limit on poker machines of $1 per ‘button push'.

2. Endorse the Productivity Commission recommendation for a full pre-commitment scheme for electronic gaming machines in all States and Territories as a "strong, practicable and ultimately cost-effective option for harm minimisation". In doing so, Council recognises that any
voluntary pre-commitment scheme for high intensity machines would be ineffective.

3. Support the Gillard Government agreement with independent MP Andrew Wilkie to design and implement a best practice pre-commitment scheme for electronic gaming machines to be implemented by 2014.

4. Support the preferred option of the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform to impose a maximum $1 bet per button push, $120 hourly loss limit and maximum prize of $500.

5. For machines regarded as "high intensity" and not subjected to the limits described above, council supports the imposition of a full pre-commitment system so gamblers can set maximum loss limits.

6. Communicate Council's position to pokies venues in Manningham, the Prime Minister, the Premier of Victoria, relevant Federal and State Ministers, local members of parliament, ALGA, MAV and VLGA.

Click here to listen to audio of the debate on the night and go here to see a package of similar motions passed by other council and local government peak bodies.

Cr Graeme MacMillan was the sole opponent and this only related to his view that pokies regulation is not a local government issue.

However, between everyone else we had a coalition of Green, Labor, Liberal and independent Manningham councillors all supporting the Wilkie model for action on the pokies.

Graham Richardson, James Packer and the pokies

Notorious Labor power broker Graham Richardson spoke at the Municipal Association of Victoria Future of Local Government conference the day after our June 28 council meeting, so we hit him with a pokies questions after he was seemingly spouting the James Packer line.

It resulted in this Crikey story the following day: Graham Richardson, Andrew Wilkie and the pokies power struggle

Richo once sought legal advice about suing Crikey over this story in September 2000 but apparently decided against it on the basis that most of it was true.

As we explained in our May 19 edition, Richo also appears to be a tax dodger based on those Swiss bank accounts.

Given all this, I was most unimpressed that Victorian ratepayers' money was being used to pay him but relented in the end as he gave a rollocking speech about the political scene.

The topic was: "why local government should be the most powerful lobby group in the country"

And Richo absolutely nailed the two things the sector is not doing.

1. Being united on issues

2. Pressuring local state and federal MPs.

Councils have lots of resources, connections and information at their disposal, but rarely do they leverage this to deliver outcomes from their local state and federal MPs.

Usually this is because councillors are split across the major parties and won't settle on a united lobbying position. Equally, officers are reluctant to go political against local MPs.

As a Manningham councillor, I am certainly planning to crank up the pressure on local federal MP Kevin Andrews and the three Victorian Cabinet Ministers in our area - Mary Wooldridge, Ryan Smith and Nick Kotsiris - on the question of pokies reform once the legislative package is unveiled in Canberra.

Finally on the pokies, 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 two years ago featuring our daughter Alice, who was 6 at the time:

Bendigo joins the three females club

We spent a couple of hours late last month reworking the rankings of our top 100 female directors list after a few recent appointments.

We've also strictly ended the rankings at 100 and now have a floating pool below that.

Meanwhile, it was good to see Bendigo & Adelaide Bank join the very small group of companies which has three female directors after appointing former Ericsson Australia CEO Jacqueline Hey to the board on Wednesday. Check out the announcement.

The only other ASX200 companies with three female directors are AMP, Westpac, CBA and QBE Insurance.

Pacific Brands continues to lead the way with 4 female directors including CEO Sue Morphett, but it is interesting that five of our biggest financial services companies have all now got to the point of having 3 female directors.

Ranking the councillors in Queensland

We've sent this edition to a few new Queensland councillors because local government in Queensland will go to the polls in March next year.

As part of this process, we are going to celebrate the work of the best councillors in Queensland and support their re-election campaigns.

However, any ranking or review process like that will also need to address the question of renewal. Which Queensland councillors should go and can new talent be lured into the contest to improve the overall quality of those who run local government north of the Tweed.

For instance, at the moment we publish this list which ranks the best 20 male directors of ASX listed companies, a following group of 80 to make a top 100, a list of others and then a group of 10 who should retire at the bottom.

We'd like to do the same for Queensland councillors and with just 9 months until polling day, those in the know should send through their thoughts to

Who are the best local government councillors in Queensland and who should be voted out?

Improving disclosure and internet use at Manningham

We are making slow but steady progress at Manningham when it comes to embracing the internet for better disclosure and communications.

Whilst we haven't yet disclosed the full detail of executive salaries in the annual report or provided a breakdown of councillor expense claims, the latest step forward is this chronological account of all decisions involving Manningham at VCAT (the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal).

I'm not aware of any other council that has done this so well done to the officers for embracing the move. More than 1500 councillors and officers from across Australia receive these newsletters so why not jump on board and follow Manningham's lead of developing a button on the home page linking back to all recent decisions including the good, the bad and the ugly.

All councils have regular engagement with the low cost dispute resolution tribunal and it is good to disclose to the community precisely what the various VCAT members say about council.

You can now see when council wins or loses cases. Residents and developers alike can also assess the batting average of council before taking action at VCAT.

As you'll see from skimming through all the decisions since the beginning of 2009, Manningham generally does well.

I've been very impressed with the quality of Manningham's planning department and after almost three years on council am still yet to vote against one of their recommendations.

The council as a whole hasn't over-ridden an officer recommendation on planning for more than a year.

This is how The Manningham Leader reported the VCAT online initiative.

Tweeting away more than ever

We usually bury our tweets at the bottom of these newsletters but we've really embraced the medium in recent weeks and now have more than 4800 followers. Click here to sign up and check out past tweets.

It's really quite fun pumping out pithy 140 character nuggets in real time and gauging the reaction. Here are some of our observations through Twitter over the past few days:

July 8: Phone hacking, Murdoch and Business Spectator

Have spoken to Negus and Seven News on phone hacking and about to do radio in New Zealand. 666 ABC Canberra later. Head is spinning.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that it was James Murdoch's idea to shut NoTW. He then persuaded his father. See:

Off to give some phone hacking grabs to Ten's George Negus show. Hope they get to air given Lachlan Murdoch is acting CEO & boning journos.

Business Spectator is shedding staff and letting some contributors go. Move follows Alan Kohler stepping aside as CEO to focus on writing.

Have filed for ABC website The Drum on phone hacking latest and NoTW closure. See:

Even The Sun has splashed with NoTW closure. And big picture of James Murdoch on paper's home page. See:

Just gave the Murdochs a big blast on 702 ABC Sydney. Time for Rupert's children and the directors to intervene and move on the old fella.

Check out the text of James Murdoch's dramatic speech to staff announcing reasons for closing News of the World:

Wow, closing NOTW is big but it won't save Rebekah Brooks from jail time & Rupert's son James has surely tried to pervert course of justice.

July 7: Murdoch, Prescott, phone hacking and Gottie

Just watched Prescott on Lateline last night. No wonder News Corp shares tanked 3.6% today. Former UK dep PM on warpath:

A prediction: James Murdoch won't succeed Rupert as News Corp CEO. Read this story to see why. Very powerful stuff:

Guardian lists all hacking denials: Includes my qs at 2010 AGM but misses Rupe dissing this NYT hit

Amusing that The Times broke yarn of 5 imminent phone hacking arrests and The Oz is running it. Will it be Rebekah? See:

Lots of interest in phone hacking. Just spoke to Media Watch and ABC Melbourne but didn't reply in time to email from ABC radio's PM program

Cripes, Gottie has really lost the plot on Business Spectator today claiming credit for taming RBA zealots. As if. See:

July 6: Library cuts and phone hacking

Amazed the Baillieu govt has pulled a swifty on local govt with not only the abandonment of library funding indexation, but a proposed cut.

Am really surprised Gideon Haigh has taken a job at The Oz. Why would anyone credible work for those despicable phone hackers at News Corp?

July 5: climate change, ASA, defo and Murdoch

Faulkner just gave an excellent speech on Climate Change in the Senate. Skeptics should go through it line by line with their rebuttals.

Good strong column in The Oz today from ASA CEO Vas Kolesnikoff on the Centro decision and unsolicited offers:

See where the $85,000 defo award to Nicole Cornes from Channel Ten over Mick Molloy slur fits in the great defo list:

Today's Crikey: why Murdoch phone hacking of schoolgirl murder victim should be grounds for ditching Sky from Oz TV bid

July 4: pokies, Abbott, John Bingeman, Centro and conflict of interest

Very powerful blog by Thomas Cummings from about his pokies addiction. All sparked by Fed govt interview. See:

Barrie Cassidy's crack at Mad Monk as being MIA 4 big interviews has worked. He's on 7.30 tonight. What next? Ending 18 month ban on Lateline

Vale John Bingeman, one of the 12 judges Kennett sacked who passed away on Saturday. A great guy. Thoughts are with Sue, Pete, Katie & Andy

Check out this comprehensive 20 page guide the Baillieu Government has produced on conflicts of interest for councillors

Audio from 10 minute Radio National interview on Friday night about implications of Centro judgment available here:

Am just amazed Ten's independent directors are sitting back and letting Lachlan Murdoch butcher news and sport to the advantage of News Corp

Good scoop in The AFR today. It absolutely makes sense to phase out existing diesel fuel subsidies to cashed up mining giants.

July 1: ASA vision, Centro, revenge and women

Check out new vision statement of the Australian Shareholders' Association which has been launched on revamped website:

Doing 10mins live with Peter Mares on Radio National's show, The National Interest, at 6.10pm on this Centro judgment:

Phew, just had a 40 minute phone chat with a TV producer about "revenge" ahead of what sounds like an interesting panel discussion.

Public interview at NAB HQ for Women in Finance went well. Very impressed with Paula Dwyer and Nora Scheinkestel. Good on them for stepping up.

On the tram heading to Docklands to interview new Tabcorp chair Paula Dwyer and Telstra director Nora Scheinkestel in front of 100 women.

June 30: Richo, ASA on Centro, Yarra road dieting, ABC Melbourne

Here is the link to today's Crikey story about Graham Richardson and the pokies:

Some good comments here by ASA over Centro and directors doing too much. See Fairfax

This bus trip is really slow. When is City of Yarra going to forget about "road dieting" and get behind dedicated bus lanes to Eastern Fwy?

On bus after radio gig headed for emergency board meeting of Manningham's aged care provider after Feds scuttled reforms with $1.3m demand.

Just gave pokies and all this hysteria about farmers enjoying windfall gains from selling out cashed up foreign buyers a big burst on ABCMel

June 29: pokies auction, director responsibilities, Manningham motion, Richo v Gillard

Check out today's Vic Auditor General report slamming Brumby govt for leaving $3bn on table in botched pokies auction:

When taking sides between directors and investors, where should ASX sit? Disappointing to see chair Gonski is troubled by Centro decision.

Just bailed out of councillors conference to get ready for regular ABC radio spot. Today doing pokies, Centro, mining tax and foreign sales.

Richo claims Gillard doesn't understand "the mob". Also admitted his criticisms of Gillard has made him persona non grata.

Just asked Graham Richardson about pokies reform. He denied a vested interest as stopped working for Packer family 12 months ago.

Richo is absolutely slamming Gillard over Malaysia, mining tax and refugees. Now he is praising Abbott as opposition genius.

Richo just starting now to councillors on "why local govt should be the most influential lobby group in Australia". First he's slamming Rudd

Pokies motion got up 8-1 at council last night. Good to see The Age splash with audit report on Brumby's $1 bn pokies auction.

June 28: pokies, ASA, Murdoch, Reith, female directors

Amusing to pop into the doctor for a bloodshot eye this arvo and then get strongly lobbied by receptionist for council to fix parking issues

Have got a pokies motion going up at council tonight. Total losses at 7 venues $59m last year which just exceeded total rate revenue.

Good to see ABC Online running some strong quotes from ASA CEO Vas Kolesnikoff endorsing Centro judgment. See:

Am interviewing the two top female directors at a lunch in Melbourne on Friday. Come along. Details here:

What the hell is CSR doing refusing to meet with ASA ahead of AGM? See ASA CEO Vas Kolesnikoff column in The Australian:

Rupert Murdoch's Rise To Power Charted In Bloomberg TV's Game Changers Series (VIDEO)

Strong performance by Reith on Jon Faine this morning. Difficult to see how Abbott could resist some form of IR reform policy in 2013.

Great column by Reith in The Age. Such straight talking is refreshing, especially to Libs sick of whingeing Abbott. See:

It's 12.06am on June 28 so happy birthday to my wonderful wife Paula who is asleep upstairs and will be getting breakfast in bed this morn.

Here's the audio from PM on Stockdale-Reith tonight: And now Reith has penned a piece for Fairfax calling for IR reform.

Alan Stockdale vs Peter Reith

Having worked for 18 months in the early 1990s as press secretary to then Victorian Treasurer Alan Stockdale, we lost contact after I went on Four Corners as a whistleblower against Jeff Kennett's share dealings in September 1997.

That was until the 2008 Symex Holdings AGM in Port Melbourne. Stockdale was the chair and after firing in a few questions during the meeting, we caught up for a pleasant 20 minute chat afterwards. Check out this account.

I wasn't quite sure what to say when called upon twice by ABC radio's PM program to provide commentary about the failed attempt by Peter Reith to oust Stockdale as Federal Liberal Party President. Have a listen:

Libs face stark choice on Presidency
PM, Thursday, June 16

Liberal Party's dirty laundry on display
PM, Monday, June 27

Even stranger, from my perspective, was this notion that Stockdale wasn't a reformer. There hasn't been a Liberal in the past 50 years who drove through a bigger range of reforms than Jeff Kennett's hard working and incredibly smart Treasurer. Try this for size:

* World's first competitive electricity and gas market
* World's first activity-based health funding system
* cut health and education budgets by 10%
* Closed more than 300 schools
* 100,000 public sector workers retrenched, privatised or out-sourced
* $35 billion privatisation program, exceeding Thatcher's effort in dollar terms
* privatised prisons and public transport system
* Merged 210 councils down to 78
* totally over-turned water pricing from property based to user-pays
* Eliminated $3 billion in workers comp liabilities and slashed premiums
* Contracted out the world's second biggest tollroad project

The Greeks clearly need Alan Stockdale right now. That said, Peter Reith was also incredibly bold in his reform vision through Fightback, industrial relations and the water front.

Stockdale was never much of a political player so maybe he is quite conservative when it comes to rocking the boat within the Liberal Party, even though he was happy to whip up reform cyclones as Victoria's Treasurer for 7 years in the 1990s.

Capital raising plays: for Peet's sake, there are sod all windfalls out there

The capital raising plays on the world's biggest small share portfolio have produced relatively slim picking over the few months. Here is all that has happened since the last edition.

May 18, 2011
Symex Holdings:
$3500 into 5-for-14 entitlement offer at 42.5c with overs. Scaled back to virtually nothing despite shortfall.

June 1, 2011
Southern Cross Electrical Engineering:
$10,000 into $15,000 SPP at 90c after placement. Exited at 99c for gain for $1000.

June 7, 2011
NRW Holdings:
$6000 into $15,000 SPP at $2.74. Exited at $2.82 for gain of $150.

July 1
Peet Ltd:
$8000 into $15,000 SPP at $1.42. Exited at $11.47 for gain of $320.

Assessing the capital raising pipeline

Here is the list of known offers in the pipeline which remain open and we're considering:

CMA: 1-for-1 entitlement offer at 5.3c with no overs. Closes July 25.

Ludowici: 1-for-10 entitlement offer at $4 with overs. Closes July 18 and trades July 27.

Mineral Deposits: 1-for-4 entitlement offer at $6 with overs. Closes July 11 and trades July 19. (Checking on overs)

Robe Australia: 2-for-3 entitlement offer at 1c. Closes July 26 and trades August 4. (Checking on overs)

Sphere Minerals: 1-for-4 entitlement offer at $3 with no overs. Closes July 13, trades July 23.

Twoway: 1-for-10 at 3c. closes July 22 and trades August 3.

Donate to help keep us going

The Mayne Report has wracked up losses of almost $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 $12,000 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:

The Mayne Report Rich List

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

Crikey yarns since last edition

Why hacking scandal should impact on Australia Television bid
Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Graham Richardson, Andrew Wilkie and the pokies power struggle
Thursday, June 30, 2011

Packer shows off his pulling power with Labor Right
Thursday, June 23, 2011

Has Four Corners fallen for the gambling industry line?
Monday, June 20, 2011

Writing for The Drum on Simon Overland after Murdoch campaign

Former Crikey editor Jonathan Green has been running the ABC comment and opinion site, The Drum, for almost two years now.

He's brought a few Crikey regulars across to Aunty and pays a little bit more than Crikey.

I've only written 4 commissioned pieces in 18 months and excluding today's phone hacking piece, the latest was this effort two weeks back: Crossing The Oz may have been Overland's biggest mistake

It was designed to be a serious whack at the Murdoch press for its hysterical campaign against Victorian Police Commissioner Simon Overland but it all looks pretty mild now compared with what is unfolding with the latest despicable phone hacking revelations enveloping The News of the World.

The most impressive thing about writing for The Drum is the comments as the Overland piece generated more than 100 and they were pretty strong and informed both ways.

There is one minor clarification to make about this passage in the piece:

What The Australian hasn't unambiguously disclosed is that its campaign only started after Simon Overland quite rightly criticised the paper for prematurely publishing details of an anti-terror raid before it had been carried out. This most certainly was not in the public interest. Cameron Stewart, The Australian's well connected reporter behind this controversial scoop, subsequently identified his source, Victorian policeman Simon Artz, to the Office of Police Integrity.

It has been widely reported that Artz voluntarily released Stewart to give evidence in his case, so the impression that he broke a fundamental rule of journalism is not correct.

Tweeting the big local government conference in Canberra

A record 900-plus delegates went to Canberra for the 2011 Australian Local Government Association annual conference last month and several of the political heavyweights took the time to present to what was the biggest gathering of councillors assembled anywhere for many years.

Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, Bob Brown, Simon Crean, Greg Combet and Barnaby Joyce all presented and here, in reverse order, are some of the Tweets we pumped out as they all strutted their stuff:

# Last session at ALGA underway. Ash kept prof George Williams in Sydney so he's on a fuzzy skype screen talking constitutional recognition.

# Conroy only took 2 councillor questions at ALGA. 1 from WA seeking priority, 2nd a herogram from his local Labor Right Hobsons Bay mayor.

# Senator Conroy is reading a strong pitch on the NBN at ALGA. He is urging council engagement. Questions shortly.

# WA wheat belt councillor just asked Barny Joyce to get inside tent on carbon tax debate. His response is an incoherent rant. What a clown!

# Barny Joyce just advised councillors to target 20 coalition and 16 Fed ALP MPs who hail from councils in constitutional recognition campaign

# The big climate change motion at ALGA just got passed without a murmur. We are now about to hear from climate denialist Barnaby Joyce.

# Great to see Speaker Harry Jenkins rip into both sides for appalling behavior "in front of representatives of local government".

# Snuck into the Great Hall dinner. Sitting next to Boorondarra CEO and Kingston's Steve Staikos. Crean is on his feet sounding very jovial.

# 670 capacity at ALGA dinner at Parly House tonight and am on the 100 strong waiting list. Any suggestions for gate crashing? Need blue card

# Out of 565 councils, Manningham just collected prize for best reconciliation week program. Took video of mayor Gough and CEO Wilson on stage

# Good preso to councillors from former John Anderson staffer Duncan on the NBN rollout. Big job ahead and I am becoming a convert.

# Combet done, dashing back to hung parly. Read solid speech, unveiled some relevant funding but no Q&A. Not much pizzazz but safe on feet

# Combet just announced $4.5m funding for 13 coastal council issues. QLd and WA Local gov associations in the mix, plus Townsvile CC.

# Some big sweeping and controversial statements by Gottie but overall he was well received and chair said was "fabulous". Now onto debate.

# Gottie is now being firmly corrected by the mayor of Geelong for his ridiculous claims about strip shopping centers becoming ghost towns.

# Not a good pitch by Gottie to stand before hundreds of councils and declare most of the "very very bad councils" are in the cities. Oh dear!

# Gottie was talking up "the Chinese" buying up our wheat farms. This on the day SABMiller launches hostile low ball bid for iconic Foster's.

# Gottie just claimed we ain't seen nothing yet on power prices due to carbon and delayed gas projects. Precursor to this arvo's debates.

# Oh dear, Gottie is getting political before councillors by claiming there is an unprecedented attack on the Middle Class by the Gillard guv.

# Gottie has just claimed "we are a virtual state of China". Also reckons Greece default will stuff European banks.

# Crean did well over solid 50 minutes. Robert Gottliebsen is now being introduced to give the 900 delegates a burst on economics.

# Crean announces former NSW chief justice Jim Spigleman to head up expert panel for referendum on local government constitutional recognition.

# Crean calls for new engagement with local govt...a good start would be him giving it a higher priority in his schedule.

# Simon Crean is telling councillors the 55 Regional Development Authorities are not a replacement for councils but instead should join dots.

# Had enough of catching up with Bill Shorten and all the Labor right councillors at the Crowne Plaza bar in ACT so in a cab heading to hotel.

# The consensus amongst councillors at ALGA was that Gillard performed well without notes for an hour while Abbott blew in for quick whinge.

# Just passed a special motion calling for urgent action on live exports. Got through 12 of 90 motions today and just given an early mark.

# Abbott's youthful advisers have just dragged him back to the house for something urgent. Answered 2 questions and was gone in 20 mins.

# We only got 8 minutes from Abbott. First question from Mansfield asked for vision and whether positive or negative. 23 mins to go.

# After reading a few stats Tony Abbott has moved onto political ranting about great big new taxes. Then supported constitutional recognition.

# Unlike Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott is relying on notes at ALGA. He just said state govt was the least respected tier.

# We only got through 6 of the 90 motions before Mad Monk Tony Abbott turned up 8 minutes early for his 30 minute burst which starts now.

# Mayor of Auckland is giving us a good rev about the benefits of mergers and a super city. WA's Perth council mergers expected this week.

# Annabel Crabb, James O'Loghlin, Jane Caro and John Hewson are now telling 900 delegates how to sell local government. Not easy!!

# Gillard now racing back to parly for address by NZ carbon pricing guru John Keay. She did well at ALGA and took 6 questions from councillors

# Biggest audience cheer from councillor question on foreign ownership of farms. Gillard says Shorten is gathering the data for govt response.

# Port Pirrie mayor quizzed Gillard over impact on world's biggest lead smelter which employs 1000 people and is exposed to carbon price.

# Liberal Hornsby mayor Nick Burman now getting stuck into Gillard over lack of road funding in Northern Sydney around Pennant Hills rd.

# Gillard has presented flag to Lockyer Valley mayor. Press now being kicked out so 900 council delegates can ask questions.

# Gillard just said she is "very proud to have broken the Telstra monopoly". Now onto climate change, says Kiwis had the guts to price carbon.

# Gillard going smoothly with no notes. Just thanked councils for on budget stimulus and now talking up constitutional recognition.

# Have got a nice spot near the front for Gillard's keynote address to the 900 delegates at local govt conference in Canberra.

# Simon Crean's dept secretary is now addressing ALGWA dinner which is great but when is local govt minister himself going to engage with us.

# Nice speech from Kate Ellis at local govt women's 60th birthday. Women were in local govt 20 years before cracking any Aussie parliaments.

# Just listened to GG Quentin Bryce give a nice speech at old parly house dinner celebrating 60 years of women in local government.

# Over 900 delegates at local govt conference in Canberra and Gillard opens tomorrow, first PM to do so in 6 years. Act chief min now speaking

# A record 800 people in ACT 4 biggest local govt conference of the year. Starting now with welcome drinks then LGWA dinner at old parly house

When will new Woolies CEO confront his pokies demons?

Grant O'Brien, the new CEO of Woolworths, was given 30 minutes to present at ALGA and you can read the full text of his pitch.

It was an impressive line to claim that local government and Woolworths both employ about 170,000 Australians.

O'Brien listed a long line of community good that Woolies is pursuing but failed to cover the obvious issues of the company being Australia's largest operator of pokies.

I was itching to hit O'Brien with a pokies question and you can see what happened from these four Tweets we published whilst he was talking:

New Woolies CEO Grant O'Brien is next up at ALGA. He drove up from Sydney due to ash. Will he mention their 12000 pokies?

Woolies new CEO started on Tassie shop floor 24 years ago. Is looking forward to joining 4500 others in the 25 year club next year.

Woolies CEO just mentioned Mullumbimby store finally opens tomorrow. It has been a big battle in the hippy capital of Australia. Byron types

Was first to mic to quiz Woolies CEO who failed to mention 12000 pokies in shopping list of community good. Greg Combet is here so no QandA.

It was interesting that O'Brien granted an interview to The Australian's John Durie on Wednesday but he too failed to mention the pokies in his column.

You can't keep promising change Mr O'Brien and then not address the elephant in the room. Your business can claim to cut its carbon emissions and track down errant trolleys as much as it likes, but as long as it continues to profit by targeting thousands of pokies addicts, you won't have any moral authority on all these other issues.

Tales from the talk circuit

Click here and you'll see there has been plenty of activity on the talk circuit of late and go here for a list of upcoming gigs.

Since the last edition we've spoken at the following events:

Wednesday, May 25: closing keynote address at Local Government Managers' Association annual congress in Cairns. Title is: "Good governance: from public companies to local government".

Tuesday, May 31: debate about whether councils help or hinder the community sector at Our Community conference.

Friday, June 3: speech on leadership to credit union conference in Sydney.

Tuesday, June 7: lunch time speech to Legacy in Melbourne CBD.

Wednesday, June 8: participated in mock proxy battle at Australian Investor Relations Association seminar in Sydney.

Thursday, June 16: evening speech to the ASA in South Melbourne.

Monday, June 27: 10th year in a row doing after dinner speech to 75 PR and stakeholder relations types at Centre for Corporate Public Affairs annual training conference.

Friday, July 1: moderated a Women in Finance session with Tabcorp chair Paula Dwyer and Telstra director Nora Scheinkestel.

Come along for launch of two new Latrobe courses

Latrobe University's Humanities department is rolling out two new courses in 2012 and I'm the guest speaker at the launch function in the city from 5-7pm on Monday, July 18.

One of the courses focuses on communications and journalism, so if you're in the media, political or advertising game, feel free to drop us a line to and I'll get your name on the door.

Should be a lively crowd and I'm certainly planning to deliver a lively speech.

Meanwhile, click here to read feedback after some speeches and click on the image below if you fancy an engagement as the talk circuit partially offsets the losses of the The Mayne Report and allows it to continue without a subscription or advertising revenue stream.

Vale John Bingeman QC

As Derryn Hinch recovers from his liver transplant at the Austin Hospital on Friday, one of the many barristers who represented him over the years will be farewelled at a service in Lilydale later today.

I've known John Bingeman QC ever since his son Peter and I started out in prep together in 1974. The family eventually left Templestowe in the late 1980s for the challenges of producing wine in the Yarra Valley.

John was a great guy who had a fascinating career which included being one of the 12 Accident Compensation Commission judges sacked by the Kennett government in 1992.

As The Age noted at the time, this was the first time since William of Orange that judges had been sacked in a Western democracy.

Farewell to John Bingeman and our thoughts are with Sue, Peter, Kate and Andy.

From Warrnambool to Manningham: action aplenty on governance and councillor conduct

With 565 councils across Australia, there are always issues around councillor conduct in local government.

However, since we started linking to various Councillor Conduct Panel reports in earlier editions and promising league ladders of good and bad councillors, the information flow has increased considerably.

For instance, we've heard about what sounds like a vindictive pursuit of two Liberal councillors by a gang of five largely Labor councillors at Warrnambool.

From what I've read, the Local Government Inspectorate has had a comprehensive dig around the issues and concluded no action was to be taken.

The Gang of Five have then backed up and initiated a Councillor Conduct Panel to trawl over the same issues.

This could get very expensive for Warrnambool ratepayers, especially if the two councillors opt to take the matter straight to VCAT where council is obliged to pick up the legal expenses of all sides.

Our own governance issues at Manningham will get a run at VCAT on Friday afternoon in a directions hearing for the appeal lodged by our former deputy mayor, Fred Chuah, over these three misconduct findings.

I'll be attending John Bingeman's funeral and won't be able to make it but will be represented by the same barrister who is appearing for the two panel members who heard our 6-day matter, Peter Harris and Jenny Farrer.

The panel members want out of the appeal and I've agreed with their position whilst Manningham's Green councillor David Ellis has taken a slightly different position and will represent himself at VCAT.

The directions hearing will hopefully hear from all sides on any witnesses they hope to call and whether the appeal will be a desktop review of the vast documentation already assembled, or whether the case will effectively be re-heard, albeit in a public forum with lawyers present, as opposed to the more informal private hearings of the original panel.

In other councillor conduct matters, Jason Dowling from The Age pulled a whole of range of issues into one package in Wednesday's paper.

In the stiffest penalty I can recall, former Latrobe councillor Lisa Price was fined $9000 and banned from running again for 7 years after failing to declare a conflict of interest.

In my opinion, Shepparton Councillor Milvan Muto should have copped a much heavier ban than his one month suspension. Check out this timeline of his numerous misdemeanors produced by the Municipal Inspector.

The Lisa Price punishment will make a few people really sit up and take notice and to that end, the Baillieu Government is to be commended for producing this comprehensive 20-page guide to conflict of interest for councillors.

It's a shame Jeff Kennett didn't take conflict of interest so seriously when he was Victorian Premier.

Victoria's Chief Municipal Inspector, former policeman David Wolf, is also producing a quarterly newsletter. The latest edition includes all the statistics on investigations and complaints for 2010. It's worth a read as governance issues are being taken much more seriously in Victorian councils these days, which is a damn good thing.

Private Eye on Rebekah Brooks?

* Please note this was written two days ago before the closure announcement was made.

Sir Rod Eddington, what the hell are you doing?

Not since the James Hardie asbestos dodge, has an Australian-associated company been so heavily maligned. But the News Corp feeding frenzy is a global phenomenon.

And where are the directors, especially lead independent director Eddington.

Rupert Murdoch put out a statement on Wednesday pledging his support for News International CEO Rebekah Brooks who was editor of The News of the World when it hacked the phone of murdered school girl Milly Dowler in 2002.

Has he no shame? Of course Rebekah Brooks should be sacked. How on earth did she last this long?

Private Eye magazine in the UK carried the following in its latest edition before the latest shocking revelations went global on Monday:

One question asked with increasing frequency as the News of the World phone hacking scandal continues to grow is: how long can the wicked witch of Wapping, Rebekah Brooks, remain at the helm of News International.

When Rupert Murdoch cancelled his trip to Davos and came to London in January to "take control" of the situation following the sacking of News of the World assistant editor Ian Edmondson and the resignation of former Screws editor Andy Coulson as David Cameron's communications supremo, he told Rebekah, who remains the apple of his rheumy eye, that he had decided with regret that it was time for her to step down as CEO of News International.

Both in her current role and in her previous jobs as editor of the News of the World and later The Sun, she was too closely associated with the hacking scandal and NI's spurious denials to remain. It was time, Rupert told his flame-haired protegee, with the faintest hint of a quaver in his voice, to move on. Rebekah pleaded with the Dirty Digger not to be cut adrift and begged her friend David Cameron to intercede on her behalf. Following this intervention Murdoch, who is quite an old softie at heart, relented. The harpy hung on.

But "the Rebekah problem" has not gone away. How can Brooks be dispensed with in a face-saving way without shouldering the blame for being in charge during the hacking years?

A happy solution presents itself: motherhood! Rebekah, 43, has heard her body clock ticking and wishes to present husband Charlie with a bouncing baby Brooks before it is too late. The couple have therefore embarked upon an intensive programme of Ugandan discussions aimed at bringing a little hacker into the world in 2012, when Rebekah will be able to step down gracefully with a nice seven-figure leaving present and concentrate on matters maternal. Bless!

Zoro joins the fenzied activity in daily deals sites

The internet continues as the most disruptive new technology of the modern era and after 15 years it is clear that the most lucrative business models to emerge are search, advertising, auctions, transactions and daily deals.

The current flavour of the month is daily deals and the corporate activity is amazing.

I met a nice guy called Ali Taha at a fundraising dinner for our local Muslim association a few months back and he' this week launched a daily deals site called zoro.

Check it out here and best of luck to Ali in his new venture.

From the member edition archive

The Mayne Report goes to almost 15,000 people but if you're a relatively new reader, here are links to all of our email editions sent out over the past four years.

And here are a few favourites from the archive:

Women on boards - calling Australia's top headhunters
Monday, January 31, 2011

Working over conflicted billionaires and departing chair at lively Ten AGM
Thursday, December 9, 2010

Future Fund goes to war with Telstra, Woolies AGM wash-up, council pokies taxes and much more
Friday, November 19, 2010

Gillard slams tobacco donations as Labor pockets $2m from pokies giants
August 4, 2010

Peter Blunden in the box, on the up in Manningham, pokies, Rich List and then some
April 30, 2010

Macquarie AGM, Melbourne's decline, Asciano EGM, capital raisings, Goyder's pokies, speeches, fire, AGM diary and much more
July 28, 2009

Fancy watching a video? Check out thes video playlists

With quite a library of video content, here are a few favourite playlists from the past 4 years:

11 rounds with Rupert Murdoch

A few rounds with the Millionaires at Macquarie Group

Bye bye Babcock & Brown

The pokies

Oz Minerals and Owen Hegarty

Gender equity and media trustworthiness in Intelligence Squared debates


Highlights from SBS Insight debate on executive pay

Campaigning to end the farmer gerrymander at AWB

Three goes on A Current Affair

Interviews with Dean Paatsch on corporate governance

The 2009 NAB AGM in Brisbane

Skewering Col Allan on Channel Nine's Sunday program

Mayne family news

With the school holidays upon us, The Mayne Report bunker in Manningham is a hive of activity. From 3pm today we're going to have 15 kids and 5 mums through the place for a few hours.

I've had to knock back a spot on a forthcoming SBS Insight panel because 8 year old Alice Mayne is taking her daddy to Uluru for three days next week.

We'd originally planned a solo trip to the UK for each of our children and Laura, who turns 10 next month, enjoyed meeting all her English relatives two years ago.

However, the capital raising profits have dried up and the spare cash has dwindled. Alice also didn't fancy 24 hours on a plane so we asked her if she fancied a local alternative and she declared: "Take me to Alice Springs, daddy".

We'll only end up flying over the Alice but she's very excited about visiting Uluru and we've discovered a good friend will be staying at the same hotel next week.

In other family news, we were delighted with the school reports for the kids and Paula continues to enjoy being secretary of the school council. Paula has also now finished a mediation course through Relationships Australia and continues to serve on the RACV board.

It took longer than expected, but Laura has recovered from her fractured ankle although it was disappointing she couldn't participate actively at the school ball on June 28. Sadly, I was locked up at public council meeting that night, which also doubled as Paula's birthday.

That's all for now, but thanks for reading this far and I promise it won' be another six weeks before the next missive.

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.