We are now closing in on the MTBA Annual General Meeting, to be held on the Gold Coast on 17 December.   In addition to the normal business of an AGM, MTBA is asking our members to endorse MTBA becoming a Company Limited by Guarantee and adopt the new constitution.   Any financial member also also has the opportunity to stand for an Elected Director position on the new Board of MTBA, subject to the Company Limited by Guarantee resolution being successful. Nominations for that position are open and you can find out more details and download a nomination form from the MTBA website at https://www.mtba.org.au/about/2016-annual-general-meeting/   Please note the submission procedures and deadlines on the form.   MTBA’s current nomination policy and committee code of conduct are also available to you.

Because this has to be a special resolution, the Act under which MTBA currently operates requires that voting on this matter can only take place either in person at the meeting, or by proxy.   You cannot vote electronically on the special resolution. A member at the meeting is only permitted to carry a maximum of 5 proxies.  I understand that that means that many of you who wish to have a say in this matter may not be able to make the trip to the Gold Coast, however that is what the law is, and MTBA will operate within it. The constitution of the new MTBA Ltd changes this representation system for the better. The special resolution also means that it only takes a 25% vote to de-rail this proposal, so significant membership support is required to ensure this change for the better is passed.

MTBA’s proposed new constitution is one which has been used in over 15 transitions to Company Limited by Guarantee by national sporting organisations, including Cycling Australia and BMX Australia, all under Australian Sports Commission guidance. This is the correct vehicle for the evolution and improvement of mountain biking in our Nation. It is the best way to move forward and it is the way recommended by the Australian Sports Commission.   There is nothing hidden, and I commend it to you.

Changing to a Company Limited by Guarantee will be good for MTBA, and good for mountain biking.   It is the next level up from how we currently operate and brings benefits in Governance and funding access, plus provides added security for the long term benefits of members and MTBA.   But you, the members, will still elect 6 Directors of the company (just as you do now on a rolling basis), and there can be up to a maximum of another 3 Directors appointed by the Board to fill skill gaps and ensure a diverse board (again, just as happens now although the current limit is 4). Your actual minimum elected representation rises under this new model from 60% to 66%. A Nominations Committee is part of the Australian Sports Commission recommended structure however this relates to appointed Directors.   The Nominations Committee does have the authority to reject a nomination.   For example, if the Board required a particular skill set or qualification, and the applicant did not have it, their application would not proceed further but only if the Nominations Committee agrees by unanimous vote. The Nominations Committee contains independent people, including a representative of the Australian Sports Commission. A secure transition to the new organisation is vital, and under the Australian Sports Commission guidance and guidelines, the constitution has been prepared using their model and involvement, and with the continuance of 5 Directors. Then, at the 2017 AGM in about 9 months time, the two longest serving (the Treasurer Peter McKendry and myself) will step down and the members will elect 2 Directors.

On becoming a Company Limited by Guarantee, I cease to be President and the Directors elect a Chair of the Board from among the Directors.

This change is not just about structure. It will also benefit all mountain bikers. It means better recognition of MTBA by federal and state governments, and access to funding to support our programs for the future. You will see it in improved trail access, better health programs for riders and improved skills and coaching systems.

MTBA has had a successful year with membership growth around 20% (and 70% in participation memberships). The organisation’s financial position is sound with a surplus in 15/16 of $180K and our retained earnings are at $389K. This means that your MTBA is able to further support the programs that matter to all mountain bikers as we continue our work with juniors, schools, skills, coach accreditation, development and trails access. I understand that in a change situation like this, there will be some special interest groups plus those who have personal interests, who for various reasons oppose the move to a Company Limited by Guarantee. That is their right and I respect their right to do so. But that does not mean it is the best interest of MTBA as a whole. My job, and that of the MTBA Management Committee, is to look after the sport of mountain biking and all 15000 members. I will continue to champion your cause in that.

While there is a significant amount of information on the MTBA website under the link I mentioned at the start, should you require additional factual information about the constitution, or the proposed changes to MTBA, please feel free to contact me at president@mtba.asn.au and I will respond. If there are common questions, then MTBA will establish a facebook or similar site so that all members remain equally informed on the questions and answers.

Russell Baker AM

President, Mountain Bike Australia