[Linux-aus] With elections coming up soon I thought I'd post a few ideas

Sridhar Dhanapalan sridhar at dhanapalan.com
Sat Dec 3 12:53:04 UTC 2005

I'm quite new to the LA community, and I can't make it to LCA to voice my 
opinions in person, so here's my view as a relative outsider to the LA 
governance process.

On Sat, 3 Dec 2005 11:01, James Purser <purserj at k-sit.com> wrote:
> First off I would like to revisit the idea of extending the terms of the
> office holders(President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary) on
> the committee. One year is really not enough for someone to get elected,
> get used to the position and the responsibilities and then get stuck
> into long term projects. In my opinion two year terms would be best .
> This allows for a period of adjustment to the role, catching up with
> issues and so on and then it gives ample time to get stuck into building
> the organisation and exploring new avenues and projects. Also having one
> year terms for the ordinary members gives those who would like to
> contribute more to the organisation a chance to see what working on the
> committee will be like without having to commit to the full two years.

Most definitely. We need terms that are long enough for office holders to 
become acquainted to their positions (and their associated responsibilities) 
and to make real change. Short terms only encourage short-term planning. 
There is no incentive to undertake any long-term planning, since the planners 
might not be around long enough to see them through. There's no guarantee 
that subsequent office holders will support those ideas, and they might 
prefer a different approach. We don't want the direction of LA changing every 
12 months. That won't take us anywhere.

Longer terms can also reduce the politicisation of LA (I don't know if this is 
currently a problem,  but the possibility is there). With a two-year term, 
candidates can focus more on real issues and less on vote-grabbing manoeuvres 
for the next election.

Anyone who puts themselves up for election will know that they are in for the 
long haul. They can't expect to 'cut and run' after a mere 12 months, or use 
time constraints as an excuse for their inaction. Hopefully, the more 
dedicated people will be attracted to this, and the more 
politically/opportunistically-minded might be discouraged.

At the same time, excessively long terms can be detrimental. Like water, 
political power must flow to prevent stagnation and infestation. Two years is 
a reasonable length.

> Secondly I would like to bring up New Zealand. Matt Brown from
> Wellington LUG raised an interesting point in this message on the
> linux-aus mailing list. Should we be looking at maybe taking on the role
> of Linux Australasia, becoming a body that represents LUGs and the FOSS
> community both here and in New Zealand? This is of course predicated on
> whether the New Zealand FOSS community would want to be part of such an
> organisation. Personally I think this idea is not such a bad thing.
> Having a look around the community in New Zealand there is some really
> cool stuff happening and they are facing many of the same issues that we
> do in Australia.

Broadly speaking, the presence of LCA in NZ has been seen as an 'embrace and 
extend' of LA into NZ. On the negative, some view this as Australian 
imperialism. On the positive, others see this as a way to benefit all by 
having a larger (and hopefully more powerful/influential) organisation.

It is the later that we should focus upon. LCA Dunedin should be portrayed as 
an olive branch to the NZ free software community. It would serve as a 
fantastic way to begin discussion of a wider Linux Australasia (or whatever 
you may wish to call it).

At no point should New Zealanders feel that they are being "acquired" by Linux 
Australia. They need to be involved in the process from the beginning. By the 
same token, the larger population of the community in Australia could 
naturally mean that they have a larger influence over decision making. 
Factors such as these need to be considered and understood by all parties 
concerned before any "merger" takes place.

IMHO, the time to discuss the inclusion of NZ LUGs into LA is now. LCA should 
be the springboard for this. If it is left for too long, the energy generated 
by this collaborative trans-Tasman event will recede, and enthusiasm will 

> Lastly I would like to touch on the sub-committee system and the
> percieved openness of operations. Pia reminded us about the Sub
> Committees a little while ago, and I think there is really a great deal
> of potential here but we need to get the word out more about the
> opportunities offered. As to the openness, I know the committee is a
> volunteer org and time is a rare commodity, however I might suggest
> something like a monthly Presidents report or similar, just to keep
> people up to date with what is going on.

Absolutely. Members need to feel that they are informed and involved in the 
workings of LA. This won't happen if the leadership closes itself off. LA 
should be a community, not a fiefdom.

Sridhar Dhanapalan  [Yama | http://www.pclinuxonline.com/]
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"The problem with conventional wisdom is that it's neither conventional nor 
wisdom." -- Mark Basinski, Cisco Systems
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