Go Malcolm, denting Kevin, Menzies wash-up, AEC goes nuclear and plenty more

July 10, 2016

Greetings Mayne Report readers,

This will be our last Menzies-focused edition but if you'd rather not receive these occasional email newsletters, click here to unsubscribe.

Unlike the mad Murdoch dancing bears such as Andrew Bolt and Terry McCrann, we're not about to start screeching like a banshee for Malcolm Turnbull to resign and Tony Abbott to come back.

It now looks highly likely that Malcolm Turnbull will be a able to form a government and this will be far better for Australia than the alternative of Bill Shorten and Labor taking over.

We tried minority government on the left under Julia Gillard and, whilst some good reforms were achieved, ultimately we were left with a huge debt and deficit.

The moderate Turnbull experience will hopefully be a lot better with the likes of Cathy McGowan and Rebecca Sharkie providing sensible support to the party they both used to work for.

Bill Shorten may have achieved a swing to Labor in two party preferred terms but he did deliver the second lowest Labor primary vote in almost 100 years and also stooped into the gutter with his deceitful Mediscare campaign.

Shorten is one of the most transactional politicians we've seen, prepared to take big short term risks for short term gain, as was seen in the 2010 Rudd coup.

Stooping to the Mediscare campaign gave him a short term boost but does longer term damage, especially when contrasted with Turnbull who took the governance high road and ran a largely positive campaign.

Shorten's supporters point to old Abbott scare campaigns for a "they do it too" justification, but that's the whole point of fighting Abbott and supporting Turnbull - they are very different beasts and Turnbull is someone worthy of support.

Don't be surprised if either Tanya Plibersek or Anthony Albanese challenge for the Labor leadership. Both would be better placed to lift Labor's primary vote and beat Turnbull next time around.

Shaking them up in Menzies

As for a Menzies, a big thank you to everyone who helped out at polling booths across Menzies on Saturday. You can read about their experiences including during the extraordinary mid-afternoon drama when our How To Vote cards were banned because they only carried the "authorised by Candidate Stephen Mayne" statement on one side of the card, rather than both sides, a legal change which was introduced after the 2013 election.

We're currently sitting on 7.21% or some 5015 votes with about 20,000 more votes to count. Most of our support came from Liberal supporters because we presented as a Liberal-leaning independent and made a rock solid commitment to back Turnbull and the Liberals in any hung parliament situation.

In percentage terms, 7.21% was the second highest vote of any independent candidate in Victoria, behind Cathy McGowan in Indi. A good effort.

Whilst this was below our pre-election hopes, Jeff Kennett tweeted on Saturday night that it was more than he was expecting.

Abbott backer Kevin Andrews also took the prize of suffering the biggest drop in primary vote (7.64%) of any sitting member in Victoria.

Kevin lost about one in seven of his supporters from 2013 and more than 80% of those leaving his pile came across to the Turnbull-supporting independent who used to work for a Liberal Government and was a member of the Young Liberals at university.

That said, we also learnt just what a big undertaking it is as an independent to take on the might of a political machine in a safe seat with hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend.

We clearly gave the Liberals a scare, hence the effective intervention of Michael Kroger two weeks ago plus those robo calls from John Howard and then the aggressive challenge to our how to vote cards.

Malcolm Turnbull also intervened in the final days with a personal letter to Menzies voters urging them to support Kevin Andrews. This assistance in his hour of need should buy Malcolm a bit of support from Kevin in the period ahead.

And here's hoping there are no more Kevin challenges against Julie Bishop for the role of deputy leader. Julie does a great job and her primary vote rose an impressive 3.67% to 66.18% in her seat of Curtin, a big contrast to the 7.64% decline that Kevin suffered.

Best independent votes in Australia

Looking at it from a national perspective, the biggest primary votes received by independent candidates were as follows on Saturday night:

Andrew Wilkie: 44.37% in Dennison
Cathy McGowan: 34.67% in Indi
Tony Windsor: 27.93% in New England
Rob Oakshott: 26.56% in Cowper
Stephen Ruff: 13.3% in North Sydney
Denis Jensen: 12.01% in Tangney
James Mathison: 11.89% in Warringah
Brad Christopher: 9.41% in Lyne
Jim Ball: 7.68% in Mackellar
Stephen Mayne: 6.88% in Menzies

And from a national perspective, the 10 biggest swings against incumbent MPs were as follows on Saturday night (they have changed modestly now):

Jamie Briggs: -16.19% down to 37.63% in Mayo
Rowan Ramsey: -14.05% down to 41.5% in Grey
Ken O'Dowd: -10.87% to 35.15% in Flynn
Russell Matheson: -10.5% down to 35.16% in Macarthur.
Natasha Griggs: -10.36% to 34.33% in Solomon
David Littleground: -9.99% to 47.43% in Maranoa
Andrew Nikolic: -9.81% to 38.04% in Bass
Christopher Pyne: -9.53% to 44.87% in Sturt
Tony Abbott: -9.01% to 51.83% in Warringah
Louise Markus: -8.95% to 38.38% in Macquarie
Kevin Andrews: -8.4% to 50.48% in Menzies

How the Menzies booths fared

Here is a list of the 34 booths our volunteers helped cover in Menzies on Saturday, ranked according to percentage vote support.

The 10 best booths were as follows:

1. Templestowe Uniting Church: 210 votes or 14.5% with an 11.42% swing against Kevin.

2. Templestowe Heights Primary: 341 votes or 10.1% with a 10.35% swing against Kevin.

3. Milgate (Our Lady of the Pines): 170 votes or 10.02% with 8.96% swing against Kevin.

4. Templestowe Valley Primary: 140 votes or 9.97% with 11.14% swing against Kevin.

5. Wonga Park Primary: 128 votes or 9.79% with 9.39% swing against Kevin.

6. Gumnut Gully (Manningham Uniting Church): 121 votes or 9.54% with 8.47% swing against Kevin.

7. Warrandyte Primary: 160 votes or 9.22% with 7.43% swing against Kevin.

8. East Doncaster early voting (Manningham Uniting Church): 896 votes or 9.1% with 10.2% swing against Kevin.

9. Manningham (St Gregorys): 101 votes or 8.73% with 10.04% swing against Kevin.

10. Bulleen Heights Primary (Manningham Rd): 128 votes or 8.43% with 8.11% swing against Kevin.

The three most noteworthy trends are that support was strongest in Templestowe near home where the family is best known and in the leafy anglo areas such as Warrandyte and Wonga Park. We struggled in the Chinese areas around Doncaster, plus in the far-flung corners of the electorate such as Croydon, which is in the City of Maroondah. City of Manningham has the second largest Chinese community in Victoria after Monash and it was clearly a mistake not to have any Mandarin messaging at the Doncaster booths on Saturday. Kevin had plenty and received strong support.

What happened with the AEC how to vote card ban

I was blissfully unaware when the AEC moved against our how to vote card at about 3pm on Saturday afternoon because the phone had just run out of charge at the Manningham Uniting Church booth in East Doncaster.

However, looking back at what happened, the following email arrived from the AEC at 2.08pm:

Dear Mr Mayne

The attached HTV card fails to contain any authorisation details. Accordingly, its publication is in breach of subsection 328B(1) of the Act. Given the email exchange that we had on 17 June 2016 can you please explain what is going on.

Can you please urgently fix this to add the required authorisation details.

Yours sincerely

Mr Paul Pirani
Chief Legal Officer

Paul Pirani rang a minute later at 2.09pm to follow up and I explained that the authorisation was on the other side of the card. He seemed fine with this and said the issue would be sorted out after 6pm. Next thing you know, the AEC went nuclear against us.

The reference in Paul Pirani's 2.08pm Saturday email to the earlier email exchange on June 17 is out of context because that issue was all about the use of the phrase "Liberal Independent" on an early version of the how to vote card we distributed at pre-poll. Authorisation never came up back then.

Anyway, next thing we know an order was made to ban the card shortly after 3pm, but this was rolled out chaotically and inconsistently across the 30 booths we were staffing. Some booth workers were treated like criminals and kicked off, whilst others carried on uninterrupted.
By the time I got home at around 3.30pm and plugged in the phone, there were 19 voicemail message and all hell had broken loose.

The immediate response was to start printing the earlier one-sided card from the pre-poll on the home printer and then car shuttle them to nearby polling stations. Booth workers descended on our place, but the printer just wasn't fast enough and, of course, we ran out of ink after a while.

In a bid to tell the world what was happening (plus the circa 70 booth workers who were helping on the day), I took to twitter and quickly pumped out this email to the 13,000-strong Mayne Report email list which is embarrassingly optimistic in hindsight, considering the result:

Hi everyone,

after a ridiculous Liberal Party complaint, the AEC has ordered all our booth workers to stop handing out this How To Vote card because it is not authorised.

But have a look at the rear, it is authorised.

Short term emergency, we need people to print this new card, which is authorised on the front, and take it to the nearest Menzies polling booth.

We're a chance to win this and the Libs are playing dirty pool whilst the AEC has over-reacted.

We have a printed card at booths which is clearly authorised on the back.

Do ya best, Stephen Mayne

Satellite printing operations popped up around the electorate but we were still out of action at a majority of booths for more than two hours, which would have cost us hundreds of votes, but was immaterial in the final analysis.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story is how the ban was so strictly imposed and how everyone responded.

The Liberal booth workers at Templestowe Valley Primary attempted to have our daughter Alice and her friend booted off the school grounds and when they quickly returned to the fray handing out correctly authorised cards the AEC officer in charge came out and apologised to the Liberal booth workers that there was nothing else they could do to have them removed again. Truly.

Elsewhere, some booth workers were just talking to voters but, after further Liberal complaints, were told that canvassing was not allowed.

Other creative responses included the following:

* Point to the pile of how to vote cards on the ground but ask the voter to pick it up themselves.

* Borrow a Get-Up how to vote card which also had us at number one for good transparency policies.

* Wear a jacket over the t-shirt message and then flash it open in front of voters whilst explaining what the Libs and the AEC had done.

I'm obviously going to follow up on these matters formally with the AEC and through the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters and have asked booth workers to send through their stories which have been packaged up on this page.

Trying to communicate with the AEC

Having blown us out of the water on Saturday afternoon, it is extraordinary that no-one at the AEC has yet replied to this email requesting an explanation for what happened:

Hi Paul, Jeff and Jen,

Could you please provide me with something in writing about what you did on Saturday afternoon and when, including the identity of the complainant.

The experience of our booth workers varies significantly in both the timing, along with some of the advice given and I would like to understand precisely what the instructions were.

In particular, could you advise on the question of why no potential remedies were advised such as:

# Volunteers could have immediately started handing out our earlier one sided card from early voting which Paul Pirani had previously seen;

# Volunteers could hand-write the authorisation on the front of the card;

# Volunteers could legally encourage voters to collect one of the cards from a pile on a table or on the ground; and

# Volunteers could have handed out a separate authorised flyer with no how to vote instructions which some of them had on them.

Ideally, you would provide me with a statement that I could distribute to my volunteers and make public.

I'm particularly concerned by the instructions to booth workers that they had to leave the polling place and would like to better understand the legal basis for that.

Also, are you aware of any other examples of our situation where a two-sided how to vote card was prohibited because it was only authorised on one side.

Regards, Stephen Mayne
Independent candidate for Menzies

Some Liberals are attempting to claim the AEC intervention had something to do with our campaign messaging about being a "true liberal". A version of this got a run on 3AW's Rumour File this morning, but it is completely wrong.

The only issue was the lack of fine print self-authorisation on both sides of the card.

As one Liberal booth worker told our volunteers on Saturday, he was ashamed that the party of free enterprise and competition was gaming a system of burdensome regulations to try and stifle the democractic process.

Why don't the AEC actually authorise all how to vote cards?

One of our booth workers was a qualified lawyer and blustered the officer in charge to say he wouldn't accept the demand unless more proof was provided or he received a cease and desist order in writing.

He also started hand-writing the authorisation on the front of his cards, thereby missing very little time with voters.

There's an obvious solution to this saga.

In previous Victorian elections, we have had to actually get the cards authorised by the VEC. Federally they run a self-authorisation program, so cards are not actually authorised by the AEC, but rather by the candidate.

They should change the Federal system so that cards must be authorised by the AEC and that would iron out any problems well before polling day.

Saturday night post-mortem

It was great to catch up with some of our volunteers at the Templestowe Bowling Club on Saturday night where we enjoyed watching the results and swapping a few stories.

There was a short concession speech which pointed out that Kevin Andrews had been damaged and will almost certainly be defeated by a younger less extreme Liberal in the next preselection contest in Menzies.

In hindsight, the play was absolutely right but it probably needed a $200,000 campaign to succeed and we obviously made a few mistakes along the way.

Claiming to support the Liberals whilst putting Kevin Andrews last on the ticket was perhaps not the best strategy. Besides, only about 40% of our voters did put Andrews last, according to our scrutineer at Serpell Primary.

An open ticket would have been a better option, but the Greens may not have agreed to direct preference our way ahead of Labor if that had been the case.

Given the likely hung parliament, imagine how Menzies would be placed if 17% rather than 7% had gone for the Turnbull supporting independent.

This $50 million infrastructure Menzies wish list would be in play right now, albeit with a rock solid commitment to back Turnbull and the Liberals come what may.

But it wasn't to be, so thanks again to everyone for providing such great support and participating in this democratic adventure.

We were thrilled by the 100-plus donations that were revealed on our register and also delighted at the booth coverage in the end.

The two functions for volunteers were great fun and we've all got lots of stories to tell about the experience.

Campaign updates over the past two months

We've pumped out a lot of material about the Menzies campaign over the past two months. Here are links to all the bumper email editions that were sent out on a weekly basis:

Sprint to the line, robo-calls, volunteers, campaign transparency and pokies
Friday, July 1

Campaign update, more pokies donations, Menzies ignored, ASA leave and council governance reform
Monday, June 27

Kevin's getting worried, campaign update, pokies, News Corp dispute, City of Melbourne and family news
Friday, June 17

Kevin locked in, so Make Menzies Matters campaign hits top gear
Friday, June 10

Menzies update, "Fake Liberal" corflutes, AFL pokies & gift registers
Saturday, June 4, 2016

Menzies update, Westfield rate dodging and candidate betting
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Menzies update, ASA board, pokies and Four Corners
Monday, May 23, 2016

Plus, check out these other links:

Policy positions taken during the campaign

What voters in Menzies say about Kevin Andrews

A true Liberal explains why Kevin is a fake Liberal

Media coverage of Menzies tilt

Manningham budget submission: the $50m of Federal support we need

What people say about Stephen Mayne

Real time disclosure of donations received

City of Melbourne update

After taking leave without pay for 6 days, it was straight back into a 12 hour session at Town Hall on Tuesday,

The lengthy public committee meeting on Tuesday was dominated by planning matters and this excellent City of Melbourne submission on the Metro Rail project is well worth a read.

Remember, anyone can come along on the first or third Tuesday of the month and ask a question.

And check out this list of the 50-plus transparency reforms that City of Melbourne has implemented over the past 4 years, as well as this list of nearly 50 motions we have put up since late 2012.

Tap into ASA's excellent research lists

A two week period of leave from the Australian Shareholders' Association board is also over now that the election is done and dusted.

The ASA is moving to a bigger office in the Sydney CBD today which will enhance our capacity to represent and educate retail shareholders.

Any retail investor worth their salt should be a member of the ASA. 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.

Keeping an eye on the directors club

Apart from the former ASX100 chairman who didn't show up for his how to vote card shift, there was good support from several public company directors during the Make Menzies Matter campaign.

Former GPT chairman Peter Joseph donated $1000 and provided the following endorsement:

“I've faced heavy questioning from Stephen Mayne as a public company chairman. He's whip smart, tough, incisive and honest. I certainly didn't always agree with him but there was never a doubt about his motivation. I respect that. Our nation would be better off if a Turnbull-supporting independent with his extensive governance experience and fearless advocacy skills was in the Federal Parliament.”

Carol Schwartz, a Stockland director and the founding chair of the Women's Leadership Institute, also provided the following statement:

"Stephen Mayne has always been a vocal advocate for equality for women in the context of power sharing and decision-making at all levels. We need more individuals like Stephen in the Australian parliament."

Sadly, there was no support from some of our favourite billionaires such as Rupert Murdoch, Frank Lowy, James Packer, Gerry Harvey or Solomon Lew.

None of this will change any of our positions on keeping public company board accountable in the period ahead and we will continue to go hard on the issue of gender diversity in the corridors of power.

Finally, here are links to some of our interesting lists related to directors which we will continue to update in the period ahead:

Surprising lack of protest votes against non-independent executive chairs
ASX-listed chairs rushed into the job from outside
Tracking tenure and gender balance of AFL club boards
Companies which tried to make it harder for outsiders to run for boards
What happens to directors in takeovers

Donate to help keep us going

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The Mayne Report loves lists and here are a few favourites

We love a good list at The Mayne Report and here are a few favourites we've worked up over the years:

18 years of remuneration excesses by the Murdoch family

120 local govt councillors who made it into Parliament

The great honorary doctorates list

Prominent Australians who have sued for defamation

Claimed assets of companies at time of collapse

The great Australian cheque-book journalism list

Crikey yarns during the Federal election campaign

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: 40 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 about Menzies over the past two months:

Revealing the Menzies campaign for Crikey
Monday, May 9, 2016

Minor parties and independents should disclose hung parliament intentions
Monday, May 16

Can Four Corners kick-start some campaign finance reform?
Monday, May 23

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

How James Mathison should take on Tony Abbott in Warringah
Monday, May 30

Mad in Menzies after Leader Newspapers intervention
Monday, June 6

Campaign update after Menzies ballot draw
Friday, June 10

Hob-nobbing heaven at PM's Olympic Dinner
Monday, June 20

Taking on Michael Kroger over the "true liberal"
Friday, June 24

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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 eight years.

2015 - 8 editions

AGM season, PAITREOs, pokies, MAV, Copyright, Piccinini sisters, ANZ carbon and transcripts
November 5, 2015

Global Integrity Summit, Macquarie, pokies, council update, AGM season and family news
October 12, 2015

Battling Slaters, a Stokes shocker, council, CBA litigation, ASA conference and RACV reforms
April 30, 2015

Tenth anniversary of Crikey sale, Aristocrat AGM, council transparency and then some
March 9, 2015

Why Ministers should support the Liberal leadership spill
Monday, February 9, 2015

2014 - 8 editions focused on back half of the year post ASA gig

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

2013 - 10 editions with 5 favourites below

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

2012 - only 9 editions given council and ASA commitments

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

2011 - 21 editions but slowed down after elected to ASA board in May

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

2010 - 39 editions and last year with paid staff

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

2009 - 40 editions but was slowed down by Manningham council

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 - 172 editions in our first and best full year of operation 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

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

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

Owen 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 Fairfax, 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

2007 - 15 editions as we launched shortly before running in Federal election

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

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, ASA director and City of Melbourne councillor. To unsubscribe from this email list, click here. Authorised by Stephen Mayne, 90 Swanston St, Melbourne 3000.