After 18 years on the
AWB board, it seems that John Howard’s $1 million man, Trevor Flugge, could remember nothing and hear
nothing, which vindicates the decision of West Australian wheat growers
to unceremoniously dump him from the board at the 2002 AGM.

As someone who has
failed in 22 tilts at public company boards, I can tell you that Flugge
is in a unique position in actually being dumped as chairman of a public company when
endorsed by his board.

The unwieldy representative board structure which allocates seven
AWB
board positions to growers in different states has thrown up several
tight elections since the first AGM in 2002, including the defeat of
four incumbents. In fact, the 2005 AGM was the first time an incumbent
wasn’t defeated.

Flugge certainly lost badly as he could only muster 3,256
votes while challenger Chris Moffet, another WA grower, received 9,101 as this ASX
announcement reveals.

Outside of the four AWB incumbents, I’m only aware of four directors of top 200 companies who
have actually been removed by shareholders, as this list explains:

Defeated
incumbent directors

John
Ducker:
Aristocrat, 2004, 2.42% but was disendorsed by board
Trevor Flugge: ousted as AWB chairman in 2002 with just 26.3% of the vote in a two-horse race with challenger Chris Moffet
Laurie Marshall: received primary vote of just 22.2% so ousted
from AWB as WA representative in 2004 by Steve Chamarette (52.9%) but
finished ahead of two failed politicians, Hendy Cowan (18.32%) and
Winston Crane (6.17%), in the ballot.
Brenda Shanahan:
ousted in 2003 as AWB director in SA by Brendan Fitzgerald who got 51.22% of the vote
Ian Cush:
defeated in 2003 as AWB director in NSW by Xavier Martin who got 55% of the vote
Solly
Lew:
Coles Myer, 2002, 44.83% after being disendorsed by board
Peter Kerr: resigned day before the Tattersall’s 2004 AGM facing certain defeat over board’s outrageous $100m cash grab

Peter
Cassidy:
Hills Motorway Group, 2004, resigned day before AGM facing certain defeat

Outrageously, Flugge was immediately rehired by new AWB
chairman Brendan Stewart on a $100,000 a year consultancy which ran up until he started pocketing $1 million of
Australian aid money shoring up wheat contracts in Iraq in 2003.

Flugge’s performance this week surely means he won’t be enjoying his
sinecure on the Wesfarmers board for much longer. How must Wesfarmers
feel about paying him almost $100,000 while he was off on his
gun-toting Iraq mission courtesy of the taxpayer?

It would be interesting to know if Flugge’s AWB consultancy
continued until August 2003 when AWB went over the top in paying $718
million to buy the Landmark agribusiness from Wesfarmers.

Flugge was previously a link man in what turned out to be AWB’s big
diversification
,
but shareholders who participated in the $200 million capital raising
at $3.70 a share can’t have been happy when the stock slumped another
11c to a new 30-month low of $3.77 yesterday.

Assuming John Anderson owned 20,000 AWB shares, the $100,000 he
pocketed from the sale at $5 a share last October is $24,600 more than
the value that the new owner is presently enjoying. Ouch.