[Linux-aus] Proposed Linux Australia Constitution Changes

David Newall david at davidnewall.com
Wed Jul 13 23:18:15 EST 2011

I don't like it. I don't like it because it's totally unnecessary; and I 
particularly don't like it because it makes changes by stealth.

I asked in what way our constitution falls short of the new Act's 
requirements. I don't know if the committee has sought legal advice on 
the matter. If they have, I'd like to see it.

Eventually I realised that, on the principle,"given enough eyeballs, all 
bugs are shallow," I should check for myself. The requirements are 
stipulated in Schedule 1 of the Act, which is at 
http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/maintop/view/inforce/act+7+2009+cd+0+N, and 
which I include below with notes explaining how our current constitution 
meets, or otherwise, each requirement. This is not rocket-science, and I 
urge others to repeat my work to independently confirm the results.

The results, by the way, are that our act meets all requirements except 
number 16 which, quite ironically, is to address the financial year. Let 
me say again, we need to amend our constitution to specify the financial 
year. This is what the committee wants to do, but they tell us that we 
have to discard our entire constitution to do it. This just is not so.

I'm highly suspicious about the proposal. I don't buy the need for it; 
and while I accept we do need to change (specify) the financial year, I 
resent the other functional changes. The committee recommends (I assume 
John announced on their behalf), for example, that affiliate members be 
no longer allowed. Why? Careless mistake or political agenda? Surely 
it's neither, but whatever the reason, we've not being given full or 
sufficient disclosure. Are there other changes hiding? (Short answer: Yes.)

This proposal should be rejected on the general principles that: it's 
too broad; and it's insufficiently explained. Vote no.

These are the requirements for a constitution to be valid. I got them 
from the Government web site.
> Schedule 1 Matters to be addressed in association’s constitution
> (Sections 6, 10 and 107)
> 1 Membership qualifications
> The qualifications (if any) for membership of the association.

Covered in section 2.

> 2 Register of members
> The register of the association’s members.

Covered in section 7.

> 3 Fees, subscriptions etc
> The entrance fees, subscriptions and other amounts (if any) to be paid 
> by the association’s members.

Covered in section 8.

> 4 Members’ liabilities
> The liability (if any) of the association’s members to contribute 
> towards the payment of the debts and liabilities of the association or 
> the costs, charges and expenses of the winding up of the association.

Covered in section 9.

> 5 Disciplining of members
> The procedure (if any) for the disciplining of the association’s 
> members and the mechanism (if any) for appeals by members in respect 
> of disciplinary action taken against them.

Covered in sections 11 and 12.

> 6 Internal disputes
> The mechanism for the resolution of disputes between members (in their 
> capacity as members) and between members and the association.

Covered in section 10.

> 7 Committee
> The constitution and functions of the committee, including:

All covered in Part 3 (section 13 through 22.)

> (a) the election or appointment of the committee members, and

Covered in section 15.

> (b) the terms of office of the committee members, and

Covered in section 14(3).

> (c) the grounds on which, or reasons for which, the office of a 
> committee member is to become vacant, and

Covered in sections 18 and 19.

> (d) the filling of casual vacancies occurring on the committee, and

Covered in section 14(4).

> (e) the quorum and procedure at meetings of the committee.

Covered in section 20.

> 8 Calling of general meetings
> The intervals between general meetings of the association’s members 
> and the manner of calling general meetings.

Covered in sections 23 and 24.

> 9 Notice of general meetings
> The time within which, and the manner in which, notices of general 
> meetings and notices of motion are to be given, published or circulated.

Covered in section 26.

> 10 Procedure at general meetings
> The quorum and procedure at general meetings of the association’s 
> members, and whether members are entitled to vote by proxy at general 
> meetings.

Covered in sections 27 through 30, 32 and 33.

> 11 Postal ballots
> The kinds of resolution that may be voted on by means of a postal ballot.

Covered in section 32(2).

> 12 Sources of funds
> The sources from which the funds of the association are to be or may 
> be derived.

Covered in sections 8 and 35.

> 13 Management of funds
> The manner in which the funds of the association are to be managed 
> and, in particular, the mode of drawing and signing cheques on behalf 
> of the association.

Covered in section 36.

> 14 Custody of books etc
> The custody of books, documents and securities of the association.

Covered in section 39.

> 15 Inspection of books etc
> The inspection by the association’s members of books and documents of 
> the association.

Covered in section 40.

> 16 Financial year
> The association’s financial year.

Ironically, not covered. We need something like:

The financial year of the association is:
(a) the period of time commencing on the date of incorporation of the 
association and ending on the following 30 June, and
(b) each period of 12 months after the expiration of the previous 
financial year, commencing on 1 October and ending on the following 30 

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