E.A. & Branches, Opinion 2020
'Stuff ' just keeps dissappearing on Facebook and Forums!
'Stuff ' just keeps dissappearing on Facebook and Forums!
| 2020 | 2015,2012 | 2010-2018 | 2014-2018 | History | 2020 -V.A. | 2020 -V.A. | 2020 | Branches | Branches |
| 2020-2021 | 2022 | 2012-2022 | Comment | Dec 2021 | 2022 | FEBRUARY 2022 |
HEATH RYAN SPEAKS OUT ON VARIOUS ASPECTS OF E.A.'S AND THE BRANCHES ACTIONS AND VOLUNTARY ADMINISTRATION - EQILIFE
EQUESTRIAN AUSTRALIA ENTERS VOLUNTARY ADMINISTRATION - 9/6/2020
STATEMENT FROM THE EA BOARD
"The Board of Equestrian Australia has taken the difficult decision to place Equestrian Australia Ltd into Voluntary Administration.
This follows the withdrawal of funding by Sports Australia, which had formed a view that, until the organisation is both representative of the membership and stable in governance and operation, they could not in good faith continue to contribute public funds.
Combined with the impact of COVID-19 on our forecast revenue, this places the organisation at risk of trading insolvently.
Clearly, the current EA model does not work. The intent of entering Voluntary Administration is to avoid insolvency, which would be disastrous, and to create the conditions for a successful and sustainable equestrian community into the future.
Effective immediately the High-Performance (HIGH-PERFORMANCE) program will be transferred under the oversight of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).
The HIGH-PERFORMANCE Panel will remain in place, funding returned to the AIS, and the program will continue unabated in pursuit of equestrian gold at the upcoming Olympics. We have been advised that there will be no change to HIGH-PERFORMANCE staffing arrangements.
The Administrators will take control of the remainder of EA. The constitution is effectively set aside in favour of their powers under the Corporations Act. The operations of EA continue without change at this stage and there is no planned loss of jobs.
The Administrator will work with the creditors of EA to determine the conditions for exiting Voluntary Administration.
This process is intended to be rapid, envisaged by the Corporations Act to take about a month. This will enable EA to rebuild as a viable, representative, democratic and stable national sporting organisation that is returned to a focus on sport as quickly as possible.
In our sport of so many diverse interests, rarely do our branches, committees, and members share a cohesive view. Disagreement, however, should not be destructive.
We should strive to improve the structure, the culture, and the performance – all in the interests of greater opportunity, participation and enjoyment.
The current Directors have agreed to work with the Administrator to rebuild the organisation as quickly as possible."
GILLIAN CANAPINI'S QUESTIONS
Following her premature resignation from the EA Board on the 11th May 2020, Gillian Canapin's role in overseeing the restructuring and reform processes of the organisation came to an end. Read and insiders opinion.
HORSES MOUTH -QUESTIONS ARISING FROM THE BOARDS STATEMENT
I note with highlighted text in the boards statement and ask myself the following questions:
The operations of EA continue without change at this stage and there is no planned loss of jobs! How can this work?
Question- Obviously the current situation is not sustainable and as the High-Performance element has moved (possibly temporarily) to Sport Australia; wouldn’t rationalising the E.A. employees and reducing staff be the logical reaction to save money?
Well it wasn't rapid - By December 1 2020 and the new E.A. Board still wasn't in control -
The Australian, Olivia Caisley Exclusive, 30/11/2020
“Equestrian Australia’s new-look board has been in limbo and unable to act on key decisions to rebuild the sport since being appointed in October due to the national body’s difficulty in obtaining insurance protecting it from potential lawsuits."
HORSES MOUTH NEIGHS "THERE'S AN ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM"
One month was the best-case scenario; it turned out to be a complete fantasy, helped along with 20+ years of issues, possible pending court action involving the E.A. Board, Covid and the State Branches stubbornness.
Given that it’s taken E.A. years to get to this point, one month would have been a miracle and completely ignores the ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM – the reasons why Sport Australia has removed grants to E.A. Unless these reasons are resolved there should be no funding. The reasons are many and varied and firmly entrenched
The rectification of this ELEPHANT will be a long,painful and drawn out process. Getting agreement and viable changes that are representative, democratic and fair where initially only the six State Branches materially had input is proving to be an impossible task. How likely were they to relinquish their power to fix the major issue, the disenfranchisement of grass roots members? The result up to this date (1/12/2020) is -minimal token.
Clearly, the current EA model does not work. – The word 'model' implies more than just arbitrary constitutional change, it needs to encompass a full restructure that empowers the members,not just the State Branches and the E.A. Board. From my perspective revising the E.A. constitution and repairing the relationship with the members will take a very long time!
EXECUTING THE D.O.C.A : STATE BRANCHES ACT TO OPPOSE MEMBERS WISHES TO EXCLUDE CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE CLAUSE 40
Did the State Branches grow a backbone and start representing their members? NUP ! Go to page 11 on Horses Mouth to see how things have turned out.
Most alarming is the end statement from the current directors of E.A.: "The current Directors have agreed to work with the Administrator to rebuild the organisation as quickly as possible".
This is the same board that Ricky MacMillan resigned from saying “reform was impossible” !
MORE ON E.A. IN VOLUNTARY ADMINISTRATION : NATIONAL MEDIA
So, who is bringing E.A. into disrepute?
#newspapers, #disrepute, #havoc, #Olympics, #Administration,#abysmal,#board
HEATH RYAN SPEAKS OUT ON VARIOUS ASPECTS OF E.A.'S AND THE BRANCHES ACTIONS AND VOLUNTARY ADMINISTRATION - EQILIFE
#Voluntary Administration, #EQ, #tribunals, #Justice, Ricky MacMillan, #secrect, #Sport Australia, #insolvency, #injustice, #Heath Ryan, #blindsided, #timing, #transparency, #funding, #lies,#timeline, #inequality, #deception, #solvent
MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE
The State Branches maximum resistance to reform and dilution of their power.
HORSES MOUTH'S OPINION: June 2020
The situation could not be permitted to continue and we have been told that tax payers money was integral to the financial viability of E.A.; though, high profile equestrian competitor Heath Ryan's articles in EQLife provides sound arguments that solvency was not behind the E.A. Board placing E.A. in Voluntary Administration.
I find it merciful that Sport Australia has made the determination that until the organisation is both representative of the membership and stable in governance and operation, they could not in good faith continue to contribute public funds. This is the situation that a group of concerned equestrians have been alerting others to for years and finally a government body has acknowledged the mess officially. To all the ‘neigh (pun intended) sayers, we told you so! To Sport Australia, I'm glad you finally looked at E.A. and took some fiscal responsibility with the public purse- too little, too late!
It should be noted that Sport Australia supported elite equestrian competitors during this process- support ‘in kind’ by "Effective immediately the High-Performance (HP) program will be transferred under the oversight of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).
The HP Panel will remain in place, funding returned to the AIS, and the program will continue unabated in pursuit of equestrian gold at the upcoming Olympics. We have been advised that there will be no change to HP staffing arrangements."
So any drama surrounding the Tokyo Olympics is a moot point for 2020 thanks to Covid postponing the Olympics until 2021; Equestrian participation is still being managed and we were told that those that qualified for the postponed games in 2020 remain qualified. We have been told that when it comes to final selections and nominations, these must be done by the equestrian 'Peak Body', assuming there is one!
Being in administration is not the same as liquidation. E.A.’s aim is to stay in business and trade out of their current financial position. This could mean additional levies on the State Branches which would in all probability mean an increase in Branch membership fees.
It’s also worth noting that the role of the Administrator does not really address the solving of the REASONS WHY (constitution, continual drama’s, the structure : State Branches and their constitutions!) Sport Australia pulled the funding. Voluntary Administration will only deal with E.A. , not the State Branches, each of whom are Individually Incorporated.
Realistically, how much reform is possible without reforming the Branches? Sport Australia has removed government funding. As I see it, only the current E.A. board to date has acknowledged the existence of issues; rectification will be left to the rebirthed EA if it survives the Voluntary Administration process, I'm not holding my breath for an apology to grass roots members any time soon or any true reform while the Branches remain un-reformed.
Without a complete change in culture and governance, right through to all the State Branches the members dissatisfaction will continue. The issue of transparency, truth and fairness in reporting any (if) viable changes back to Sport Australia should not be in the hands of E.A. and their State Branches, as they are the perpetrators. But, until/ IF government funding is returned, how exactly is the sport financed until S.A. funding returns if E.A. is in fact so perilously close to insolvency? Perhaps Heath is right, E.A. is a solvent business, especially after the new financial year brings in the State Branch's members contributions to E.A.
The Voluntary Administration Process has highlighted the State Branches vehement opposition to any true meaningful change.
If E.A. is to survive in any form, changes must encompass not only the E.A. constitution and by-laws but also the Branches constitutions, practices, policies and culture. There must be accountability and consequences for not following their own constitution and/or the Corporations Act. Perhaps embedding a requirement for the Branch representatives via their Branch members vote, to endorse E.A. governance every year or dismiss the board. Financial reporting must be more detailed, currently the devil is in the detail and we don’t have much detail, go to any year's financial report and see this for yourself. E.A. appears to use the 'miscellaneous' category to hide certain spending!
DOES E.A.'S VOLUNTARY ADMINISTRATION AFFECT THE STATE BRANCHES?
The State Branches are the only members entitled to vote on E.A. Constitutional changes to enact the Deed of Company Arrangement , voted on at the second creditors meeting while E.A. was under voluntary administration. Herein lies the catch!
KNOW THE DIFFERENCE : E.A. : The State Branches
It is important that people realise the difference between E.A. and the six state branches (7 if you count Equestrian Northern Territory, who still hasn't been recognised under the 'new' E.A. constitution) . Reading various Facebook comments, it is clear that many don’t recognise this difference. If you have paid your membership subscription, you are still a member, of your State Branch while E.A. is in administration, and after September 15 2020 you are a member of your State Branch AND E.A.
The Branches are individually incorporated and exist in their own rights separate from Equestrian Australia. They each have their own constitutions; which in my opinion are equally as disenfranchising as the Equestrian Australia constitution. After the E.A. DOCA enactment - where people say they are ‘members’, paid membership, to their your State Branches, these State Branches pay levise on their members behalf to E.A. It is through this arrangement that Branch individual members are also now recognised as members of E.A. If a Branch or individual member stops paying membership to their branch they are no longer a member of either organisation.
Pre September 15, 2020
The State Branches are the members of Equestrian Australia, there is a Memorandum of Understanding between Equestrian Australia and each State Branch, ostentatiously named Equestrian Australia Limited Memorandum of Understanding between: Equestrian Australia Limited (“EA”) and its Shareholder Branches ("the Branches"). The State Branches each then pay a subscription, based on their membership numbers, to Equestrian Australia which covers their members insurance and services delivered by E.A.. The State Branches and E.A. have clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
After September 15, 2020
The E.A. constitution was revised on September 15, 2020 to recognise the State Branch's grass roots members as members of E.A. and awarded them 'qualified' voting rights on on E.A. matters. These members rights are limited regarding Constitutional changes, See Clause 40, Clause 15 and Clause 21 in the E.A. Constitution with the material effect that the State Branches, not the general membership, control the Constitution. The Participating Members are NOT happy.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
Given that Sport Australia (temporarily) took on the High-Performance element of equestrian, did they also do liaison with The Federation Equestre Internationale (F.E.I.) as necessitated by participation in international competitions; however, given the Covid shut-down this was probably not required anyway. I guess this would remove the kudos of E.A. Board members 'hob-nobbing' with the elite competitors and the Olympic movers and shakers, along with the associated international travel! Perhaps this move would attract board members with more altruistic motivation?
Question: Would Sport Australia take on the High-Performance element of equestrian permanently but with E.A. still retaining the Olympic selection and nomination responsibility? Would this effect the 'grass roots members'?
High-Performance takes up an inordinate amount of money, time and effort and essentially the Branch members heavily subsidise this element of the sport. Realistically how many riders in each state are competing at F.E.I levels with aspirations to international competition? However, there is also a significant cross over advantages to 'grass roots' members due to E.A.'s relationship with the F.E.I. regarding horse welfare, drug policies, safety, judges training, rules etc. not to mention the 'learning' that lower level riders obtain from seeing top level competitors ride and teach. Would this still exist if E.A. lost high performance? Perhaps not.
What exactly does E.A. do for the rank and file member who just wants to ride their horse and compete at the lower levels with the opportunity to move upwards if they have the talent? How viable is this if they are not independently wealthy and self-financed? Realistically, without government funding for Dressage , at Olympic level only the rich self-funded competitor can even aspire to international competition of any type.
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE ROLE OF E.A. AND WHAT DO THE BRANCHES DO?
The MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING – ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF EA AND THE BRANCHES (Schedule) defines what exactly EA does and what the Branches do (scroll to the end schedule) (Amusingly, this document comes up with the browser title of Draft Volleyball Charter Agreement!) Clearly (excluding High Performance) there are some aspects that need to be national: insurance, O.H.S., drugs policy, training the trainers and judges, individual discipline rules and tests so that riders can compete easily out of their home state.
Some of these currently exist, so who own’s the intellectual property if E.A is liquidated, or is it all lost? The incentive not to liquidate and start again was a strong motivation for grass roots members to accept the Administrators D.O.C.A.
Currently we have the tail (E.A.) wagging the dog, what’s wrong with the dog (Branches) wagging the tail again? Similar to the old Federation but with modern updates and improvements learned from experience. Why not Federation sub committees with representatives (proportional to membership numbers) for O.H.S, trainers, S.J, Dressage etc. using current technology such as Zoom meetings? There would need to be a cross-over committee to liaise with Sport Australia for members who need to migrate to High Performance but perhaps its time to separate the High Performance from the sporting members?
I.M.O. this is a far better scenario than E.A. staggering on. Not that the Branches constitutions are any better than E.A.’s, they also disenfranchise members big-time and must be reviewed as part of a restructure (I know, I have read them), but at least this would put the membership one step closer to their governing body.
From my perspective the Branches do the majority of the practical 'on ground' work and other than 2 meetings a year with E.A. and some membership on E.A. committees they have very little input; the Memorandum doesn’t even spell out that E.A. must enact what the Branch representatives recommend at these two meetings, nor is there any compulsion for the Branches to represent their members wishes, nor are there any consequences if they don't. E.A. appears to be primarily policy, rules and compliance, coordinating committees, practices and procedures as a final arbitrator, liaising with government bodies, sourcing funding and hob-nobbing with the rich and famous.
Unfortunately, where a State Branches' Constitution spells out the powers of the Board to govern, the inclusion of this clause under the Corporations Act precludes the ability of any members motions regarding governance issues, to be forcibly enacted if the Board does not wish to. This also applies to E.A., realistically the ordinary members of any of these associations have no real power to insist on anything unless their Boards agree.
EQUESTRIAN AUSTRALIA LIMITED MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN:
EQUESTRIAN AUSTRALIA LIMITED (“EA”) AND ITS MEMBER BRANCHES
("THE BRANCHES") - 30 APRIL 2013
(as on 23/12/2021 - not amended to reflect new status of Branch Members as also E.A. Members)
1.0 INTERPRETATION- 1
II. The Branches are the recognised bodies, which, within the policy framework of EA, govern the sport of Equestrian in their respective States and Territories. The Branches are the only Members of the Company entitled to exercise any right granted to a member of a company by the Act,
(Horses Mouth neighs- AND THE NEXT CONTRADICTORY STATEMENT!)
VIII. Member means any member of EA or of its Branches in any membership category.
2.03 EA acknowledges that the Branches are legally autonomous and financially independent bodies but are at the same time joint shareholders of the Federation. Except in accordance with this Agreement, EA undertakes not to attempt to compromise that autonomy in any way. EA and the Branches acknowledge that both parties are committed to the development of the sport of Equestrian in Australia and undertake to support each-others’ efforts.
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING – Role and Responsibility of Branches
4. Finance & Administration
Collect and remit to EA an annual capitation fee for each member, of an amount determined by the EA Board from time to time. Any such amount cannot be adjusted more than CPI without the approval of two thirds of the Branches
Collect and remit to EA any other levies as determined by a two-thirds majority vote of the Members.
Branches will adopt National policies and By-Laws (i.e. anti-doping, medication control, disciplinary, appeal, member protection, privacy).
Maintain support and Branch representation at two National NCAS Committee meetings annually.
Provide Branch representation at one coaching workshop annually.
Assist in the delivery of EA NCAS courses and examinations according to EA NCAS course policies.
Provide input and support for National EA NCAS Coach Marketing initiatives
Additional reading - THE LAW - ASIC, Insolvency, Voluntary Administration
"IN BRIEF – VOLUNTARY ADMINISTRATION IS NOT THE SAME AS LIQUIDATION
The purpose of liquidation is to wind up a company, whereas the purpose of voluntary administration is to assess the company’s viability, turn its fortunes around if possible and provide a better return to creditors if not.
…… The purpose of voluntary administration is to attempt to turn an essentially insolvent company around to maximise its chances of continuing, or if that is not possible, to provide a better return to creditors (and members) than if there was an immediate liquidation of the company.
The administration itself usually only lasts about five weeks.
During that time, the administrator investigates the company’s business and determines whether or not it is in the best interest of the creditors to allow the company to continue in some form. This is usually a Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA).
The other option is for the company to be placed into liquidation.”