View Full Version : AAPMBF Trustee Elections

paul makin
25th Oct 2009, 13:13
An open letter to AAPMBF Loss of license members.

Soon you will be presented with a ballot form for election of three Trustees to the AAPMBF. Potentially this could be one of the most critical elections in the history of the AAPMBF.

There is growing disquiet among the membership regarding the perceived secrecy, the lack of transparency, the lack of detail in proposals for rule changes, and the aloofness of the administration of the AAPMBF from the membership.

At the recent (11.09.09) special meeting of the AAPMBF (petitioned by concerned members) the chairman was requested, and undertook, to have the meeting minuted and to distribute those minutes to all attendees. To date he has failed to honour that undertaking. Several members have approached the AAPMBF office to arrange supply of those minutes, to no avail.

Despite the clearly stated intention that the special meeting was to discuss the grounds upon which the AFAP was removed as Trustee, no explanation was forthcoming other than “we formed the opinion that the AFAP was not acting in the best interest of the membership”. No substantive reason, no accusations of wrong doing, no mitigating circumstances were offered to the attendees, merely “we formed the opinion”.

The AAPMBF attorney attended the meeting, and in response to direct questioning he agreed that, ultimately, in the event of a member bringing action for loss of the AAPMBF funds, that the Trustee (AFAP until dismissal) would be the respondent to court documents and would be responsible for those losses. Implicit in that agreement is the fact that the assets held in trust for the members, MUST be held by the Trustee, for the beneficial owner, (we the membership).

Is it perhaps that the chairman is seeking to suppress these facts, by his failure to honour his undertaking to supply minutes of the meeting, or is he displaying an arrogance that the Trustees are not answerable to the membership?

As an ex chairman of the fund, I am deeply concerned that the administration of OUR fund is becoming increasingly secretive. Minutes of meetings (presumably compiled) are in electronic format only, and are not distributed to the Trustees. The Trustees have been put under “no-communication” directives in respect of, at least, myself. (Ironically the current chairman defied a similar directive during his predecessors reign). Trustees have been forced to sign a non disclosure covenant on any AAPMBF business. Worse some Trustees have been asked to remove themselves from meetings to avoid a perceived, but not substantiated, conflict of interest. Quite remarkable considering we (AAPMBF members) are all AFAP members.

Members, this is our fund and the Trustees work for us. With the exception of those understandable matters covered by the Privacy Act i.e. membership claims, benefits, and personal details; every other item of business is our business. We have a right to it should we require or request it, particularly if there is some query on the administration of the fund. Currently there is zero transparency coming out of the AAPMBF.

Case in point: The recent vote on rule 14. We have been told that it was passed, but we have no idea of the polling results. The chairman, in answer to a question at the special meeting, the day after the poll was counted, claimed that he had no knowledge of the result other than the affirmative outcome. Given that the results were published anonymously on an internet website the previous evening, it beggars belief that the head of the organisation was unaware of the results. Why is it that, to date, we have not been officially informed of the results? Adds a whole new dimension to the expression “secret ballot” doesn’t it.

The recent ballot changed the procedure for election of Trustees but failed to put in place a framework of rules in respect of the new procedure. (For the record I support the concept of postal/secret ballots.) The problem we are now faced with is that there are in all likelihood multiple candidates from the Virgin and QANTAS groups, with only one position in each group potentially available to those candidates.

Currently there have been no rules proposed to, and approved by, the membership, controlling the mechanics of the vote and the administration of the results. Anomalies exist. As one example, if a Sunstate pilot is elected as an AAPMBF Trustee and subsequently gains employment within the Virgin group does that pilot have to resign from his AAPMBF Trustee position. A further rule change is required to clear up this and other anomalies.

Only a few years ago the status of overseas pilots’ coverage was changed by a proposal that was not clearly explained particularly to the affected pilots. Worse, monies were wrongly collected for several years after the rule had changed. Despite being aware of the wrongful collection, only after it was brought to their attention did the Trustees commence repayment. Significantly the longest serving Trustee, Mike Charlesworth admitted it (rule change) was not clearly highlighted but assured that this would not happen with future rule changes.

In both examples above, the rule change proposal was rushed and not properly thought through.

No doubt the administration of the fund will include some explanatory material of how they perceive the poll should be conducted, what measures are in place for protection of the votes from interference and how independent people will be present at the vote counting. However if recent past communications can be taken as a guide, that explanation will be unfortunately scant. I stress, we the membership have not approved any process/rules in this regard, and any presentation, should it not be complete, clear and logical, will have te membership rightfully, more concerned. A totally unfortunate, unnecessary and undesirable situation brought about by a rushed proposal of the current administration.
Members, it is time for change. Under the current regime, arguably, we have seen the most divisive and controversial decisions in the history of the organisation. In my 35 years in the organisation, I cannot recall a prior instance triggering the membership to call a special meeting.
Continuity is a good thing, and that is why our founders put in place a mechanism to replace only a third of the Trustees at any one time. But similarly new blood is healthy blood, that is why our founders put a limit on the term of any Trustee to three years. This administration introduced another level of “continuity” which in my view has been abused. Having two retired pilots and a further non MBF member as Trustees when there are adequate numbers of suitable candidates from the ranks of active pilots, is not a protection, it is blatant featherbedding.

Given the events of the recent past, NOW is the time for new blood and pilots who are actively employed as pilots or seeking employment, will be a good start.

We need in place Trustees who hold themselves accountable to the membership, not above the membership.

We need Trustees who will refrain from secrecy and who will be responsive to the needs of the members.

Case in point: The current Trustees are of the opinion that a Class One Medical issued with a restriction of “as or with co-pilot” is equal to an unrestricted certificate, and will not pay out a “single pilot” member should he lose his unrestricted certificate, be issued with a restricted certificate, and consequently his ability to earn an income. The current board has been aware of this predicament for several years and yet has not addressed the situation. The problem is a matter of interpretation and is easily fixed, but the Trustees are unwilling to do so.
We need Trustees who recognise our fund has developed into what it is because we have been able to stay “off the radar”. We do not need an administration that, without consultation, is taking us unnecessarily into a highly regulated financial services regime.

We have a fund that is worth in the region of $80 million and with an annual income from investments and subscriptions of at least $7 million. Would that not be a cherry worth picking for some misbegotten insurance company. We need Trustees who will protect OUR asset for the purpose it was intended – looking after pilots who have lost their license and the loss of income flowing from our profession.

I implore you, do not vote immediately.
There is bound to be discussion and opinion on the best way forward. Withhold your vote until the dust has settled and you have made enquiries of the various candidates. Understand the mechanics of the vote. If you are unsure of how it is to be executed contact someone who knows or is able to find out for you.

A hasty vote could very well turn into a donkey vote. Don’t waste yours.

Paul Makin
(Member since 1974, former Trustee and Chairman of Trustees and current Capt with V Australia)