New Mardi Gras has adopted a new constitution and will be open for memberships from the weekend.

The constitution, accepted by the four Mardi Gras member organisations (ACON, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Pride and Queer Screen) on Monday, dispenses with many of the contentious membership regulations of the old Mardi Gras organisation.

Gone are the days of above the line/below the line and full versus associate memberships; membership will now be open to all people who adhere to the objects of the organisation.

The membership application form -“ to be posted on the Mardi Gras website over the weekend -“ offers an 18-month membership for $45. There will be a concession rate of $22.50 for students and health care card holders, and a $5 fee for people aged under 18.

The 18-month membership has been offered as a one-off, to be replaced by a standard 12-month membership in October 2004.

New Mardi Gras co-chair Michael Woodhouse told Sydney Star Observer that there would be no linkage of ticket sales to membership at this stage.

As a consequence, board members are anticipating a smaller membership than that of the former organisation, which rose above 10,000 at its peak.

Woodhouse said the new constitution was developed over the course of four public meetings. Community members were surveyed at fair day and the constitutional sub-committee (co-chaired by Pride’s Lou-Anne Lind) consulted with lawyers, business people and past presidents and members of the organisation, he said.

The constitution calls for a board of 10 members, with no pre-designated positions other than a treasurer, a company secretary and one or two co-chairs.

Woodhouse said the consultation process revealed high support for the concept of gender equity and the inclusion of youth on the board, but low support for constitutional mechanisms to achieve these aims.
New Mardi Gras has opted for proportional representation as the method of voting for board elections.

We looked at a range of options, Woodhouse said. People wanted to avoid adversarial ticket-based elections -¦ and we don’t want to go back to a system of winner-takes-all.

The first annual general meeting of New Mardi Gras has been scheduled for 10 May, although the venue is to be confirmed.

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