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Docklands Community Association - November 2013

29 Oct 2013

Greetings everybody

The editor has accepted that I use this column as a right of reply to the lead article in Docklands News – October 2013. I was not informed of the article before publication.  It is assumed for the purpose herein that the editor Shane Scanlan was poorly advised.

The front page article headed “DCA rules chaos” was highly inaccurate and misleading in a number of areas, as answered below. The heading “chaos” was a gross exaggeration. The opening statement that we have been operating without authority since 2009 is quite wrong. Over 90 per cent of our rules and sub-sections are valid, with amendments to the remainder to be ratified. This has been confirmed by a senior officer of Consumer Affairs Victoria, which administer the rules for registered associations.

The rather extraordinary article appeared to reflect grievances held by the editor, referred to further down. He has admitted he is no longer a resident of Docklands.

I regret the need to have to go to this trouble in reply but it is necessary to correct statements in the article and to counter the maligning of the DCA and myself.

The DCA is a respected organisation acting in good faith and dedicated to representing resident community amenity. The DCA has record membership, a good committee team and receives praise for its work. At the association’s AGM held on October 2 office bearers and other committee members were re-elected unopposed.

Responses to specific accusations
The statement that we have been operating without authority since 2009 is patently wrong.

To explain, the DCA constitution contains 37 rules and sub-sections contained in over 14 pages. Of those, the DCA in 2009 decided to amend only six, including short amendments.

The committee at the time didn’t know that amendments approved at an AGM required CAV ratification. It is not stated in the rules, which needs to be added.

The remaining 31 rules, which govern most of our operations and we continue to observe, stand and are quite legitimate as confirmed by CAV.

 The CAV officer also stated that the few additional rules for associations added in the 2012 legislation update do not significantly change things.

We do not have to “scramble” to meet new rules as alleged, as existing approved rules are deemed to stand under updated 2012 legislation and we are not required to update until such time as we may submit amendments which we plan to do in due course. This is confirmed by CAV.

Short-term renter exclusion states in the rule that it applies to such as serviced apartments (not mentioned), which are the majority and largely let for weekends. Obviously these renters are not classified as residents.

“Dumping its social membership category” is a wrong and totally misleading claim. Clearly a member more interested in the social side is just as welcome as any other. What was changed was the fee structure to have a single member type and a single fee for everybody instead of two, there having previously been one for social and one for voting right. In practice, the distinction proved meaningless as everybody opted for the slightly higher voting fee. The single fee is also easier to administer and is normal for resident associations.

Restricting copies of register of members is for good reason in that it contains members’ private details including addresses, private telephone numbers and email addresses. The register is available for scrutiny.

Quorums for meetings. The implication is we’re trying to manipulate numbers – again wrong. The quorum levels that had been set were way too high above the levels recommended by CAV and we reduced them accordingly. For example, the quorum of seven set earlier for a committee meeting was equal to or above the number of committee members, thus making it impracticable.

The statement regarding 12 months committee experience for office bearers was, I believe, meant to read preferred.

The exclusion of non-residents is simply because the DCA is a resident association. In fact, there had been no applications for membership from people who were not residents. A recent exception is Shane Scanlan.

The time limits for committee nominations and proxy lodgement were not at my whim as implied but are stated in the approved rules.

I don’t know what Shane’s statement that I was one of two current committee members present at the original meeting in 2008 is supposed to mean. I was not involved in drafting the original rules at the time and was a member of the audience.

Motivation for the article
As to Shane’s possible motivation, he has approached me on more than one occasion suggesting I back off criticising aspects of Docklands, asking on one occasion why I bothered to live here.

I replied that, as head of the DCA, I speak up on issues adversely affecting residents such as developer plans, lack of open space till now, serviced apartments, parking problems, community facilities and the like, and will continue to do so as required. The purpose is to rectify and obtain improvements. At the same time, I try to make balanced comments.

Whilst businesses are represented by the Chamber of Commerce, having until recently owned and operated a business I am sympathetic to the needs of them generally and they and workers can get a good rub-off effect from our DCA efforts.

Roger Gardner
President DCA

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