26th September 2008


Time to get back on road

CBD Sydney Morning Herald
September24 2008

Michael Evans helps little old ladies change flat tyres, for a fee.

The NRMA has ever-so-quietly announced something of a turnaround in its fortunes - a $13.5 million loss after a $58 million profit last year.

Evans blamed the drop in operating profit on, among other things, falling investment income (down $2.4 million), a rise in bad debts to $6.2 million and a $2.4 million write-down on the Thrifty business.

A few costs rose, too. Government lobbying and advocacy costs were up by more than 17 per cent to $10.8 million......


Secrets under the hood

Sydney Morning Herald
August 9 2008, Matthew Moore

If you think it is only government departments that have secrecy and spin as the core principles in their mission statements, take a look at the country's biggest motoring organisation, the NRMA....

...Evans's punchy comments got page one treatment in the papers, which mentioned the full NRMA case was set out in a submission to the Roads and Traffic Authority.

...How could there be no submission when the NRMA president had released a summary of it and confirmed in writing there was one?

Finally, the NRMA admitted the RTA was right. There is no submission. ...

An organisation this size should not be relying on misleading press statements alone to influence public debates.

800 face charges for donations

Sydney Morning Herald
MAY 3rd 2008

THE state's election watchdog has authorised the Crown Solicitor to prosecute 800 donors who made almost $8 million in political donations to candidates and parties for last year's NSW election but failed to declare them.

The 800 include many of Australia's biggest companies, which have given between $1525 and $543,000 each - and they face fines of $11,000 for each offence.

The NSW Election Funding Authority found the donors' alleged breaches of electoral laws after its newly computerised database highlighted mismatches in donors' and recipients' declarations. The authority refused to disclose names, but the Herald can reveal that Manildra Group of Companies, the ethanol manufacturer, tops the list, after allegedly failing to declare more than $500,000 in donations. The Chinese developer Kingold Group allegedly did not declare more than $220,000 and NRMA Motoring and Services allegedly failed to disclose more than $189,000.

NRMA's jalopy is missing a cylinder

Sydney Morning Herald
CBD October 17 2007

..SCORING a hefty pay rise is only half of Alan Evans's plans for this year's NRMA annual meeting. Also on the agenda is a proposal to stop the banned director Richard Talbot from getting back on the board until 2014. Not that it's anything personal....

Talbot, who won a defamation action against Evans this year, has complained to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission about the resolution. "I will be the only person in all of the NRMA's 2 million membership who will be affected by the resolution. In my view the true purpose of the resolution is to entrench the current board in office and to stifle any opposition," Talbot wrote.

Directors can help themselves

Sydney Morning Herald
CBD October 16 2007

..In its latest notice of meeting, the NRMA has asked members to approve a bit of a pay rise for Evans and his fellow directors. After all, it has been a few years between drinks.

Directors want a 57 per cent increase in the directors pool from $420,000 to $660,000.
The nine directors, including the former dog paddler Dawn Fraser and the former leaguie Geoff Toovey, currently pocket $35,000 each, with the deputy president receiving twice that and the president, Evans, three times, at $105,000.
If approved, Evans could see his pay jump to $165,000.
But that is not the end of it.....

....So as members contemplate the requested pay rise, they may also consider asking for a little more H-E-L-P on simple disclosure of directors' fees.
Evans will not just get a pay rise to $165,000.
Including subsidiary fees, a figure of about $284,000 is closer to the mark.


over free membership offer

Loyalty … Jim Soltau had been a NRMA member for more than 50 years.

Sun Herald
Heath Gilmour September24 2008

He was lured by the advertisement that if you remained a loyal member for 50 years, then your membership was free for the remainder of your motoring life.

Fast forward 50 years and the NRMA wrote congratulating Mr Soltau on reaching the membership milestone in 2003. No mention was made about his free membership being cancelled.

For the past five years Mr Soltau, from Forster, has been fighting the NRMA for his free membership entitlement.

NRMA chief executive Tony Stuart said the board decided to cut the life membership offer in 2003 as a means to secure the company's financial future after losing $51million...


NRMA faces uproar over $225,000 in political gifts

Sydney Morning Herald
August 10 2008,
Matthew Moore
Heath Gilmore and Matthew Benns

THE NRMA Motoring and Services group has been forced to reveal $225,000 in political donations to candidates and parties in the lead-up to the last state election, as it fights to avoid prosecution over its failure to declare the money. ....

....Mr Page and Ms Talbot said that the directors were grossly overpaid and questioned the need for payment for their service on the boards of subsidiary companies.

Mr Evans, who joined the board in 2003 and replaced the disgraced Ross Turnbull in 2005 as president, now receives $165,000 for this position. His positions on two subsidiary companies push his fees up to almost $300,000. He receives $86,000 for chairing Kingmill Pty Ltd, which trades as Thrifty Car Rental, and $33,000 for his directorship of holiday company Adventure World Travel Pty Ltd....

NRMA forced to reveal party donations

© 2008  AAP
August 10, 2008

The NSW Crown Solicitor will decide whether the initial failure by the group to declare the donations has breached electoral laws.

Potholes a hot topic

Sydney Morning Herald
CBD August 5 2008

....After all, in Sydney its members just want free-flowing traffic to get to work and home on time.

So we were pleased to stumble across the NRMA's latest declaration of its political donations...

...There was a lazy $5500 on an NRL grand package, where we suspect potholes was a hot topic. ...

Time for a Strong showing

'The IAG camp seems to be keeping some of its powder dry'

Sydney Morning Herald
MAY 21st 2008,
Michael West

..."For God's sake James, when is the board going to stop being a mutual appreciation society and treat shareholders with the respect they deserve?

Major investor slams IAG board

Sydney Morning Herald
MAY 21st 2008, Michael West

"IAG's response to QBE's proposal is a joke,'' said Morgan. "Where is hard valuation for the company? Nowhere.

IAG's response to Morgan's email: "Dear Mr Morgan, I have passed your email on to James. "



Arbib's nice little earner before joining the Senate

The Sydney Morning Herald
Andrew Clennell State Political Editor
January 16, 2008

..THE senator-elect Mark Arbib is known for being able to talk himself out of most scrapes. Now it seems he has talked his way into a high-flying job with the top end of town for five months before he takes his place in Parliament.

Mr Arbib, whose wife, Kelli Field, is on maternity leave but normally works as chief of staff to the state Treasurer, Michael Costa, took the job after rejecting offers from the powerful Labor lobbying firm Hawker Britton and from the NRMA.

He has said he rejected the other jobs because he did not want to be perceived to be involved in lobbying before entering the Senate on July 1.

Lennon stumbles in Green evidence

The Australian
November24 2007
Matthew Denholm

..TASMANIAN Premier Paul Lennon yesterday stumbled in the witness box as he became the state's first leader in more than a decade to give evidence in a criminal trial.

Mr Lennon told the Supreme Court he had no prior knowledge of a monopoly deal his former deputy, Bryan Green, signed with a former Labor minister's builder accreditation company in February last year. ..

However, Mr Lennon was forced to take several long pauses during his evidence as he appeared to contradict himself on the sequence of events following his discovery of the deal.

It was the first time a Tasmanian premier had sat in a witness box in a criminal case since 1991, when Labor premier Michael Field gave evidence in committal proceedings involving his office chief, Alan Evans....

Sorry about apologies

MARGIN CALL The Australian August 16 2006
Michael West

IT behoves one, when one has made a grievous and unforgivable error, to apologise.

And so it is, that we prostrate ourselves, utterly supine, at the feet of NRMA's public relations firm, Jackson Wells Morris, and crave their mercy. For the PRs have requested an apology for last week's piece, which heedlessly employed the present tense when using "to have".

JWM had, not has, an associate relationship with an NRMA chairman, Alan Evans. We are deeply, unremittingly sorry for this gross oversight and in order to make amends, we must elaborate with directors' minutes of a board meeting from January 2005.

"I understand negotiations and an arrangement between yourself and JWM commenced prior to that notification (March 18, 2004). You were described as a JWM staffer and an associate on their website for several months before you gave notice to the board of an interest."

"Alan response: There are two websites."

"During the course of 2004 and throughout the constitutional reform campaign, directors will recall that you (Mr Evans) moved several motions to give JWM several lucrative contracts, and you participated in matters pertaining to those contracts without giving notice of any conflict."

We assume the lucrative arrangements between NRMA and JWM persist to this day, albeit with no associate