NMG declares proxies invalid

NMG declares proxies invalid

A large number of proxies provided to three New Mardi Gras Ltd board election candidates are believed to have been declared invalid by the company secretary.

Sydney Star Observer sought confirmation of this from company secretary Peter Munro, by phone and by email yesterday, but no response was forthcoming.

However, candidates Michael Douglas and David Wilson told Sydney Star Observer they been advised Munro had declared a large number of their proxies invalid due to confusion over the requirements for electronic proxies to be accepted.

A number of proxies for candidate David Walker are believed to have been affected as well, with Wilson estimating that 200 proxies between the three candidates could be affected.

“It’s disappointing that a significant number of voting members will not be heard at this election,” Wilson said.

“Mardi Gras needs to look at a simpler, entirely electronic method for proxy voting in the future.”

Douglas said he hoped those who had provided candidates with electronic proxies would now have the time to turn up to vote in person, but suspected many would not.

“Those that [gave] an electronic proxy to David Walker, David Wilson or myself would be now most welcome to attend the AGM in person and vote,” Douglas said. “However, I have no doubt that that will not prove possible for many.”

The three men are all seeking to change the make-up of the New Mardi Gras board after the company posted a loss of $575,000 this financial year due to the controversial parade/party split and poor ticket sales to the Mardi Gras Party.

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NMG’s proxy protocols for the 2010 AGM state, “A signed proxy form may … be submitted as a PDF or like file”.

In the case of voters who don’t have the capacity to include a signature in their electronic proxy forms, the protocols require that a second email be sent in the same terms of the “PDF or like” form and stating the proxy option they are choosing.

This second email must also contain the proxy giver’s membership number and be sent from an email account which New Mardi Gras has on their records as belonging to the member.

The protocol states that “invalid proxies will not be accepted by the company secretary and returning officer without notice to the member or proxy”.

On August 16, Douglas wrote to Munro asking for clarification on what was required for proxies to be accepted: “Do we need to print each electronic proxy out and staple [it] to a ‘standard proxy’ form – signed by us for every electronic proxy to be valid or are the electronic proxy’s by themselves enough i.e. without the proxy holders signature?”

Munro replied to him, “It’s not ideal but where they have forwarded the whole email, they are communicating what is in the proxy form and so I can accept those.”

Douglas said the issue over which the candidates’ proxies were declared invalid was not corrected by them as a result of Munro not fully clarifying all that was asked for in his email.

info: The New Mardi Gras annual general meeting is being held at the NIDA Playhouse, 215 Anzac Pde, Kensington on August 21 from 1pm.

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23 responses to “NMG declares proxies invalid”

  1. @Mike smith : the membership email is available to the board nominees (this was all discussed last year) & all nominees obviously were provided with access to this, as evidenced from the emails we have received.

    The requirement that the email is from the members listed email address is totally reasonable; if they are to accept this as a valid proxy authentication then they need to add as many safe guards as possible as non-signed paperwork like this is generally not accepted, and certainly not without accompanying documentation.

  2. I find this discussion quite unbalanced.

    I, as a fellow independent candidate, also had some of my proxies declared invalid and have no problem whatsoever in the integrity and probity of the actions of the Company Secretary.

    During the campaign Peter Munro handled each and every candidate in the same manner. I had a couple of no answers to questions and am totally comfortable with the impartiality that he exercised during the process.

    There were various election methods and one of these had a higher probability for an invalid situation. Most of my votes were either Postal or co-signed proxy forms, which meant a lower invalid rate expected. The choice to use a slightly less easy to understand method rests with those candidates who followed that option. There was a general commitment at the AGM to look at the proxy voting areas of the Constitution going forward.

    Whatever the results in the Board election, we all need to move on in a positive manner, having learnt from the mistakes of the past, and get on with whatever positions we may hold for the 2011 year.

  3. I note NMG lawyers have had Maria’s post removed. Did the lawyers also make sure the company secretary was informed of the complaint regarding a current board member ?

    Editor’s Note: Actually Lisa, we took the initiative and passed the allegation on to NMG company secretary Peter Munro directly.

  4. To all

    Jenny was on my list of people, as known through a friend and having participated in Dr Mark’s floats together, and I did not ask for a proxy.
    I did say to her and her partner Kathy in those emails that it would be good to see both of them at the AGM as they always participated with interesting questions. They however were still on my list and the general email to appologise for the invalid proxy was sent to them as well as all others we received Electronic emails from.

    An appology was sent to Jenny directly, making it clear that no proxy was lodged on their behalf to clear up any confusion.

  5. We have received a complaint from lawyers for the directors of New Mardi Gras. That complaint relates to a forum posting asserting proxy irregularities.
    The publishers of this site have no information as to the matter.
    We therefore apologise to those involved.

  6. I have a question for the three candidates concerned in this article. I’ve also emailed the candidates but thought that given the AGM is tomorrow it might be quicker to get an answer by posting here.

    I have received an email today from the three candidates pointing out that the proxy I gave them may not have been counted as valid and encouraging me to attend the AGM in person if I want my vote to count. A reasonable email, only thing is I did not give any of these candidates or any other candidate my proxy. I will hopefully be able to check at the AGM tomorrow to confirm that a proxy was not lodged on my behalf.

    I’m hoping this email was a poorly worded general email or sent in error but I would be (as I imagine other people are)keen to hear an explanation from any of the three candidates please.

  7. Maria, have you advised the company secretary of the action of this current Board member ? If so, what did he say ?

  8. Sue had a good previous point about out of town members and their participation.

    Is it time for the postal ballot to be introduced?

  9. This has the been the practice for years. At last years AGM the board members sat along the edges of the NIDA theatre filling out their scores of proxy votes that far outweighted the 50 or so members in attendance. The organisation isn’t democratic, transparent not accountable.

    Frankly I think the best thing to shake the board up at this point is that the sponsors flee. They may be able to fleece the community, but at least those who fund them can hold them to account.

  10. @Baz – Firstly not all NMG members live in Sydney, secondly there is another election on that day that may be taking up peoples time.
    @Fluff – We are electing a board to run a multi-million $ community organisation. I for one have read the protocols and it is not hard to get right. If they believe they are right then they are even more stupid.

  11. So are these proxy votes being solicited or do the voters genuinely support the candidates? The fact that proxy votes are so heavily relied upon says a lot. Members who feel strongly about the direction of NMG would make the effort to be there in person. As with any sort of election, apathy is the enemy.

  12. I suspect Sue that the aggrieved candidates believe they have fulfilled the requirements. Lets face it, if they believe they are right then there are avenues they can take to challenge the decision regarding the validity of the proxies. If they choose not to challenge then they are at the mercy of the members (of which I am one) who will make their decision tomorrow. Considering the amount of candidate emails and non solicited emails I have received regarding proxies, I sense the battle will be fought and won on the hand fulls of ballots in control of a few people.

  13. @Sue – agreed
    @David Wilson – are you decalring that come of your proxies were declared invalid?

  14. For goodness sake NMG had a download proxy protocols document on their website that explained how to lodge a proxy. If you are too stupid to be able to read and follow simple instructions then obviously you shouldn’t be on the board.

  15. So if the process as described by the Company Secretary was not clear and the candidates have fulfilled to their best knowledge the requirements, does this not bring into doubt the whole process and could thus render the election invalid if challenged?

  16. @El Dorado : So the GLBTQ communities should not be able to marry or adopt based on your logic ! Your attitude would put us all back 40 years. Wake up, its 2010.

  17. What utter nonsense. Having to use the email that NMG have on file despite inputting your membership details? Could the current board do anythingelse to disadvantage new candidates?

  18. A victory for common sense. If the Federal election is not run electornically, why should this one be?