11 written questions lodged at 2022 REA Group AGM

November 11, 2022

Here is the text of the 11 written questions lodged during the 2022 REA Group hybrid AGM held on November 10, plus a brief summary of any answers provided and links to some video grabs.

1. Kevin Rudd has been campaigning hard against the Murdoch interests calling for a Royal Commission. From time to time he mentions REA and encourages people not to deal with the business. Have we plotted the regulatory risks if Mr Rudd's Labor colleagues in state and federal governments turned seriously hostile against REA as part of a broader push back against their critics in the Murdoch press. What could regulators and legislators do that would hurt our business?

Answer: not asked.

2. Australian privacy laws are extremely tough when it comes to accessing or using data on public company share registers but in the property space we seem to be able to publish the details of every property transaction and publish photos, invading the privacy of Australian home buyers and sellers. Where is the privacy line in terms of publicly disclosing how much Australians are paying for their homes and is there a risk the laws could change to being more like the closely protected data on share registers?

Answer: CEO Owen Wilson said such transparency is great for consumers. Watch video via Twitter.

3. Richard is an unusual professional director in that he acts independently on a range of boards such as Coles and Appen, where he is the chair, but at REA he is a nominee director for his old employer News Corp, one of the world's most controversial public companies. Could Richard comment on why he chooses not to be become a 100% professional independent director, rather than remaining tied to his old employer, with all the reputational baggage that brings. Also, is this likely to be his final term on the REA board?

Answer: Richard said he was proud of his 16 years of service to REA and hoped to continue. Watch video via Twitter.

4. Tracey is switching from being a full time executive within the broader News Corp empire based in the US to being a part-time Australian-based non-executive director of REA, where she is a former CEO. Normal governance practice does not encourage former CEOs to sit on boards overseeing their successor. Could Owen and Tracey please comment on how they will manage these sensitives. Was it Tracey who originally hired Owen and are protocols in place to ensure she doesn't interfere too much as a non-executive director.

Answer: Tracey said she would observe protocols and everything would be fine.

5. As the most senior Australian-based News Corp executive sitting on the REA board, could Michael please comment on why News Corp has not increased its stake in the company during the recent share price weakness associated with the global tech sell-off. Also, with Lachlan Murdoch moving back from Los Angeles to Sydney, have any discussions been held as to whether he should become one of the News Corp nominees on the REA board. Why aren't any News Corp directors on the REA board, given it's the most valuable part of the empire?

Answer: Michael Miller said News Corp was happy with its shareholding and there were no plans to change the News Corp nominees on the board. Watch video via Twitter.

6. Did any of the 5 main proxy advisers - ACSI, Ownership Matters, Glass Lewis, ISS and ASA - recommend against any of the remuneration items today, as occurred last year. Also, what is the legal advice on why News Corp continues to vote on the remuneration report rather than abstain. Will you disclose the proxy votes before the debate on each resolutions? Also, why not disclose the proxies to the ASX with the formal addresses like others now do? Will you do this next year?

Answer: chair said News Corp is entitled to vote and does.

7. There was a 16% protest against Owen's LTI grant last year but it was approved by News Corp's 61% stake. When disclosing the outcome of voting on all resolutions today, could you please advise the ASX how many shareholders voted for and against each item, similar to what happens with a scheme of arrangement? This will provide a better gauge of retail shareholder sentiment on all resolutions and was a disclosure initiative adopted by the likes of Metcash, Altium and Dexus last year and Webjet and Tabcorp so far this AGM season.

Answer: No change to voting disclosure this year.

8. Did Kelly have any reservations taking a gig at a Murdoch controlled company given the global controversies involving the family. Malcolm Turnbull recently said Rupert Murdoch had done more damage to US democracy than any other living person. Does this concern Kelly?

Answer: Second half of the question was censored but the Optus CEO said she was comfortable.

9. REA claims to be fully signed up for sincere action to mitigate climate change. Could Michael Miller comment on how this sits with the constant climate denialism that he sits atop as the CEO of News Corp in Australia, which pumps out climate denialism night after night on Sky News, as well as in its Australian newspapers.

Answer: not asked.

10. Given the interesting discussions across a range of topics today, including this LTI grant, could the chair undertake to make an archived copy of the webcast plus a full transcript of proceedings available on the company's website? The likes of Nine, AGL, ASX, ANZ, Domino's and Lend Lease all produced their 1st AGM transcripts in 2021. Will you follow suit today? This is something IAG has been doing since 2003.

Answer: chair McLennan responded suggesting there wouldn't even be a webcast archive provided - watch video via Twitter.

11. Murdoch men have been paid more than $1.5 billion by public companies since 2000. Does our CEO Owen Wilson ever cite that fact when negotiating the size of his pay and incentive scheme given that shareholder approval is totally within the gift of Murdoch controlled companies. He's made the Murdochs a lot of money. Doesn't he deserve a bigger slice of the upside from a family that is worth around $30 billion.

Answer: not asked.