AMP investors roast AMP's David Murray on climate views
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AMP investors roast AMP's David Murray on climate views

While AMP executive chairman Mike Wilkins told investors it was “highly regrettable and unintentional we’ve lost all our female directors in this process” of renewal, a big focus was on a rather important bloke who didn’t show: chairman-elect and noted climate sceptic David Murray.

Maybe Murray was getting cracking on building his new boardroom, including its female representation. After all, Wilkins informed investors that Murray was already busy with plans to add another director to the board “in the near term”.

Mike Wilkins informed investors that David Murray was already busy with plans to add another director to the board 'in the near term'.

Mike Wilkins informed investors that David Murray was already busy with plans to add another director to the board 'in the near term'.Credit:Eddie Jim

CBD has been informed that AMP’s boys' club has already set up a coffee date with Australia Post boss Christine Holgate. As if she needs to moonlight on a hopeless cause and then turn up to Australia Post for her day job.

Murray might also want to have a chat with Jillian Broadbent, who was part of the trio that tore apart the board failings at <strong>Catherine Livingstone</strong>’s Commonwealth Bank on behalf of APRA.

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What about digging through the attic and reviving the AMP careers of some of its previous female directors?

Carolyn Hewson stepped down in 2001 after becoming uneasy about the boys' club running the show - chairman Stan Wallis and CEO Paul Batchelor - sidelining AMP’s independent directors in the process. The soundness of her ethics, and judgement, was on display a year later when it became apparent the duo had sailed AMP into disaster.

CBD hears that Meredith Hellicar - who stepped down in 2009 - is also free, having served the corporate ban that followed her brief tenure at James Hardie. Hellicar has been following events at AMP closely, judging by her tweet this week after the mass resignations: "The world has gone completely mad. AMP board members step down," she tweeted.

As for the AGM itself. The line of the meeting went to the investor who took issue with Wilkins' use of the phrase “more compliant”.

He pointed out that “compliance is a bit like pregnancy, either you were or you weren’t”.

Wilkins, who stated that he is receiving no extra pay for his executive role, pleaded that he was taken out of context.

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John Shakespeare

If there is one thing that was not out of context at the meeting, it was the repeated criticism of Murray’s strongly sceptical views on climate change.

This includes comments in an ABC interview in 2013 that “the climate problem is overstated” and that “there needs to be some consensus” about the science.

Not even Wilkins could paper over this. He made the case instead that AMP is committed to the environment and the influence of climate change on the business, saying these views “are deeply held inside our organisation”.

AMP will even attempt to indoctrinate Murray before he joins the board in July with its induction process. Wilkins promised that it includes a briefing on all the risks the company is facing “and certainly David will be going through that process as a director”.

Good luck on that score. From what your columnist has heard, Murray is not for turning.

Xero hero

Xero released its annual report on Thursday showing the overpaid layabouts on this side of the ditch what you should pay a highly successful CEO.

Xero founder Rod Drury, who was replaced by Steve Vamos a few weeks back, was paid just $779,000 last financial year. No wonder he was forced to sell $94.5 million of Xero shares last November to make ends meet.

The interesting thing to note from the annual report is that there were at least six Xero employees paid more than Drury.

We suspect that Aussie tech veteran Vamos will not be repeating this feat. His base pay is $900,000 alone, and incentives could take his total remuneration to just over $2 million.

Red alert

It was sad to see the launch of the Salvos Red Shield Appeal was missing some regular faces.

Form QBE chair Belinda Hutchinson and her handbag, Roger Massy-Greene, sent their apologies, and a $100,000 donation, from Ethiopia. We assume the dynamic duo were there with their work for their philanthropic venture: the Eureka Benevolent Foundation.

Former Whitehaven boss Tony Haggarty was also a no-show. We suspect he is trying to work out what to do with the $39 million in his pocket after dumping most of his shares in the coal miner in February. That cash alone would get the Salvos most of the way to their $73 million target!

Haggarty did manage to stump up $100,000 on the day.

Former QBE boss Frank O'Halloran chipped in with $200,000, while Caledonia Investments co-founder Ian Darling tossed in a $100,000 donation.

Follow CBD on Twitter. Got a tip? ckruger@fairfaxmedia.com.au