Ever since quitting a Sydney-based role at The AFR in September
1999 to run against Jeff Kennett in his seat of Burwood and discovering
that I was ineligible due to still being enrolled at 77 Queen Street,
Woollahra, it’s been clear that getting administratively sorted for
activism tilts has not been a strong suit.

Well, old habits die hard, because yesterday I discovered that AWB was
not in my highly geared 80-strong portfolio of shares. Yes, despite all
this anticipation, I’d failed to buy the token $500 holding to get
access to the microphones at today’s AGM. What a goose.

I subsequently bought 250 shares at $4.09 a pop yesterday but won’t
formally be on the share register until next week. Attempts to flash
the contract note at the registry people to sit with the shareholders
will probably fail, so it will be an afternoon at Melbourne Park
sitting in the sealed off media section, watching farmers slug it out
for a few hours.

The board will almost certainly decline to comment on matters before
the Cole Commission but it should still be a cracking AGM, particularly
given the culpability of executive chairman Brendan Stewart, who has
just been booted off Mark Vaile’s Iraq delegation and is facing
re-election today.

Various farmers are promising to turn up to give the board a spray but
only A class shareholders, primarily farmers, can vote on the contested
board elections which sees six candidates shooting at four spots.

Let’s hope today’s gathering joins the other great AGM bunfights from over
the years, which include Westpac’s two-day effort in 1992-93, the last
hurrah for John Elliott at Elders IXL in 1991, the last HIH gathering
in 2001 and Solly Lew’s Coles Myer demise in 2002.