In short, excitement was well and truly off the agenda at this morning’s session of Telstra’s AGM. No grand announcements. No stunning admissions. Though, one disgruntled shareholder did his part to spice things up, throwing a handful of papers at the feet of Chairman Donald McGauchie shortly after McGauchie began presenting.

McGauchie dealt with the interruption imperiously, saying: “No-one overrides me. You will now take your bag and leave the meeting.” The man was promptly removed.

When Charles Macek, the chairman of Telstra’s remuneration committee, took to the stage, he acknowledged that shareholders had signalled their lack of support for the executive remuneration package. But Macek didn’t dwell on those concerns, confident in the knowledge that the government would vote in favour of it.

Indeed, it seems that dwelling on shareholder concerns was not high on the list of Things To Do at the meeting, with the first question coming from the floor after more than an hour and forty five minutes.

Shareholders would not have been surprised to hear about the tough medicine the company has had to take, the breathtaking speed with which the next G network has been rolled out, and the board’s commitment to deliver value (read: a decent share price) to shareholders. Nor, for that matter, of the large salaries needed to secure quality execs.

This afternoon, the discussion moves to the election of the board, with Crikey contributor Stephen Mayne standing for election…again. Back in 2001, Mayne scored the lowest ever vote in the contest: 4.76%. He told Crikey that his big challenge today is to not finish last.

Peter Fray

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