The 2005-06 RACV annual report has landed in more than one million households across Victoria and, as usual, the press has completely ignored Australia’s most lucrative mutual. Net profit was a record $106.7 million, up from $92.7 million in 2004-05, lifting net assets to $915 million although this is clearly massively understated.

The main profit driver remains the 30% stake in Insurance Manufacturers Australia, a joint venture with NRMA Insurance which was hammered out when Nick Whitlam was running the show.

IMA is only in the books at $171.7 million yet the RACV’s share of its profits was a record $100.1 million in 2005-06.

This press release announcing the result was posted on the RACV website last Friday and we all know about the Friday dump strategy to minimise media coverage.

It doesn’t appear to have been sent to any media outlets, suggesting Australia’s richest mutual is working hard to not draw any attention to its burgeoning wealth. Then again, maybe the media shyness is because of the two RACV elections which have just opened.

My beloved wife, Paula Piccinini, is one of six candidates for the two vacancies on the board representing ordinary roadside service members. These members have built up the vast majority of the equity value in RACV but remain a minority on the board with only six places. Paula’s platform is to end the gerrymander and return value to the average punter who wants roadside assistance.

The RACV Club, which last July opened its $180 million Taj Mahal facility on the highest point in Melbourne’s CBD, dominates the show with nine spots on the board, although this gerrymander is not explained at all in the annual report. They are having only their fourth contested election in 35 years.

Paula is up against five blokes in their 60s and is a serious chance of cracking it this year given that women normally get about 20% more votes than men, all else being equal. The irony will be rich indeed if the wife of Australia’s most unsuccessful candidate cracks a prestige board seat on only her second attempt.

Peter Fray

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