Controversial AusCycling poll challenges Cycling NSW ‘no’ vote

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Cycling New South Wales (CNSW) might have announced it will vote “no” to unifying Australia’s cycling disciplines under the AusCycling banner, but the story might not stop there.

Several NSW clubs are banding together in the hope of calling a Special General Meeting to debate CNSW’s position on the matter. The challenge follows concerns about the way the state body handled the AusCycling vote.

In late October CNSW announced that 62.5% of votes submitted by NSW road and track cycling clubs had been against AusCycling, citing the results of a SurveyMonkey poll sent out to clubs. Several clubs have since expressed concerns about the loaded language used in the CNSW poll, namely the question “Is your club prepared to extinguish Cycling NSW’s Constitution and relinquish its assets to a new entity, AusCycling?”

Cycling NSW’s electronic poll was conducted via SurveyMonkey. The language of the question made the state body’s position very clear.

The Waratah Masters Cycling Club is one club that has been critical of CNSW’s approach. The club’s committee voted unanimously in support of AusCycling and in an email to members, president Ian Jackson wrote that the club has “major concerns” with the way the AusCycling vote was conducted.

“Not only was the question clubs were asked to vote on a ‘loaded question’ but it is questionable if the poll is accurate and valid,” he wrote.

“Voting was confused. Two clubs voted 7 times, many clubs were entitled to two votes, due to high membership, however only voted once, several clubs voted after the close off and were disallowed. CNSW are unwilling or unable to provide a breakdown of how many clubs voted in total and what the breakdown of their votes were. The scrutineer of the poll was not an independent third party.

“On an issue that was described by CNSW as the greatest constitutional crisis facing our sport, their handling of the matter is disappointing to say the least.”

Glenn Vigar, chair of the CNSW Board, told CyclingTips that CNSW’s voting instructions were clearly communicated to all club presidents and secretaries vie email, and that the vote was conducted electronically “to accommodate all clubs in our vast state as fairly as possible.

“The process was overseen by the scrutineer, the chair of the Disciplinary Committee, who is independent from the Board,” Vigar said. “The scrutineer returned a result in accordance with the instructions. It goes without saying that it would be inappropriate for the scrutineer to count votes that were cast improperly, such as those that were cast after polls closed and votes cast by a club beyond their voting entitlement.

“The poll was conducted by secret ballot. The scrutineer returned these two key results: 62.5% of the votes that were cast were ‘No’ votes, and fewer than 20% of NSW clubs voted ‘Yes’. The result of the vote represents the opinion of NSW cycling clubs towards the current AusCycling proposal. That is the result that Cycling NSW, as a federation of those clubs, must take to Cycling Australia on any vote moving forward.

“It is understandable that those who voted the other way would feel disappointed, as is the case in any vote or election, but a key part of democracy is acceptance of the result.”

In his letter to club members, Waratah Masters president Ian Jackson said that CNSW was “duty bound to hold a Special General Meeting where the proposal can be discussed, debated and openly voted on.

“Its rejection may be the likely outcome, but good governance should demand the proposal is treated with respect rather than being simply rejected by a questionable online poll,” he wrote. “Hence, we have recently signed a request for a Special General Meeting where the proposal can be considered and dealt with in an appropriate manner.”

Randwick Botany Cycling Club has been working behind the scenes to push for a Special General Meeting. CyclingTips understands that the club has rounded up at least 10 clubs to support the endeavour. As per the CNSW constitution, at least 20% of the state body’s clubs — 14 or more — must sign up to the request.

Vigar told CyclingTips that “Any request for a Special General Meeting as set out in the constitution will be dealt with in that way.”

UPDATE: A coalition of 16 clubs submitted a formal request to Cycling NSW for a special general meeting to challenge the state body’s “no” vote. That meeting will be held on December 10.

Section 15.2 of the CNSW constitution states that the CEO “shall convene a Special General Meeting within 28 days of receiving a requisition” from the appropriate number of clubs. In the event that the board doesn’t hold a meeting within 28 days, “the Constituent Clubs making the requisition, or any of them, may convene a Special General Meeting to be held not later than 3 months after that date.” A meeting held in this way “shall be convened in the same manner, or as nearly as possible as that, in which meetings are convened by the Board.”

It’s not clear whether a Special General Meeting would result in CNSW changing its vote, but the possibility exists.

The state and territory bodies won’t lodge their final votes until a Cycling Australia meeting in December. In order for track and road cycling to be part of the AusCycling project, six of Cycling Australia’s eight state/territory bodies need to vote in favour of the proposal at that meeting. CNSW and WestCycle (the West Australian state body) have indicated that they will vote against the AusCycling proposal as it currently stands, while Cycling Northern Territory and Cycling Victoria have indicated that they will vote in support.

Cycling ACT, Cycling Queensland and Cycling South Australia are yet to vote, but are expected to vote in favour. Cycling Tasmania looks likely to have the deciding vote, assuming Cycling NSW’s vote remains a “no”.

Meanwhile, Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) looks likely to achieve the 75% of “yes” votes needed from its individual members to ensure the discipline’s inclusion. BMX Australia is likely to get six of its eight states/territories voting “yes” as well, despite BMX Victoria announcing this week it would vote against the proposal.

Follow the link for an up-to-date breakdown of the state of the AusCycling vote.

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