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?