Telstra takes the lead on direct voting

If proposed changes to Telstra’s constitution are approved at next Tuesday’s annual general meeting (AGM), mum and dad investors in Telstra who can’t attend a meeting in the future may be able to mail their vote directly prior to the AGM.

Chartered Secretaries Australia (CSA), which has campaigned vigorously for companies to consider direct voting, claiming the system would be less open to abuse than the outdated and widely misunderstood system of appointing a proxy, applauds the move by Telstra.

“In putting forward this resolution, Telstra has taken a leadership role in furthering good governance practices and enhancing shareholder participation,” CSA’s chief executive Mr Tim Sheehy says.

Under the current proxy system any proxy holder, other than the chairperson, is not legally bound to vote the proxy if it does not support their own agenda. In effect, this unsavoury practice, which is commonly referred to as 'cherry picking', can deprive shareholders of their vote.

Direct voting however, ensures that when a shareholder votes, there is no possibility that their vote will not be counted. Nor is it a complex or convoluted process, as no changes are required to the Corporations Act.

“There’s a common misunderstanding that appointing a proxy is the same thing as voting. However, the truth is that appointing a proxy means shareholders transfer some of their rights to another party over whom they have no control. At the end of the day, proxy holders can still turn up at a meeting with a briefcase full of proxies, and for one reason or another, exercise only some, or even none of the proxies they are holding,” Mr Sheehy said.

For further information please contact Mr Tim Sheehy on 02 9223 5744 or 0419 490 594 or Viv Hardy (02) 9818 9310 or 0411 208 951

About Chartered Secretaries Australia

Chartered Secretaries Australia (CSA) is the peak professional body delivering accredited education and the most practical and authoritative training and information on governance, as well as thought leadership in the field.


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