Crossover adds punch to utilities

11/06/2009 - 00:00

THERE is an interesting collection of businesspeople who wield influence in government due to their roles as board members of major corporatised agencies.

Crossover adds punch to utilities

THERE is an interesting collection of businesspeople who wield influence in government due to their roles as board members of major corporatised agencies.

Coincidently, perhaps, the more notable of these players have tended to congregate among the boards of energy utilities that were created by Labor. Energy is one of Western Australia's biggest issues and a pet subject of Premier Colin Barnett.

The appointment to chair the financially troubled Verve Energy of former state energy chief David Eizsele is a case in point, given Mr Barnett now wants to remerge Verve and retailer Synergy.

Not only is busy director Harvey Collins on the Verve board, he is also a director of GESB, the government's superannuation fund manager, which has been in something of a financial limbo since its privatisation was abruptly cancelled a year ago.

Mr Collins' influence does not come from one single such appointment but the range of experience he brings from across a portfolio of boards. Others, such as rival investment bankers Mark Barnaba and Jenny Seabrook, also have current executive roles that bring them in touch with a wide spectrum of business and government elites.

Mr Barnaba gains additional kudos from his role as chairman of the West Coast Eagles and the UWA Business School.

The Marketing Centre founder Michael Smith is another who moves effortlessly across the corporate and government worlds.

Mr Smith, one of Perth's most experienced marketing professionals, is a former chairman of the West Coast Eagles and holds directorships at an eclectic group of entities that span public companies to arts bodies.

At the purely corporate side of this influential group, John Poynton and Tony Howarth might also be acknowledged as influential advisers. Mr Poynton has few formal appointments but is active in business advisory and philanthropic circles. Mr Howarth chairs Home Building Society, Mermaid Marine and St John of God Health Care Group as well as being on the board of AWB and Wesfarmers, and a number of community and industry boards.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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