Battling Slaters, a Stokes shocker, ASA conference, CBA litigation, council transparency, RACV reforms, Skywhale and lots of family news

April 30, 2015

Dear Mayne Report readers,

Greetings for the first time since our last bumper email edition on March 9. If you'd rather not receive these occasional email newsletters, click here to unsubscribe. Alternatively, if you like it, send this URL to your friends.

Shareholder activism speech tonight

If you're in Melbourne today, it is not too late to register and come along to a 6pm fundraiser I'm speaking at where the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility and Environmental Justice Australia are seeking support for their Federal Court action against the Commonwealth Bank on the question of shareholder resolutions.

Shareholder resolutions on environmental, social and governance issues are a healthy part of corporate democracy in other English-speaking countries. But, primarily for legal reasons, they are rarely launched in Australia.

US investors get to vote on hundreds of shareholder resolutions each year on a broad range of issues such as climate change, human rights, political donations and corporate governance.

Once Rupert Murdoch quit Australia for Delaware in 2004, I even did an SEC-endorsed shareholder resolution opposing the News Corp voting gerrymander in 2007. It received support from more than $5 billion worth of voted shares.

Until the late 1960s, US law was understood to preclude such shareholder resolutions in a manner very similar to the way they are viewed under the common law in Australia today.

That was until the 1970 US case Medical Committee for Human Rights v SEC. As the Vietnam War raged on, a US federal appeal court considered an SEC decision supporting Dow Chemical, which had refused to put a resolution on its AGM agenda such that “napalm shall not be sold to any buyer unless that buyer gives reasonable assurance that the substance will not be used on or against human beings”.

The court ruled such a resolution was valid and opened the way for the hundreds of resolutions now considered every year.

In December last year, the Commonwealth Bank board (like Dow) refused to place on its AGM agenda the preferred resolution of the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility dealing with disclosure to shareholders of the bank's financing of carbon emissions.

That resolution was framed in a manner similar to commonplace resolutions in the US. The ACCR (like the US Medical Committee) has filed suit in the Federal Court seeking a declaration the CBA board's obligation was to consider the preferred ordinary resolution, not the special resolution proposing a constitutional change which prevailed.

The case will be heard on June 1, and the judge's decision is likely to be available by mid-July.

I've got a half hour slot on shareholder activism at tonight's fundraiser so come along to the lovely City of Melbourne bowls club in the Flagstaff Gardens from 6pm if you've got nothing better to do and we'll hopefully keep you entertained and informed over drinks and canapes.

Dialing up the pressure on Slaters and unfair capital raisings

We've been getting stuck into legal giant Slater and Gordon of late after it produced a dreadful outcome for the retail shareholders who chose not to participate in its $890 million entitlement offer.

Crikey has had chapter and verse on the issue with these five stories over the past 4 weeks:

Have Slater and Gordon gone OTT with $1.2b UK takeover deal?
Monday, March 30, 2015

Aussie investors love Slaters UK plunge
Thursday, April 2, 2015

Slaters capital raising confirms unfair deal for retail investors
Friday, April 24, 2015

Slaters ducking for cover on capital raising for insiders
Monday, April 27, 2015

Why Slaters should have done a PAITREO capital raising
Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The key point is the sheer unfairness of non-participating retail investors getting 1c for their rights when institutions and company insiders collected $1.13.

This is very interesting territory. A retail investor is currently suing Primary Healthcare after not being invited into the institutional side of a capital raising and Terry Peabody is also litigating his old company Transpacific over a bookbuild which left him short on compensation.

I reckon something similar could be afoot here with Slaters, particularly if it can be shown that certain ":sophisticated retail investors" were not even invited to participate in the more lucrative institutional bookbuild.

Given that executive directors Andrew Grech and Ken Fowlie together pocketed about $5 million selling surplus rights through the institutional bookbuild, an argument could be mounted that the board had an obligation to inform all "sophisticated retail investors" of the opportunity to do likewise.

Those who are being asked to accept 1c for each right sold through the retail bookbuild have every reason to be upset that the company's top brass collected $1.13 for the same rights they chose to dispose of at the earlier opportunity.

On one interpretation, these transactions should have been treated as related parties and approved by independent shareholders.

It was good to see the ASA put out a press release recently outlining its "Focus Issues" for 2015. Top of the pops was unfair capital raisings, explained as follows:

This year the ASA will continue to raise the standard of corporate governance by advocating that companies treat retail shareholders equitably in capital raisings by giving them the opportunity to participate in a renounceable entitlements issue, or share purchase plan (SPP) following selective placements.

Chairman Ian Curry said “the ASA has had considerable success with making companies raise the cap on SPPs to enable retail shareholders to participate, and this will continue to be an area of focus.”

There will be plenty of material to work with. Abacus Property Group showed everyone how not to do it earlier this month when retail investors were deliberately diluted as a class and it was also disappointing that Dexus Property Group rejected our written request to have a VWAP pricing formula to accompany its $7.32 fixed price SPP which launches shortly.

Finally, check out this package of all our capital raising campaigning and coverage from over the years.

Sigh....another controversial related party transaction involving Seven and Kerry Stokes

If we get a few donations from today's edition (see next item), the flights will immediately be booked to attend the Seven West Media EGM in Sydney on June 2.

It will be a doozy after billionaire Kerry Stokes came up with yet another controversial related party transaction which will just rub salt into the wounds of retail investors.

The old WA News was always a popular stock with retail investors in Stokes' adopted home town of Perth.

After Steve Fielding delivered John Howard the senate numbers for media ownership reform complete with unlimited foreign investment in 2006, Kerry Stokes immediately raided WA News, paying a ridiculous $11 a share or $343 million for his initial 14.9% stake.

Nine years later and 7 years after taking control of WA News without making a full bid, Stokes is now investing an additional $250 million in Seven West Media at the knock down price of $1.28 per share, courtesy of an early conversion of hybrid shares held by the majority Stokes-owned Seven Group Holdings.

The 23,000 long-suffering small investors still hanging on to what's left of the value in the rebadged Seven West Media, are now being offered the chance to double-down again with a non-renounceable 2.27 for 3 entitlement offer at $1.25.

Seven confirmed this morning that it raised $289 million from the rapid-fire institutional offer yesterday as major shareholders such as Ausbil Dexia and Sumitomo presumably thought it worthwhile avoiding being diluted. However, it was interesting that $85 million worth of institutional commitments were rejected, which amounts to a larger than expected 22.7% of the entire $374 million institutional offer.

This as first looked like a smart call because after 2 days of heavy market losses, Seven West Media shares plunged from $1.36 to a low of $1.21 in resumed trade this morning. However, it recovered to $1.29 by 11am. Unusually, the institutional commitments don't have to be settled until June 3, coinciding with the retail settlement and after the June 2 shareholder vote on the related party transaction.

Frankly, it is just ridiculous that Australia's Wild West capital raising system allows a company to give its major shareholders 24 hours to sign up for a major capital raising that is twinned with a controversial related party transaction which is contingent on shareholder approval from the same institutional shareholders.

Whatever happens, it appears certain that Kerry Stokes will again lift his control over Seven West Media without ever offering a premium to all shareholders.

Even if the share price stays above the $1.25 offer price, if chronically low retail participation rates of the past are any guide, the vast majority of retail investors won't choose to take up much of the $238 million of new shares they are being offered over the coming weeks.

This is where renounceability is vital. Under-writer UBS has the worst record in the Australian market when it comes to treatment of retail investors and making this deal non-renounceable is a deliberate and conscious act to dilute retail shareholders as a class.

Ultimately, this is a story about Kerry Stokes's ego needing to hang on to control of Seven, when he should have done a James Packer and walked away from his private equity partners KKR.

Instead, WA News was co-opted to pay up for Seven and KKR got out when the dollar was strong, pocketing a final $260 million in cash when it offloaded the last of its Seven West shares two years ago $2.21 a pop.

These same dopey institutions which bought this stock are now injecting more money to finally try and deal with all that excessive pre-GFC debt which was used for the original KKR entry into Seven, after it missed out in the earlier auction for Packer's PBL Media business.

This conversion of $250 million worth of converting preference shares into ordinary Seven West equity at $1.28 is just the final chapter in the story of the old WA News over-paying in a related party transaction with Kerry Stokes for a strong but structurally challenged television business and a failing magazine business.

It will also mean Stokes's main listed vehicle, Seven Group Holdings, will probably end up controlling around 40% of Seven West, assuming a low retail take-up.

If the stock remains above $1.25, Stokes owes it to the punters to run a strong marketing and education campaign for retail investors to maximise participation and minimise dilution. If the rights were tradeable on the market or saleable in a bookbuild at the end, this sort of thing would not be necessary.

Donate to help keep us going

The Mayne Report has accumulated net losses of almost $300,000 since we launched in October 2007. 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 $30,000 worth of donations over the past five 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 so we can get to Sydney for a June 2 date with controversial billionaire Kerry Stokes:

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City of Melbourne transparency update

Council is going well. We are releasing the 2015-16 budget on Thursday, May 7, which is neatly squeezed between the Victorian budget on May 5 and Joe Hockey's second Federal budget on May 12.

As was admitted to local newspaper proprietor Shane Scanlon in this recent CBD News profile, I'm running out of new ideas on the transparency front.

One option now being pursued is taking the roll call of City of Melbourne transparency measures to other local government voting forums, as you can see from this omnibus governance motion that will be debated at the Australian Local Government Association national general assembly in Canberra in June.

All 7 transparency measures being proposed for endorsement at ALGA are currently in place at the City of Melbourne but will the delegates form across Australia endorse these words?

That the National General Assembly endorse the following transparency and disclosure principles as measures to be considered by local government across Australia to demonstrate leadership in good governance and transparency.
  1. Public disclosure on council website of a full lease register detailing the terms of any arrangements with third parties who occupy council-owned land and buildings.
  2. Annual public disclosure on council website details of independent valuations of council-owned land and buildings above a threshold of $1 million.
  3. Disclosure in council annual reports the employment terms of their five most senior officers including name, position, remuneration and length of contract.
  4. Making an audio recording of council and committee meetings available alongside the formal minutes where practicable and affordable.
  5. Allocation of at least 15 minutes each month to unscripted oral public questions at a full council or committee meeting.
  6. Periodic disclosure on council website of expense claims made by councillors.
  7. Pre-approval of interstate and international travel by councillors at an open council or committee meeting.
City of Melbourne's pioneering People's Panel for our first ever 10 year plan continues to attract lots of attention and this video council made on the whole process is well worth watching.

The first draft of the 10 year plan is close although it won't be included in the draft budget released next Thursday.

We've tried a new transparency reform with this year's budget process by releasing our 140 draft 2015-16 actions three weeks ahead of the budget.

Anyone can come along on the first or second Tuesday of the month and ask a question at our committee meetings about anything.

In addition to this, we'll be listing oral submissions on our draft actions as a separate general business item at four committee meetings, including the next two Tuesdays .

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

Not too late to sign up for ASA national conference next week

With almost 300 delegates signed up, the Australian Shareholders' Association conference at Crown in Melbourne next week should be a boomer.

If you fancy a visit to the world's most liveable city there are still a few spots left for the event which runs from Monday, May 4 until Wednesday, May 6, when the ASA AGM will be held.

Check out the full three day program and you can still register to attend here for just $675 for ASA members or $825 for non-members.

I'll be chairing two lengthy governance sessions on the Wednesday.

The first at at 11.30am will examine the topic "activism on the rise" with Computershare boss Greg Dooley, proxy voting powerhouse Dean Paatsch from Ownership Matters and Tim Sheehy, CEO of the Governance Institute of Australia.

Then the conference will close with a one hour session called "grill the chairs" when delegates will be able to ask questions of Suncorp chair Ziggy Switkowski, Tabcorp chair Paula Dwyer and Dulux chair Peter Kirby, who have together sat on the boards of more than 10 ASX 50 companies.

Other speakers at the conference include Wesfarmers CEO Richard Goyder, stockbroker Marcus Padley, Nine's Ross Greenwood and NAB chief economist Alan Oster.

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.

MAV and promoting good female talent on ASX boards

For the second Municipal Association of Victoria election in row, City of Melbourne has been the swing vote out of 5 councils which delivered a new female director to the board representing our central region. In 2013 it was City of Yarra's Jackie Fristacky who prevailed over Darebin's Gateano Greco 3-2 and the recent elections saw City of Port Phillip's Bernadene Voss prevail 3-2 over Moreland's Oscar Yilditz.

The new board has a particularly challenging job ahead of them after the Victorian Auditor General produced this scathing report on the MAV, which was at first resisted by the old board.

Long-serving blokes can often get set in their ways and I pointed out at recent MAV forum how disappointing it was to see that the board of MAV Insurance has only 1 female representative out of 9 and an average tenure of 14 years with no new appointments since 2009. Some renewal is underway now but after $6 million of Insurance losses over the past two years, change and renewal should have commenced years ago.

In other gender news, it was great to read that new AICD CEO John Brogden has delivered an excellent new target of 30% female representation on ASX200 boards by 2018. His recent column in Company Director magazine explaining the move was well worth a read.

The appointments of new female directors are coming along at a steady pace. On Tuesday we had Virgin Australia appoint Elizabeth Bryan as both a new director and chairman and even the fuddy duddys who run Ramsay Healthcare finally got with the program and announced two new female directors, Margaret Seale and Patricia Akopiantz, to complement the old boys and company insiders who control that board.

RACV tidies up governance, ensures political independence

After a special meeting of members yesterday, the RACV has completed a commendable governance reform process which will reduce the board from 15 to 10 and also ensure its independence going forward.

After Suzanna Sheed won the Victorian seat of Shepparton off the Nationals as an independent last year, she immediately resigned from the RACV board. But there was nothing in the constitution which mandated this.

Under Victorian law, state and Federal MPs are not also allowed to serve on local councils and, after yesterday's vote, the RACV has now made a comparable amendment to its constitution by banning MPs from either standing for or serving on its board.

However, RACV has gone a bit further by also banning local councillors or candidates in council elections from standing for the board.

Despite being both a former RACV board candidate and current local government councillor, I support and understand the changes.

There is now no chance that the RACV could suffer the same fate as the NRMA which was effectively taken over by associates of the Labor Party in the 1990s after its advocacy and political influence sparked a raft of contested board elections.

After almost 9 years on the board, my better half Paula Piccinini has resigned from the board to help facilitate the governance reform. She would have been up for election this year and now the RACV will be able to save more than $500,000 by not conducting a roadside membership election in 2015. Under the new model, these will now be held every second year.

New RACV chairman Kevin White did a good job leading the governance reform process and presiding over yesterday's meeting which was attended by approximately 50 members.

About 5500 proxies were received and both the reduction in board size and prohibitions on political candidates were supported by more than 99% of the proxies.

Great value Crikey subscription deal through The Mayne Report

March 9 this year marked 10 years since 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 that 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 on how you can affordably join 17,000 subscribers and support independent journalism through Crikey.

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.

24 Crikey yarns since last edition

As you can see below, it has been an average of three Crikey stories a week of late and there will be another one on Kerry Stokes tomorrow:

Packer's big casino expansion plans in Melbourne
Thursday, March 12, 2015

Why Fairfax should ditch 2GB radio merger
Friday, March 13, 2015

Herald Sun hypocrisy over Murdoch council rent seeking
Monday, March 16, 2015

Turnbull should push ahead with media reform package
Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Time to end the Packer-Murdoch soap opera at Ten
Thursday, March 19, 2015

How much cash will in-the-money Macquarie SPP generate?
Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Gerry Harvey windfall at expense of his small shareholders
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Corbett finally backs a successor at Fairfax
Friday, March 27, 2015

Have Slater and Gordon gone OTT with $1.2b UK takeover deal?
Monday, March 30, 2015

Full list of chairs rushed into top job
Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Aussie investors love Slaters UK plunge
Thursday, April 2, 2015

ACA goes after Murdoch tax planning
Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Abacus Property Group shafts its retail investors
Friday, April 10, 2015

Media attacks discourage local government transparency
Monday, April 13, 2015

AGM mini-season preview piece
Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Feral Herald Sun attacks sensible East West settlement
Thursday, April 16, 2015

Early release of City of Melbourne's 2015-16 action items
Friday, April 17, 2015

Ian Rogers mis-fires in ALP preselection battle for Melbourne
Monday, April 20, 2015

Why does Takeovers Panel suppress free speech?
Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Slaters capital raising confirms unfair deal for retail investors
Friday, April 24, 2015

Slaters ducking for cover on capital raising for insiders
Monday, April 27, 2015

Why Slaters should have done a PAITREO capital raising
Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sign up for campaign and governance Tweets

Click on the image above to join 24,700 followers on Twitter. We are regularly dropping out observations about journalism, politics, breaking stories, local government and shareholder activism.

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, 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: it's all happening in the UK

The world's oldest columnist and former Crikey contributor, Philip Mayne, was the last surviving British officer from WW1 when he died at 107 in 2007.

He had an interesting career with ICI, rising to being chief engineer at what was the biggest chemical plant in the British empire. Philip had 3 children, including my dad, David Mayne, who emigrated to Australia in 1969. Philip Mayne's 8 grand children have proven to be a diverse and interesting lot.

Here's one of them, Chris Stedman. He continued the family tradition in studying chemical engineering and went on to have an amazing career as a global pioneer in seaborne LPG trading.

Chris enjoys horse racing and owns a few nags. He took us to the Melbourne Cup in 2013 and was back in Melbourne last month for a flying visit. A couple of weeks back, one of Chris's horses, Royale Knight, finished 6th in the Grand National, the world's most famous jumps race.

Royale Knight is trained by another 1st cousin of ours, Dr Richard Newland. He's been getting a truckload of publicity in the UK ever since this part-time hobbyist trained the winner of last year's Grand National, Pineau De Re, which finished 11th this year. Watch that famous 2014 victory here, after you get through the taxpayer funded Charlie Pickering ad if you are in Australia.

Richard's father is Professor David Newland who headed the Engineering department at Cambridge University. He is married to my Aunt, Patricia Newland, who is the English Anglican Minister mentioned in this amusing correction mum sent to Crikey last month.

Richard Newland's older brother Andrew Newland is also doing some interesting stuff as CEO of UK-listed company Angle Plc, which has just raised more than $15 million as it powers ahead with a cancer treatment technology. Check Andrew's form out in these recent television interviews in the UK.

Compared to all that, our lives are positively dull Down Under.

Philip Mayne's 3 Australian's grandchildren gathered with their 8 children for a family holiday at RACV Cobram over Easter. We had a fabulous time, although Alice fractured her wrist after falling off her bike, so she's missing the start of her winter tennis, basketball and football commitments. She got dinner out with mum and a movie last night because our other two kids, Laura and Philip junior, are on school camps this week.

This weekend will be interesting as we've entered a Mayne family team spanning three generations in an open age tennis competition for the winter.

This will involve my mum playing doubles with 10 year old Philip against men and women of all ages and me teaming up with 13 year old Laura for the first time. We've asked to be in the second lowest grade and the challenge will be also getting Paula to play her first set of competition tennis before the winter is through.

In other family news, we had a great night at the opening of Patricia Piccinini's latest show at Tolarno Gallery in Melbourne.

Tolarno rents space off the Liberal Party at 104 Exhibition Street, so if you are in the Melbourne CBD do head down and check out the sister-in-law's latest fabulous show.

Patricia's Skywhale is still generating plenty of publicity in Canberra, the latest burst coming after ACT chief minister Andrew Barr inexplicably declared she had come to the end of her natural flying life, which was comprehensively debunked by Patricia in this Crikey piece.

All three kids are playing AFL this winter and there's already been plenty of mud, goal umpiring in the rain and mid-week training sessions under lights.

As mentioned above, Paula has come off the RACV board after almost 9 years and will be heading back to the bar to practice as a mediator, although in the short term she's focused on putting together a Royal Commission submission for a not-for-profit she chairs which operates in the family violence space.

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, shareholder advocate and City of Melbourne councillor. To unsubscribe from this email list, click here.