The media just loved the story of Will
Fowles accidentally getting himself elected uncontested to the
Melbourne Cricket Club committee yesterday. When our exclusive story
went out early in the afternoon, the 26-year-old fund manager found
himself deluged. There he was with his family this morning beaming on
the front page of The Age, while the Herald Sun and The Australian’sStrewth column also gave it a rev.

But, if anything, the reaction this morning has been even bigger. ABC radio’s AM
program interviewed the former Labor candidate and student union leader
and the major television networks have been through his living room as
well, so tune into the major bulletins tonight. The lad even held a
press conference at the MCG and has also been interviewed on 3AW and
2UE in Sydney.

Fowles is certainly not trying to upset the
applecart before he formally joins the committee after the AGM on 17
August. He was very diplomatic when interviewed by Virginia Trioli on
ABC Victoria and is telling every media outlet that he will listen that
he just wants to represent younger members.

The lad might be a
Lefty but he does have some establishment credentials, having attended
Melbourne’s prestigious Scotch College (Jeff Kennett’s old school). His
father’s business, Fowles Auction Group, is also Australia’s largest automotive auction house, having sold more than 100,000 vehicles last year.

The
operation is a joint venture between the Fowles family and an American
company and was started by Will’s grandfather focusing on timber and
carpet before his old man Max Fowles took it into the automotive
business.

The whole saga of Will Fowles’s uncontested election
does raise the question of other clubs or associations that have
antiquated voting rules.

Can anyone else think of an institution
that still offers nine-year terms like the MCC? In all probability Will
Fowles will be celebrated in about 2050 as the longest ever serving MCC
committee member because Steve Vizard was previously one of the
youngest ever members when he made the grade in 1997, aged 41. Once on
the MCC committee, it’s very hard to be removed, although all this
publicity might generate more candidates at the next election in 2008.

What about forming an ALP style “rules committee” that looks at
stamping out rorts? The bravest thing that Fowles could do would be to
negotiate his exit based on a series of democratic reforms at the MCC,
such as limited tenure, annual elections and formal calls for
nomination. It would be a great legacy if he could permanently
establish a “younger members” voting category so the committee always
had at least one member under 35.

Crikey
revealed this week that the RACV, one of the largest mutuals left in
Australia, is considering a change to its constitution to remove the
gerrymander that sees the RACV Club control nine of the 15 board seats,
even though 1.4 million regular members have actually built up the
value and asset base over the years.

What other ridiculous
voting systems are still in place around Australia? Send your thoughts
to Australia’s most unsuccessful candidate at [email protected].

Peter Fray

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