The vote of no confidence passed against 2019 ANUSA Club Council President James Howarth has been declared ‘invalid’ in a recent ruling. Initially passed in August of 2019 in a Clubs Council Executive (CCE) meeting, it is only months later that the resolution has seen its end. The ruling was made by the Disputes Committee who cite ‘lack of compliance with the Section 50 of the Associations Act 1991 (ACT)’ as the primary factor in their decision making.
The Act, which denotes ‘Rules of natural justice’ states that ‘any decision made by the association is not taken as valid unless… the rules of natural justice have been complied with.’ The Committee agreed that Howarth had not been given fair and proper notice of the resolution, and thus left the vote of no confidence in disagreement with natural justice.
Notably, there is not ‘explicit requirement’ that binds ANUSA and its officers to comply the Act or, broadly, the law in ‘its activities.’ While this may point to wider holes in the ANUSA constitution, it has been generally understood by many members that compliance with s 50 is a requirement. The Disputes Committee thus understood the Act as an implied term, and that ‘ANUSA must comply with the Act.’
This ruling caps a notoriously tumultuous year for the Clubs Council. Personal disagreements, which were a key undercurrent in original vote, and communication breakdowns between members lie at the heart of these issues. In a comment made to Woroni when the vote of no confidence was first passed, Howarth stated that ‘I’ve felt bullied by Jason [Pover], Ebe [Ganon] and Jacob [Howland].’ On the other hand, 2019 Secretary Jason Pover – who spearheaded the initial resolution – has made clear that in the past he felt an inability to trust, and reluctance to fulfil commitments from Howarth.