At one of the most extraordinary company meetings even held in Australia, a vote which would have decided the future board of Butler Air Transport, was postponed today because of an oversight in failing to provide ballot papers.
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Background: At one of the most extraordinary company meetings even held in Australia, a vote which would have decided the future board of Butler Air Transport, was postponed today because of an oversight in failing to provide ballot papers. Australia's largest and most powerful transport organisation -- Ansett Transport Industries is trying to gain control of the Butler Air Transport Board. A meeting of shareholders was held in a freight hangar at the Kingsford Smith Airport, Sydney today. When the election of a new board came up on the agenda, it was found that there were no ballot papers. Mr. R. Ansett, of Ansett Transport Industries, placed a rush order with a Sydney printer for one thousand ballot papers to be ready within two hours. Meanwhile the meeting had adjourned. When it re-convened at three o'clock the ballot papers were not ready. The Chairman of the Butler Air Transport Board, Sir John Northcott, said it would be foolish to rush the ballot through. Sir John Northcott adjourned the meeting until next Tuesday, despite opposition from Ansett executives who said the ballot papers were already on their way to the airport. The struggle between Butler and Ansett interests for control of Butler Air Transport today resulted in four hundred Butler shareholders being flown to Sydney from Melbourne, at the expense of Ansett's. Nine aircraft were used in the airlift at a cost officially claimed to be only one-thousand pounds. The shareholders were brought to Sydney to vote on the side of the Ansett bloc in electing the Board Ansett wanted for Butler Air Transport.
Aircraft landed throughout the morning discharging full loads for passengers in front of the adjoining passenger terminals of Ansett-ANA and Butler Air Transport. Crowds formed on the tarmac and the issues involved were discussed at length wall before the meeting got under way. By now, the Sydney shareholders had gathered at the airport bringing the total number of about one-thousand. A number of shareholders had also come from Brisbane and Adelaide to take part in the vital meeting.
The meeting was held in a Butler freight hangar. The one-thousand shareholders crowded into the building and the air was soon thick with smoke and the heat stifling. Most of the people in the hangar were forced to stand throughout the meeting. Sir John Northcott announced that he would not stand for re-election as Chairman. He added that there was no basis for suggestions of dishonest practice for directors. Mr. R. Ansett is one of the main protagonists in the dispute. The other is Mr. A. Butler. Both men were to the fore in today's meeting, which fixed a dividend of ten percent to be paid to shareholders on Friday the twenty-eighth of March. The meeting also decided that the directors should not dispose of shares or aircraft without the approval of the majority of shareholders. The meeting was adjourned until Tuesday when it was decided that the voting would not proceed without the proper ballot forms.