At 11am this morning, the ballot was drawn for the 2006 RACV boards
election and the boss in our house, Paula Piccinini, has emerged
feeling confident of pulling off an upset.

Paula is the only female candidate in the six-person field for the
ordinary roadside service election and women traditionally do better
than men, as these results from last year demonstrate. The two
incumbents got back, partly thanks to the enormous black asterisk that
Australia’s largest remaining mutual puts on the ballot paper next to insiders:

Candidate Votes % of vote
* Suzanna Sheed 42,592 38.55
* John Rawlins 32,098 28.99
Paula Piccinini 19,803 17.93
Stephen Mayne 15,981 14.47

We were unlucky last year: Paula tried to crack the old boys’
club, but came up against another female lawyer. That candidate had been appointed just
two years earlier to try and change the image of a board that is
dominated by
60-something blokes who have sat for an average of 14 years.

However, things could be very different this year because the two
incumbents facing four challengers are Dr Michael Heffernan, who is 67
and has sat on the board for 20 years, and the man most vulnerable,
David Mattei, who is
68 and has warmed a board seat since 1979. We’re not aware of another
non-executive director in Australia who is still clocking up service
after 27 years.

The order on the ballot paper is as follows:

P Richards
* David Mattei
Professor Marcus Wigan
Paula Piccinini
* Michael Heffernan
I Ray

It is good to see the 20,000-member RACV Club, which has a gerrymander with control over nine of the 15 board
seats, is about to have its fourth contested election in 34 years.

For a full explanation of the $2 billion RACV’s old boys’ club and gerrymander, check out this package from last year’s coverage. Our 2005 tilt is said to have cost the RACV about $500,000 so at
least we’re not the only people having a crack this year.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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