The
Melbourne Cricket Club claims to be the world’s largest sporting
organisation with 80,100 members and a further 190,000 on the waiting
list, many of whom are put down by their parents at birth in the hope
they will one day be able to enjoy the exclusivity of watching cricket
and football in the members’ enclosure at the MCG .

The
14-person committee which controls the MCC is at the very heart of the
Melbourne establishment and is full of those arcane practices which
foil democracy and perpetuate a system of clubby appointments. But
Crikey can today reveal that history has been made in an extraordinary
set of circumstances, involving Steve Vizard, which have allowed a
26-year-old republican, former student unionist and Labor candidate to
land himself a nine-year term unopposed.

There are nine members
positions on the MCC committee, plus five office bearers. Three members
retire by rotation every three years and the upcoming AGM on 17 August
just happened to be one of those years where an election is held.

If
no-one challenges the three incumbents they are simply “re-elected
unopposed,” which is why Crikey subscriber Will Fowles decided to toss
his hat into the ring. Nominations were never formally called for but
Will jumped through all the hoops before the 15 June deadline.

Lo
and behold, Steve Vizard didn’t warn the MCC of his upcoming disgrace
so when he resigned after the 15 June deadline, it was too late to
quickly rustle up another establishment mate to be “appointed” to fill
the casual vacancy and then be re-elected at the AGM as one of the
incumbents.

That left three candidates for three positions so
Will Fowles was called last week and told he’d been “elected unopposed”
and will now enjoy the next nine years having full sit-down meals with
the rest of the committee before Melbourne home games and all
international cricket matches.

No other committee member is
under 50 and the luminaries who have to deal with a progressive Lefty
in their ranks include Tattersall’s chairman David Jones, former Amcor
finance director David Meiklejohn, Melbourne Grammar headmaster Paul
Sheahan, Lend Lease chairman David Crawford and Supreme Court judge
Justice Alan Donald

Therefore, not only will Steve Vizard be
shunned by the Melbourne establishment, his arrogant assumption that he
could bowl up for another nine-year term has led to an outsider
cracking the MCC committee for the first time in more than 100 years.

Fowles
is a fund manager who has some experience in politics as he was
president of the Monash University Student Association in 2000, youth
convenor for the Australian Republican Movement and Labor candidate in
East Yarra at the 2002 Victorian election, where he only missed out by
1.6% in the Brackslide as you can see here.

The
big question now is whether Fowles will seize his good fortune and
become a force for change. Ending nine-year terms and having open and
transparent elections might be a start, as there is very little about
the democratic processes of the MCC on their website.

Look at page 4 of the annual report. Now, picture a 26-year-old Lefty and Crikey subscriber standing where you see Steve Vizard – and have a good laugh.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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