Why we voted NO

 

It’s the question they’re all asking: why did Canberra’s editors vote so overwhelmingly against the IPEd transition plan?

It’s all about governance and best practice—giving members more of a say in how their branches and IPEd more broadly is run, keeping branch committees and IPEd Councillors accountable to members, and clarifying issues around finances, rights and responsibilities. The vote wasn’t a vote against IPEd, but against the constitution, by-laws and transition plan on offer. The table below is a summary of the main issues. You can also download the table as a pdf.

Why we voted NO to IPEd’s proposal

Topic Issue Proposed solution
Quorum for resolutions 25, but if there aren’t enough people, the same resolution can be moved to a month later, when only 10 people would be required. Set a higher quorum. 25 is inadequate for an organisation the size of IPEd.Remove the option for holding a second meeting with a smaller quorum.Include a requirement for representation from branches other than the one passing the resolution.
AGMs No requirement to hold AGMs in different locations. For example, they could be held in Melbourne or Sydney, year in, year out, excluding the contributions and views of, and alienating, other branches. Require the AGMs to be rotated, so any branch that has enough members for a quorum can host the AGM (see also above).
Remove an IPEd councillor A member can seek to remove a councillor if they give 6 weeks’ notice of a motion to do so. Since at least 3 weeks is needed for a meeting (and it could be just on the 3 weeks), anything could happen in the gap. Resolve the difference to avoid any possibility of IPEd calling a different meeting within the 6-week period.Suggest amending to require a motion to remove a Councillor be considered at the next general meeting, within the requirements of section 9 of the constitution.
Ability to seek legal advice Cannot seek legal advice on any IPEd matter without the approval of the IPEd Council (note that all activities will be IPEd matters) Remove this requirement, or amend to require a special resolution to do so. This means a quorum would be needed before such advice could be sought.
Code of Ethics Referred to in the papers as a cause for possible disciplinary action, but code is yet to be settledBreach of the code is not defined. Remove this reference, or insert a requirement that the Code of Ethics be passed by a special resolution before it can take effect (see also comments about a quorum)
Disciplining of members See also Code of EthicsNo possibility of rehabilitation: someone who is evicted from IPEd will never be readmitted Remove this requirement: it is at the least ‘a little harsh’ and some have called it ‘draconian’.Anyone should have the right to reapply for membership: potential scenarios for possible readmission include genuine rehabilitation, or evidence of a miscarriage of justice in the initial expulsion.
Financial control by IPEd Branches can’t keep a bank account for their own fundsBranches can’t access their own financial information other than what IPEd tells them.See also, the comment about financial responsibility This needs serious discussion. It’s hard to see in the Constitution and by-laws exactly what the former societies (and now branches) can spend their own money on.Suggest treating new branches (with no cash reserves) and societies (with significant cash reserves) differently under transitional arrangements.
Fees Membership fee increases by up to 15% pa without membership approval Suggest require all fee increases to be passed by resolution at an AGM.Any rise in membership fees must be justified to, and approved by members. Total transparency in fiscal matters should be the rule.
Financial responsibility IPEd is forecasting a deficit of $30,000 this year Require a balanced budget at the least.A deficit is not a good start for a new national body, especially as the societies have run surpluses most years. Noting that IPEd has a fairly substantial reserve, we nonetheless believe that careful and balanced budgeting will be critical for ongoing success of the new model.
Motion to transfer members and funds The formula for transfer of funds is not defined. All that is stated is that societies may retain some of their reserve funds, with no indication of how issues such as allocation of interest on funds are resolved. Provide the formula for transfer of funds so people can cast an informed vote.
Term of the branch committee Unlimited re-election, other than the president, who can hold that office for only 3 consecutive years. Limit terms in any single office for the four mandatory offices (IPEd Councillor, an Alternate [sic]Councillor, an Accreditation Board Delegate, President). Three-year limits for all.
Removing a branch committee IPEd can remove a branch committeeThe branch committee can remove one of its own membersThe general members have no power to remove a branch committee (for example, if it failed to act appropriately), other than by voting them out at the next AGM Extend members’ rights. Specify the ability for the general membership to remove a member of their Branch committee, OR the entire committee, by special resolution (at least 3 weeks’ notice)
Branch authority, power or responsibility “A Branch will not have authority, power or responsibility … [to do] (v) any other matters determined by the Council from time to time.” Remove this clause to remove the capacity of IPEd council to arbitrarily determine the authority, power or responsibility of a Branch without first going to a vote – it should require a change in the Constitution and, if relevant, the by-laws.
Committee workload No reduction other than for the membership secretary and the treasurer during audit.The workload of running the day-to-day affairs of the branch—organising meetings, training, website, newsletter, maintaining local recruitment, managing the branch budget— will not decrease. Some work will increase due to the need to meet IPEd’s requirements. Seek a better balance between the workload and branch/members’ rights.
General meetings Must be cash neutralEffectively requires prepayment and therefore booking ahead. Suggested options:· A small allowance to cover venue hire (which is currently free in Canberra but likely to cost in future) and basic catering ($5/head). To be substantiated by records from the night· A cash float (so people can pay by cash and catering can be covered by cash)· Amend this requirement so it’s possible for people to attend without booking ahead online. Canberra people aren’t that organised, especially during Senate Estimates, budget, and annual report periods.Note: Meetings are one of the important financial benefits for CSE members (especially associates and non-freelance full members). A main function of our meetings is to network over a drink and a light pre-dinner supper.
Chair of meetings Unable to remove a chair from a meeting Remove this requirement from the constitution.There should be the capacity to remove the chair by a vote at any meeting.Otherwise, how does a meeting remove a biased or rogue chair from a meeting if there can be no vote of no confidence in the chair at a meeting? Why wouldn’t a vote on a motion to remove the chair be enough to decide the matter? This is a basic democratic right of members participating in governance processes.
Newsletter/website Not included in current arrangements and no definite plan A national organisation needs, from the outset, an agreed and formal arrangement for regular communication with its members. The idea that this would not be the case is untenable.