The rents were backed by the Commonwealth, and the buildings remain reliable cash cows for members to this day. Buying up your adopted home town must be fun, and those close to the fund around this time say Delaney was enjoying it too much to go back to just running the Association – a beast which, in his own words, “had a chronic capital shortfall” from day one. However the structure, under which Delaney was chief executive of both the fund and its second-largest service provider after member administrator Superpartners, began to cause ructions within the so-called ‘MTAA group’. The dissent came right from the top. Ian Field, an employer director of the fund and president of MTAA Ltd, believed that the state motoring associations, and the individual directors of MTAA Ltd, were unwittingly exposing themselves to risk, because of the contractual arrangements MTAA Ltd had with the super fund. He was also concerned MTAA Super’s board sometimes lacked the specialist skills required to rigorously assess the complex direct investment deals which their asset consultant, Access, helped them undertake.
Field eventually took these concerns to APRA, and the upshot was that he left the MTAA Super board, and that his home state of Queensland removed its local motor trades body from MTAA Ltd in 2005. The relationship has been strained ever since – it was MTA-Q which recently took MTAA Ltd to court, over the Association being issued four new units in the trust controlling MTAA House, following the redemption of four units from MTA-NSW. MTA-Q claimed MTAA Ltd’s action was unlawful because it was not an original unitholder (the case is adjourned until 19 May in the Supreme Court in Brisbane). Michael Delaney had ceased to be a member representative director of MTAA Super by 2005, and has not returned to the board since. Things got nastier by 2006, even as MTAA Super’s members enjoyed the best returns in town. The Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce sympathised with MTA-Q’s position, and also stopped paying its annual dues to MTAA Ltd.
The risk manager for MTAA Super, Kate Wansey, and member representative trustee, Loretta Reynolds, both resigned from the fund. It is understood their reasons were related to conflict and governance issues – both are senior commercial lawyers. Meanwhile the longserving deputy executive officer (superannuation) for MTAA Ltd, Paul Watson, left in 2007. Watson declined to comment for this article. Part of his role is understood to have required him to be MTAA Super’s trustee representative in negotiations on the service contract with MTAA Ltd – the organisation which employed him. Also in that year, 2006, MTAA Ltd moved beyond a strict cost-recovery basis in its service agreement with MTAA Super. The increase in charges for 2006-07 over 2005-06 were understood to be almost 25 per cent, even though only one extra BDM had been employed that year.