A Constitutional Shemozzle!

Opinion

bobreidTuesday, 21 January 2020 - 10:49am

What on earth is the NACCAi Executive Committee up to – three notices of the 8 February 2020 special general meeting and three different versions of the constitution have been published in two weeks, with the last two versions published on Sunday evening and then on Monday morning! None of the notices comply with our existing constitution requirements or the Associations legislation, and each of the constitutions contains inconsistencies which could render them unworkable.

This is a complete shemozzle, a giant stuff-up that should never have happened and must be fixed!

This is what I believe has happened

On Friday 3 January 2020, the Secretary posted on the website a “Notice of Special Meeting 8 February 2020”, with an attached proposed constitution (I call it the 3 January version). An email was also sent out to members notifying them of the meeting. The website post asked for feedback on this proposed constitution by Monday 13 January, and advised that outcomes would be posted on the website and email by 18 January.

This 3 January version contained a number of controversial clauses, including clause 36(5) which stated “Should an issue affect a small number of members the chair may segregate an issue to be discussed and may determine how voting where necessary is conducted”.

In response to this version, a number of members, including myself, posted comments voicing concerns about this version.

On Sunday 19 January 2020 the Secretary posted an update on the website on the proposed constitution. Even though the post is dated “19/01/2020 – 8:16am”, it was not published on the website until 5:48pm that day. This post included feedback from members on the 3 January version, a document with a consolidation of our current 1992 constitutional requirements, a new proposed constitution (I call this the 19 January version), a document summarising the differences between our current 1992 constitution and the 19 January version, and a new Notice of Special Meeting on 8 February. There was no emailed notice to members of the special meeting.

The 19 January version contained a number of amendments from the 3 January version, including the removal of clause 36(5). The website post, and the document summarising the constitutional differences, specifically advised that this clause had been removed and the reason why.

On the morning of Monday 20 January 2020 it appears that the Secretary significantly altered the “19/01/2020 – 8:16am” website post, and replaced the proposed constitution with a revised version titled “NACCAi Draft Constitution January 2020 Final Version for the Internet and Voting” (I’m calling this the 20 January version), and replaced the comparison document with a revised one titled “Comparison of the Existing Constitution and Updated Constitution” that summarises the differences between the 20 January version and our current 1992 constitution.

The 20 January version was posted at 7:40am, and the revised comparison document was posted at 9:13am.

With the 20 January version, the clause 36(5) was put back into the constitution, and the reason why it was needed was included in the revised comparison document.

At about 1pm on Monday 20 January, an email was sent to members with a new Notice of Special Meeting and copies of the various 20 January documents and a proxy voting form. This email notice did not go to all members – I did not receive one! I only became aware of it when another member sent me a copy of their notice.

The website post included proposed new membership provisions such as “nominees state the reason for their application” and approval “by motion at a general meeting” that are not included in the constitution 20 January version. Such new provisions should have been included in the proposed constitution.

None of the Special Meeting Notices are valid – they do not comply with our constitutional requirements or the Associations legislation

The 3 January 2020 notice did not contain provisions for proxy voting, and the proposed constitution has subsequently been changed significantly, so the notice is no longer valid.

The 19 January 2020 notice was not done at least 21 days before the meeting as required by legislation, there was no provision for proxy voting, the required notification was not sent to members, and the proposed constitution has subsequently been changed significantly, so the notice is no longer valid.

The 20 January 2020 notice was not done at least 21 days before the meeting as required by legislation, and it did not go to all members, so the notice is not valid.

So none of these notices are valid, and I believe there is no legal basis for the special meeting on 8 February 2020.

The 20 January version of the proposed constitution has inconsistencies and inappropriate clauses that could make it unworkable

There are inconsistencies in the membership qualifications and residency requirements for the President and Vice-President, there are unnecessary definitions and missing definitions, there are no provisions for discontinuing a subcommittee, and the controversial clause 36(5) that enables the President to decide who can and who can’t vote.

The constitution should not go ahead in this form – it will cause problems for future committees and the running of the association.

The comparison document is misleading

The comparison document “Comparison of the Existing Constitution and Updated Constitution” published on 20 January is misleading. For example it states that the association can “discontinue a sub-committee” and “membership is available on application and approval of the Committee and the Association at a meeting” – none of these provisions are in the 20 January version of the constitution.

This document should be withdrawn and fixed so that it is accurate and not misleading.

So where do we go from here?

I believe that since we have a giant shemozzle that does not comply with constitutional and legislative requirements and could leave members totally confused as to what is going on and what constitution version that they are voting for, we should formally withdraw all of these notices and constitution versions and cancel the 8 February special meeting.

Development of a new constitution should be the responsibility of the next committee, which is to be elected at the Annual General Meeting which is to be held on the 8 February, immediately after the special meeting.

In the meantime we can continue to operate under our current 1992 constitution

Our current constitution is still valid. In the meantime until we develop a new constitution and get it approved by a special resolution, we can still operate under our existing 1992 constitution. Our constitutional requirements are listed in the document “NACCAi Constitution 13 January 2020”. A copy is attached.

Since our copy of the current constitution had been lost over time, I compiled this document on 13 January 2020 from the original 1992 source documents. It lists our current constitutional requirements, including the minimum requirements specified by the Associations legislation.

I believe that our current constitution does need updating to reflect current practices and modern provisions.

I hope that once we get this constitution shemozzle sorted out, the new committee can move forward and develop a new constitution that is inclusive and leads our association into a sustainable community minded future.

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