We have been busy behind the scenes over the past few weeks. Since our last newsletter (23 May) we’ve been amazed with the responses to the “Your Licence Privileges” with almost 600 respondents. We’ll get a report out to you with our comments in the coming few weeks.
But, now to something far more pressing; a report from the AGM.
As reported prior to the AGM, this is what the WIA Directors achieved in 2015:
- Income down almost $6,000
- Expenses up a staggering $72,000
- Cash in bank down almost $57,000
- Reported Loss of $12,680
- Membership down by 212 or 4.7%
- $0 provided for club grants
If you have an hour to spare, watch the recording of the AGM.
Chris VK3QB attended the AGM on Norfolk Island and provides this summary:
About 55-60 members were in attendance. My single biggest observation that should alarm all members was the (nearly complete) apathy and disregard for the Board’s performance, the financial results and inability to answer reasonable questions with any competence.
It appeared that the bulk of those present were simply not interested; they were on Norfolk Island for a nice holiday and were clearly uncomfortable that questions were being asked of the Board.
There was a collective sigh of relief when one vocal member stood up and announced that he was a former accountant and auditor and that everything was ok. To paraphrase; “There was no need to worry and the board should be congratulated for their efforts”.
This well-orchestrated piece of grand-standing was met with applause and cheers. Clearly the bulk of those present wanted to hear a “good news story”.
This same gentleman advised after the meeting that the financial position of the WIA didn’t matter and that members didn’t really care.
I sincerely hope that his attitude does not reflect that of the bulk of members who were unable to attend the AGM. I don’t believe it reflects the attitude of the newly elected Board members.
Of particular note, the treasurer was not in attendance. The Acting Treasurer (Director Fred Swainston) opened his report by advising members that he was, quote “not an accountant and definitely would never want to be one, honestly” unquote.
One could only assume that Mr Swainston’s intention was to prepare members for an inability to answer financial questions adequately.
It should be noted that contracting firm Trainsafe (Director Fred Swainston) undertook a well-paid engagement to manage the WIA National Office and WIA finances from August 2015 to March 2016.
On the back of a reduction in cash of about $57,000 (that’s $1,096 cash out the door each and every week in 2015) I provide just a few examples of questions and answers from the AGM:
Q: Why are Awards costs up from $997 in 2015 to $5,517 in 2015?
A: The Acting Treasurer advised this was an error by the auditor
Q: What is the sum of $8,091 listed as Professional Expenses, and what services were provided?
A: These expenses relate to the third party transactions they should be technically allocated under Employment Expenses and that’s actually an oversight. (we can assume therefore Trainsafe).
(one wonders if this amount was also declared in the “Related Parties Transactions” – or if this is another “error”)
Q: Why are the ACMA revenue numbers markedly different in the report (`$66k) to what is calculated (~$57k) based on the data presented in the Directors Report?
A: The Chairman (Phil Wait) was unable to answer. The Acting Treasurer was unable to answer. The Chairman advised he would “Refer that to the treasure for his comments”.
These are just three examples of reasonable questions about the finances, and those are the answers provided by the Board; clearly members of the WIA deserve better.
The directors have a fiduciary duty to manage our finances and be able to answer reasonable questions. It is my opinion that they have failed that test.
The Financial Report was accepted, but certainly not unanimously. The secretary will have the final count, but I estimate there was about 48 votes to accept and 30 votes to reject.
Another very serious failure of good governance was witnessed when the Chairman refused a reasonable request to note on the meeting minutes that “even though the Financial Report has been accepted, it is acknowledged that there are errors and unanswered questions relating to material aspects of the WIAs business, that being the contract with the ACMA.”
The AGM then closed and the majority made a bee-line to the tea and cake they had been eyeing since staff started setting the tables 45 minutes earlier.
At this point I wish to thank those members who entrusted me with their proxies. I also applaud the nine members present who were prepared to challenge the appalling status-quo and vote against accepting the financial reports.
It was especially disappointing that so many members present at the AGM simply failed to take any serious interest in the financial stability and good management of their WIA.”
So many more questions could have been asked, but it was apparent that the Board and majority of members present were simply not interested in open, honest reporting. A few examples include:
- The WIA has ~$57,000 less cash in the bank? Where has it gone? The WIA has reported a loss of only $12,680 and the President, Phil Wait attributed this to “exit payments of two WIA staff members in 2015”. Given the bulk of these exit payments would have been covered by balance sheet transfers, where did the ~$57,000 go?
- Why is it that membership is down by 212 members, but membership income was up by $15,309? (simple maths… 212*$95 = $20,140). That’s a difference of over $35,000
- Why do Bookshop, Foundation Licence Manuals and Callbook sales and costs just not add up? Review 2015 revenue and costs against those of 2014.
Please take the time to review the Financial Report. Whilst the AGM is behind us, every member should be demanding the Board illustrates it has control over finances this year, and they must be held accountable for last year.
A good start would be for the board to answer the questions openly and honestly, and then follow-up by publishing a budget and monthly P&L statements. It is the only way this Board can illustrate it is managing our money competently and responsibly.
Word about the WIA Reform Group continues to spread. Forward this email to your local club and friends. Contact the National Office and Board Members and ask for all questions to be answered.
Ask them to publish a budget for 2016 and issue monthly P&L statements. It only takes the push of a button in the MYOB package. No effort or cost at all. The we can all be informed…..
We are now all paying for an accountant to look after the books, after all… how much, one wonders? Why isn’t any member willing to step forward and offer their services as Treasurer? Is there a reluctance to grasp the poisoned chalice, perhaps?
Email us if you have questions or concerns. Next week we’ll provide a summary of the Open Forum session from Norfolk Island, as well as some positive ideas for the future.
Stay up-to-date with news and progress; – visit www.wiarg.org .
We’ll continue to challenge this Board and demand better results. A strong WIA is critical to protect our hobby. We encourage every radio amateur radio in Australia to be a member.
Until next week,
G.C. Dunstan VK4DU, C. Chapman VK3QB, R. Dollar VK8RD
PS. We don’t want to spam you. Send us an email if you’d prefer we remove you from our mailing list.