License article

It's all in the timing at the Future Fund

Sensitive details on the inner workings of the Future Fund were divulged yesterday when the general manager of the federal public service pension fund, Mark Burgess, faced his routine interrogation in Canberra.

It has emerged that the fund's new chairman, David Gonski, is more of a morning person compared with his predecessor, the former Commonwealth Bank chief David Murray.

''So essentially there's no practical change between the way Mr Murray conducted himself as chair of the Future Fund compared to the way it's being done now?'' probed the Liberal senator Mathias Cormann in a Senate estimates hearing.

Burgess: ''There's always nuanced differences as a chair changes, but in my time at the fund since July last year I was specifically recruited in a managing director/CEO style function. Certainly in my dealings with both Mr Murray and Mr Gonski it's very similar in process.''

Cormann: ''So you say there are nuances, what are the nuanced changes that happened?''

Burgess: ''Mr Gonski starts very early in the day, he starts at 7am in the morning, those kind of nuances. I'm not sure what time Mr Murray starts, I would speak to him later in the day. I start at seven too, we're on the same wavelength. I'm sorry to be flippant about it, I don't mean that, but it's that kind of nuanced change.''


Senator Cormann also quizzed Burgess about his formal title being changed from general manager to ''managing director and president''.

Burgess said he had not received a pay rise with the change, and it was chosen so his role would be better understood outside of Australia.

''It's not necessarily a title that I would aspire to but in places like Asia you need some clarity around that,'' Burgess said.


Adelaide has cemented its reputation as Australia's party town (after Burnie) following a drinking session on Tuesday night that marked the 150th anniversary of Thomas Cooper brewing his first batch of beer to ''medicate'' his sickly wife.

Helping host the party (and sampling of Coopers Celebration Ale) on the banks of the Torrens River was the Coopers chairman, Glenn Cooper, and the managing director, Tim Cooper.

The guests included Dick Whitington, QC, the silk who led the charge against Lion Nathan in the courts seven years ago when the now fully Japanese-owned brewer tried to take over Coopers for $350 million.

Sporting a Coopers bow tie at the party and sipping red wine was the winemaker Wolf Blass. Seems not much love is lost between the Coopers family and Lion. The party included some of the old ads and marketing gimmicks used to undermine Lion's bid at the time.

One of the ill-flavoured gags included Coopers running an ad in its home town rag, The Advertiser, that included a picture of a whale that was sent floating down the Torrens. Our CBD operative did not spot one of the newspaper ads run by Lion which suggested that the beer was not the only thing cloudy at Coopers.


Those taking part in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout on June 21 should now expect another thing to keep them awake aside from the bitter cold and hard concrete.

The Australian Shareholders' Association's Sydney-based Vas Kolesnikoff has become one of the latest chief executives to register for the event. And he has even made an offer to chief executives, directors and institutional investors throughout the land who are too busy to rough it out on a cardboard mattress one night next month.

''We will do this for them,'' Kolesnikoff said. All he wants is for highly paid types not taking part in the sleepout ''to support us in raising some money''.

''As I think in this tough world with more people feeling the pinch (including the self-funded retirees and others trying to save), the executives of our ASX-listed companies can actually dig in a little in their ever-increasing salaries and give to the community,'' said Kolesnikoff, who is aiming to raise $5000 for Vinnies.

Among some of the CEOs the association hinted could spare a donation was the Mirabela Nickel chief, Ian Purdy, who recently had a 40 per cent shareholder vote recorded against his pay rise for the previous year. Despite the 80 per cent slump in Mirabela shares over the past year, Purdy received a 40 per cent jump in base pay to $US779,002 last year. He still managed a $454,963 short-term bonus and a swag of option payments that took his total pay for the year up 37 per cent to $US1.94 million.

Got a tip?