ASA, Billabong, Turnbull, referendum, Menzies, Hawker (x2), union-ALP reforms, Shorten, Sydney casino, Moylan, conflicts, referendum, Newcrest, Westfield and pokies

July 22, 2013

Dear Mayne Report Readers,

Greetings for the first time since our last bumper email edition on June 24. If you'd rather not receive these free monthly email newsletters, click here to unsubscribe. If you like it, pass the URL onto your friends and tell them to sign up here.

ASA moves on Macquarie and Billabong

The Macquarie Group AGM is on in Melbourne this Thursday and ASA released its Voting Intentions report yesterday.

We are supporting all the remuneration arrangements at the Millionaire Factory, but have taken a stand against the re-election of former IAG CEO Michael Hawker given his excessive workload and the $1.3 billion-plus that IAG dropped in the UK. Our position was covered in The Australian and The Age/SMH today.

ASA also issued this press release about the Billabong situation yesterday which generated considerable coverage in today's papers including The AFR, The Australian, and this AAP piece.

It is just unacceptable for a board to agree to a excessive $65 million break-fee when there are rival bids in the wings. We hope the Takeovers Panel agrees with our position at hearings this week. Billabong shares are up 2c to 42c today, suggesting a sweetened deal might yet be delivered.

ASA needs all hands on deck for the upcoming AGM season. Click here for our membership form to join.

Time for Abbott to stand aside for Malcolm Turnbull

The biggest mistake the Liberals, Tony Abbott and the pro-Liberal Murdoch press made in recent months was going in too hard and effectively against Julia Gillard. She was the best thing Tony Abbott had going for him and once the Parliament seemed destined to go full term, she should have been propped up.

Instead, Labor is now led by the much-admired Kevin Rudd and he looks increasingly like being able to out-campaign Tony Abbott and secure a third term for Labor which will only feel like a second term.

Why would those who represent business and the political Right in Australia risk such a scenario?

Risk mitigation would suggest that Malcolm Turnbull should be installed into the Liberal leadership as he would crush Kevin Rudd running strongly on an economic management platform. Australia would also keep an emissions trading system which a clear majority of the population supports.

Abbott appears weak on economic management and is more in the DLP camp of misty-eyed protectionism and obsession with social issues. He won't even tackle Australia's increasingly inflexible industrial relations laws, something business is crying out for as they battle with the world's highest wages courtesy of the Fair Work Act and strong Australian dollar.

Based on the published polls, there is a substantial body of voters who cannot stomach Abbott and will vote for Rudd, but would vote Liberal if Turnbull was the leader. I'm one of them.

The simple facts are that this is how the four alternative Prime Ministers of the past 5 years are rated by the public:

1. Malcolm Turnbull
2. Kevin Rudd
3. Tony Abbott
4. Julia Gillard

Abbott would have easily beaten the despised Gillard but looks in trouble against Rudd, who hasn't put a foot wrong since reclaiming the Prime Ministership, despite everything the utterly biased Murdoch press is throwing at him.

Labor will no doubt have learnt from the Coalition mistake and will call an election before the Liberals are able or willing to re-instate Malcolm Turnbull to win.

That's why the Abbott-supporting Murdoch press and Abbott himself should take a deep breath and engineer a smooth return to Turnbull, who is absolutely up for it but can't afford to be seen to be challenging or undermining this close to an election.

As one wag pointed out this week, given that Abbott complained about mortgage stress when the Liberals first went into opposition in 2007, maybe some Malcolm sympathisers should offer to pay off Abbott's mortgage as part of the deal.

James Packer's sweetheart casino deal

On resigning as a press secretary in the Kennett Government in June 1994, the biggest concern I had at the time about the then Premier was his cosy relationship with Crown Casino's major shareholders - Kerry Packer, Ron Walker and Lloyd Williams - and the crony capitalism that was on show. The tendering process - especially after Crown was announced the winner - was nothing short of a disgrace.

Not only was Crown awarded the monopoly licence despite major concerns from the independent umpire, Jeff Kennett subsequently allowed Crown to change every single element of their bid from the design, the builder, the manager, the size, the major shareholders, the tax arrangements and the opening date.

From a process point of view, it was appalling, and then you subsequently had Crown sponsoring Kennett's son at a basketball tournament in Darwin, Kerry Packer handing over a six figure defamation settlement to Kennett and, only last year, James Packer putting Jeff Kennett on the payroll and nominating him to represent him on the board of rival operator Echo Entertainment Group.

It doesn't need to be said that Crown Melbourne has been the best ever investment for the Packer dynasty, surpassing even Channel Nine.

The Age reports at the time of the Crown's September 1993 winning bid spoke about "a ferris wheel, rollercoasters and a continuous entertainment theme park". None of that ever materialised because Lloyd Williams junked his original plans and built something which is now the second biggest building in Australia after Parliament House in Canberra, standing at more than 500,000 square metres.

We've already seen substantial brief creep from Crown Sydney on what Barry O'Farrell originally predicted would only cater for a few select international high rollers.

Here are three links which are worth hitting to soak up our views on what is unfolding in Sydney:

Interview on ABC1's The Business

Lead Crikey story on Packer's $250m O'Farrell windfall

Jacob Saulwick column in Fairfax papers.

It's a sad state of affairs all round. And the Murdoch press should hang their heads in shame for being party to some sort of "don't criticise the Packer casinos" deal.

This oligarchs arrangement was confirmed again in The AFR today which reported that James Packer abruptly left a dinner with Gina Rinehart when she asked him to help disembowel Fairfax.

Of course Packer didn't want to compete with the Murdochs - that would have only have triggered a return to the mauling criticism of Packer when the two camps were last in conflict. And that would have included Murdoch opposition to the crony capitalism on display around Crown Sydney.

Instead, Packer appears to have purchased Murdoch complicity in exchange for delivering News Corp a pay-TV monopoly in Australia courtesy of the recent Austar and Consolidated Media Holdings takeovers. This sort of billionaire oligarch political and wheeling and dealing is something you'd expect to see in Russia, not Australia in 2013.

And good on Echo chairman John O'Neil for revealing Packer offered him a keep off the grass agreement which would have seen Echo left alone in Queensland provided they sat back and did nothing as Packer crashed the Sydney market. The ACCC should be all over these revelations and the whole process would have been much cleaner if Packer's Crown had simply bought Echo and then opened negotiations with both governments from a position of being the incumbent monopoly.

Referendum update - don't go early Kevin

It's good to see ALGA's full page newspaper ads in favour of the Yes campaign for the local government referendum have started to run.

Here's hoping Kevin Rudd doesn't go earlier than September 14 as that would mean junking the referendum and loading it up with the Indigenous recognition question in either 2014 or 2015.

Victorian Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell has been deploying some strange tactics against councils, writing letters pushing utter tosh about a loss of state control over council governance issues and also demanding detailed information about material and funding support for the Yes and No campaign.

All of the letters and associated legal advice will be formally placed on the public agenda when this matter is debated at the next City of Melbourne council meeting on July 30.

Greens councillor Rohan Leppert and I have jointly called it in to ensure our response is done in public with all relevant information on the table.

Westfield plays hard game against Bunnings in Doncaster

Shopping centre giant Westfield are hard to engage with at the best of times. Over almost 4 years on Manningham council, I only met their Doncaster centre manager at the single Doncaster Hill developers breakfast he bothered to attend.

The Wesfarmers-owned Bunnings played a very different game with its major development next to Westfield on Doncaster Road. This is no big green box, but instead a unique mixed-use development with 6 levels of apartments on top. Bunnings consulted widely with neighbours, council officers and councillors so much so that that when the $180 million proposal went to council in May, there was only 10 objectors.

The proposal was unanimously endorsed by councillors. Read the detailed officer report in the minutes and listen to the debate here.

The neighbouring Doncaster Primary School will be impacted but had good dealings with Bunnings and seemed reasonably satisfied with the final version of the development.

It's a shame the same can't be said for Westfield, which has lodged an objection at VCAT in order to frustrate and delay the development. Check out this coverage of the stoush on the SMH website.

Bunnings paid a hefty $26 million for the 3 acre site in 2011 and shouldn't be getting frustrated by its biggest landlord across the country.

Reforming the ALP - time to tackle those who rule by fear and dirt

Kevin Rudd is absolutely right to launch an ethics-driven reform process inside the ALP, as was explained in our last edition.

Removing Eddie Obeid's great partner in power, Joe Tripodi, as chair of the powerful "disputes and credentials committee" of the NSW ALP branch was a long overdue move.

The same should happen with AWU godfather Bill Ludwig who recently described his unchallenged reign at the top as follows: "In those 25 years we never had a vote. Everything was agreed to by consensus or fear.”

Graham Richardson recently told Sky News that "Bill Ludwig absolutely hates Kevin Rudd and he runs the AWU."

The problem with Big Bill is that he's more interested in his own power than rewarding merit. How else did his uninspiring son Joe Ludwig finish up in the Senate, let alone Cabinet, where be botched the live export issue.

Wayne Swan has been the traditional keeper of the Ludwig flame and he's another bloke who was promoted well above his ability, inflicting considerable damage on brand Labor over his 6 years as Australia's Treasurer. Chris Bowen is straight out of the Keating mould and far better. The FBT move on cars was tough but right, irrespective of what the hysterical Murdoch press is saying about it, including the ridiculous piece on Sunday by David Pemberthy, the husband of Rudd Minister Kate Ellis.

If you want to see how backward Bill Ludwig is, look no further the website of Sunsuper, the biggest industry fund in Queensland with $19 billion under management. There are no women on the SunSuper board and no profiles about the blokes who dominate on their website or in the annual report.

Now that Bill Shorten has broken free of his Ludwig shackles through backing Kevin Rudd's return, surely the time has come for the youthful national secretary of the AWU, Paul Howes, to tap the 79-year-old Ludwig on the shoulder and push him into retirement.

Whilst some people are arguing that unions per se are the problem with Labor, I reckon it's more to do with a failure to deal with unethical conduct and individual bad apples.

For instance, many organisations have tenure limits to mitigate against the entrenchment of power and the bad practices that often come with long time leaders.

Rather than eliminating the 50% gerrymandered voting bloc that unions have over the ALP, it should be reduced to say 20% whilst also adding voting power to individual union members. It would also make sense to introduce tenure limits for union secretaries and encourage more truly national unions, to replace the federated structures where too much power remains with the various state divisions who then constantly fight with their interstate colleagues.

Why Shorten must clean up his act

There's also an issue of culture within some part of the union movement. For instance, how on earth can Bill Shorten's great mate Andrew Landeryou continue to prosper inside the Victorian ALP, effectively controlling the latest incarnation of the Health Services Union?

Shorten continues to actively back Landeryou's co-conspirator in the appalling Vexnews website, Kimberley Kitching, to score a seat in Federal Parliament.

This is what ABC radio doyen Jon Faine told listeners earlier this month during a discussion about the preselection battle for Lalor:

And what about someone who has been working at the HSU which is a toxic brand at the moment in trade union politics, saying that they want to come in. I mean they are just trying to rid the NSW Labor Party of all these sorts of influences and Kimberley Kitching from the HSU, from the internal battleground there, putting up her hand for a plum prize and all the baggage she brings with her husband the Vexnews blogger Andrew Landeryou, let's not avoid the elephant in the corner of the room, Labor party people saying 'oh my goodness what do we do about this?'

There are many people intimidated by Andrew Landeryou and the way he uses Vexnews to bully and undermine and ruin people's reputations. It is an issue that must be brought out and must be addressed and it is an absolute liability I would have thought in Labor circles and for people to be too frightened to raise it, talk about it or sort it out is exactly what is wrong and what went wrong in NSW in the HSU and in internal circles. You can't let that sort of rubbish go, except for calling it for what it is.

Kimberley Kitching served on the Melbourne City Council, she has her own career, she has her own political activity but you cannot ignore the fact that her partner, her husband, has a bankruptcy that had all sorts of problems attached to it, that he runs a website that is used ruthlessly and mercilessly in the most appallingly unethical way to settle scores or start fights or do all sorts of bad things in Labor circles and that can't be left unsaid.

Everyone knows that Bill Shorten is great mates with his old Xavier College mate John Roskam, but what on earth was Roskam doing defending Kitching's candidacy with Faine when it is widely known that many good Labor people are too scared to contest against Kitching because of what they fear Landeryou will do to them. Look no further than the recent Gellibrand preselection which saw some disgraceful material distributed about Kitching's rivals, plus an appalling video equating Stephen Conroy to Hilter.

In my view, Roskam's superiors at the IPA need to have a stern word to him about the company he keeps. Publically defending the Landeryou-Kimberley racket was an extraordinary thing for someone with aspirations for higher office to do. I asked him to publically condemn Vexnews and he declined.

Then again, people like Andrew Bolt also deal with Landeryou and Roskam employs Bolt's son at the IPA. You even had the notorious Bolt publically state on The Bolt Report last week that he was supportive of the campaign to put Kitching into the Senate. Does he really endorse someone associated with an unethical journalistic outfit that was kicked out of the MEAA. And why do News Ltd operatives likes The Australian's John Ferguson and the Herald Sun's James Campbell so obviously push the Landeryou-Kitching line when good people like Joan Kirner, Steve Bracks, Nicola Roxon are working hard to put them out of business? Are these Murdoch journalists scared of being sledged or just unable to develop their own Labor Party sources?

Here's hoping the Victorian Right get behind Senator Stephen Conroy's alternative Victorian Senate candidate, who was described by Landeryou himself in the following terms back in 2009: "We doubt there's been a wider read, more intellectually inclined, tough, smart, decent operator in Labor moderate politics than Mehmet Tillem. Even his foes in the Ambition Faction rate Tillem extremely highly and his parliamentary political future is all but assured."

Indeed, a far better candidate for number 3 on the Victorian Senate ticket than Kim Kitching.

The problem Landeryou has is that he's abused and stood over too many people. Surely he doesn't expect seasoned operators like senior Rudd political strategist Bruce Hawker to get behind the Kitching-Landeryou team when even he's been subjected to defamatory hatchet jobs like this effort. We don't condone or endorse a word of it, but think Bill Shorten owes a lot of a people a public apology. And so do other Landeryou-Kitching supporters who have gone public in recent days such as Melbourne Ports MP Michael Danby and former Cain government Minister Kay Setches, whose son is state secretary of the Plumbers union in Victoria. If ordinary plumbers knew the sorts of things their members funds are spent on they would be horrified.

What Labor should should offer the people of Menzies?

Wouldn't it be good if there was a serious contest against Kevin Andrews for the Federal seat of Menzies, which is based on almost identical boundaries to Manningham City Council.

Kevin Andrews has been there too long and is vulnerable to a strong campaign. This is what Labor should offer the people of Menzies:

* $4 million to allow the Bulleen Boomers to convert their crumbling Sheahans Road facility into a 5 court regional basketball centre.
* $5 million to fast-track the soccer pavillion at Petty's Reserve after years of under-investment in the sport by council.
* $500,000 to expand and redevelop the clubhouse facility at the thriving Wonga Park Tennis Club.
* $2 million to facilitate the expansion of the Domeny Reserve pavillion in Park Orchards to give the community a decent social hub.
* $1 million to bring the Donvale Reserve pavillion up to standard, provided the tenant clubs sign up to standard council arrangements.
* $2 million to bring forward the netball strategy at Templestowe Village, ending chronic under-investment in female sport.
* $5 million for the expansion of the Donvale Indoor Sports Centre so that Victoria's biggest gymnastics club can expand and the booming sports of table tennis and badminton can have a better home.
* $5 million of seed funding for the new highball facility at Mullum Mullum Reserve, including a basketball show court;

I was personally very disappointed when Kevin Andrews was the Liberal spokesman who tore down pokies reform. His opposition to the important governance measure of establishing an Australian Charities and Not-For Profits Commission was also very disappointing. This was one of Labor's best reforms, along with the two-strikes regime on executive pay.

Throw in his treatment of Mohamed Haneef, the torpedoing of the Northern Territory euthanasia laws and the fact he doesn't even live in the electorate and I reckon he's vulnerable. Labor just needs to find a decent local candidate to prosecute these arguments whilst promising to invest in much-needed community facilities.

How to handle developer donation conflicts at City of Melbourne?

The media had a field day earlier this month after City of Melbourne lost its quorum because 5 councillors declared a conflict of interest in relation to this item proposing a new developer contribution plan to fund open space.

Melbourne has long been a low-tax city when it comes to developer contributions, falling way behind City of Sydney which raises about $40 million a year.

Even our neighbouring smaller councils such as Port Phillip and Yarra raise more than we do, but that might all change after a couple of planning scheme amendments are approved. Indeed, the item that lost quorum is talking about "raising $408 million over 15 years".

The loss of quorum story even made it onto the 7pm ABC1 TV bulletin. Watch Frances Bell's story here and see The Age's coverage here.

Click here to listen to the audio of the non-debate and how it unfolded on the night.

As for what happens for the rest of this council terms, my personal view is that the legal advice that all 5 members of Team Doyle must declare conflicts as a group should be challenged, especially because they are not acting as an organised faction on council.

In the previous term of council, it was only the Leadership Teams (ie Robert Doyle and deputy Lord Mayor Susan Riley) who were deemed to have conflicts related to campaign donors.

Whilst Cr Kevin Louey, who was number 1 on Team Doyle's council ticket, was clearly heavily involved in the fundraising effort ahead of last year's campaign, the same can't be said for Cr Arron Wood and Cr Beverley Pinder-Mortimer, who were at 2 and 3 on the ticket respectively.

From everything I've seen, they had no idea who was donating and have never met most of the donors. Importantly, Team Doyle is also not acting as an organised voting bloc and Cr Wood and Cr Pinder-Mortimer have both voted against the Lord Mayor on issues. That's a good thing too.

For this reason, I've expressed the view to colleagues that in order for council to never lose its quorum again, Cr Wood and Cr Pinder-Mortimer should write to the local government minister and or the Local Government Inspectorate seeking dispensation that the donation declarations they signed as members of Team Doyle will not be deemed to conflict them on developer issues. If not, we are all disenfranchised on votes where the quorum is lost.

No council colleague had any advance notice that these views are being made public.

Ultimately, declarations of conflict are matters for individual councillors. As someone who is completely independent of Team Doyle, received no donations and spent nothing on the campaign, I'm well placed to have a view and would support Crs Wood and Pinder-Mortimer if they went down this path. However, for the perception issues to work, it would probably make sense if they publically undertook not to act as an organised Team Doyle group over the balance of the term. That's certainly been the experience so far, which is partly why City of Melbourne is running so smoothly at the moment. No one has the numbers and each issue is being dealt with on its merits.

Conflicts at state and federal level

If only state and federal MPs were subjected to the same conflict of interest provisions as Victorian councillors.

For instance, Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy is actively involved in negotiating a raft of controversial development approvals and some of the applicants have in the past, and will in the future, donate to the Liberal Party. There is no transparency about who the Minister is meeting with as he exercises huge discretionary powers. At City of Melbourne, all councillors have agreed not to meet with developers unless a planning officer is present.

When even developers such as Rich Lister Max Beck are getting quoted in The AFR on Saturday expressing concern about the Minister's obsession with approving sky-scrapers, you have to wonder about the governance issues around campaign finance for next year's state election. He's creating an awful lot of value for certain land holders at the moment and there's already been a major problem surface on Phillip Island. Will the Liberal Party promise not to ask the beneficiaries of the Minister's decisions for a donation next year?

Wouldn't it be great if the Napthine government banned developers from donating to councillors or registered political parties in Victoria. Just a thought. Maybe opposition leader Daniel Andrews should get on board the Rudd reform bandwagon and announce it first.

MAV deputy president hit by conflict issue

Speaking of conflicts of interest, former Whittlesea mayor and current Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) metropolitan vice president Mary Lalios is in a spot of bother after the Municipal Inspector formally warned her over 2 breaches of the Local Government Act.

The Whittlesea Leader has been going big on the story in print and the main piece last month also ran here on the Herald Sun website.

Long-serving MAV CEO Rob Spence has controversially injected himself into a governance issue by publically challenging the Inspectorate's ability to issue formal warnings. Local government Minister Jeanette Powell came out the following week in The Whittlesea Leader defending the Inspectorate which, from what I've seen, tend to do a pretty good job in difficult circumstances.

The details of the main case seems pretty clear and I reckon Cr Lalios is lucky the Inspectorate stopped at a warning and didn't go to court as Rob Spence is saying they must do.

The facts are that Cr Lalios and her husband owned shop 43 in a retail facility known as the The Stables. She then spoke and voted against an application put up by developer MAB at its giant University Hill project in Bundoora on the grounds that it would negatively impact surrounding retail centres, including The Stables. In my view, it's pretty clear cut and it is telling that Cr Lalios is refusing to discuss the issue publically.

However, many failures to declare a conflict are based on ignorance rather than deception or malfeasance. The actual vote is also important. If Cr Lalios was the swing vote which changed a decision, then the issue is definitely escalated.

As an example of conflicts oversight, we all missed the quorum issue on July 4 at City of Melbourne until 5 minutes into the debate when Robert Doyle noticed that Central Equity, one of his donors, had hired a firm to lodge a submission to our planning scheme amendment proposal.

Whittlesea has been wracked by Labor factionalism for the past few years. Cr Lalios was first elected mayor with the support of the Socialist Left faction and then defected to Labor Unity in order to score a second term in the chair.

She's now got the SL's best long-term operator in Whittlesea, John Fry, publically calling for her to resign as a councillor.

Cr Lalios was a good mayor but this is quite a blot on the copybook. She certainly shouldn't be rubbed out as a Whittlesea councillor, but in my opinion she shouldn't continue as Deputy President of the MAV, a position she won in a tight ballot against Cr Coral Ross earlier this year. Her Labor leaning supporters inside the MAV, such as President Bill McArthur, Geoff Lake and former Labor MP Peter Lockwood, should counsel her to stand down as vice president for the good of the organisation.

This is especially given that the MAV is running a big two day conference on good governance in September.

At the very least, if she wants to stay on as Deputy President, she need to clear the air by making a detailed public statement, rather than having Rob Spence run the public defence on her behalf in a way which seeks to undermine the regulatory process, rather than acknowledge that a mistake was made.

Poker machine reform still need - problem gambling has not gone away

On 14 June last year, the Victorian Gaming Minister (now Treasurer) Michael O'Brien directed the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission to conduct an inquiry into the social and economic costs of Victorian problem gambling. The VCEC presented its report on 14 December last year and it found that the yearly costs were between $1.5 and $2.7 billion! O'Brien has still not allowed publication of the final report, something the free speech advocates at the Herald Sun should be all over.

In order to reduce these costs (by preventing the harm of problem gambling on poker machines) anti-pokies campaigner Paul Bendat has been urging all Victorian political parties to adopt carefully researched measures that implement reforms that are both evidence-based and will not reduce Victorian state gambling revenue.

The first element is a progressive tax on poker machine venues so that the gambling dens where gamblers lose the most will pay the most state poker machine tax. While the burden on small clubs would be non-existent or small, big Victorian gambling operators like AFL clubs Carlton, Collingwood and Hawthorn, along with Woolworths and James Packer's Crown Casino would pay more. Bendat commissioned this Monash University Study detailing how it would work.

The second element is the limitation of the $1 maximum bet per poker machine spin so that gamblers could lose up to $120 an hour but no more. This reform will focus on problem gamblers and is the evidence based recommendation of the Productivity Commission. Implemented in accord with the historical depreciation history of poker machine software, implementation will cost venues almost nothing.

Bendat has backed this plan with a media campaign in the marginal Victorian electorates with billboards, flyers distributed to every household, press advertising and street crews passing out information at railway stations and shopping centres. Check out more about his excellent campaign on this website.

Also, here is a package of our past pokies coverage.

And try watching this 30 second anti-pokies ad featuring our daughter Alice, who was 6 at the time:

Firing up our Youtube channel again

When The Mayne Report first launched in 2007 we were posting daily videos on our Youtube channel. Alas, the cost and time of in-house video production, plus the lack of any revenue, made this model unviable. Besides, daily videos wasn't necessarily the best way to campaign for better corporate governance through shareholder activism.

In the end, it made more sense to channel our efforts into appearing on mainstream media video platforms. People watch Q&A, Inside Business and The Project.

However, when you look back at all the video we've got spanning our own productions, one-off interviews, profiles or lengthy interviews such as Nine's Sunday program or ABC TV's Talking Heads, the regular spot on Sky's Business View and webcasts of AGMs, it turns out we've got a rather large library of material, some of which is now available on our Youtube channel.

Some of the playlists on our video site including the following:

11 rounds with Rupert Murdoch

A few rounds with the Millionaires at Macquarie Group

Bye bye Babcock & Brown

The pokies

Gender equity and media trustworthiness in Intelligence Squared debates

Skewering Col Allan on Channel Nine's Sunday program

ASIC jail list should not feature Jonathan Moylan

The Mayne Report's ASIC jail list highlights what a slack job the corporate plod has done over the years.

It needs to be updated, but we sure hope that Whitehaven Coal activist Jonathan Moylan doesn't ever join the list.

He's in court tomorrow. ASIC's pursuit and prosecution of an individual acting for no commercial gain towards his personal view of a greater social good is arguably in contrast with its apparent inaction on white collar crime within large corporations. A case in point is its delay in acting in relation to the widely reported fraudulent misconduct in CBA's financially planning arm, which has helped trigger a Senate Inquiry into ASIC.

Crikey's Bernard Keane expanded on this theme in a recent strident piece of writing.

The ASA obviously doesn't believe fake press releases should be encouraged, but the media also should be held to account for not checking with either ANZ, Whitehaven or the ASX announcements platform before running with the story which temporarily moved the market. The fact that this is first time an individual has been prosecuted under s1041e of the Corporations Act goes to the point about the exceptional nature of the pursuit of Moylan.

The other problem with ASIC's approach is that they are imposing themselves on a highly contested political argument about the competing interests of coal seam gas and local farmers.

Many farmers believe they are simply working hard to protect its land, water, environment and future against the damaging impacts of Big Coal. Indeed, local farmer Rick Laird, whose family has been in the area since the 1830s, is speaking in support of Moylan in relation to this case. The Leard State Forest, which is named after his family, is under direct threat from the Whitehaven mine.

Moylan has apparently given an exclusive interview to Radio National which will be played tomorrow morning shortly before the 7am news. No doubt ASIC will be listening in.

Newcrest analysts crack-down hard to fathom

Speaking of ASIC, the proposed crackdown on analyst briefings is a very tricky area.

The Corporate Plod has been ridiculed in some areas about the proposal, but there is something to be said for examining how those UBS or Macquarie lunches with analysts work. One-on-ones are a dangerous area and I was uncomfortable reading a recent profile of fund manager David Paradice which trumpeted his greatest skill as asking probing questions of CEOs in one-one-one meetings. Maybe ASIC should start by attending one of these sessions.

ASA reckons the bigger issue with Newcrest relates to the write-down of $6 billion courtesy of the over-priced Lihir Gold takeover, not how the information was released. Long-serving chairman Don Mercer and CEO Greg Robinson should both be under considerable pressure. As should former Newcrest CEO Ian Smith who just released a shock profit downgrade at his new home of Orica last week.

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 so far in 2013

How Citi and the cabal of billionaires shafted Network Ten shareholders
Crikey, Thursday, January 18, 2013

Time is right to bring Rio Tinto HQ Down Under
Crikey, Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Another year of media failure on campaign finance
Crikey, Monday, February 4, 2013

Mayne: Lachlan Murdoch firing bullets in all directions
Crikey, Monday, February 25, 2013

Gina Rinehart gets behind campaign to bring Rio Tinto to Australia
Crikey, Monday, April 8, 2013

News Ltd bites the hand that feeds on local government recognition
Crikey, Monday, April 29, 2013

Are the Lowys worth their $300m in salaries?
Crikey, Thursday, May 23, 2013

How Murdochs, Packers and Lowys play power and control
Crikey, Monday, May 27, 2013

How to reform pay rates for Lowy labour at Westfield
Crikey, Thursday, May 30, 2013

Feeney battling several fronts in Batman
Crikey, Monday, June 3, 2013

Holy factions Batman: preselection battle hots up
Crikey, Friday, June 7, 2013

Barnaby and Albo hug hides referendum divisions
Crikey, Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Strange trading in News Corp demerger
Crikey, Friday, June 21, 2013

O'Farrell breaks promise, gifts Packer $250m in two days
Crikey, July 5, 2013

Handling conflicts and gigs on the talk circuit

There's been plenty of action on the talk circuit of late.

Leadership Victoria had one of their "fishbowl" sessions at The Age last Friday, where Mary Crooks, Jill Singer, Michael Short and I debated the media and spin for 90 minutes with a group of emerging leaders.

Funnily enough, a similar lengthy debate under the Chatham House rule was conducted last Tuesday with about 80 in-house corporate lawyers. Anything to do with understanding social media is attracting enormous interest from lawyers and corporates at the moment as it is a very difficult beast to understand.

There was also a recent talk at Crown Casino to the Institute of Chartered Accountants and in the weeks ahead there is a trip to South Australia for a couple of sessions with the Urban Design Institute of Australia.

On Thursday afternoon this week, there's another lengthy session with one of City of Melbourne's strategic planners talking to a group of visiting senior public servants from Singapore about managing growth in the city.

Both journalists and elected representatives need to be careful with how they play the talk circuit as you are ultimately getting paid undisclosed sums to present information. Tony Jones has done literally dozens of corporate Q&A conferences gigs over the past few years and there is no public disclosure, but at least he seeks clearance from his superiors each time.

These days, when in doubt, I just say "no" or go pro bono or seek to mainly cover expenses only, as the last thing you want is to be in the pay of someone who you will later be making decisions about or expressing opinions on.

For instance, as someone influencing ASA voting recommendations, it would be very easy to accept a paid speaking gig off an ASX200 company. But would that influence subsequent ASA advocacy? Even if it didn't, the perception would not be good.

That is the same reason that ASA doesn't ask its individual monitors to discuss corporate memberships that some ASX200 companies have with ASA.

Finally, click here to read feedback after speeches over the years.

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From the member edition archive

The Mayne Report goes to almost 17,000 people but if you're a relatively new reader, here are links to some of the more interesting email editions sent out over the past five years.


Backing Rudd, Lachlan Murdoch, Bob Brown media debate, Manningham governance, Gunns, Darebin, Lend Lease and St Kilda AGM appearance
Monday, February 20, 2012

The OZ goes mad, Murdoch piracy, AFR, pokies double rate, Gina unfit for Ten, council super blowout, BoQ rip-off, power speech and AGM mini-season
Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Murdoch special, media inquiry, pokies, Manningham win, Zara, secretive Shortenite councillors and a 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


Election wash-up, Mayne Report strategic review, Manningham, Ten, Gina, Falloon for Fairfax, Orica AGM, ABC year-ender, Cornwall, Rich List and then some
Friday, December 17, 2010

Woolies anti-pokies campaign speech, Manningham mayor boxes on, campaigning for women, Bob Brown, pokies forum, HTVs, Rich List and then some
Thursday, November 18, 2010

Paperlinx, Packer, Murdoch, Manningham, pokies, Rich ex wives, foreign takeovers and much more
Saturday, October 23, 2010

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 3, 2010

Director rankings, Rio, Westfield, New Matilda, MAP, Manningham, Paatsch, state election, Darebin, Moreland, rich list, pokies and much more
June 9, 2010

Political donations, Stokes, Westfield tower, Richard Colless, Manningham nursing home, state debt, Rich List, Grand Prix and more
February 23, 2010


Woolies, Higgins, Manningham, upcoming elections, Fairfax, Centro, Rich List, Rams, Fitzie and much more
December 6, 2009

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, hostile EGMs and much more
September 15, 2009

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


Collingwood AGM, Rizzo survives, ANZ shareholders MIA and Qantas delusions
December 19, 2008

ABC Learning, CBA's Centro brutality, sworn in, pokies, PacBrands and SPP plays
December 10, 2008

After 37 straight defeats, the drought is broken
December 1, 2008

71% backing at Centro, $11bn backing at BHP and huge Qantas protest
November 28, 2008

BHP backflip after $7bn backed our tilt
November 26, 2008

Combank's $700m ABC Learning debacle
November 13, 2008


Fortescue Metals AGM: time for Twiggy and FMG to grow up
Sunday, November 8, 2007, 10.30pm

How $5bn worth of votes backed us against Rupert's dodgy gerrymander
Saturday, 20 October, 2007, 7.20am

Mayne family news

All is well with Paula and the kids and old man Mayne is turning 44 tomorrow. Getting greyer by the day too!

That's all for now.

Do ya best, Stephen Mayne

* The Mayne Report is a multi-media governance website published by Stephen Mayne with occasional email editions. To unsubscribe from the emails click here.