As the proud owner of Australia’s biggest small share portfolio – 158 stocks worth $100,243 last night, a pathetic average holding of just $634.45 each – the environment is not being helped by the deluge of paper that is currently hitting the PO box.

The main AGM season each year takes place in October and November but shareholders must be given a month’s notice, so the annual reports are coming in thick and fast.

I’ve got the biggest PO box available at the local post office but this morning was the first time it was full with just one day’s mail as annual reports from Toll Holdings, Unwired, Allco, Novogen, Origin Energy, Billabong, Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group, Macquarie Infrastructure Group, Wattyl and Worley Parsons all arrived.

That’s ten out of a possible 140 – about 20% of companies don’t have 30 June balance dates – which will probably be the high point of the annual season, although we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

The main news that comes in annual reports is the pay packets of the top ten executives and any proposed new pay deals that will be voted on at the AGM.

Therefore, stand by for many more stories about executive pay over the coming days and the big features wrapping up the overall trend in pay rates should be appearing either this Saturday or the following weekend.

It certainly appears that Peter Costello’s excellent decision to introduce non-binding votes on remuneration reports hasn’t put a brake on the exorbitant growth in executive pay, which is not a surprise given booming share prices and profits.

The Australian certainly gave Eddie McGuire’s $4.7 million pay packet a big burst above the fold on page one today, but they were far less keen to report that Rupert Murdoch collected a record $37 million in 2005-06 and his deputy, Peter Chernin, pocketed $40 million.

I pointed out on the 2UE breakfast show this morning that James Packer’s honourable decision to continue his father’s tradition and draw no salary from PBL is in stark contrast to the Murdochs, and Mike Carlton agreed that Rupert was “just greedy”.

Peter Fray

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