Block Anti-Democratic Amendments: Why We Are Voting No to Special Resolutions 1–8

At the 2020 Mardi Gras AGM, there are eight special resolutions and nine ordinary resolutions. There are nine ordinary resolutions, numbers 2–8 are proposed by us and we encourage all members and supporters of Pride in Protest to Vote Yes. The eight special resolutions are changes to the Constitution primarily proposed by the Board, with a few proposed by individual members. Pride in Protest are voting NO on all Constitutional Amendments put forward at the 2020 Mardi Gras AGM. Here’s why.

Special Resolution #1 Housekeeping (proposed by the Board)

Voting NO

Hidden in the changes to the Constitution contained in this resolution is the removal of the one month grace period after a member’s renewal date in which they still retain the rights of a member.

Pride in Protest will not vote for this motion without an amendment reinstating the one month’s grace period.

Special Resolution #2 Membership Cooling-Off Period (proposed by the Board)

Voting NO

This resolution states that members must wait 4 months from approval before being entitled to cast votes at any members meeting.

There are several issues here. Members should not be denied the right to vote in an organisation that represents them, and four months is an incredibly lengthy amount of time to deny that right. Individuals from groups underrepresented in the Mardi Gras membership who wish to engage democratically within the organisation will now have to wait even longer to participate. This is just an example of disenfranchising new members further.

Secondly, Mardi Gras does not make public when they plan to hold their AGM each year until its announcement around a month before it takes place. Bizarrely, the AGM date is considered confidential information by the Board up until then. Therefore to not make transparent when the AGM is being held means that a member may sign up fully intending to vote in the AGM when they are eligible, only to find out that the AGM is called within their 4 month lock out period.

Special Resolution #3 Proxies (proposed by the Board)

Voting NO

This resolution states that the limit to the number of proxies that can be held should be capped at 20. Again, we consider this to be another measure of voter suppression.

An individual has the capacity to know whether another member will vote in the same fashion that they will. A member can also dictate which motions they want their proxy to vote for and which they disallow their proxy from voting on their behalf. Many individuals will have reasons for not being able to attend the AGM, and their ability to be part of a voting bloc should not be denied arbitrarily based on a 20-person cap.

Special Resolution #4 Number of Directors (proposed by the Board)

Voting NO

This resolution states that the number of directors should be expanded to 10 from the 2021 AGM, and that there should be a special election for the position of Treasurer as one of those ten directors. We oppose this measure because of the special election clause.

We do not feel it is appropriate to have a skills based appointment for directors when the purpose of a director is that they are nominated on the political will of the membership. When members elect an individual for a specific skilled role, they are actually granting them, for the most part, the power to vote on political issues for all other things brought to the Board. Many skill sets can only be possessed by a member of the upper class with access to tertiary education and corporate work experience. This means the exclusion of many LGBTQIA+ community members, such as those who are First Nations, trans, People of Colour, people with disability or sex-workers, who face barriers to education and employment, and generally means a more conservative vote in the Board room for all other issues unrelated to the finance of the organisation.

Pride in Protest recognises the importance of roles such as Treasurers, however, we would support an ex officio role for Treasurer/adviser to Treasurer on all financial matters. It should not interfere with the relationship between the political will of the membership and the directors they elect.

Special Resolution #5 Directors (proposed by the Board)

Voting NO

This resolution increases the Directors Terms to 3 years.

We oppose this because a tenure of 3 years is an arbitrarily longer amount of time and reduces the capacity for the Director to be accountable to the members. Regular elections for directors ensure their accountability to the membership.

Special Resolution #6 — Term Limits (proposed by two members)

Voting NO (with a view to improving the motion)

This resolution proposes a term limit of six years for directors.

Pride in Protest opposes this motion not because we oppose term limits, in fact it is the opposite — we think a term limit of six years is too generous.

Pride in Protest supports a single term limit (at the moment, a term is 2 years). Pride in Protest believes that leadership as a skill should be openly shared in a collaborative manner, and that Board matters and skills should be made much more accessible. Long term limits, a focus on CVs, and confidential and closed Board meetings all have the effect on concentrating power and information to a very limited set of people. Mardi Gras also tells want-to-be directors to pursue directors training on their own — that costs the individuals thousands of dollars to do — and this is inaccessible to most of our community. We do not stand for this kind of structure and instead advocate for short term limits, open skill sharing and collective decision making, and open and transparent Board meetings.

Pride in Protest will vote for this motion if it is amended to a term limit of one term.

Special Resolution #7 — Director Election Proxies (proposed by two members)

Voting NO

This resolution proposes that a member cannot proxy to an individual in order to elect a Director.

We see no reason for this form of proxying to not exist. If a member wants to proxy to another individual member to be part of a voting bloc for a certain candidate order, they may do so. Although, with online voting for Directors, this is mostly redundant in any case.

Special Resolution #8 — Changes to Schedule Two (proposed by two members)

Voting NO (with a view to improving the motion)

This resolution proposes changes to Schedule 2 in the Constitution which dictates how votes are to be counted and directors elected.

We have no issue clarifying and formalising the vote counting process in Schedule 2, which currently lacks a clear definition of what it should be. We would encourage the members who proposed this motion to discuss bettering the wording of the new proposed Schedule. We do not disagree with the spirit of the motion, rather we will be voting no due to some of its expression. We would support a collaborative motion put forward at a future EGM or AGM on this issue.

Written by

Pride in Protest is a Sydney-based collective of activists who campaign for social justice and recently won a position on the Sydney Mardi Gras Board

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