The WIA Reform Group
To: WIA President
Cc: WIA Directors, WIA Secretary, Amateur Radio Magazine Editor, WIA News Broadcast Services, WIA Members, ASIC.
25th October 2016
Open Letter to the President of the WIA
Dear Mr Wait,
We understand that the WIA recently appointed an external firm of book-keepers to undertake a major project to bring the accounting records up-to-date. We also understand the WIA is likely to lose in the order of $80,000-100,000 this year. That’s off the back of a reduction of cash reserves of almost $57,000 last year.
This board has lost $140,000-160,000 in cash reserves in just two years….
This book-keeping initiative is long overdue and it confirms the board’s continued lack of responsible financial oversight during 2016. Your inaction and failure to manage volunteers effectively is now draining cash reserves even further.
The fact you have engaged external book-keepers on a full time basis for 3-4 weeks at a cost of $12,000-$15,000 clearly illustrates that the WIA’s accounting system has been neglected once again.
This follows on from a similar instance of inattention to financial record keeping between September 2015 and January 2016 when the office was under the management of the external company Trainsafe (Trainsafe’s Director is also a Director of the WIA).
Between June 2015 and February 2016 three volunteer Treasurers resigned, all citing ethical and professional concerns with the Board.
A fourth former Treasurer, Mr. Bruce Bathols, has now stepped forward expressing his concerns over the Board’s disregard for responsible fiscal oversight. Bruce was also present at the AGM on Norfolk Island earlier this year.
Bruce, who is a life member of the WIA, a former President and the inaugural Treasurer of the National WIA, writes: “I agree with your sentiments, and congratulate the Reform Group on your stance”.
The WIA has now operated without a Treasurer since the end of June 2016 and financial record keeping has once again been neglected.
Would you please answer the following questions?
- Why do you insist that a decision to appoint an auditor be subject to member approval at a special general meeting, and yet you spend $15,000 on book keepers with no membership approval?
- Why have the financial records again not been maintained on a regular basis for over four months?
- Why were no competitive tenders sought prior to the appointment of this book-keeping firm?
- Market rates are $30-$60 per hour for MYOB book-keeping. Why is the WIA paying $80 per hour?
- On what basis was the external book-keeping company selected? Was there a contract in place, or was the arrangement simply open ended?
- Was the motion to appoint this external firm (without competitive tenders) put to the board for a vote and did all Directors support the motion?
- Given four ex-Treasurers, two ex-Directors and two serving Directors have raised serious concerns over the professional conduct of the board, will you be supporting the call for an independent audit?
- Will the Directors be presented with a P&L and Balance Sheet report for the Year-to-Date at the Board meeting on 25th October 2016? If so, this will be the first time since mid-2015 that Directors have received such reports.
We note that in your “Bucket Economics” report in the September issue of Amateur Radio magazine you avoid providing members with a clear financial position, but on our estimates of the data you provided, the WIA was showing a loss of about $33,000 as at 30 June. This current book-keeping engagement will be costing members in the order of $15,000.
Assuming no other material changes have occurred since then, and you have continued to lose in the order of $1,000 per week, the WIA will report a loss in the order of $80,000-$100,000 this year. Or at the very least see cash reserves depleted by this amount. That means you will have drained members cash reserves by up to $160,000 in just two years.
WIA members should not have to wait until the AGM in May 2017 to see just how much damage this Board has brought to our representative body. This is about the Board’s integrity, financial competence and its ability to manage key volunteers. Without an effective WIA the very things we all enjoy about our hobby are at risk.
Now the accounting system has been brought up-to-date (end of September 2016), we request that you provide members with the P&L and Balance Sheet reports (to 30 September 2016) to members within 2 weeks along with any relevant explanatory notes.
We also note that in a recent WIA News Broadcast members are advised that all WIA Board members have undertaken Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) governance training. It is suggested in this news broadcast that directors carry out most duties well. It is obvious to any impartial and informed observer (as well as four ex-Treasurers, two ex-Directors and two serving Directors) that the current board lacks a basic appreciation and knowledge of its fiduciary duties and its responsibilities to manage staff and volunteers.
This is a good time to remind all Directors that they have a fiscal responsibility under the Corporations Act. Your continued lack of attention to financial management may well be another breach of the Corporations Act. It appears that only Directors Andrew Smith and Paul Simmonds are treating this important matter with any respect.
Your honest and straight-forward answers to the questions in this letter would be appreciated.
And for the WIA Reform Group