An interesting aspect of corporate elections is what message the board allows outside candidates to distribute in the notice of meeting.

Australia’s highest profile reformed pokies addict turned People Power candidate, Gabriela Byrne, has just nominated for the Tabcorp board and this is part of the message she wants sent to the company’s 235,000 shareholders:

Gabriela Byrne, 50, became addicted to poker machine gambling in early 1993 and in the process lost approximately $40,000, almost ruined her marriage and contemplated suicide on many occasions. She stopped poker machine gambling in 1997 and since then has been passionate in her attempt to help others from falling into the same trap and/or supporting the people that were already caught. She has an in-depth knowledge and expertise on issues surrounding problem gambling and believes that her experience would help Tabcorp fulfil its corporate social responsibilities.

I’m predicting Tabcorp will come up with some lame excuse to censor the platform because it is just too embarrassing. However, should they be allowed to do that when clearly there is a massive conflict of interest to have rival incumbent candidates deciding what election material should be distributed?

Here are a few more examples of submitted platforms from my 24 tilts over the years that have been censored:

David Jones, 2000

“Mr Mayne is a David Jones shareholder who believes all shareholders should be entitled to the same 35% shopping discount entitlement that the current David Jones directors enjoy.”

NRMA Insurance, 2000

“Mr Mayne also believes the ongoing commercial relationship between the NRMA and broadcaster John Laws is inappropriate and should be terminated immediately.”

Commonwealth Bank, 2000

“Stephen also believes that Colonial State Bank should terminate its cash for comment relationship with John Laws.”

Westfield Holdings, 2000

“Mr Mayne is a unitholder in Westfield Trust and believes it needs an independent board from Westfield Holdings. There are presently more than $4 billion worth of development contracts between the two entities yet the Trust does not have any independent directors and shares in Holdings have risen more than 20-fold over the past decade whereas Trust units have barely doubled.”

Does anyone else see a high correlation between the embarrassment factor and censorship?

Peter Fray

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