yonkikkert
Mar 27, 2018

Suggested amendments to the draft constitution

11 comments

Thanks for all the hard work that has gone into this.

1 - Replace the words Ratepayers Association with Community Association. A name change may better capture the objects and purposes of the Association. Many people here are not ratepayers but are residents and they get confused as to whether they are entitled to be a member or not. Also, it would broaden the scope of the type of the things our association could facilitate.

'Community' also better captures the goal of the Association - to represent the interests of the community at large on the Nine Mile Peninsula.

2 - Section 16 (3) says: A quorum for the transaction of the business of a general meeting is 5 members of the Association entitled to vote.

This number is too small. As far as I understand, it means substantial decisions that affect the community could potentially be made by a small group of only 5 residents.

3 - Section 17 a clause inserted allowing the chair to delegate the chair's role to a member they see fit. There may well be an instance in the future where there might be members but not a president who are red-hot at facilitating meetings.

4 - Sections 20 and 21; Votes and taking of polls.

It is not made explicit but Section 20 (4) seems to imply that a vote is carried at a minimum margin of 50% + 1. This is clearly based on a majoritarian democratic model and may be a misfit to the scale of our association. Small scale community democracy should lean much more heavily toward collaborative consensus building through deliberation where the concerns of the minority views are engaged with through dialogue and incorporated as much as possible into a motion BEFORE it is eventually voted on.

I strongly believe that motions carried at a 50% +1 margin is too small when making potentially big decisions that affect the whole community. If the margin is that small it is a clear indication that pre-voting deliberation has failed somewhere and half (or close to) of the community has a problem - that is a BIG problem. The margin has to be higher like say 66%. A margin that high or higher -75% clearly indicates that deliberations have worked and peoples concerns have been incorporated into the motion or at least their concerns have been engaged with and they understand the rationale for the motion even if they don't agree with it all. This process will result in much higher community sense of legitimacy regarding decisions made.

5 - Powers of the Committee Section 23 (c) says: (the committee) has power to do anything that appears to the committee to be essential for the proper management of the business and affairs of the Association.

Whoa that sounds scary. Is this linked back into being bound by the rules of the constitution somewhere?

6 - Section 32 (5) is proposed to say: If a member of the Association has not paid his or her annual subscription for a financial year of the Association on or before the commencement of the annual general meeting of the Association that is held during that financial year, whichever is the later day, he or she is not entitled to attend, or vote at, that annual general meeting.

 

In my opinion removing the word 'attend' above would be good. People should always be able to attend the meeting of their community - freedom of assembly and they might want to try before they buy (join). I am sure we imagine ourselves to be inclusive rather than exclusive.

7 - Sections 34 and 35 and 36 (2) should be deleted or struck through. Expulsion of members has simply no place in our community. These rules were not included when citizens drew up the original DS constitution and I presume they had no idea that they lurked in the Model Rules. Expelling is simply archaic practice that starts me thinking of witch hunts and kangaroo courts etc, It is clearly exclusionary and does not fit with the inclusive and transparent theme that the Association would like to make itself by. If there is a problem with a member I am sure there are all sorts of mediation strategies that can be deployed in a small community.

Brett Harrison
Mar 27, 2018

Yon, thanks for your feedback, I will try and respond to some of your comments in the order you have numbered them -

1. For membership discussion.

2. 5 members present might be too small, but that is what the Model Rules currently state. Again subject to membership views as to what is the preferred number Remember that all substantial motions are to be included in the meeting agenda, so it should not be the case that substantial decisions are made by a small group. Members have the option of attending and voting.

3. My set of the draft rules does not accord with your interpretation of proposed rule 17.

4. The Act sets out those matters requiring a special resolution, that is not less than three quarters of members present and voting in favour. Any other matters put to the vote require only a majority vote in favour. This is normal convention and I am not sure that I understand how DSRA can be said to be unique and require some other voting model.

5. There needs to be the capacity to make decisions, see also rule 31. It cannot always be the case that the committee has time to consult broadly on some issues. The committee will need to exercise its professional judgement on those matters which may require an immediate decision and those which time permits to be put to the community. I would expect the occasions where the committee has to exercise executive powers to be very limited. The committee is accountable to the membership for its actions.

6. Rule 32(5) only applies to a member who has not renewed their subscription, so it is not a case of try before you buy. The membership needs to consider whether it is appropriate for a non member to be able to be able to attend and raise issues at a meeting.

7. Again an issue for the membership to discuss and determine. i would imagine expulsion would be a most unlikely consideration.

 

One issue that would assist the committee I am sure is some feedback as to what format the consultative process should take.

It is evident that the consultative review is not gripping stuff for all members at the present time. The forum is an opportunity for input but is it enough? I think perhaps not. Do we need to organise a focus group meeting to tease out these issues further?

cherryandrews1
Mar 27, 2018Edited: Mar 27, 2018

Thank you all for this discussion, it's great. Thank you Brett for all your expertise and hard work. Look forward to more contributions.

yonkikkert
Mar 27, 2018

Regarding point 3: Section 17 of the draft rules states:

Chairperson at General Meetings

At each general meeting of the Association, the chairperson is to be – (a) the president; or (b) in the absence of the president, the senior vice-president; or

15 (c) in the absence of the president and the senior vice-president, the other vice-president; or (d) in the absence of the president and both the vice-presidents, a member of the Association elected to preside as chairperson by the members of the Association present and entitled to vote at the general meeting.

I take the word absence to mean absent. That is, the president is not at the meeting. I propose that even if the president is at the meeting she or he has the power to delegate the role of the chair (facilitator) to who she/he sees fit. As the wording stands, there is no allowance for that.

Regarding point 4;

'Not normal convention' is hardly an argument and does not engage with the discussion I developed regarding deliberative/collaborative model. The model rules are a generic document that have been designed to one size fits all. I would like to make the claim that our small community is more aligned with the particular than the general and it is our prerogative to design a democratic system that suits us. If we started off with the model rules as a guiding generic document so be it, but we shouldn't be shy to amend it to suit our particular community and it's aspirations. Could you please enlighten me as to the definition of 'special resolution' as distinct from "any other matters"? How is this determined and who determines it and why? What mechanism is in place for a 'any other matter' to be changed to a special resolution? My concern here is big community decisions being passed as 'any other matter' by a margin of 50% +1

Regarding point 6;

'try before you buy' still applies. Some years may have lapsed since the member last attended. there may have been a changing of the guard since and they want to check things out first. I cannot imagine a situation where a community member would be refused entry. That would be incredibly destructive. A situation like that is not community. Administrative pragmatism has it's place but never when basic higher principles are at stake.

Grant Andrews
Mar 27, 2018

As Brett suggested there is a need for more face to face consultation. I spent an hour writing a comment concerning expulsion. It then disappeared iside computer somewhere.

robyn.moore
Mar 27, 2018

There is a definition of special resolutions and when they are required as footnotes on page 5 of the draft set of rules

cherryandrews1
Mar 27, 2018

Grant, would it help if we added some helpful hints on how to add comments etc? I noticed I had to reboot if writing a long comment.

Grant Andrews
Mar 27, 2018

yes, ive had problems but i always have problems with computer. refer to Jack instead.

Brett Harrison
Mar 28, 2018

Yon I do not think that it is a workable proposition that the president can of his or her own volition appoint someone to be chairperson of a meeting and simply ignore the requirements of the rule or for that matter the views of fellow committee members. There are effectively no executive powers attached to the position of President. Your proposal would create such a power and would allow the president to ignore the views of others.

 

There might one day be an occasion where the association needs to confront an issue of such importance that it may be appropriate to engage a facilitator to assist members in formulating a response, but the facilitator would not be the chairperson. This may well involve a special general meeting being called.

 

I have not engaged with your proposition that a majority of 50% plus one vote is not good enough for a matter to be resolved in the affirmative in those matters where a special resolution is not prescribed by the Act. To put it simply I do not support your proposition. Then again I am but one member. It will be for the membership to determine whether the voting requirements are to be amended from what is contained in the Model Rules.

 

Your reference to being able to "try before you buy" which I will tweak to read "have your say before you pay" is I think a bridge too far. Given that DSRA now has an informative website I would suggest that it is not necessary for any potential member to "road test" their interest in joining the association by being able to attend a meeting and ask questions.

 

So the real issue for members to resolve is - can you have your say before you pay or if you want to have a say then pay!

 

Perhaps the compromise position is that non members can attend as observers only should they wish.

cherryandrews1
Mar 29, 2018

Hi! Powers of the Committee Section 23 (c) says: "(the committee) has power to do anything that appears to the committee to be essential for the proper management of the business and affairs of the Association."

 

Very small point but I think " anything" should be qualified, if Model Rules allow. Brett gave a credible example of such an instance. However, that is but one example of "anything." It's only a word but with a lot riding on it in this context I think.

Brett Harrison
Mar 29, 2018

To try and qualify "anything" is going to be an exhausting and incomplete exercise. One would hope that there is sufficient balance in the committee to be able exercise sound judgement on behalf of the association.

In essence the membership put their trust in the committee to make appropriate decisions on behalf of the association.

Then again if anyone with names Warner, Smith or Bancroft were to nominate for committee positions I might have cause for alarm!

cherryandrews1
Mar 29, 2018

Or Trump! ( will Facebook file that snippet about me?!) The name "Smith" might be a distinct possibility in the future Brett! Guess there's no other way of wording 23c)?

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  • Ross Irving
    Apr 5, 2018

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This process will result in much higher community sense of legitimacy regarding decisions made. I am completely on board with Yon’s argument; in fact I am inclined to take it a further step. For example - If we are voting on a motion that the DSRA is supportive of some proposition or other, and 65% vote for it and 45% against, the motion would be carried. If a letter were to be drafted to some organisation advising the DSRA support for the proposition my belief is that letter of support should also clearly advise that although a majority were in favour of the proposal 45% were against. To simply say the majority supported the proposition would misrepresent the membership. 5 - Powers of the Committee Section 23 (c) says: (the committee) has power to do anything that appears to the committee to be essential for the proper management of the business and affairs of the Association. Whoa that sounds scary. Is this linked back into being bound by the rules of the constitution somewhere? Although I can understand there will be administrative decisions required to be made by the executive from time to time for the proper management of the Association I also understand Yon’s point. I would be interested to see some boundaries developed. For example, if the committee decided that on behalf of the membership it was imperative to issue a press release on some matter relating to the Territory, it should be bound to clarify that the statement was the opinion of the committee – not that of the membership. With our new communication tools now becoming available I think the number of times the committee will be compelled to act on significant matters without reference to its membership should be few. 6 - Section 32 (5) is proposed to say: If a member of the Association has not paid his or her annual subscription for a financial year of the Association on or before the commencement of the annual general meeting of the Association that is held during that financial year, whichever is the later day, he or she is not entitled to attend, or vote at, that annual general meeting. In my opinion removing the word 'attend' above would be good. People should always be able to attend the meeting of their community - freedom of assembly and they might want to try before they buy (join). I am sure we imagine ourselves to be inclusive rather than exclusive. I am somewhat supportive of this argument. I don’t mind the attendance of non-members as long as they can’t vote or participate. 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Procedure at general meeting (1) A member may take part and vote in a general meeting in person, by proxy, by attorney or by using any technology that reasonably allows the member to hear and take part in discussions as they happen. (2) A member who participates in a meeting as mentioned in subrule (1) is taken to be present at the meeting. In our constitution there are only a few matters that must be decided by personal vote at a general meeting. A special resolution is required in order to change the name of the Association (s10), to change the Rules of the Association(s18), to amalgamate with another association(s25), to wind up the Association(s32) and to alter annual subscription (MR32). NB (1) For the purposes of this Act, a resolution is a special resolution if it is passed by a majority of not less than three-quarters of such members of an incorporated association entitled under the rules of the association to vote as may be present in person at a general meeting of which notice specifying the intention to propose the resolution as a special resolution was given in accordance with those rules. Brett has asked the members to consider the following:- The draft of the proposed new rules is out there for membership consideration. Is this forum and perhaps an online survey sufficient for members to be able to express their comments/views on the proposed new rules? Should there be an opportunity for interested members to be able to attend a meeting to consider in detail the proposed rules? Comments/feedback would be appreciated. As per my previous comments I believe that much of the consultation can be undertaken via this forum - perhaps augmented by the survey monkey app One of the issues we face in trying to bring about a change in the rules is clause 11 in the existing constitution. The clause requires that a notice of motion to change the constitution is given at one GM and voted on at a subsequent GM. The view we have formed is that the motion put at the first meeting needs to be specific as to the changes being proposed. This would require a settled form of the new rules to be part of the motion put at the first meeting and voted on at the second meeting. Any attempt to move a motion at the second meeting to amend the original motion by way of amending the proposed rule changes would appear to negate the whole process if that proposed motion was passed at the second meeting. We could end up being stuck in a revolving door! We need to be in a position that the proposed motion put at the first meeting is one that is going to be passed by a majority of at least three quarters of those attending and voting at the second meeting. A somewhat awkward situation but one that needs to be embraced. My initial thought it that we should be able to accomplish most of the revision thru this forum together with the surveymonkey survey tool. The aim would be to get close to consensus via the forum. If some members prefer to discuss the draft on a face to face meeting perhaps this could also be facilitated. Once the membership has had an opportunity to consider the draft and the amendments proposed by the membership have been considered by the committee and either included/rejected etc an updated draft would be circulated. If the membership appears at this time to have no further input I would suggest a survey of the membership asking for an indication of their voting intentions – perhaps a few weeks prior to the Special Resolution being put. Brett has added further comments to Yon’s comments regarding Proxy voting. Yon I should have commented further in relation to your views on proxy voting. You have referred to rule 6 which is headed 'Liability of Members" and which generally relates to the liability of a member in the event of a winding up of the association and that a member cannot transfer a right, obligation or privilege. This might be restricted to those circumstances set out in rule 6. If it is the case that the provisions extend beyond those circumstances and do in fact extend to the appointment of a proxy then it would appear that the giving of a specific proxy as opposed to a general proxy is not in contravention of the rule. A specific proxy which directs the proxy specifically how to vote on matters would not be a transfer of any right or privilege, it is a direction as to how to vote. This issue needs to be further considered to determine the scope of rule 6. Rule 6 6. Liability of members (1) Any right, privilege or obligation of a person as a member of the Association – (a) is not capable of being transferred to another person; and (b) terminates when the person ceases to be a member of the Association. If possible we should clarify that 6-1-a does not extend to the use of Proxy voting.
  • Brett Harrison
    Apr 1, 2018

    The draft of the proposed new rules is out there for membership consideration. Is this forum and perhaps an online survey sufficient for members to be able to express their comments/views on the proposed new rules? Should there be an opportunity for interested members to be able to attend a meeting to consider in detail the proposed rules? Comments/feedback would be appreciated. One specific issue that I should have mentioned at yesterdays GM is the amendment to the definition of "Territory" to include residents of Swan River Rd. This amendment arose as a result of an enquiry from a Swan River Rd resident as to whether they could join DSRA.

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