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The EC Ignores/Breaks the Rules for Membership but Does Not Care

My reading of the Rules makes me think that very few TI Members have gone through the “must do” processes that are mandated there. I wrote this letter to the 2018 Secretary, Justin Setu, asking him what the consequences are for the status of the Members Register and the legitimacy of people who are serving on the EC 2018-19. I was asking who could rightly vote and who could not? His reply is here.

It’s worth reading how thoroughly he takes his duties as the Secretary. He thinks that good faith is all that is needed on the part of the EC, not that it is bound by the Rules as they claimed in their broadcast dated 1 February 2019 — “Tara Institute is an FPMT centre and follows FPMT policy, including having an Affiliation Agreement with FPMT Inc.; and Tara Institute has a valid constitution under Australian law which dictates our activities.

To: Justin Setu

Subject: Who is a legitimate member of TCWC?

Date: Tuesday, April 02, 2019 3:52 PM

 
I’ve been sitting on this email for some time but I think it must be raised with you. With you, Justin.
 
Not only do you hold an important and crucial office but you also enjoy serious respect for your knowledge — not least, among the other EC members. They trust what you say and how you view the responsibilities of protecting and guiding TI. I know you are self-effacing but it is true.
 
Along with greater knowledge comes greater responsibility. You are in charge of making sure that the Rules are properly followed and adhered to, however you did come into that role after those Rules had already been run off the rails and I can understand what a difficult position that has put you in.
 
I’m writing to you because I believe it is not too late to start fixing the mess. Putting aside for a moment, the disappointing tendency to misrepresent the Rules to Members, my most serious concern is the ignoring of the process defined in the Rules for accepting Members into the Association. 
 
When Dave wrote up these new Rules, that process of nomination, seconding (Appendix 1) along with documentation, EC review and Minuted confirmation of new Members was the only way to manage the quality and suitability of new people joining. I know he didn’t devise that system but he picked the best one he could find and it is one that has stood the test of time. Anyway, it’s the one we’ve got and we should be using it.
 
  • Division 1—Membership
    8 Who is eligible to be a member
    Any person who supports the purposes of the Association is eligible for membership.
    9 Application for membership
    (1) To apply to become a member of the Association, a person must submit
    a written application to the Committee stating that the person—
         (a) wishes to become a member of the Association; and
         (b) supports the purposes of the Association; and
         (c) agrees to follow the teachings and advice given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama; and
         (d) agrees to comply with these Rules.
    (2) The application—
         (a) must be made by the applicant in writing in the form set out in Appendix 1 to these rules, and
         (b) must be signed by the applicant; and
         (c) must be accompanied by the joining fee; and
         (d) must be lodged with the secretary of the Association.
    10 Consideration of application
    (1) As soon as practicable after an application for membership is received,
    the Committee must decide by resolution whether to accept or reject the application.
    (1) In determining whether to approve or reject the nomination, the Committee may require the nominee to enter an undertaking, written or unwritten, that demonstrates the nominee’s commitment to uphold the purposes of the Association.
    (3) The Committee must notify the applicant in writing of its decision as
    soon as practicable after the decision is made
    (4) If the Committee rejects the application, it must return any money
    accompanying the application to the applicant.
    (5) No reason need be given for the rejection of an application.
    11 New membership
    (1) If an application for membership is approved by the Committee—
        (a) the resolution to accept the membership must be recorded in the minutes of the committee meeting; and
        (b) the Secretary must, as soon as practicable, enter the name and address of the new member, and the date of becoming a member, in the register of members.
    (2) A person becomes a member of the Association and, subject to rule 13(2), is entitled to exercise his or her rights of membership from the date, whichever is the later, on which—
        (a) the Committee approves the person’s membership; or
        (b) the person pays the joining fee.
 
The Rules lay out a process for becoming a member so it makes no logical sense to me if anyone can also become a member by not following that process.
 
Can I ask you to please take this matter seriously. Non-compliance is putting TI more and more at risk.
======================================================
Dear Justin,
 
I’m writing to you as both Secretary of Tara Centre for Wisdom Culture Inc. Registered No.A0048139U and as a practising lawyer with statutory duties and knowledge of the Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012.
 
On February 1 this year, the EC wrote, “Tara Institute is an FPMT centre and follows FPMT policy, including having an Affiliation Agreement with FPMT Inc.; and Tara Institute has a valid constitution under Australian law which dictates our activities.
####
1) Please confirm that this is indeed the case and that there are no other documents governing TCWC/TI, just the FPMT Affiliate Agreement and TCWC Rules as registered with Consumer Affairs Victoria.
 
2) If there are any other documents that control the actions of the EC, would you please list them and send me a copy of each.
 
3) Under the Rules, is it fair to say that the Members are the core of TI and therefore that the joining process must be followed and documented scrupulously?
——————————
Part 2 Membership
 
2. Membership qualifications
A person is qualified to be a member of the Centre if, but only if
b) the person is a natural person
      (i) who has been nominated for membership of the Centre as provided by rule 3, and
      (ii) who has been approved for membership of the Centre by the Committee of the Centre.
 
11 New membership
(1) If an application for membership is approved by the Committee—
(a) the resolution to accept the membership must be recorded in the minutes of the committee meeting;
 
——————————
 
4) If so, is it not essential that Members are properly accepted/established-as-bone-fide-members in accordance with the Rules?
      (a) is a person regarded as a Member (according to CAV) merely by being listed on the registry of members? Or…
      (b) are they only a Member if the full process is completed according to the Rules? see 2.2 above “only if”
 
5) How many people on our Register have been properly and completely processed according to the Rules and are therefore entitled to vote at the upcoming AGM?
 
6) Which EC Members (if any) are not minuted as new Members according to the Rules?
 
7) For each EC member, how is the action “must profess” performed/registered in accordance with the requirements of Rule 20.(d)?
 
8) None of the Members I’ve spoken to think they were properly nominated, seconded, reviewed by the EC, nor can they remember receiving a formal notice of acceptance as required — please provide the Minutes that show each EC member being formally accepted as members of TCWC so that they are eligible for re election at the AGM.
 
9) Do we face any liability for any people who thought they were paying for membership but who now find they were never members according to the process laid down in the Rules?
 
Sorry to bother you with all this, but given that the EC is determined to use the legal avenues to sort things out rather than dialogue, it is crucial to know who can vote and who can serve on the EC — legally.
 
Regards
Peter