Swimming New Zealand Special General Meeting

By David

The most recent Swimwatch post argued that events in Swimming New Zealand required the Regions call a Special General Meeting for the purpose of disbanding the current Board. This post will consider how this could be achieved.

The Special General Meeting should have three objectives:

  1. To pass a vote of no confidence in the current Board.
  2. To pass a motion removing all the current Board members from office.
  3. To elect new members to vacant Board positions.

Rule 18 of the Swimming New Zealand Constitution covers the procedure for bringing this about. However before we consider the meeting itself, it is important to list the Regions of Swimming New Zealand and their membership. The number of members in a Region determines the votes that Region can exercise at a Special General Meeting. Here is what the Constitution says:

Each delegate present will be entitled to one vote. If member clubs within its region have more than 1,000 members each regional association (by its delegate) will be entitled to one extra vote per 500 extra members or part thereof in excess of 1,000 members. No regional association shall have more than 25% of available votes.

I have no idea how many members are in each region. The table below shows what Swimming New Zealand’s website says were registered in the period July 2010 to April 2011. Like much of the information contained on their website I have little doubt that this too is out of date and wrong. Coulter would do well to make sure this sort of stuff was right rather than telling the Regions he was sent to assume ownership their affairs.

So, how do we call a Special Meeting? Rule 18.2 says:

18.2 The Board shall call a special general meeting upon receiving a requisition signed by not less than 50% of the regional associations.

There are 16 Regions. To call a Special General Meeting requires a request signed by eight or more Regions. Surely that’s possible. An analysis of the Project Vanguard minutes indicates that far more than eight Regions are unhappy with the current Board. My guess is that Northland, Auckland, Counties, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu, Wanganui, Southland, Canterbury and others would be prepared to sign a Special General Meeting request.

The Special General Meeting must be held between two and four weeks after the Region’s request. If the request was submitted by the end of this week a Special General Meeting of Swimming New Zealand could be held between the 4th and the 18th July. Here are the two rules that apply.

18.3 Where a special general meeting is requisitioned it shall be convened within four weeks of receipt of the requisition.

18.4 At least two weeks written notice of a special general meeting shall be given to all Directors, clubs, regional associations and NZSCTA.

Care needs to be taken with the wording of the notice of request. Here is what the rules say.

18.5 Such notice shall specify the time, date, place and business of the special general meeting.

The tricky part of this rule is the bit requiring the business of the meeting to be specified. What is the business of this particular meeting? People like me might prefer to see Coulter and his mates ordered to mount their bikes and ride at night through a wet Wellington southerly on their way to the airport, never to be seen again. That’s about what they deserve.

However even I accept that Coulter, Cameron, Byrne and the current Board are entitled to due process. In my opinion, justice is more than they ever offered Rushton, Ansorg, Friel, Bousaid, Herring and a long list of others. It’s certainly more than they would have ever offered me if they had had the chance. However to deny them justice would make us no better than them. And that’s not a place we should ever be seen. Perhaps the business of the meeting should be to simply consider the Ineson Report. However the notice must not be so general that it prevents the Regions passing a vote of no confidence in the current Board, removing the current Board members from office and electing new members to vacant Board positions.

Coulter is a master at using meeting procedures to get his own way. A river full of Hangaroa eels has nothing on this guy. If the notice of meeting is too general he will rule any motion of censure out of order and escape to Wellington Airport sipping champagne in a white limo, still Chairman of the Board. The notice must be general enough to allow a fair trial but specific enough to let the regions pass judgement and execute sentence.

The final business of this Special General Meeting should be to elect a new Board. Swimming New Zealand’s Annual Meeting is only a few weeks away. The new Board will need to be re-elected at the Annual General Meeting. I believe the new Board should be elected with the intention of having their election confirmed at the Annual Meeting. In other words the new Board should not be intentionally temporary. Elect a good Board now and let it get on with the job.

What does it take to get all this done. Here is the Swimming New Zealand rule that applies:

18.7 For any resolution to be carried at a special general meeting there shall be a majority of 60% of votes cast.

Even though the Swimming New Zealand membership numbers used in this post are probably hopelessly inaccurate, if they were correct, to pass this business, to reform the sport, to herald a new and winning beginning would take a vote at the Special General Meeting of 60% of 23 votes – that’s 14 votes. A positive vote by Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato would total seven votes – half the majority required. Reform requires seven more votes from the 13 remaining Regions. One or two Regions may have sold out to the dark side. There should however be more than enough to score a victory for the good guys.

If anyone had any doubts about why Coulter needs to go, have a listen to this inept, buck passing shambles of an interview with Radio New Zealand.

  • Tom

    Of interest and relevance, Surf Lifesaving Northern Region has passed a vote of no confidence against the board chairman of Surf Lifesaving New Zealand: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=10733159

  • Tom – Thank you. It is an interesting development. The caution and good management exercised by Surf Lifesaving’s Northern Region is a guide to us all. Surf’s misfortune has come at the perfect time to protect swimming from a parallel disaster.