By Stephen Mayne, small but disorganised Tattersall’s shareholder

An unprecedented palace coup took place at the Tattersall’s annual
meeting yesterday, but pathetically disorganised yours truly got his times
wrong and turned up just as the meeting had finished.

This meant the meeting was quieter than expected with no tough
questions for the two successful challengers, former Victorian Treasury
Secretary Mike Vertigan and pony-tailed Sydney lawyer and businessman
Julien Playoust, who also happens to own about $100 million worth of
Tattersall’s shares.

PR man Peter Kerr bowed out gracefully after 15 years as a trustee, but
we still don’t know the size of the defeat he was facing because he fell on his sword on Sunday night. Chairman
David Jones, the last greedy trustee standing, was generous in his
praise for Kerr, which was not surprising given that Kerr’s old man,
the late PR kingmaker Laurie Kerr, helped Jones climb the Melbourne

Four current and former directors suing your own shareholders for $100
million is not a good look and this explained why the challengers had
such an emphatic and unprecedented victory yesterday. Check out the Tattersall’s
ASX announcement here, but the figures are worth examining in detail.

Vertigan received 330.14 million proxies in favour and only 49.85
million against whilst Playoust got 303.75 million in favour and 67.12
million against. New institutional shareholders and old beneficiaries
alike have
embraced the new broom and dumped the greedy trustee, whose campaign
suffered from his lack of credible other board seats around town and an
unnecessary attack on Vertigan’s credentials. In PR terms, it was a
loss for Mike Smith, who used to work with Kerr at IPR, and a big win
for Gavin Anderson which acted for the outsiders.

The final votes after the poll saw Vertigan’s support rise from 86.88%
to 87.47% whilst Playoust’s rose from 81.9% to 83.4%. It appears that
chairman David Jones did not want to poison the waters with his new
directors by voting the open proxies against them, despite saying he
would do this in the election literature.

The newcomers refused to be drawn on their plans for Tattersall’s but
David Jones must be feeling under intense pressure given that Playoust
and other old beneficiaries have only offered $8 million to settle the $100 million claim by the former
trustees and have launched a blistering attack in the Victorian Supreme

If Jones loses his Tatt’s gig, then he might also find it difficult to
hang on to his post as chairman of the Melbourne Cricket Club
committee. The poor lad has now failed to repel advances at his two
most prestigious positions after junior MCC member Will Fowles pulled
off a palace coup by getting elected when Steve Vizard bowed out a few
months back.

Given his strong Liberal Party connections, Jones is probably not the
best person to chair Tattersall’s going forward given the importance of
dealing with the Bracks government over two expiring gambling licences.

Vertigan is widely respected as the best ever Secretary of the
Victorian Treasury and given that the licence negotiations will heavily
involve Treasury, it would make sense to have Vertigan leading the