Ten years ago today...Crikey was sold - here's a special offer

March 9, 2015

Dear Mayne Report readers,

Greetings for the first time since our last bumper email edition on December 22, 2014. If you'd rather not receive these occasional email newsletters, click here to unsubscribe.

Ten years on, a special Crikey offer

Ten years ago today - on March 9, 2005 - Eric Beecher's team at Private Media took editorial control of Crikey.

And they've done a great job with it, as was explained during this recent interview with Richard Aedy on Radio National's Media Report.

To mark the occasion, we've teamed up with Crikey to come up with a special Mayne Report offer on a monthly Crikey subscription. It is pitched at just $14.30 per month, compared with the normal monthly price of $15.90.
Go here for details.

I'll be writing at least three Crikey stories a week over the period ahead and The Mayne Report will be taking a break, so if you not on board now is a good time to join 17,000 subscribers and support independent journalism through Crikey.

Independent media is more important than ever in Australia and yesterday I spent $245 renewing subscriptions to The Saturday Paper and The Monthly.

Crikey's 15th birthday was on February 14 and they've got an excellent package of coverage to mark the occasion, including this 2000-word piece on the events that led up to the launch.

Don't miss the big ASA conference in Melbourne

Every two years, the Australian Shareholders' Association puts on a cracking conference for retail investors.

Crown is hosting this year's event from May 4-6 in Melbourne.

There is a stellar line up of speakers, including:
  • Richard Goyder – CEO Wesfarmers
  • Paula Dwyer – Chairman Tabcorp Holdings
  • Peter Kirby - Chairman Dulux
  • Dr Ziggy Switkowski - Chairman Suncorp Group
  • Elio D'Amato - CEO Lincoln Indicators
  • Alan Oster – Chief Economist NAB
  • Roger Montgomery – CFO Montgomery Investment Management
  • Dean Paatsch – Founder, proxy advisory firm Ownership Matters
  • Marcus Padley – Director Marcus Today
  • Gordon Hagart – CEO Australian Council of Superannuation Investors
After a very stimulating debate with David Gonski, Bob Avery and Belinda Hutchinson in 2013, a highlight for me will be once again be chairing the final one hour "grill the chairs" session, this with Paula Dwyer, Ziggy Switkowski and Peter Kirby.

The attractive early bird offer closes on March 16 and is great value at $575 for ASA members and $725 for non-members. Both include partners. So why not visit the world's most liveable city in the first week of May and enjoy a stimulating ASA program at Crown, which includes three interesting "site tours" offered by Asciano, CSL and Crown itself.

City of Melbourne transparency update

The roll out of new transparency measures continues apace at council.

A nearly complete list of initiatives was outlined in this Mayne Report edition last November, but last week we also revealed the individual valuations of 75 properties council owns which are worth more than $2.5 million. The AFR covered it comprehensively last Thursday.

Councillors also voted at the February council meeting (see p6 of the minutes) for an early release of our 2015-16 "annual actions" which will allow more time for public ventilation and formal submissions.

If you've got any other suggestions of new transparency or good governance measures that Melbourne could add to its forthcoming 2015-16 actions, send an email to stephen.mayne@melbourne.vic.gov.au or just reply to this email.

I haven't had any luck with the colleagues yet on a proposal to get our media department to produce an annual report on the volume of coverage generated, which could potentially include 20-50 examples of written replies to journo queries which might be of interest to the public. Media queries are given greater councillor visibility than anything else at City of Melbourne and I'm always learning new things seeing the detailed responses that our team serve up.

The argument goes that if you spend ratepayer dollars researching information to give to one journalist, why not release it generally if the data is of interest to the wider public. It wouldn't be straight away so the journo could still produce their big exclusive, but once a year we'd see what sort of information is being selectively released to journalists who lodge formal requests.

Finally, don't forget that anyone can come along at 5.30pm on the first or second Tuesday of the month and ask a question at one of our committee meetings.

Here is the agenda for tomorrow night, which includes this motion taking issue with the Federal Government's attack on foreign property investors.

If you want to listen back to see how some of the committee meetings have opened with questions, go here.

Pressure on the Municipal Association of Victoria

As the Herald Sun reported last week (and again here today), Victorian Auditor General John Doyle has produced a scathing performance audit of the Municipal Association of Victoria.

This was dropped right in the middle of the board elections which concluded on Friday with 5 new additions to the 13-person board.

I had a run in the Metro Central region and in a crowded field was happy to deliver a second preference to City of Port Phillip's Cr Bernadene Voss who was successful after an "out of the hat" elimination process.

The new board has a tough job ahead of them. The old board was fully supportive of the initial combative approach taken against the Auditor General by long-serving CEO Rob Spence but this won't wash with the wider membership who will be looking for serious implementation of many of the recommendations and reform.

Sure, recommendations supporting a government takeover of the MAV should be resisted, but there are very few organisations which get whacked by VAGO like this and survive with a "business as usual" approach.

It was a shame the report didn't come out earlier as it may have impacted on the Presidential election which saw veteran Bill McArthur returned with a 40-18 victory over Whitehorse mayor Andrew Munroe. If the VAGO report was released before nominations closed, it would definitely have triggered a bigger field of challengers, although Bill is nearly impossible to beat thanks to the rural gerrymander.

Tap into ASA's excellent research lists

Any retail investor worth their salt should be a member of the Australian Shareholders' Association and the value proposition has never been better.

The ASA website has a growing list of interesting research lists, some of which are member-only behind the paywall. Here are a few favourites:

Longest serving ASX 200 directors

New CEOs who embrace write-offs

Biggest protest votes against directors in 2013

Measuring independent chairs for "skin in the game"

Capped SPPs which were then expanded

How retail investors do worse with separate bookbuilds

The 100 most important remuneration protest votes

31 examples of where retail investors gathered 100 signatures

ASA does not publish voting intentions reports free on its website. However, "subscribers" who merely give their details will get plenty of access so that's definitely worth doing.

And if you want to see all the research plus the full archive of AGM reports and voting recommendations since 2009, you really should become a member. Click here.

Aristocrat Leisure AGM

There won't be much flying around to attend AGMs in the period ahead but a trip was made to Sydney recently to attend the annual meeting of global pokies giant Aristocrat Leisure.

It was held at the global headquarters in North Ryde and shareholders had the pleasure of inspecting a showroom full of addictive machines.

After 30 minutes of presentations, debate stretched out for more than 90 minutes as about 10 different shareholders lobbed questions at the board, which was very open and constructive in their answers.

CEO Jamie Odell said he wasn't aware of a forthcoming Neil Lawrence documentary on pokies which will be broadcast on the ABC later this year. The staff made contact after the meeting to say they were aware of it.

However, Jamie was aware that Aristocrat has just been forced to buy a new Porsche for its 91-year-old billionaire founder Len Ainsworth.

Len is a rare creature who has twice built a misery-inducing billion dollar pokies business, but his termination package with Aristocrat includes life-time provision of a car, any car.

Five of Len's seven sons still own 18% of Aristocrat and the AGM debate included some opposition to these gents getting selectively briefed by the CEO twice a year.

When asked if Len's will might trigger a merger if the sons inherit his separate Ainsworth Gaming Technology business, Aristocrat chairman Ian Blackburne said they knew nothing about the will and treated Len as a competitor.

Finally, try watching this 30 second anti-pokies ad made by Paul Bendat a few years ago featuring our daughter Alice, who was 6 at the time:

Crikey yarns since last edition

The excellent $14.30-a-month Crikey subscription offer outlined above will give you access to plenty of interesting stories over the period ahead. Here are links to what we've written for Crikey so far in 2015 and there will be plenty more like this over the coming weeks:

Time for the old white guys to shuffle off boards
Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The pros and cons of Andrew Rule's Kerry Stokes biography
Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Alan Jones and Fairfax make strange bedfellows
Thursday, January 8, 2015

Thin-skinned Kerry Stokes tried to stop unauthorised biography
Monday, January 12, 2015

AFR coverage of Westfield saga deserves scrutiny
Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Why Queensland needs asset sales to reduce $94b debt
Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Governance and disclosure issues in Fairfax property dealings
Friday, January 16, 2015

Reducing remuneration disclosure by public companies
Monday, January 19, 2015

Queensland privatisation will not be mired in cronyism
Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Alan Jones vs Liberal-linked Millner family
Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Can Alan Jones win his defamation battles?
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Which corporates donated to Federal Libs?
Monday, February 2, 2015

Rupert says goodnight to his Saudi Prince
Friday, February 6, 2015

The events which lead to the launch of Crikey
Monday, February 16, 2015

Rupert and Kennett open up on Twitter
Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Herald Sun climate hypocrisy revealed
Friday, February 20, 2015

Xenophobic attack on Chinese investors
Wednesday, March 4, 2015

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From the member edition archive

If you're a relatively new Mayne Report reader, here are links to some of the more interesting email editions sent out over the past seven years.


Special edition on the Victorian election result
Sunday, November 30, 2014

Vic election, Herald Sun, Rupert votes, Tex, Xenophon and much morey
Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rupert AGMs, Cabcharge, Costello, Bolt, Ten and Victorian election
Sunday, November 16, 2014

CBA tilt, LA visit, Rupert AGMs, Cabcharge and state election
Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cabcharge, donations for Rupert visit and governance reforms at City of Melbourne
Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tilts, Fairfax, CBA, Brickworks, Albert Park, ASX, Woolies, pokies and Crown
Friday, September 20, 2014

We're back: inside a post-ASA election season blitz
Monday, September 15, 2014


Capital raisings, Ansell, IAG, Packer, pokies, Rich List, City of Melbourne and ASA update
Monday, December 23, 2013

Franking robbery, East West trust breach, BHP bonuses, John Gay and plenty more
Sunday, August 25, 2013

ASA policy paper, Kevin Andrews on the pokies, Senate preferences and much more
August 19, 2013

ASA, Billabong, Westfield, Newcrest, Shorten, Turnbull, pokies and then some
Monday, July 22, 2013

Rudd v Gillard, referendum, Labor sleaze, Clive Palmer, ASA, City of Melbourne and plenty more
Monday, June 24, 2013


Backing Rudd, Lachlan, Bob Brown media debate, Manningham governance, Gunns and St Kilda AGM
Monday, February 20, 2012

The OZ goes mad, Murdoch piracy, AFR, pokies double rate, Gina, council super, BoQ rip-off and power speech
Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Murdoch special, media inquiry, pokies, Manningham, Zara, secretive Shortenite crs and Vodafone take-down
Thursday, September 15, 2011

Elected to ASA board, pokies, Rio, Santos, RHG, Hartigan, Manningham, capital raisings and Rich List
Thursday, May 19, 2011


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

DJs, women on boards, ex Lib goes no pokies, preferences, Pratt-Shorten, Labor's debt and Manningham council audio
August 3, 2010

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

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


Seven AGM, crazy Perth visit, Fairfax, Telstra, Transfield, capital raisings and much more
November 9, 2009

News Corp AGM, Packer, Fairfax, James Strong, Woolies, Eastern Golf, Kohler-Gatto and much more
October 20, 2009

Bad Bendigo, Mark Day, Manningham, pokies, NAB, Asciano, Rich List, Paladin and hostile EGMs
September 15, 2009

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

2008 as the GFC hit and before we got overloaded at Manningham

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

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

Computershare AGM, Seven wash-up, audio highlights and ABC Learning chair under pump at Lend Lease
November 11, 2008

Toll board skewered over $55m executive rort
October 30, 2008

Transurban shareholder revolution - chairman almost defeated
October 28, 2008

A huuuuge day for Australian corporate governance
October 22, 2008

Rupert's accountability dodge, Macquarie's Italian hit, Babcock funds revamp, pokieact.org and rich lists.
October 20, 2008

BHP and Woolies tilts, AFIC push on Stan Wallis, ASX-Kohler yarn and new Rich Listers
September 26, 2008

Risk Metrics nails Macquarie and Babcock
September 18, 2008

Macquarie videos, Stokes raid, new board tilt, Oz Minerals, share trading and much more
July 25, 2008

Hegarty Payout rolled, history is made
July 18, 2008

Great debate at the Babcock AGM
May 30, 2008

Our liveliest edition yet
Thursday, May 8, 2008

Burrows quits, Rupert, donations, long-serving directors and much more
January 31, 2008

Markets tumble, Rupert book deal, Centro, Rich List, Xenophon, AFR tips and our buying spree
January 17, 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

We're at Moomba today, watching out for King Warnie wearing his crown! The kids are happy to have the day off school and a break from an increasingly demanding sporting schedule which now involves swim squad, basketball, tennis, 3 lots of AFL pre-season training and volleyball for Laura. At least it keeps them off the screen, which is a constant challenge.

Meanwhile, the famous sister-in-law, Patricia Piccinini, featured in The Canberra Times on Saturday after ACT chief minister Andrew Barr had a "radio gaffe" and got all confused about her wonderful Skywhale creation which should have been flying this weekend in Canberra.

There will be more about this in Crikey today.

That's all for now.

Do ya best, Stephen Mayne

* The Mayne Report is an email newsletter and website which promotes transparency and good governance in the corporate, political and media worlds. It is published by Stephen Mayne, the founder of Crikey.com, shareholder advocate and City of Melbourne councillor. To unsubscribe from this email list, click here.