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Posted by Equestrian New South Wales on 28/11/2018.

Update from Peter Dingwall

Last week, Bruce Farrar and I attended the Equestrian Australia (EA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Sports Forum. On the night before the AGM, the other five voting Branches asked for our support to remove three EA directors: Judy Fasher, Colin Chantler and David Lindh. The reasons given were:
• Loss of confidence in the three directors.
• Inaction following the Sports Forum in August.
• Problems with managing Lucy Warhurst, including: not communicating with the Branch CEOs, not renewing an EA digital account creating issues for a large event in WA and not communicating the release of the Learn to Ride web site and program.

Our response was that we were simply not in a position to respond without agreement from the Equestrian NSW Board and that it was disingenuous to ask the body representing 42% of Members to make such a major decision on the night before the EA AGM, without any prior consultation.

On the day of the AGM, the five voting Branches requisitioned a Special General Meeting (SGM) to consider a motion to remove the three directors. It’s premature to speculate about what will happen at the SGM, as discussions are ongoing.
Following the AGM and to better inform the Equestrian NSW Board, we asked the other Branches if there were further issues which needed to be considered. The following response was received. Notated is our understanding of each issue identified.

In October 2015 three national board directors - Leigh Clifford, Christopher Styring and Daniel Stoneman - were appointed and served on the board, despite being ineligible because they were not members of the organisation.
This was an administrative oversight and was corrected immediately when identified.

In 2016 constitutional changes to accommodate ASC governance principles were presented without any consultation with the State Branches.
The changes were needed to comply with the Australian Sports Commission Mandatory Governance Principles. The motion to approve the changes were presented to the Branches in accordance with the EA Constitution and the Branches voted unanimously to pass the motion.

In 2017 a strategic plan was developed without consultation with State Branches, sport committees or other key stakeholders.
Katie Bickford (EQ), Bruce Farrar (ENSW), Mark Hopkinson (EA) and Paula Ward (EA) formed the working group that drafted the Strategic Plan Wheel.

In 2018 EA made a unilateral decision to cease national management of the International Competition and Development Fund.
EA proposed a new model and without agreement nor any practical alternative from the Branches, the ICDF program was terminated and carryover funds returned to the Branches.

In 2018 EA Board signed off on the financial sponsorship of pharmaceutical company Zoetis, despite legal action (class action) being taken against Zoetis by members of EA.
The agreement was terminated immediately following representations from the Branches.

Yellow Card issue (details redacted)

This is a complex situation which is potentially subject to litigation, therefore it’s inappropriate to comment.


In 2018 the EA “Board” has continued to operate while being constitutionally invalid with less than seven members.

EA received legal opinion rejecting this, as a valid quorum passed all resolutions and at no time operated whilst being constitutionally invalid.

On Monday night, the Equestrian NSW Board discussed the proposed motion and unanimously agreed to reject it, on the basis that:
• Equestrian NSW has not lost confidence in the three EA directors.
• Recognising that there have been serious problems in the past, insufficient justification was provided to support such a drastic move.
• 10 weeks ago at the first Sports Forum, EA and the State Branches unanimously agreed to draw a line under the past and work collaboratively to repair long standing issues.
• In the ensuing ten weeks, EA did all the preparation and extensive consultation for the Sports Forum and Coaches Forum held last Thursday, on top of the successful WEG campaign, the financial audit and annual report, as well as delivering services with a much smaller team.
• Lucy Warhurst is doing an outstanding job and has the unqualified support of Equestrian NSW. In her short tenure she has demonstrated a capacity for hard work, sound judgement, leadership and a commitment to proper process, consultation and communication.

No detail has been provided, neither publicly nor privately, about what the plans are for when the three directors are replaced.

It’s also worth rejecting some of the outrageous claims that have been made during recent days, including:
• Equestrian NSW is working with Equestrian Australia to set up a new organisation, to be recognised by the FEI and Sport Australia.
• In becoming a company under the Corporations Act, Equestrian NSW will use its new powers to become a national body.
Both claims are untrue and without any basis in fact. Equestrian NSW will continue to be a not-for-profit state sporting organisation, serving NSW members.

In NSW, we are indeed fortunate to have a stable membership base, disciplined financial management, a high quality and competent Board, excellent relationships with Equestrian Australia and our Discipline Councils and Committees and a CEO who works hard with his team to meet our members’ expectations.


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