'Two strikes' falls foul

Shareholders are increasingly comfortable exercising their voice on executive pay. But the 'two strikes' rule is easily manipulated to leave them powerless.

Between 2000 and 2010, chief executive salaries in Australia’s top listed companies rose, on average, by 131 per cent. Meanwhile, median bonuses grew by a staggering 190 per cent. These are sobering figures, especially given that the average worker's pay rose by just 52.3 per cent in the same period. Shareholder returns fared even worse, with just a 31 per cent increase in returns recorded for the decade.

After years of watching from the sidelines as executive salaries grew by monstrous proportions, shareholders were last year rewarded with an amendment to the Corporations Act that gave them more power over executive pay – the 'two strikes' rule.

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