MOTORCYCLING NSW LIMITED GENERAL MEETING
28th OCTOBER, 2021, CONDUCTED ON LINE WITH WEBEX
Once again I have had technical difficulties connecting to WebEx, resulting in my missing most of the meeting. So the following notes are mainly gleaned from the minutes of the previous meetings and board meetings, plus a few comments from other sources. Conducting the meeting was the interim board; President Kate Peck, Bob McGlinchy and Life Member Keith Davies as chairman.
HORSLEY PARK MINI BIKE VENUE
There was a long discussion over alleged inadequate facilities at this MNSW site. The area is shared by only two Clubs; Baulkham Hills Junior Motorcycle Training Club, and Blacktown Junior Mini bike Club, and is considered underutilised by MNSW. MNSW has been gradually upgrading facilities over the years, including toilets and replacing fencing. A trial run of an MNSW Junior rider training program was recently held in a previously disused shed on the site. In view of the possibility that MNSW may be allocated land at Eastern Creek for new circuits, one has to consider whether sinking more money into a leased site is in the best interests of the general membership. The lease on the property is for only another two years, and MNSW would be required to remove any improvements and restore the site to original condition on departure.
RACE PACE COURT CASE.
There was a report that this case is close to a settlement. The case was scheduled for a first hearing in the Supreme Court on 22nd November. No details of the settlement were given, but legal costs and damages (if applicable) will be high. The only consolation is that if the case had gone to court it could have dragged on, possibly for years, and legal costs would have soared. The board has put aside $130,000 for expenses.
A question was raised regarding a reference to financial assistance for "psychological" help. The meeting was told that it was to provide counselling of a member following a fatal rider accident at Wagga in 2020.
It was noted in the June financial report that the Operating Account had a balance of $4.7million earning nil interest, while the Term Deposit had a balance of $44,000. Even with the historically low interest rates available at the moment, surely the $4 million could be earning something for the members instead of the bank.
MNSW BOARD ELECTIONS:
The MA Nominations Committee, consisting of executives from Motorcycling SA, Sport Australia, Motorcycling Victoria, two from MNSW and the Chairman, Roy Chamberlain from MA was appointed to review the applications. The Committee has rated all 45 applications, interviewed twelve candidates and recommended five against a list of essential and desirable criteria, but all nominations will be on the ballot paper. The ballot papers for the election of five directors have been distributed to Clubs and Life Members. The ballot will be declared at the MNSW General Meeting on 16th December, a face to face meeting, to be held at Blacktown Workers Club. I was quite surprised by the qualifications and experience of the candidates, and feel heartened that such a large and esteemed group is offering to assist in the recovery of MNSW from its recent low ebb.
When the new board members are elected, there will be plenty of work to do. One of the first duties is to appoint a new CEO, with the position currently advertised. It is also required to investigate the alleged misdeeds of the previous board and determine what action to take, if appropriate.
There are on-going negotiations with the NSW Government and the Western Parkland Authority over a possible grant of land at Eastern Creek for motorcycle race circuits, as well as new office for MNSW. There is also the matter of the Nowra property lease, with the efforts to return it to the former promoting club apparently stalled. I expect that after a settling period for the new board there will need to be a staff review and re-allocation of duties, as I understand that a new position of Sports Development Officer has been created.
The appointment of extra staff will put more financial pressure on the company, and unless the number of licence holders and competition activities return to pre Covid levels there could be a need to increase charges to riders and clubs. A recent decision to carry the renewal of current competition licences forward for three months will only add to the income problems. SEARCH FOR A NEW MNSW CEO:
The interim board has commenced advertising for a new CEO, using various online job-seeker platforms and the Sydney Morning Herald. The full Statement of Duties and Essential Criteria etc are also on the MNSW website. The ads will run until early November. The applications will be reviewed by the MA Nominations Committee (the same group which assessed the MNSW board applications), and forward their recommendations to the MNSW board, which will make the appointment.
A Committee has been formed to rewrite the MNSW Constitution to overcome some serious deficiencies which became apparent over the last few years. In the current Constitution many functions of the company operations are the responsibility of the CEO. If the CEO resigns or is sacked, or the position becomes redundant, (as has happened), there is no provision for those duties to be carried out by another employee, so they were assumed by the board. This has been an on-going problem since the Covid crisis started, so provision must be made for the duties to be devolved, if required. This deficiency has been the cause of many complaints about the board acting contrary to the constitution. There is also the matter of the relationship between MAIL, (which provides rider insurance), MNSW and private promotors to be considered, to avoid the possibility of infringing anti-competitive laws. A "whistle-blower" policy has been under consideration for inclusion for some time, but the recommended MA wording was deemed unsuitable, so it will require rewriting.
There has also been discussion of a proposed new structure for MNSW. What is actually proposed has not been revealed, however the distinction between board authority and day-to-day management will certainly need to be carefully defined. I am concerned that this could be a repeat of the "improved business focus" introduced by the board of ACU of NSW Ltd, (the former State Controlling Body), in the 1990's. It was expected to give more control to the board and allow it to get on with promoting our sport. Decisions by members at General Meetings were treated as only suggestions, and could be ignored by the board if it was convenient. As a result of dealings by that board the entire assets of the company were signed away without the knowledge of the members, and eventually, the company was declared bankrupt. So in any re-writing of the constitution, we should insist on a high level of transparency in the board and management operations. Hopefully this time, the draft Constitution will be issued to members with sufficient time to consider it carefully and offer suggested alterations, instead of the take-it-or-leave-it document offered last time, which, unsurprisingly, was rejected by the members.
AND NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS...... Spring has well and truly sprung, and summer is on the way. Lock-downs are over! Travel restrictions are easing and Sydney residents are now permitted to go to the regions of NSW, ACT, and Victoria; travel to Queensland and other states still looks a fair way off. Entry into some circuits requires proof of double vaccination, as well as checking in with the QR code.
Entry for anyone unvaccinated is not permitted yet, but may be allowed by December. The price of fuel has skyrocketed, but at least there are no shortages. So barring further local shutdowns, clubs should be able to plan future events with some certainty, and interclub competition should be able to resume.
So the word is... get double vaxxed, and get back to racing!
Regards ........Dave E