Lefty scribe Andrew Crook has done a good job of digging up the dirt on the filthy fight going on in the Wilderness Society. He writes in a left-wing email newsletter today. Itâ€™s so amusing, we thought worthy of sharing:
The Tasmanian Supreme Court has slapped down beleaguered Wilderness Society executive director Alec Marrâ€™s bid to retain control over the organisation, ruling this morning that a secret AGM attended by just 14 people last year was invalid.
In a short hearing, in which Marrâ€™s umbrella organisation TWS Inc declined to offer a substantial defence, Justice Stephen Holt also ruled a special resolution passed at the meeting to increase the threshold for constitutional change to 4,500 names was invalid.
Queensland Wilderness Society Campaign Manager Tim Seelig, part of a dissident group challenging Marr for control of the divided organisation, immediately called on Marr and his national committee of management to fall on their swords.
â€œAlecâ€™s authority and the management committee is now trashed,â€ he told Crook outside court. â€œThey should stand down immediately. The state campaign centres are now calling on the committee to immediately stand down so members can properly rule on their future.â€
The court was asked to rule on the sparsely-attended AGM in November last year that changed the constitution and ensured the Marr-dominated management committee would serve for another three years. In a move reminiscent of the darkest manoeuvrings of student politics, the AGM was advertised in the mostly-unread Fairfax publication the Burnie Advocate.
Dissidents last night circulated a letter to members and a media release from six campaign centre managers urging members to converge on Canberra for a special meeting on May 2, organised by Marr. The state-based groupings say they have the backing of 95% of the organisationâ€™s 45,000-strong membership.
â€œWe have completely lost trust and confidence in the Executive Director and the national management committee â€¦ Itâ€™s time for change,â€ they wrote, highlighting â€œbullying and poor staff management, wasteful consultanciesâ€ and a lack of campaign â€œdirection and accountabilityâ€. Marr had originally called the meeting to shore up his authority by allowing a postal vote on its future.
Meanwhile, Crook can reveal Marr shut down his own email system yesterday to prevent dissidents from contacting members. At 4:40pm, as forces committed to Marrâ€™s overthrow prepared to send out a missive spruiking their intention to roll the veteran campaigner, access to the groupâ€™s â€˜PHPâ€™ mailing list was shut down.
Marr confirmed this morning that he had ordered the email list be taken off-line, saying the proposed mailout calling on him to resign was â€œillegalâ€, an â€œinvasion of peopleâ€™s privacyâ€ and was designed to spread â€œmisinformation among the membersâ€. Newcastle campaigner Vanessa Culliford, who drafted the letter to members, had â€œabsolutely no legal rights at allâ€ to access the email list.
â€œWeâ€™re a separately incorporated body, and itâ€™s an abuse of the email system,â€ he said.
But Culliford denied the claims: â€œthe PHP lists are created through the work that state-based campaign centres do. I am simply informing our membership of the views of the state campaign centres â€¦ in terms of being abused by Alec Marr, Iâ€™ve been working for TWS for a long time so Iâ€™m used to it.â€
Dissidents say the May 2 meeting to enable members to submit postal votes will now become a referendum on his membership style.
Before this morning Supreme Court ruling, Marr said his proposed changes to the Wilderness Societyâ€™s structure would benefit members: â€œWeâ€™ve already agreed to a new AGM. Our biggest problem was the previous AGM didnâ€™t allow enough people to be involved.
â€œThe organisation has overhauled its constitution â€” weâ€™ve currently got the constitution of a tennis club for an organisation with 45,000 people. Itâ€™s completely inappropriate and allows small groups of people to effectively take over without a mandate.â€
Acrimony continues to fester in Wilderness Society offices across Australia. One incident, confirmed by three parties, involved a spat over microwaved spaghetti bolognese at lunch time, with the re-heater accused of being a â€œmeat eaterâ€ by ecologically-tinged staff.
Marr personally investigated the claims and unleashed a tirade against the complainants, who appeared to be a proxy for the organisationâ€™s split between grassroots eco-warriors and be-suited management focused on business plans.
After the spaghetti eating finance staffer left the organisation, Marr is reported to have unleashed the following tirade: â€œYou donâ€™t have to be a fucking greenie to work at TWS. Iâ€™ve got a great big four-wheel drive. But at least I havenâ€™t had a f***ing BABY!â€
Marr said the comments were â€œmeant to be a jokeâ€.