Shifting gears


‘Without the expressed prior approval of
shareholders, most companies shouldn’t donate anything at all to
disaster relief,’ Stephen Matthews, spokesperson for the Shareholders
Association said on AM (ABC radio) earlier in the week. ‘Boards of
directors don’t have a mandate from their shareholders to spend the
money in that way. It’s an attempt to shift the cost to a particular
sector of the community, that is the shareholders.’ Although later
retracted, the comment was revealing.

Certainly, where there’s
a buck in it for the company, the marketing opportunities presented by
the tsunami for businesses with regional interests are considerable.
But marketing initiatives are cropping up all over as companies and
institutions with or without regional connections align themselves with
the fundraising effort on an unprecedented scale – which has to be a
good thing.

The Prime Minister is now talking ‘regional
mateship’ – and so far without attracting much mockery and derision. He
and Alexander Downer, faced with the worst kind of tangible evidence of
our interdependence, have shown, without breast-beating, compassion and

The response of Australians has been and continues
to be truly heartening and there are signs of a shifting of gears that
we could learn from.

Why the extraordinary generosity? as Graham
Vimpani asks in response to Andrew West’s article in the last issue of
NewMatilda. His comments appear in this issue.

View the AM story here

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