Oh dear, the power of Crikey has done it again with speculation now
rife about Charles Macek’s quest for Future Fund gold. Without wishing
to put the moz on Charles, the curse of a Crikey endorsement could
prompt a certain small-minded treasurer to scrub him off the list of
potential chairs. Therefore, today we bring the counter-view and
highlight some potential weaknesses in Charles’s campaign.

Firstly, he has a tendency to be always the bridesmaid. He
considered himself a contender for the chair of Telstra, but couldn’t
handle the politics. Charles also put himself forward for the NAB
board, but Graham Kraehe ended up looking elsewhere. It was the same
deal when he ran for president of the Richmond Football Club, but was
comfortably defeated by a struggling incumbent. Critics are saying the
government is unlikely to put a political novice in charge of a
political fund.

Then you have this question of whether the unconventional Macek, who
claims to have literally “written the book on corporate governance,”
would be a little too adventurous and, heaven forbid, activist. Surely
the government is not looking for the Future Fund to become a serious
advocate for corporate governance and sustainability activism. An
evangelical chairman with strong views could ruffle a lot of feathers
in the corporate community come donation time.

Most other messages from the Howard Government have been to
soft-pedal when it comes to corporate regulation – witness the claims on Inside Business this week that ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel has
dropped the ball when it comes to consumers and small business.

Macek is certainly attempting to up his profile at the moment as you
can see from his participation in this round table discussion on corporate ethics in The Age on Saturday. If he does land the chairman’s gig it will be a big boost for
Melbourne’s dwindling financial credentials and he’ll also have to
update his memoirs which have been tapped out in draft form but are yet
to go to a publisher. At this point, Crikey is tipping he might make
one of the Future Fund directors but will fall short of the top job, as
that will go to a Sydneysider selected by John Howard.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey