19 Apr 2010

Australian business hits out at executive pay changes

2:58 pm on 19 April 2010

In Australia, big business is unhappy at the Government's latest push to rein in huge executive pay packets.

The Federal government has endorsed the Productivity Commission's inquiry, including a controversial two-strikes policy.

This means company boards would have to step aside and stand for re-election if 25% of shareholders voted against a remuneration package twice.

The Shareholders' Association is backing the proposed moves, but John Colvin, from the Institute of Company Directors, says the idea is not workable or needed because there are already board spill laws in place.

"We're a bit perplexed and quite frankly bemused at why we would have such a heavy-handed, red-taped, legislative approach to this area," he told the ABC.

"Whilst there are examples of, and we acknowledge those, of pay outcomes which haven't been in line with either company expectations ... on the whole Australian remuneration of corporate governance has been very good."

The government has gone a step further by proposing a rule that would claw back bonuses from corporate cowboys who fail to deliver on their promises.

Finance Minister Chris Bowen says the changes will force boards to be more accountable and give shareholders more power.