The Melbourne Racing Club could be "compromised" as it considers a $1 billion property project during the crucial spring racing season because of a stoush over its executive committee, a court has heard.
MRC member Alistair Ewart has asked the Victorian Supreme Court to force the club to hold fresh elections for the committee after he was disqualified last month for the dastardly crime of electioneering. Apparently running any kind of campaign is forbidden - perhaps it frightens the horses.
Club CEO Brodie Arnhold has told the court that, with the Caulfield Cup carnival in full swing, the MRC is "currently in the busiest time of the year".
"The administration and operation of the MRC and its ordinary activities will be compromised by the absence of three committee members for the period it would take to hold a further ballot," Arnhold said in an affidavit. With the potential purchase of a $15 million pokies venue and $10 million of grandstand renovations at Caulfield Racecourse on the committee's agenda, Arnhold said that "the present point in the calendar is the time at which the absence of three committee members will result in maximum detriment to the club's operational functionality". And there's the $1 billion redevelopment of former car parks around the racecourse into "a low-medium density residential zone, a mixed-use retail precinct and an area set for use for commercial and residential accommodation" to mull over.
This is Ewart's third stab at a spot in the committee rooms. He fell short in 2011 and was disqualified last year, also for electioneering. There is also a history of conflict between Ewart and the club, with Ewart's trophy business, Winning Edge, winning what he told the court were "substantial damages" in a 2009 breach of contract case. Ewart denies breaching the rules and says the MRC didn't follow its own disciplinary rules when cancelling his nomination.
Members were not told Ewart had been rubbed out and the election went ahead with him on the ballot paper. Arnhold told the court Ewart finished last with 1262 votes and incumbents Patricia Faulkner (1436 votes), Rod Fenwick (1555 votes) and Roger Donazzan (1411 votes) were re-elected. As the club has 11,000 members, that means thousands didn't fill in the ballot paper. Ewart didn't succeed in stopping the committee being confirmed at the AGM and the matter remains before the courts.
Kohler pulls pin
Veteran finance commentator Alan Kohler has pulled the plug on his long-running ABC TV show Inside Business in order to "have more of a sensible working life".
Kohler has been juggling many hats - in addition to the Sunday morning show he appears nightly on ABC TV news presenting the finance report and writes four columns a week for websites Business Spectator and Eureka Report. After 12 years of filming Inside Business on Friday, the same day he writes a mammoth missive to Eureka Report subscribers, something had to give.
He said the move had nothing to do with conflict-of-interest criticisms. Kohler has been a News employee since selling his share in Speccy and Eureka publisher AIBM to the Murdoch empire last year. The last show airs on December 1.
MONA tie-up flies
Flying roo Qantas has signed a sponsorship deal with Tasmania's Museum of Old and New Art, prompting the usual round of mutual admiration - this time featuring gambler and MONA God (that's what it says on his parking space) David Walsh and Qantas flack Olivia Wirth.
"We are extremely proud as Australia's national carrier to partner with MONA and drive visitors from both Australia and overseas to experience this fantastic museum," Wirth burbled in a press release. Drive? Shouldn't an airline be flying them?
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