Vote for Change Incorporated

Written By: - Date published: 9:32 pm, June 28th, 2011 - 24 comments
Categories: electoral systems, referendum - Tags:

By its own admission, Vote for Change is anti MMP. Its website homepage has “More Accountability” as its first principle. It is also an Incorporated Society. So I had a look at its rules – you can find them here by entering “Vote for Change” in the box. It seems more like the Politburo to me. Not a good look for a group supposedly promoting better democracy.

Here’s some examples from the Rules. Re membership Rule 4.2:

Every application for membership shall be made by application in writing to the committee, and shall be accompanied by an entrance fee, the amount of which shall be fixed by the Committee. If the applicant’s name is approved by the Committee, the applicant’s name shall be entered on the register of members. The Committee need not give any reason for approving or not approving any application.

That provision is fairly standard. But re  the Committee Rules 6.1  and 6.2 say:

The Society shall be managed by a Committee comprising not less than two or more than five members of the Society.

The initial Committee shall be made up of Peter Shirtcliffe and Jordan Williams.

The FAQ section of the website indicates that Peter Shirtcliffe will not take part in the day-to-day activities of the Society but will be a member of the Committee only. The Committee has very wide powers, including the appointment of its members, of officers and the ability to decide on different classes of members of the Society (Rule 8.1).

As for the members’ opportunity to have a say, an AGM must be held no later than May 31 in each calendar year (Rule 9.1). As the Society was constituted in June 2011, this meeting will be held after the general election. A special general meeting may be convened by the Committee, or by a request in writing signed by 250 members of the Society (Rule 10). Four (that’s 4) members of the Society constitute a quorum at a general meeting. Go figure.

Perhaps this is why. Rule 22.1-2 state that:

The Society may at any time be dissolved by the resolution of a majority of the members present at any General meeting. Any resolution of dissolution shall be confirmed at a Special General Meeting of members to be held not less than thirty days after the date on which the winding up resolution was passed.

And Rule 22.3:

In the event of dissolution any residual funds and assets, subject to the payment of its debts and liabilities and the costs and expenses of winding up [shall be passed to any other persons, associations or bodies having similar objects] as recommended by the Committee before the subsequent Special General Meeting referred to in the previous clause.

And if all that’s not enough, Rule 24.2 says:

If at any time any matter arises which is not provided for in these rules or in the regulations or by-laws, the same shall be determined by the Committee, whose decision shall be final.

Democracy may be a bit messy around the edges at times. but we don’t need our rules made up by a closed shop with a hidden agenda.

24 comments on “Vote for Change Incorporated”

  1. ianupnorth 1

    I have never been a member of anything that has a committee of two; at least I thought all incorporated societies required a secretary, a chair and a treasurer. Very suspect.

    The officers usually consist of a Chairperson, a Secretary and a Treasurer.

    The Chairperson convenes meetings of the society and ensures that the rules are followed.

    The key role of the Secretary is to keep a register of members, prepare notices for general meetings, keep minutes of all meetings, and keep the official stamp or common seal of the society in safe keeping.

    The role of the Treasurer is to keep proper financial records, to bank all money received by the Society; to pay all accounts, to prepare annual accounts, and to file the annual accounts (financial statements) with the Registrar of Incorporated Societies.

    Still lots of addresses on the list; I am sure they will enjoy their pizza’s when they are ordered for them…..

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      …at least I thought all incorporated societies required a secretary, a chair and a treasurer. Very suspect.

      They probably do but that doesn’t mean that they have to be part of the committee.

  2. Frank Macskasy 2

    So much for accountability!

  3. jackal 3

    The numbers thing is a rule that a lot of incorporated societies and trusts fail. But I agree it’s not a good look for an organization preaching accountability to start off without a proper mandate under their own rules. Rule 22.3 is pretty standard as well and is a real problem concerning misappropriation with members awarding themselves the organizations funds and/or belongings. Believe you me it does happen. Rule 24.2 defines two people as final decision makers making the prospect of joining such an organization a waste of time, unless you’re an insipid nodding fool. There will be better things to attack them on though.

    • Frank Macskasy 3.1

      “Rule 22.3 is pretty standard as well and is a real problem concerning misappropriation with members awarding themselves the organizations funds and/or belongings. Believe you me it does happen.” – Jackal

      Indeed it does, Jackal. I seem to recall a case up north (Whangarei?) a couple of years ago (?) where a local disability group was effectively taken over, Don Brash-style, by a small clique. They then sold of the considerable assets of the organisation and paid themselves handsome “dividends”.

      The members were powerless to stop it, but eventually there was a Court case over the matter. I’m not aware what the result was.

  4. Tanz 4

    If you believe in democracy so much, Mike, how come you’re so against the chance for the public to have a second and long-ago promised say on our voting system? So, you’d rather just leave it a closed book, because MMP suits you? Wow, that’s really fair, open and democratic. Not.

    • Lazy Susan 4.1

      If you believe in democracy so much, Mike, how come you’re so against the chance for the public to have a second and long-ago promised say on our voting system?

      So where in the post did Mike say that he was against the MMP vote, or is that just what you thought or wanted to read Tanz? The post was about the undemocratic rules of the somewhat shadowy organisation “Vote For Change”. Nice try at distraction though.

      • Zetetic 4.1.1

        if you look through one eye and squint, and don’t actually read what’s in front of you like Tanz, then you see it.

    • lprent 4.2

      It was never “promised”. That is just another myth based (as far as I can see) on a misconception in a comment by Jenny Shipley years after MMP was introduced.

      We all know how wedded the nutty right are to your precious, and that facts are just inconvenient distraction from playing with them (rather than something that you might want to think on). However, how about addressing the content of the post.

      If you want to raise irrelevant side issues – do it in OpenMike. That is what it is for.

  5. Monty 5

    The problem with MMP is that it gives the likes of Winston Peters the ability to choose who the government may be. Every system has its faults – some systems more than others of course, but when a disproportionate amount of power is handed to a fringe party such as Winston, the Greenies, Hone (god forbid) or even Peter Dunne or Jim Anderton, then that system no longer becomes representative of the people, but rather representative of the ego of the few.

    For that reason I and hopefully 51% or more will be voting for change come 26 November 2011

    • Bored 5.1

      And I hope not Monty. Your argument implies that unless you are in a big and possibly majority band, your vote should not count, your voice remain unheard. What that advocates is authoritarian at best, ready to slip down the slope toward totalitarian. I for one dont really care to hear Dunne, Anderton, Peters etc, equally I dont care for Key. But I know whoever votes for them needs to have their voice heard, even if they get outvoted.

      Lets face it, if you have the numbers anyway why feel threatened by a small minority? Or do I smell the fear that your large gang cant get the numbers all the time? That is the problem with democracy is it not…so the standard rightist response is disenfranchisement………

      • Colonial Viper 5.1.1

        Let’s not forget that at any time, members of the largest Opposition party (or any other opposition party in parliament) can cross the floor and help the Government of the day defeat any stupidity being advocated by a one or two seat minority party.

        Or they can just laugh as the Government and the country is subsequently tied in knots.

  6. queenstfarmer 6

    This really is a very strange article. It’s an incorporated society that can choose its own members, like vitually any other. Who is the “we” you refer to in “we don’t need our rules made up by a closed shop”?

    And what is the “hidden” about their agenda?

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Its the continuation of the US trend where supposedly independent citizens groups turn out to be (or develop into, in the case of the Tea Party) nothing more than corporate funded fronts. These go on to advocate as ‘citizens voices’ on behalf of big corporates and other moneyed interests.

      • Bored 6.1.1

        Well spotted Viper, as they say follow the money and you will find the backers of these things.

      • queenstfarmer 6.1.2

        So what is “deceptive” or unclear about this group (which I don’t support by the way)? They’re being pretty upfront about who they are and what they want. People can support them or not support them. How is this a “front”? Very strange.

        • Colonial Viper

          Why don’t you read up on the Koch brothers involvement with and behind the curtains funding of the Tea Party to get the idea, before you over play your false naivete.

          • queenstfarmer

            What does the Tea Party and the Koch brothers have to do with this?

            This is an incorporated society – no different to thousands of other. There is a constitution, binding list of objectives, details of officers – all publicly available. Societies are taxed on business activities. There is a register of members. All of this is quite the opposite of the murky Tea Party.

            • Colonial Viper


            • ianupnorth

              Possibly because you cannot join unless they accept you – a very odd club, and if you say one thing out of order they can axe you – not very democratic for a group concerned with democracy!

              • queenstfarmer

                you cannot join unless they accept you – a very odd club” – um, you do realise that this is how the vast majority of societies actually run….?? Even the local tramping club has this rule.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Continuing to obfuscate I see

                  The post doesn’t focus criticism on these guys for being an incorporated society (you are deliberately side tracking with this line “oh, they are just like anyone else, there’s nothing special about them, why are they even worth mentioning, how ordinary and unremarkable, just one of a big pack” lol)

                  It criticises them for being a front group of astroturfers

                  You’re good at what you do qstf but not that good 🙂

  7. Colonial Viper 7

    Koch funded echo chamber of politicians and concerned groups destroying American Social Security

    Thanks to Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the few in Congress who show true spirit and commitment to the mass of American people.

  8. From today’s Herald – John Armstrong

    Vote for Change looks very much like the National Party Preservation Society in drag.

    Couldn’t have put it better

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