Menzies campaign update, Westfield rates dodging, council gift register, The Australian's choosy gossip columnists, punting on the election and much more

May 31, 2016

Dear Mayne Report readers,

Greetings for the first time since our last bumper email edition on May 23. If you'd rather not receive these occasional email newsletters, click here to unsubscribe. If you like it, here's the URL to tweet or send to your friends, especially if they live in Menzies.

Menzies campaign update

It's all system go on operation "Kick out Kevin - the fake Liberal". We're gearing up to the point where it is safe to say Menzies will no longer be "The Forgotten Seat" when polling closes on July 2.

First up, we've done this 3000 word submission to the 2016-17 City of Manningham draft budget.

It outlines $50 million worth of long over-due Federal spending in Manningham/Menzies which Kevin Andrews has failed to deliver these past 25 years. Meanwhile, Federal cash is deluging down on neighbouring marginal seats such as Deakin and Chisholm.

Three Menzies candidate forums are locked in for next month and Kevin will have to explain why he's delivered so little.

The best he could do in The Manningham Leader this week was claim credit for delivering extra aged care beds, some un-named road funding and support for community groups. What about the fact that the Federal Government delivered $10 million for the Aquanation aquatic facility in Ringwood but in the neighbouring seat, Kevin delivered nothing towards the $20 million redevelopment of Aquarena in the City of Manningham.

Media interest in the campaign remains strong, even though a few old media rivals are playing the "oxygen rationing" game which ignores the merit of yarns. Not sure where that is tolerated in the MEAA code of ethics.

However, despite this, we've committed to spending $20,000 with News Corp's local paper, The Manningham Leader, in the last 4 weeks of the campaign, starting next Monday with a full page ad on page 4. Check out this page 5 lead in yesterday's edition of The Manningham Leader, which goes to more than 75% of homes in Menzies.

I also just spoke to 774 ABC Melbourne morning host Jon Faine on the question of whether candidates should be able to bet on themselves. It was a lively discussion and Paula thought I went a little too hard calling Kevin a "fake Liberal" and an "Abbott lover" who is a social extremist and pocketed $20,000 from Clubs NSW for his 2013 campaign.

The gossip item rejected by The Australian

Interestingly, the Jon Faine interview was based on the following gossip item which was offered exclusively to The Australian's Strewth and Margin Call columns last week, but didn't cut the mustard. Strangely, after initial interest on the email, the line went dead and there has been no explanation and not a single word in print yet about the battle for Menzies. What is going on at The OZ? Surely the question of candidates betting for and against themselves is worthy of public discussion. Do the big parties have policies on this for their candidates and campaign workers? I suspect not. Anyway, here is the rejected piece. As an old hand at gossip columns, I reckon it was a worth a run. Anyone else got a view?

Mayne can't get a punt on himself

Not by Will Glasgow, James Jeffrey, Christine Lacy and Stephen Brook

If a Federal election candidate bets both for and against himself, is that insider trading?

Newly elected Australian Shareholders' Association director and City of Melbourne councillor Stephen Mayne doesn't seem to think so.

Mayne is running as a “pro-Turnbull liberal independent” against Abbott bestie Kevin Andrews in the Victorian seat of Menzies and spent part of a recent Sunday morning arguing on Twitter with Labor's Victorian Racing Minister and Attorney General Martin Pakula about whether the party should plough $50,000 into the safe Liberal seat as part of an “anyone but Kevin” strategy.

Pakula told Mayne he had “Buckleys”, to which the regular candidate and long-time anti-pokies campaigner replied by offering Pakula a bet on whether he'd win the seat.

The always feisty Pakula sent Mayne packing, tweeting back: “just 'cos I'm the Racing Minister doesn't mean I'm a bookie. You want 10/1, back yourself on Sportsbet”.

Mayne duly opened his first ever online betting account with Sportsbet, deposited $100, disclosed who he was and attempted to put $100 on himself at 11/1.

Alas, the Sportsbet traders pondered the proposition for a couple of minutes and decided the risk of a $1100 payout was too great. They only agreed to take a maximum bet of $30.

With Labor and the Greens both rank outsiders on 26-1, Mayne then whacked the remaining $70 on Labor's Menzies candidate Adam Rundell and the Sportsbet house was happy to risk this $1820 payout.

Sportsbet may only be offering 1.01 on a Kevin Andrews victory but there are some Liberals who reckon Mayne is a good bet in Menzies.

Amidst regular Twitter stoushes with his former political staffer turned publisher of the 1999 anti-Kennett website, the former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett advised Mayne the other night: “If I was Stephen I would put his house on his chances of winning. Could be the best investment he ever makes”.

Andrews holds Menzies with a margin of 14.4%. Mayne says he can win on Green and Labor preferences with a primary vote of 15%, as long as the Andrews primary crashes from 58% to 43%.

A big ask, but stranger things have happened as “serial candidate” Andrews seeks a 10th term in Menzies amidst a few recent controversies, including allegations of ethnic branch-stacking in Menzies.

City of Melbourne update: D-Day for the gift register

Tonight is D-Day in Town Hall as this motion proposing a new online gift register is put to the vote. Effectively, this will also operate as a continuous disclosure regime for political donations, which would be a great transparency reform. There's some resistance from officers and Cr colleagues, which will hopefully be worked through this afternoon.

I won't be backing down but there may be a couple of amendments, including lifting the threshold from $150 to $200 and excluding gifts such as attending dinners when councillors are on overseas trade missions and the like.

Remember, anyone can come along on the first or third Tuesday of the month and ask a question at the beginning of our committee meetings. Proceedings start at 5.30pm tonight.

And check out this list of the 50-plus transparency reforms that City of Melbourne has implemented over the past 4 years. This has only been possible courtesy of a generally positive attitude to governance reform across the board amongst the colleagues and this councillor being in a balance of power situation between the 5 Team Doyle Crs and the 4 Labor-Green Crs. Imagine trying to leverage up long overdue governance reform in Canberra from a balance of power situation. That's potentially the Menzies play folks. We've done it before and know how to deliver.

Running Australia's most transparent campaign financing regime

The following email was sent to almost 300 people on May 24 and generated a few more donations as you can see from this latest version of our online donations register, an exercise in transparency that has never been done before by a Federal candidate. If you fancy giving us a hand, details are here.

Dear donors (past and present), friends, family and past volunteers,

Thanks to the 27 generous supporters who have so far collectively contributed almost $19,000 to my Menzies campaign since we announced on May 7.

When combined with the $2.70 per vote in public funding (assuming I get more than the 4% threshold), we now have a minimum $35,000 campaign to roll out over the next 40 days.

However, it will probably take a six-figure campaign to defeat Kevin Andrews so we've got a lot more fundraising to do in the period ahead.

For those of you who saw Four Corners last night, it is somewhat ironic that I'm simultaneously arguing for massive campaign finance reform whilst soliciting for donations to participate in an election campaign.

However, unlike the big parties, the intention is to be as transparent as possible on funding sources, focus on high volume/low value donations and to also ensure no policy positions or preference arrangements are unduly influenced by a donor. This also includes a wariness of donors who may have interests impacted by the activities of the Australian Shareholders' Association or City of Melbourne.

In the spirit of transparency, I've today published this chronological list of all your donations which have come in so far over the past 15 days. There is also an explanation of the tax deductibility situation at the bottom of that list, plus a section where donors can publically explain why they are supporting our campaign.

None of you have been fully identified but my preference is to do that, with your permission confirmed by replying to this email.

However, if there's any suggestion or concern of negative blow back for supporting me, then please don't feel pressured to have your name disclosed. Obviously members of the Liberal Party (and there's lots of support from moderate liberals who don't like Kevin Andrews' extreme social positions) need to remain anonymous as they could be expelled for supporting a rival candidate.

It is important to note that as long as I serve on Melbourne City Council, I will have to disclose all gifts above $500 on my register of interests, which is next due to be updated in August for the period from January 1 to June 30.

However, that won't apply if I resign from council after nominations close on June 9 and this is something under active consideration at the moment. Council elections are due in October this year so it is no drama resigning in June and missing the last 4 months of a 4 year term. Indeed, it would actually free me up to campaign full time and talk more openly about life as a councillor and how this experience will be useful in Canberra.

If you know of anyone else who may wish to support our campaign, the "how to donate" details are also on this page listing your contributions.

Thanks again for your support and I look forward to keeping you posted as the campaign unfolds, including updates on just how we are deploying your funds to try and make an important change of personnel in the Federal seat of Menzies.

Do ya best, Stephen Mayne

Is Westfield paying enough rates and land tax in Menzies?

Back in 2012 as City of Manningham councillors debated our rating strategy, I proposed the rather radical approach of adopting the very same valuations which major listed property companies published about their own assets in their various half yearly reports.

This would have brought in an extra $600,000 in rates from Westfield Doncaster but the officers argued that it wasn't possible as the council valuation system was different to what public companies assess to be market value. Besides, Westfield always litigates against their rates so why pick an even bigger fight than usual?

Four years later and Westfield is about to decide whether to challenge the 2016 valuation by City of Manningham at the same time as its seeks planning approval tonight for a $500 million expansion of its Doncaster complex, which was the first site the company developed outside of its home state of NSW.

We'll have plenty to say about this going forward but here's a little history.

In 2012, Westfield, through their valuation adviser, objected to the Doncaster site value of $52.69 million and Council responded by dismissing their claim the land was only worth $43.8 million. Council subsequently gained an independent valuation which came in at $220 million. The matter went to VCAT and Victoria's Valuer General wimped it and decided not to join the fray. Was this influenced by Westfield's long history of generous political donations? Hopefully not, especially given the independence of the Valuer General. The matter ended up settling at $50 million which was most disappointing. City of Manningham should have fought harder against the world's biggest and most powerful shopping centre empire.

Fast forward to 2014 and Westfield mounted their usual challenge to council's site value. The independent valuation came in at $240 million, however the Valuer General again failed to approve the supplementary rates at this level, which again was most disappointing.

Valuations happen every two years and all Victorian councils have just been through the process ahead of sending out the 2016-17 rate notices early in the new financial year.

With the state government jacking up projected land tax revenue from $1.7 billion in 2015-16 to a record $2.2 billion in 2016-17, you would have to assume that the official and agreed site value of Westfield Doncaster will surely crack $100 million.

And given that Westfield is tonight seeking planning approval from Manningham for a $500 million expansion in Doncaster, surely the company will be a bit less litigious about the amount of rates and land tax that it pays. And will the Valuer General squib it again? Only time will tell.

Westfield is currently valuing its Doncaster complex at $1.725 billion, against a capital improved value of less than $1.5 billion determined by Manningham City Council. Here's hoping Westfield is grateful for its $250 million discount, rather than doing the usual legal challenge which is never reported publically.

Meanwhile, tonight City of Manningham will vote on a new development plan overlay for Westfield ahead of a $500 million expansion.

Locals should try and get to the 7pm meeting as was argued in this flyer I dropped into neighbouring apartment complexes on Saturday afternoon.

Menzies campaign links online

We've now got the following campaign related links up on the website:

Media coverage of Menzies campaign

What Menzies voters say about Kevin Andrews

Full list of donations as they come in

Time to kick the Abbott in Menzies, Kevin

We know that Kevin Andrews and Tony Abbott are great mates but how many visits does Abbott really need to make to Menzies?

On Tuesday May 17, just 10 days after the Veneto Club fundraiser, Kevin and Tony Abbott brought their crew down to Templestowe Village, just 300 metres from our place. They popped into the post office, enjoyed a coffee at Harry's Cafe and chatted with traders and some locals.

One local called Phil told me a few days later that he went right up to Tony Abbott and said something like: "I've always been a Liberal voter but I can't vote for him (pointing at Kevin Andrews)."

Abbott asked why not and the reasons given included euthanasia, refusal to respect the community decision on marriage equality and the generally extreme 1950s social views.

This view is pretty wide-spread amongst the politically aware Liberal voters in Menzies.

Kevin's various flyers to voters

Kevin Andrews has already spent well over $200,000 on his Menzies re-election campaign, some of which comes from his generous taxpayer funded printing allowance, with the balance coming from his shadowy fundraising activities which featured on page 1 of The Sunday Age this week.

We don't know if Clubs NSW has given him even more money yet and he could even be pre-spending part of that $275,000 annual indexed pension which will kick in if he is defeated on July 2.

Anyway, click on these links to see some of what Kevin has been sending to voters.

Kevin's letter accompanying postal vote application form

Kevin's taxpayer funded survey for newly enrolled Menzies voters

Kevin's flyer with picture of PM photo-shopped

Here are some links to media coverage of the Menzies campaign

Thursday, May 26
Disclosing donations online, but will Kevin Andrews match this? - Crikey

Attacked in CBD News for running a profligate budget at City of Melbourne

Wednesday, May 25
"Paralysed by fear" - letter in The Canberra Times responding to Four Corners

Tuesday, May 24
Interview with Tim Shaw on 2CC about political donations

Monday, May 23
Mayne Report email edition on Menzies campaign and Four Corners

Appeared on Four Corners commenting on political donations.

Can Four Corners kick-start some campaign finance reform? - Crikey

Thursday, May 19
Item in Age/SMH CBD business gossip column about ASA AGM

Wednesday, May 18
AFR Rear Window piece on Abbott and Kevin Andrews fundraiser at Veneto Club

Tuesday, May 17
Supportive blog post by former BRW reporter Leo D'Angelo Fisher on Menzies tilt

Monday, May 16
Outlining the scenario in Menzies if hung parliament - Crikey

Letter in The Manningham Leader about sacked Kevin Andrews staffer

Friday, May 13
Interview with Tom Elliott on 3AW about councillors running federally

Wednesday, May 11
Interview with Tim Shaw on challenge to Kevin Andrews

Rear Window piece in The AFR about cranky Frank Lowy at Westfield AGM

Monday, May 9
Explaining the Menzies campaign for Crikey

Saturday, May 7
The Age broke the story of Menzies tilt

Mayne Report special edition announcing tilt

Called for Kevin Andrews to quit - Sky News interview

Follow up to Sky interview after tilt announce - AAP

Tap into ASA's excellent research lists

Any retail investor worth their salt should be a member of the Australian Shareholders' Association. The ASA website has an interesting list of 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

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

30-plus examples of where retail investors gathered 100 signatures

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.

Fighting the pokies

Listen to this campaign speech from the 2008 Woolworths AGM for a solid example of straight-talking pokies activism which has seemingly had little impact on our biggest pokies operators.

And try watching this 30 second anti-pokies ad made by Paul Bendat (our biggest supporter in the Menzies campaign) a few years ago featuring our daughter Alice, who was 6 at the time:

Donate to help keep us going

The Mayne Report is free. 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. Menzies is potentially our most exciting play yet, but we need community support to pull it off.

Alternatively, if you don't like Paypal, donations can be transferred to our account at Westpac

Mayne Report Pty Ltd
BSB: 036 406
Account number: 130897

Or, you can send a cheque to PO Box 925, Templestowe 3106.

Crikey yarns this month

Since Crikey was sold in March 2005, the freelance contributions to Australia's best known and longest running independent ezine have continued as follows:

2016: 35 stories so far
2015: 108 stories
2014: 51 stories
2013: 19 stories
2012: 56 stories
2011: 71 stories
2010: 64 stories
2009: 50 stories
2008: 264 stories
2007: 354 stories
2006: 295 stories
2005: 257 stories

Here are links to the Crikey stories since we launched our Menzies campaign:

Revealing the Menzies campaign for Crikey (pro bono)
Monday, May 9, 2016

Minor parties and independents should disclose hung parliament intentions (pro bono)
Monday, May 16

Can Four Corners kick-start some campaign finance reform? (pro bono)
Monday, May 23

Disclosing donations online, but will Kevin Andrews match this? (pro bono)
Thursday, May 26

How James Mathison should take on Tony Abbott in Warringah (pro bono)
Monday, May 30

Sign up for campaign and governance Tweets

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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. Authorised by Stephen Mayne, 90 Swanston St, Melbourne 3000.