piece on Wednesday about one-eyed journalism and conflict of interest
in relation to reporting of NRMA Insurance matters.
is an independent person who does not report to me in relation to his
shareholder, community or political activist communications or
activities. Nor does he consult me or seek anyone’s approval in
relation to these matters. He is his own man with his own views,
resources, time and energy to fight the battles he determines to fight.
He has his own share portfolio, votes his shares as he sees fit and
agitates where he thinks it is worth the effort.
Contrary to the
insinuation in Akerman’s Nick Whitlam tribute, Roger was not the
instigator of the shareholder requisition about director retirement
benefits, not the deliverer of it. He was simply one of about 200
signatories, to a petition probably signed outside Woolworths or the
ANZ Bank in Balmain where such petitions are often circulated. He has
said he does not remember signing this one particularly as he signs a
couple of dozen petitions ranging from issues such as whether dogs in
parks should be leashed to saving park land from rapacious developers,
to getting children released from detention centres and getting more
public school funding, every year.
As emerged during the Whitlam
v IAG court case, the resolution Akerman refers to was not a specific
anti-Nick Whitlam retirement benefit resolution, but one which sought
to block all non executive directors’ retirement benefits from NRMA
Insurance until NRMA Insurance shareholders had a chance to vote on
These non executive director benefits were not disclosed
to NRMA members in the insurance company’s information memorandum at
demutualiasation, but as the court case mounted by Mr Whitlam made
clear, were introduced a few board meetings after the demutualisation
vote, together with huge leaps in senior executive pay, share or option
allocations and other benefits without any shareholder consultation or
During the Whitlam court proceeding it also emerged that
the NRMA Insurance board delayed Mr Whitlam’s retirement payment not
only because of a shareholder requisition asking such votes be put to a
shareholders’ meeting but also because the Australian Securities and
Investments Commission wrote to the board and suggested that the
payments be put to a shareholder vote before approving them.
of this found its way into Mr Akerman’s tribute. He did not contact me
or Roger before he wrote his commentary, but felt free to draw all
sorts of conclusions about a conspiracy that does not exist.