Only 200 voted on Melbourne Racing Club change

Date: May 2, 2016

Patrick Bartley

The board of the Melbourne Racing Club was again under pressure to explain how only 1.5 per cent of its membership voted in last Thursday’s controversial special meeting at Caulfield racecourse to give office bearers a further six-year term

And of the membership of 14,000-plus, only a little more than 200 voting members carried the motion to extend the terms in office and, of that figure, many were postal votes lodged by friends and family of board members.

While outraged members began to form groups to challenge the club, a spokesman for the MRC said there would not be another vote on the issue despite the small number of votes.

A spokesman for the MRC, Jake Norton, said he and his club doubted that the state’s ruling body, Racing Victoria, had jurisdiction over the club, despite being asked for a please explain after last Thursday’s meeting, which was described by members as a “farce”.

He said the club had been in constant communication with Racing Minister Martin Pakula. But Fairfax Media understand RVL has the power to register all clubs in Victoria each year.As well, a core of members is  in talks with a constitutional lawyer in a bid to find a way to have last Thursday’s decision overturned.

Other members on Monday lodged letters of complaint to not only the minister but Premier Daniel Andrews and all federal members within the Caulfield district.

“We will have this changed,” one member said. “It cannot possibly go on. We have 200 members voting on the most important issue the club has faced since the new century.

“And we know now that thousands and thousands of members were not contacted. That’s, of course, unless you were a friend or a family member of a board member. It’s outrageous and the ill feeling within the membership is growing by the day.”

It takes 150 signatures of Melbourne Racing Club members to spill the board, a figure that will easily be gathered by the end of the week, according to those members against the move

Racing Victoria officials confirmed they had received an explanation from the Melbourne Racing Club after last Thursday night. “We will be examining the report over the next few days but at the moment we won’t be commenting,” a spokesman said.

Other members have been outraged because they never knew of the meeting. A doctor from the Mornington Peninsula said: “We have been manipulated. We were told that we’ve got to get onto the website and look up an obscure page to find the most important piece of legislation the club’s ever voted on.

“They have flouted their position of trust and what an outrage – just over 200 votes and the matter swept away.

“If Martin Pakula and the government here can’t do anything, my friends and I will go federally. Many prime ministers have been members of this club and it’s now reduced to a boys’ club.”

Other questions have been raised over how the executive wages bill has jumped from $2 million to $4 million and why a race club needs 50 per cent ownership in a bakery in Collingwood.
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