Unconstitutional funding

The Shooters Party in NSW is aiming to secure a second seat in the Upper House of State parliament in the election on 24 March 2007. The party’s candidate is Roy Smith, Executive Director of SSAA (NSW) and former National Secretary.

If elected, he will join Robert Brown (who replaced John Tingle) in a chamber in which the government will not have a majority. Although other minor party members will also be present (notably the Greens), there is some potential for the Shooters Party to have considerable leverage.

The Committee of Sydney Branch of SSAA has voted to donate $60,000 and up to $100,000 if needed towards the party’s election campaign. The Board of SSAA (NSW) voted to donate $250,000 towards it.

The problem is, both decisions are unconstitutional. The constitution of both bodies states that donations in excess of $500 require the approval of a special resolution at a general meeting. In other words it must have the approval of 75% of the members themselves, not just a vote by the committee.

When this was pointed out to the Sydney Branch committee, they refused to call a general meeting and have the decision ratified.

Some are claiming that the end justifies the means. That is, the objective of shooters gaining control of the Upper House is too important to be worried about the niceties of constitutional donations. Whatever it takes, they say.

Others claim the constitution is a legal document and must be upheld. A general meeting of members may well have approved the donations, if given the opportunity.

Yet others argue the donations are excessive and should be reduced.

There are also some who suggest the entire affair reeks of impropriety. They point out that Roy Smith is President of one donor organisation and Executive Officer of the other. The donations will be used to help elect him to parliament, a financially lucrative position.

They also point to the fact that the agency handling the advertising for Smith’s campaign (the budget for which is $800,000) is McNabb Advertising. The agency is owned by Paul McNabb, who is currently Junior Vice President of Sydney Branch and National Secretary of SSAA. McNabb Advertising also handled the national Michael Diamond campaign.

Who is right here?

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7 Responses to Unconstitutional funding

  1. pete2whelan says:

    We should all be reminded that the “Michael Diamond” TV advertising campaign was a marketing disaster. While giving existing members of SSAA a “warm and fuzzy” feeling it did nothing to change the firearms laws, nor did it result in a massive influx if new members, or new gun owners. Perhaps it wasn’t designed to get new members, but to keep existing members from deserting the ship, through frustration at lack of pro-active initiatives in the face of increasing Government restrictions. Don’t forget it was SSAA representatives (assisted by Pistol Australia) who advised the Howard Government on which handguns to ban in 2002/2003.
    The “Michael Diamond” ad. campaign coincided with M.D.s arrest on assault and firearms storage charges. SSAA shredded a complete run of their monthly magazine (at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars!). M.D. was subsequently cleared of all charges, so the TV ads were aired. What the SSAA should have done was “stuck to their guns” and stood by M.D. while pointing out the flaws in the existing safe storage and other restrictive firearms regulations.
    As I’ve heard time and time again, “The SSAA has lost the plot”!

  2. David Waters says:

    From time to time, we expect our experts to give opinions and make decisions in certain circumstances, or critical times. An example is that a doctor does not always have time to consult a medical journal or a medical chief. Rules may state emergency decision making should be conducted under rules and by-passing rules is not condoned, however this is not often subject to right or wrong, but if good judgment was exercised at the time, and if the common person in the same circumstances would have reasonably done the same thing.

    In the case of the SSAA and funding, if the members were asked should the donation be made, I am sure the answer would be yes. As we know, as you pointed out, the method to ask the members is by special general meeting, which requires notice etc. A SGM would cost thousands, as in 10’s of, which is money that could futher go to fight for shooters, improve facilities etc.

    Has any real harm been done?

    Did the decisions of the relevant committees to donate actually save the members time and money?

  3. Josh says:

    Couldn’t agree more with David’s assertion. Elected members are charged with a responcibility to make critical decisions when required. When circumstances dicate that a decision must be made within a shortened timeframe, then the representatives should not only have a right to make such a decision, but a clear responcibility to do so. I think it is pertinent to remember that as shooters, we are currently at great risk of being completely abolished within the next decade or so. Fighting over scraps at such a poiniant time in our history is certain to only achieve one end. A unified front with political backing is possibly our only hope.

  4. Redneck says:

    If the government was to spend our taxes on something that you approved of but it was against the law, would that be OK?
    There are laws to prevent governments from becoming corrupt and unaccountable. In the same way the SSAA constitution is there to ensure the committee remains accountable. In fact, ignoring the constitution shows contempt for the members. The comittee did not trust the members to make the decision.
    The committee should be kicked out, no matter whether the members would have approved the decision or not.
    Power corrupts.

  5. ausdiplomad says:

    The thing is, any shortened timeframe was merely a result of poor planning on the part of the Smith’s team during the early months of 2006. Instead of capitalising on the political focus of the AGM (through the political forum), there were no end of complaints about it being ‘too early’, or that it shouldn’t have happened at all.

    What if Smith had proposed the funding at the AGM and gotten the OK?

    What if Smith and his new automatic rubber-stamp Committee post-June had decided upon an SGM in August or September and hosted a big love-in with the members to launch the campaign (and a series of other meetings)?

    They’re perfectly aware of the cost of doing an A4 insert for Branch members in the AS and they’re perfectly aware of the lead times. The only reason one might incur a gigantic cost is…… lack of planning. With a measure of it, anything’s possible.

    Seen any other campaign events in Sydney worth attending recently, particularly as the campaign has now started in earnest? The lack of them makes my point for me. The other point it makes is that the Association can no longer hold any sort of credibly neutral event or position whilst the current administration reigns – the political tentacles are just too deeply embedded and the masters too deeply in denial about their conflicts of interest.

  6. ausdiplomad says:

    Oh, and for anyone not reading between the lines, the point about a lack of events is a commentary of sorts on the high concentration of people in the Sydney region whose primary vote for TSP in the LC should be automatic (but isn’t).

    If we’re talking bucks here, and there was $100k on the table to play with, why didn’t they have a big campaign launch month in November where they’d have an A4 sheet (with cut-out flyer) go out to members offering them a free shoot / sighting in at SSAA ranges throughout the month (both days, all weekend) with appearances throughout the month by Smith, Brown, Tingle et al on both days over the weekends – have them appear at St Marys in the morning and Silverdale in the morning, Hornsby in the morning and ANZAC in the afternoon etc. Have a bunch of targets printed up on A4 that they can shoot at containing the TSP message. The classic problem with Sydney shooters is talking to them in person, so give them something you can afford to give away on a $100k budget – some range time, or some .22 ammo for members to shoot whilst they’re on the range having a go.

    Sydney’s just got that many shooters, yet there’s bugger all going on down here worth going along to – no events, no speeches, no announcements, no Q & A sessions, no publicised appearances at ranges (across all Associations), no presentations of awards at events- no nothing.

  7. […] opinion finds that the donation was unconstitutional as previously stated here, contrary to the opinion of a solicitor engaged by SSAA(NSW) who was subsequently nominated as a […]

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