PIAA: Same or different

While you are reading this, elections for the board if PIAA will be going on in Victoria and Tasmania.

The contests, between Finsbury Green’s Peter Orel and former PIAA State Secretary Ron Patterson in Victoria, and Mark Media’s Martin Guilliamse and AIW’s Peter Clark, will be decided on a vote by the members in those states on October 27.

I do not know any of the men involved, and their election pitches so far that I have seen have all amounted to ‘I have been around a while and I want the industry to move forward’, so I don’t have dog in this race. Maybe one of them will inspire us with some policy ideas and that will change.

But right now, here is the deal. The board members and CEO who created the crisis at the turn of the year are mostly gone. I say mostly, because a several of the current board were sitting around that table putting their names to the loss of $800,000, obscured by the sale of Auburn, and justified by the never-made-public plan to end all plans.

All of the board members who did not have their names on those decisions were selected by the people who did. I put my name forward and lost out to Blue Star’s Matt Aitken, and fair enough – he is CEO of Blue Star and I have a small shop whose turnover would be smaller than the biscuits budget in the IVE books.

But remember, everyone sitting for re-election is a continuation of the team who got us to where we are. And in the case of this Victorian election, president Keiran May is on record as saying he picked up the phone and encouraged certain people to run after Kellie Northwood pulled out.

Given May’s habit of tapping CEOs and proxies of big companies (Blue Star’s Aitken, Scott’s John Scott, IPMG’s nomination Northwood and Kuhncorps’ Walter Kuhn) we can probably reliably guess that Finsbury’s Orel in Victoria and AIW’s Peter Clark in Tasmania are his captain’s picks.

Nothing wrong with the board running a ticket by itself, but my point is they are all insiders. Even Ron Patterson is a former employee of PIAA so he is part of the club, even if he is coming at things with a desire to get it back to how it used to be. The only prospective outsider on the list is Martin Guilliamse, but he is not threatening massive change in his comments.

In my view we needed a dissident on the board – someone who wanted to burn the place down and start again. Someone demanding heads on platters.

It is not enough to have Tom Eckersley sitting up in Queensland, acting as a shadow director by virtue of the threat he posed as organiser-in-chief of the Member Action Group. It is especially not enough considering how pleased he seems with the current board. And my constant criticisms will not do the trick either – I can only write about things after they have happened.

We needed to have someone sitting at the table, pushing the CEO and directors at every meeting to justify themselves. Or at the least, someone who is not in the know, and needs to be convinced about the merits or otherwise of major decisions.

Given that, for what it’s worth I say vote for Patterson and Guilliamse. Neither of them are the Paul Keating printing needs to come in and reform it back to life, but at the least they are not in the debt of any board members who caused the current problems and will be less likely to roll over when asked.

PS Do we not have any females in printing who want to run for the board? There is a lot to be embarrassed about when it comes to PIAA, but the gender make-up of the board is particularly bad considering how easy it would be to fix.

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