The more we study the RACV, Australia’s biggest and richest remaining mutual, the more astonishing the two-tiered board gerrymander and tenure of directors looks.

The best way to demonstrate the point is to line up the tenure of the seven RACV directors who have served for 19 years or more with the longest serving non-executive directors we can find in Australia’s top 50 companies. We’ve left out founders such as Rupert Murdoch and former executives, as this list only deals with independent non-executive directors. But who would have thought the RACV would have five of the ten longest serving directors:

Australia’s 22 longest serving non-executive directors in the ASX top 50 (plus the RACV)

1. David Mattei: RACV Service, 1979
2. Allan McDonald: Brambles, 1981
3. John Marcard: RACV Club, 1982
4. William Shelton: RACV Club, 1984
5. Lou Giglia: Wesfarmers, 1984
6. John Isaac: RACV Club, 1985
7. David Gonski: Westfield, 1985
8. Brian Baquie: RACV Club, 1986
9. Dr Max Lay: RACV Club, 1986
10. Dr Michael Heffernan: RACV Service, 1986
11. Richard Longes: Lend Lease, 1986
12. Mark Burrows: Brambles, 1987
13. Sir Ron Brierley: AGL, 1987
14. Charles Goode: Woodside Petroleum chairman, director since 1988
15. Graham Reaney: AGL, 1988
16. Mark Johnson: AGL chairman, director since 1988
17. Stephen Gerlach: Santos chairman, director since September 1989
18. David White: Wesfarmers, 1990
19. Burns Philp: Mark Burrows, 1991
20. John Schubert: CBA chairman, director since 1991
21. Charles Goode: ANZ chairman, director since July 1991
22. Fred Hilmer: Westfield deputy chairman, director since 1991

We’ve identified RACV directors from the pool of nine representing the RACV Club, which has only conducted three contested elections in 32 years, and those who are from the minority pool of six directors, representing the 1.3 million ordinary roadside service members, who face an election most years and have created virtually all the value.

It truly is extraordinary that the Club’s gerrymander and board control, despite delivering revenues of just $17.4 million in 2004-05, has seen it splash almost $200 million on a new headquarters which appears to have already been written down by more than $100 million before even opening on July 4 this year.

Australia’s big companies have been cleaning out their longest serving directors in recent years. For instance, ANZ recently announced the retirement of John Dahlsen and Brian Scott after both notched up 20 years of service.

The RACV board is clearly unable to renew itself so the best thing members can do is inject some new blood in the current elections and vote for us. If you need a ballot paper, just ring 1300 365 699 or email us and we’ll send one to you but be quick as the polls close at 5pm next Thursday.

Don’t forget to urge your friends to get behind us because there’s a real sense that one of us, Paula is the more likely, can knock off the former Tricontinental director John Rawlins and begin the long overdue RACV board renewal process.

If we’ve missed anyone from that long service list, please drop us a line to [email protected] and send through other names because we’ll expand this to a master list of the 50 longest serving “independent” directors in the top 200.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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