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Editions
August 09 Edition Cover

Non-residents still not welcome

30 Oct 2014

Non-residents still not welcome Image

By Shane Scanlan

Docklands Community Association (DCA) president Roger Gardner will, on November 13, make another attempt to ban non-residents from membership.

Shortly after becoming president in 2009, Mr Gardner presided over changes to the DCA’s rules to ban non-residents and which also made it harder for him to be challenged internally.

However, these revised rules were never registered with Consumer Affairs Victoria and, as revealed by Docklands News last year, had no legal basis.

At the association’s annual general meeting on November 13, Mr Gardner will present a new set of rules for adoption.

The new rules are based on Consumer Affairs Victoria’s 2012 model rules and are less extreme than his 2009 attempt.

However, there are some notable departures from the model rules (which are consistent with the current rules).

While the model rules allow for proxy votes to be received at the start of a meeting, the proposed new rules insist on four business days’ notice.

The model rules allow for nominations for committee positions from the floor and without formality.  But Mr Gardner’s version insists on a written nomination, signed by two members as well as the nominee and delivered to the secretary four business days before the AGM (a softening of the current rules which insist on seven days).

The model rules also propose that separate elections be held for executive positions but Mr Gardner’s favoured methodology is to, firstly hold a committee election, and then allow the committee to elect office bearers.

In an explanatory note to members about why was it necessary to exclude non-residents, Mr Gardner said: “The DCA operates in practice as a resident organisation and has done so for many years but this needs to be formalised as proposed to avoid any misunderstanding and non-resident applications.”

But in an email to committee members in May, Mr Gardner revealed his fear of “stacking by workers and business owners”.

“Non-resident workers have shown no interest because they don’t live here, nevertheless stacking can be organised, has previously occurred and recent events would suggest it could happen again unless we take steps in the rules to restrict membership to residents,” he said.

In particular, Mr Gardner fears serviced-apartment operators, who he believes could take over the DCA.  His proposed rules specifically exclude short-term stay guests being defined as residents.

“Short-term serviced apartment guests are not regarded as residents. Clearly they do not voluntarily register for DCA membership but unless the exclusion is included it is possible that it could be exploited by serviced apartment operators for proxy voting purposes,” he said.

He noted that Docklands Executive Apartments owner Paul Salter had become a member of the association and he claimed that “serviced apartment interests” had taken over the Arkley owners’ corporation committee.

Mr Gardner cited an example of “stacking” within the DCA: “Regarding stacking, a few years back a key member supporting night clubs assisted by another prior to a DCA AGM signed up a number of people, paid for some, got them to sign open proxy forms and controlled the elections.”

The 2009 AGM, when Mr Gardner first became president, directed the association to “concentrate on bringing the residents of Docklands together in an informal and social atmosphere.”

Mr Gardner denied that the rule changes were aimed at serviced apartments. “Obviously the rules are not aimed specifically at serviced apartments,” he said when invited to respond by Docklands News.

Mr Gardner pointed out that the proposed rule changes had been approved by Consumer Affairs Victoria.

“The existing DCA rules … were brought in in 2008, following approval by members. We are not proposing anything different except amendment of member eligibility to reflect existing practice,” Mr Gardner said.

“Ironically, in terms of election rules, the Chamber of Commerce has I believe similar election rules to us but you don’t criticise that!”

“I prefer to be upfront which I have been here. I suggest that it would be a better idea not to let your obsession get the better of you again. We will not take any misrepresentation lying down and will address any through appropriate channels.”

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