Politicians on ASX boards: Here are 10 of the most noteworthy

Nick Sundich Nick Sundich, March 4, 2024

We’re taking a look at politicians on ASX boards. In politics, your time comes and goes, and eventually it is time for a life outside politics. Ex-politicians find different things to do, but some opt to go into business. Here are 10 former politicians who have opted to take a board seat on (or perhaps even become the boss of) an ASX company.

 

10 Politicians on ASX boards

Richard Court – BCI Minerals (ASX:BCI)

We’re not just limiting our list to federal politicians here. The ex WA-premier and Ambassador to Japan joined the BCI board in early 2021.

BCI is one of a number of companies trying to become a potash producer. It owns the Mardie Project in WA that is the largest solar salt project and third largest globally. Mardie will produce 5.35Mtpa of high-purity salt (>99.5% NaCl) and 140ktpa of sulphate of potash (SOP) (>52% K2O) via solar evaporation of seawater. BCI also receives royalty earnings from the Iron Valley iron ore in WA’s central Pilbara that is operated by Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN).

 

Wayne Swan – Diatreme Resources (ASX:DRX)

Since November 2021, the former treasurer has chaired the board of Diatreme.  Diatreme is a mineral sands developer with a project near Cape York. The project, the Northern Silica Project (NSP) has a resource of 235mt of high purity silica sand. A June 2023 Scoping Study indicated that the project could produce 5Mtpa over a period of 25 years, even at the current resource.

The company was recently embarrassed by a botched bid to take over Metallica.

 

Alexander Downer – Gold Hydrogen (ASX:GHY) & Ironbark Zinc (ASX:IBG)

The former Australian foreign minister serves on two boards. One of his roles is Independent Non-Executive Chair of Golden Hydrogen, a company with the Ramsey project in South Australia. It is a project where hydrogen was rumoured to have been found by South Australian State Department geologists found it in the 1920s and 30s when exploring for oil. It is exploring to see not only if this hydrogen still exists, but also if there is helium.

Mr Downer is also Non-Executive Director of Ironbark Zinc (ASX:IBC). Its flagship project is the Citronen Project in Finland that completed a Bankable Feasibility Study in 2021. It has a Mineral Resource of 85Mt @ 4.7% zinc and 0.5% lead and an Ore Reserve of 48.8Mt @ 4.8% zinc and 0.5% lead.

 

Joel Fitzgibbon – Brickworks (ASX:BKW)

During his time in parliament, Mr Fitzgibbon was a long time advocate of the coal industry in his Hunter Valley electorate. In late 2022, he joined Brickworks. This wasn’t necessarily intriguing, but what was fascinating was that Brickworks (ASX:BKW) has a 26% stake in Washington H. Soul Pattinson that has shares in New Hope (ASX:NHC). And New Hope derived the benefit of higher coal prices over the last couple of years.

 

Kate Lundy – Electro Optic Systems (ASX:EOS)

The former ACT Senator has been a Non-Executive Director of EOS since March 2018. It is a defence tech company that is capped at over A$300m and supplies to various governments around the world. In 1HY24, this company made $219.3m in revenue and $5.7m in EBITDA.

Check out one of its products – the R600 Remote Weapon System (RWS)!

 

 

Nicola Roxon – Dexus (ASX:DXS)

This is not Ms Roxon’s first ASX board role, not even in the property space. She first was a director of Lifestyle Communities (ASX:LIC), and has served on the board of Dexus (ASX:DXS) since September 2017. Her most famous roles are as Chairs of super fund HESTA and VicHealth. Her profile on Dexus’ website says her 20 year career in politics and law before that provided insights into strategy, public policy and accountability, and that her post-political career helped develop further expertise in ESG, health, investor relations and remunerations.

 

Ben Wyatt – Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) and Woodside (ASX:WPL)

Mr Wyatt is probably the most controversial and intriguing on this. He was formerly WA Treasurer and one of the biggest critics of Rio Tinto after destroying Jukkan Gorge.

Less than a year later, he joined the boards of Rio and Woodside. At the time he said,’ I am convinced that Rio Tinto is committed to changing its approach to cultural heritage issues and restoring its reputation. I am looking forward to working with the Board in building on the momentum for change generated by the new leadership team’. The quick move led to calls in WA from the state opposition for laws requiring retired ministers to take a few years’ break before working for any organisations involved in major planning and development issues.

 

Ken Wyatt – Energy Resources of Australia (ASX:ERA)

Ken Wyatt was a federal MP from 2010 to 2022 and the first Indigenous person to serve as federal minister for Indigenous Affairs. He is the cousin of Ben Wyatt. He won his seat four terms in a row before being defeated in 2022, and joined the board of ERA seven months later.

ERA operates Ranger, Australia’s longest continuous uranium mine, which lies in the Northern Territory. It closed in 2021 and ERA is seeking to rehabilitate the project.

 

John Sharp – Regional Express (ASX:REX)

Of all the politicians on this list, Mr Sharp is unique because he is arguably better known for his business career rather than politics. He was an MP between 1984 and 1998, which included a stint as Transport Minister during which he presided over the re-opening of the East West Runway at Sydney Airport.

But aviation is in Mr Sharp’s blood – he is a licensed pilot of both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. He has been long-term boss and board member of regional airline Regional Express (ASX:REX), a company that operates Saab turboprops as well as nearly a dozen 737 jets which it operates between capital cities.

 

Tony Abbott – News Corp (ASX:NWS)

Probably everyone knows Tony Abbott joined the board Fox in late 2019. But what you may not know is that News Corp, which owns Fox, is listed on the ASX as a secondary listing – albeit with only its Class B shares and as a CDI. And so the former prime minister can be included on this list of former politicians who joined the board of an ASX Company.

 

 

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