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July News Letter

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Dr Richards and Gentlemen,


Firstly, let me apologise in advance for this broadcast email and if you’d rather not receive such an unsolicited email from me in future, please let me know and I will immediately take you off the mailing list. On the other hand, if there is any other RA-Aus member you feel might like to read this then please feel free to pass it on to them. If you receive this email “second-hand” and wish to receive a copy directly, let me know and I will add you to the mailing list. Finally, if you wish to discuss or query any matter pertinent to this or future newsletters please feel free to email or ring me (0418 257 793).


When I resigned from the Board I made an undertaking to continue to work for RA-Aus as a volunteer and this newsletter is meant as a part of meeting that commitment. Communication between the Board and Members, while slightly improved is still poor.


Early Resignation from RA-Aus Board


In the July edition of SportPilot you may, find buried amongst the Letters to the Editor, a letter from me entitled (by the Editor) as “A note of explanation”. This is a sanitised version of my reasons for leaving the Board. To get even as bland a statement as that in the Magazine took over a week of negotiations with the President and the Editor. The Editor was concerned with the earlier, more pointed drafts of my letter, fearing the CEO’s relish for engaging Slater & Gordon to launch actions for defamations against anyone who criticises him or publishes such criticism. I also find myself reluctant to commit any of my children’s inheritance to rebutting any action that might be brought by the CEO (using RA-Aus Members funds?). Some on the Board felt this was airing “dirty washing in public” but my concern is that too much is kept from the members using that argument.


RA-Aus Board Elections


Many of the Board have already been returned unopposed and we should all recognise that is not an indicator of a healthy democracy. In NSW/ACT Paul Middleton and Michael Apps are running against Col Jones. Paul and Michael are good men both with outstanding aviation experience. However, they are part of the old guard intent on maintaining the status quo. Our Board needs new blood and Col Jones has the capability and broad experience to do a good job for us. I strongly recommend Col for your consideration in the coming Board Election.


RA-Aus By-Elections


By-elections for Victoria and NSW/ACT, to replace Bill Cain and myself, have been delayed so we don’t end up with the fiasco that eventuated last year when the main and by-elections collided. An odd development reported on the Forums was that David Caban has withdrawn his nomination for the main election with the reason suggested that Middleton/Apps/Caban did not want to split the vote for Middleton and Apps against Col Jones. Dave Caban, it seems is likely to run for the NSW/ACT by-election. I’ve come to know David Caban in recent times and find him also a good fellow with the best interests of RA-Aus at heart. However, he has himself been a very long serving Board Member and we really need new, progressive candidates to contest the By-Elections when called.


RA-Aus Rules


At the last Board Meeting in February 2012, I presented a detailed paper containing a proposal to form a Constitution Review Committee (CRC). The paper named the members of the CRC with myself as Chair. The Board voted unanimously in favour of the proposal to establish the CRC. We then assembled the team and commenced the herculean task of re-writing the Constitution.


There are two big issues with the Rules as they exist now - both brought on by the passing of time since the rules were originally adopted. The first issue is that RA-Aus has grown rapidly and is now a much larger organisation, with 11,000 members and the employment of 12+ staff under the direction of a full-time CEO. It has become a $2.75 million per annum “business”. The Constitution does not account for this growth and reads as if all the work of RA-Aus was done by the individual Board Members, much as would happen in a small club or local school P&C.


The second issue is with the size of the Board itself. RA-Aus Rules require a Board of 13 members’ representatives elected on a State by State basis. I’m not sure that seven out of ten on the current Board being CFIs is necessarily the diversity we need. Thirteen on the Board may have been handy when the Board Members did all the work of the Association. It would also have been handy in the days before mobile phones, email and the internet. But now, having so many on the Board just increases exponentially the duration of Board Meetings (3 days!) and the cost of getting all the Board Members to and from Canberra and accommodating them.


Our Board Members are elected on the basis of where they live rather than on what special skills they can bring to the Board. The Constitution calls for the Board to be elected “by the membership on a one Member - one vote system”. This is unfortunate wording because it definitely does not result in “one vote - one value”. For example, the member for Northern Queensland can be elected by a handful of votes but a Victorian member could need a thousand votes to be elected.


After my resignation, the Board decided by a less than unanimous vote, to stop the work of the CRC and disband it. The reason given to me was that the Board would not let the CRC operate without a current Board Member leading Committee and since none of the current Board Members were prepared to do the work, the CRC would have to disband. It was suggested that, after the elections in September, if a new Board Member was prepared to roll their sleeves up, the CRC could be reformed and I could apply to join. No, really.


Since we currently have only one General Meeting per year at which changes to the Constitution can be voted on, this is effectively an unnecessary delay of over one year. I’ll leave you to wonder why the remaining Board Members wanted to keep absolute control on the work of the CRC and whether their decision was in the best interests of RA-Aus or just some on the Board.


Despite the Board’s best efforts, we will still be making formal proposals for changes to the Rules at the September AGM, based on the work already done by the CRC before it was officially knobbled by the Board majority. I hope that you will see value in these proposals and, if you can get to the AGM, cast your vote or, if you can’t make the AGM, provide your proxy.




Don Ramsay


0418 257 793



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Guest ozzie

Thanks Don,


Enjoyed reading it. I also just posted off my voting form, hopefully that will help move things along.





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Guest Michael Coates

Thanks Don and thanks again for your efforts on the board and at least "having a go"..... more than most of us have done.



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Guest BlackRod


My recent “July Newsletter” (posted above) was longer than I would have preferred but in trying to keep it brief, the paragraph on the “RA-Aus Board Elections” lacked balance and contained a statement that I have since come to know was not accurate and fully deserves correction.



While I recognised the immense depth of aviation experience of both Paul Middleton and Michael Apps, I also said that they were part of the “old guard intent on maintaining the status quo”. While this was my honest opinion at the time, it is a grossly inadequate expression of the worth of these two aviators to RA-Aus.



With regard to Paul Middleton, one of his great strengths is his long history with the administration of RA-Aus. His knowledge of why a particular thing is the way that it is, is no mystery to him. By knowing the history he has the capability to prevent RA-Aus repeating mistakes from the past. That sort of depth of experience is genuinely invaluable. Paul has committed a great deal of his personal time in the office in Canberra to helping unravel issues around LSA registrations, among other things.



With regard to Michael Apps, I simply got it wrong. My first experience with Michael was at the Board Meeting in September 2011 where he stood in as proxy for an absent Board Member. His performance at that meeting and in discussions with him between sessions gave me the impression that he had drawn real wisdom from his lengthy aviation experience and his experience in running businesses. When he subsequently nominated for a By-Election, I strongly endorsed him and made that endorsement known far and wide.



It then must have seemed a little strange to all that I was less than complimentary about Michael Apps in my recent newsletter. While I was on the Board, I had formed the view that Michael was perhaps too close to those who do favour “more of the same”. In fact, I just got it wrong. Far from being in favour of the status quo, Michael is quite progressive and, for example, in favour of the amendments to the Constitution we are putting to the AGM in September. In a recent discussion with him I now understand that he favours RA-Aus becoming more business-like in the way it operates with a clear focus on delivering value for the members.



We are unusually fortunate in NSW/ACT to have three strong candidates for the two available Board positions.



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Guest David C

Don , thank you for posting in regard to the corrections in your original post . It takes courage and commitment to take the stand and admit fault . I commend you for that . I'm sure all affected parties can now see this as " water under the bridge " and get on with life as normal .


Dave C



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Guest BlackRod

Thanks Dave. The affected parties have been most gracious. My great regret is that I didn't talk to them before I wrote the newsletter. Truth is I didn't think it necessary at the time but have learned from this that it is always necessary and the polite thing to do.





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