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Serious Questions Raised Over Future Of Australian Computer Society

Serious questions are being asked about the future of the Australian Computer Society and their cosy relationship with the Australian Federal Government which have delivered what some observers are calling ‘Rivers Of Gold” for the Society.

A recent congress meeting for the Society which turned over $44M last year which is not bad for a ‘Society of members’ representing the technology industry turned into a brutal battle over the future direction and more importantly how the not for profit operation has been run in the past.

At the blunt end of the anger was the operations of the so called management committee – certain members of which had attempted to change the directions of the long-established society, instead taking a line which appeared to suit the aspirations of some committee members.

Former technology correspondent and current ACS observer Graeme Philipson welcomed the changes.

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It seems a number of motions were passed, include one that “a pecuniary interest register be established and updated at each management committee meeting when interests and potential conflicts of interest are declared where each member of Management Committee must disclose if they and/or any member of their immediate family, or any company they are associated with, receives any benefits from ACS or any supplier of goods or services to ACS. This register to be maintained by the secretariat of Congress on behalf of the ACS.”

One of the most important conclusions at the congress was when the meeting ordered that “a full and detailed independent financial audit” be conducted of ACS expenditure for the financial years 2018/19, and 2019/20. Among other things this is to look into certain “formal agreements” entered into by the previous ACS management.

Philipson adds: “Serious questions are now being asked about the ACS’s financial activities, which these motions should have the effect of clearing up. No one has suggested fraud, but there are concerns about inappropriate authorisations, unaccountable largesse benefiting senior management, conflicts of interest and possible financial mismanagement.”

And he says: “The battle is far from over.

The motion of no-confidence only has teeth if it is translated into action. Current chairman Ian Oppermann has called further Congress meetings on 2 November and 16 November, the first to spill all management committee positions, including his own, and the second to elect a new management committee.”

The big question for some is whether the Australian Federal Government will continue to give priority to the Society to rubber stamp new applicants visa credentials, which allows the society to charge an ‘expensive fee’.

Philipson added “The battle is far from over. The motion of no-confidence only has teeth if it is translated into action. Oppermann has called further Congress meetings on 2 November and 16 November, the first to spill all Management Committee positions, including his own, and the second to elect a new Management Committee. Problem is, the spill motion needs a two thirds majority, and because the clique seems unlikely to resign (as they surely should) before then, they may be able to thwart the spill and ignore the wishes of the majority of Congress and of ACS members, the majority of whom are thoroughly fed up with their behaviour.

And even if there is a spill, they can stand again. Not until the ACS has a Management Committee finally committed to reform will things move ahead. Fortunately, all this is now out in the open. The clique’s attempts to suppress it all blew up in their faces.

On past form we can expect continued bullying, intimidation, and dirty tricks. Congress members should be prepared for an extraordinary barrage of misinformation from the clique and its supporters.

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