The Australian Government's Productivity Commission, an independent research and advisory body on economic, social and environmental issues, recently issued a report on the topic of executive compensation in Australia. The voluminous report considered such issues as the recent trends in Australia in executive pay, the effectiveness of existing regulatory oversight, the role of boards and the transparency of compensation disclosure. Ultimately, the report recommended reform in five areas: improving board capacities, reducing conflicts of interest, ensuring well-conceived compensation principles, improving relevant disclosure and facilitating shareholder engagement.
Specifically on the topic of shareholder engagement, the Commission recommended a "two strikes" mechanism to address an "unresponsive" board. Under the recommendation, where a company's compensation report received a "no" vote of 25% or more, the board would have to explain how shareholder concerns were addressed in the subsequent report. Where the subsequent report also received a "no" vote of 25% or more, a resolution would be put to shareholders that the elected directors who signed the directors' report for that meeting stand for re-election at an extraordinary general meeting. If this resolution was carried by more than 50% of the votes, the meeting would be held within 90 days.