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Parramatta Leagues Club administrator Max Donnelly says that even if members vote down his proposed constitution he is never going to change his stance on how the first board is appointed and claims the regulator wouldn’t allow him to, anyway.

Tomorrow night at the Novotel Hotel in Parramatta from 7pm, Parramatta Leagues Club members will vote on whether they accept a new constitution put forward by Donnelly, who currently runs the club as an administrator.

Last year, Donnelly tried to pass through what he described as a “model constitution”. However, guidelines and processes that aimed to ensure that board candidates met strict eligibility criteria, and which also prevented past ghosts from returning, raised the ire of some members and the initial constitution - which requires a 75 per cent mandate in its favour - was voted down.

A further period of member consultation led to Donnelly watering down the eligibility criteria and the power of the nominations committee to vet candidates, and it is believed that has led to many of the constitution’s former opponents agreeing to back the new proposal.

Indeed, it appears the only remaining sticking point is how the first board is appointed, with some members remaining adamant that an open election should decide its initial make-up. Indeed, a petition was circulated by former Chairman Roy Spagnola in recent months, with the stated goal of dismissing Donnelly and immediate replacing him with seven-elected directors. It appears that effort failed to generate sufficient interest to go forward.

However, Donnelly is adamant that the first board must be appointed via a merit-based selection process.

“That’s one thing, I won’t and can’t move on. ILGA (the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority) has said to me, get the new constitution in place, make sure the club is in good hands, and then we’ll retire you,” he told 1Eye Eel.

“So that’s what I want to do. Get the constitution changed tomorrow night, and then appoint the best board that I can so I can then be retired.”

“ILGA isn’t going to retire me [if they don't’ have confidence in the first board], so it’s just not going to work to have an election.”

Once the initial board is appointed, the voting will then move to a triennial process, where approximately a third of the board goes up for election each year. Donnelly said this was accepted as best process and ensured consistency and stability at board-level.

“When you’re in the middle of doing something significant like building a hotel and leisure facilities, to have your entire board replaced overnight is a recipe for disaster.”

“When you have biennial elections and you’ve only got two years, the board ends up in their second year, spending the whole time just trying to get re-elected. In a triennial, two or three may go out, but the rest of the board continues on.”

Donnelly said triennials also took factionalism out of elections. “When you have people going for seven spots, you end up with factions running, when you have just two people up for election, the most you can have is a faction of two.”

Donnelly urged Parramatta Leagues Club members who had three-year voting rights to make the effort to get to the Novotel in Parramatta. He promised the doors would not be shut at 7pm and that people would be allowed in, right up to the moment of voting.

He said the last member consultation meeting had been positive and generated useful and constructive dialogue, and he hoped that given the concessions made, that members would now allow the new constitution to pass.

In other points made in questions put forward from 1Eyed Eel members, he said:

  • In the case of a casual vacancy, directors would appoint the next director, but that a temporary director would have to stand at the next election.
  • At this point, he does not see the possibility of legislative change forcing through a constitution. It would require legislative changes that would be opposed by ClubsNSW. The clear preference is for members to accept a constitution developed after a long period of member consultation but still modelled on boardroom best practices.
  • In relation to a question about his fees, and his role at the club, Donnelly said: “I can assure members, I am doing my best to get constitutional change through so that I can retire”.

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John, kept me in the loop with messages from the meeting which was great, when he sent a text saying it was voted down, I had only a one word reply  Bummer!

I understand how long and late John would have gotten home, had I been able to go down it would have added well over an hour each way, but not being in the 3 year group now, probably would not have got into the meeting anyway..

Good on you John. Travelling all the way from Dundas by train goes to show just how passionate you really are about our club. If only a few more eligible members showed half as much passion as yourself, we would've had a great outcome last night.

My missus & I drove from Campbelltown and after the meeting, there was a 15 min adjournment (for the votes to be counted) and we very confident of victory. Especially after Phil's ultra-passionate speech when we all cheered. It definitely sounded like 75%+ of the members cheered.

But it wasn't to be. We only just missed out thanks to those speakers who were saying they don't like the idea of just 1 person electing the board and conveniently leaving out the fact that this would only occur for the first board elected and also forgetting or ignoring the fact that our club would achieve stability by immediately putting an end to factionalism had they just simply ticked the box in favour of the constitution.

We were very surprised to see that even Dennis Fitzgerald was in favour of implementing Max's constitution. But wether that's a good thing or not, well, who knows? We were sitting just a couple of rows behind him. And 1EyedEel Phil looked at me a couple of times during his speech. I was star struck hahahaha ;)

Sadly the club hasnt come into the modern era. I see years of mediocrity ahead and the divisive factions will again rear their ugly head and destroy the place.


Sorry John, I meant to say "Central Coast". Good on ya mate. We just need a few more of our members to be half as passionate as you next time around and we'll be sweet.

Yeah but speedy, we'll have another chance to get it through in 12 months. Unless Max can force it through earlier?

Well done Phil and those who found the time to attend the GM.
It is always difficult to get constitutional change with the 75% requirement but it is getting closer. Most of the opponents are blow-ins and will either drop off or drop dead over the next few years. Stick tough, entice friends and relatives to attend and remember that if there are only around 200 at a meeting opponents only need find around 50 votes.Some may even so blot their copybooks that they will take membership holidays, especially those who ignore the President's requests , speak off the topic and berate other members.
Well said and totally agree, Chris Jurd.

PHIL SIM, I reckon you should keep this blog (or write up a new one aimed at those who could've shown up but were too lazy) on the 1EE home page for 12 months until we vote again. DON'T ALLOW ANYONE TO HAVE AN EXCUSE FOR NOT VOTING.


John you are a champion for doing what you did to get there however, I am not sure what gave you the impression that I was not there. Perhaps next year I can give you a lift back to Hornsby station.

As for my contribution to what could increase voter turnout I was simply paraphrasing from something that I looked up about increasing voter turnouts. My intention was to provide a few new ideas that could be tried and from the AGM's that I have attended those held on a weekend did get more members.

81paling, that's a great idea mate. Is there any way our next AGM can be held over a weekend? This last AGM we attended was on a Thursday night when so many people do their shopping. It would be great if it ran from say, Thur to Sun. Or, better yet, Monday to Sunday :)

So you want a meeting to run over more than one day????

AGM's in the past have been held on many different days of the week, including weekends and times, morning and afternoon, and they also have attracted numbers in the 200's even the meeting in 09 that heralded in Spags was daytime IIRC and there was only a couple of hundred there.

Whole point is that, it will never satisfy everyone regarding when a meeting is held, only the few who really care will attend, its not just an eels thing either as many meetings that involve share holders rarely attract the big numbers unless a real issue is to be discussed, but even then its not often that most shareholders attend either.


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