The Board Reappoints Butler

By David

I see Swimming New Zealand has posted the minutes of their September Board meeting. The following remit moved by Jane Wrightson and seconded by Humphrey Pullon was approved.

That the board reappoint Ross Butler as an appointed director for a further period of 2 years. This appointment is subject to the ratification of the first board meeting held after the AGM.

So, they have done it again. They have reappointed Ross Butler for a fourth term of two years when the Constitution only allows an appointed Director to serve for two terms. The whole lot of them are just bloody cheats. No matter how unpopular we become, Swimwatch will continue to hold this bunch of incompetent crooks accountable for their behaviour. In a junior breaststroke race this Board would have been disqualified a hundred times. The Swimming New Zealand Board has been so badly managed by their Regional owners that the Board believe they have a divine right to power. Well, they don’t. The Constitution is a document they must respect. Swimwatch are happy to court unpopularity in order to hold this Board to account.

Today I have filed a complaint with the Registrar of Incorporated Societies. This is what the complaint says.

My question refers to Swimming New Zealand Incorporated. Clause 10 of the SNZ Constitution says the following:

“The board shall comprise of: (a) Six elected Directors. (b) The elected Directors may appoint up to two appointed Directors on the basis of specific knowledge or skills, for a term no longer than two years. Upon expiry of that term the Board if it thinks fit may reappoint such Directors for a further term.”

The current Acting Chairman is a person called Ross Butler. He is an Appointed Director. He was initially appointed on 3rd November 2005. Within the terms of Clause 10 he was reappointed in 2007. And then outside the terms of Clause 10 he was appointed for a further two year term in 2009. Clause 10 only allows for one reappointment term after the initial period of two years. Finally last month the Board of Swimming New Zealand passed the following resolution approving Ross Butler’s membership of the Board for a fourth two year period.

“That the board reappoint RB as an appointed director for a further period of 2 years. This appointment is subject to the ratification of the first board meeting held after the AGM.”

My concern is that the regular reappointment of Ross Butler is in breach of Clause 10. Ross Butler has now been reappointed for three two year periods. Clause 10 only allows for one additional two year period. Clause 10 is specifically aimed at preventing the very behaviour that Ross Butler and the current Board of Swimming New Zealand are guilty of enacting.

In these circumstances is there any action the Registrar can take to ensure that the Swimming New Zealand Board complies with the terms of its constitution. Alternatively can the Registrar suggest any course of action the membership might take to control a rogue Director who is not being required by the current Board to comply with the constitution.

We will post the Registrar’s reply to our complaint when it is received. It is our hope that Ross Butler can be held accountable for what the Incorporated Society’s Act 1908 calls actions “beyond the scope of the objects of the society as defined in its rules” and is fined the maximum penalty of $2.00 a day for the two years he has flouted Swimming New Zealand’s rules – $2.00 for 730 days, that’s $1,460, sounds good to me.

While I was researching this post I opened Swimming New Zealand’s page on the Companies Office website. Why has Swimming New Zealand failed to file its annual accounts in 2005, 2008 and 2010? The law is clear. Here is what it says –   “Every society shall deliver annually to the Registrar, a statement containing the following particulars: (a) The income and expenditure of the society during the society’s last financial year: (b) The assets and liabilities of the society at the close of the said year: (c) All mortgages, charges, and securities of any description affecting any of the property of the society at the close of the said year.”

In three of the past five years Mike Byrne’s Swimming New Zealand has failed in its statutory duty to provide the Registrar with a set of accounts – five years at $2.00 a day, that’s another $3,650 fine. This is the Board that preached how much more efficient things would be if they ran the Region’s business. They said that under Project Vanguard the sixteen New Zealand regions would all be better off. While Mike Byrne fails to supply the Registrar with a set of the organization’s accounts, his claims of superior management skills are hard to believe. As we have said on Swimwatch many times before – adding to Mike Byrne’s responsibilities is bizarre when all the evidence suggests that Mike Byrne isn’t all that good at what he does now. When he gets the accounts filed with the Registrar he may be ready to do a really important job like booking the Miramar Golf Club for the next Board Meeting.

It is way off the subject of this post but why are all Swimming New Zealand’s Board Meetings these days held at the Miramar Golf Club. What’s wrong with the Swimming New Zealand office building in Petone. Does Butler get car sick on the Hutt Road? Perhaps McDonald is not sure where to find Petone?

Here at Swimwatch we suspect the performance of this Board may be illegal. It is certainly unusual and demands an explanation. Whatever the explanation it clearly is time for Butler to find something else to do.


  • Northern Swimmer

    Have we lost all control of our sport?

    We have one Independent Board Member submitting a remit to re-appointment the other Independent Board Member.

    Looking at the Legal and Governance page on SNZ it says that there are two Independents and five [elected] Board Members. The absence of his name shows that Mr Coulter has gone, however from what I have heard Mr Toomey has been permanently based in London since August; I presume he no longer takes part in the Board meetings.
    However what that page does not mention, but what can be found if you look at the Board Meeting Minutes is that along with the Board Members also in attendance were:
    Mike Byrne SNZ CEO
    Nelson Cull Board Advisor
    Kerry McDonald Board Advisor
    (Martyn Newman-Hall (minute taker))

    Effectively you have four elected Board members, two independent board members, two ‘independent’ board advisors, and the CEO. (I am assuming the minute taker breathes through his nose).

    While only Board Members have voting rights, you effectively have ‘independent’ and SNZ voices out-numbering the elected members 5 – 4. I can only guess as to who is controlling the content of the meetings.

    Have we lost all control of our sport?