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David JL

Notice of Intent to Move Rescission

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At a recent General Meeting of our incorporated association, a motion that was I believe badly worded was passed. My belief is that the positive result of the vote on the motion might be used to validate a future action of our association's Council, when in fact all it did was record the view of those members who voted for the motion, that a claimed legal conflict between our Constitution and some of our Standing Orders did not exist. At the meeting, I gave notice of my intent to move a motion to rescind the passed motion at the next General Meeting. My intention was to prevent Council and others from taking an irreversible action that used the vote on the motion as proof of that action's validity, until such time as the rescission motion was decided or Council took action to change either the Standing Orders or have the members vote (in a Special General Meeting) to change the constitution so as to remove any doubt about the existence or otherwise of the claimed conflict.

Our Constitution and the legislation under which our association is registered make no mention of the rescission motion process, and because the vast majority of our voting has to be done by post or pre-determined proxy, use of a motion to reconsider was impractical.

Our Council has now announced their intent to proceed with an action that would involve conducting contests, issuing medals etc. etc., claiming that the decision on the motion now under notice of rescission validates that action. They have advised me that it is totally within Council's power to do whatever it wants. They claim that my Notice has no control over their actions.

My question is: Just what are the rules during the period between a Notice to move Rescission being given and the Rescission Motion being decided (or the Notice withdrawn)?

 

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43 minutes ago, David JL said:

My question is: Just what are the rules during the period between a Notice to move Rescission being given and the Rescission Motion being decided (or the Notice withdrawn)?

Generally speaking, the main motion remains valid unless and until it is rescinded. Giving notice of a motion to Rescind does not suspend the effect of the main motion.

With that said, however, my understanding of the facts here (and correct me if I am wrong) is that the main motion in question was an advisory opinion regarding the proper interpretation of the society's Constitution and, in your opinion, the interpretation expressed in the motion is incorrect. If the Council adopts a motion which conflicts with the Constitution, that motion is null and void. Whether this motion has been rescinded or not is immaterial.

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Thank you, Josh. Yes. The wording of the motion was:-

“This meeting confirms that the changes to the Standing Orders made by the National Council to allow mixed harmony quartet and chorus contests at National and Regional contests from 1 July 2015 are not inconsistent with the Constitution of the Association.”

The National Council has stated that the affirmative vote on this motion justifies them going ahead with activities involving 'Mixed Harmony". Prior to the meeting the Council published statements supposedly in support of the motion, that were in fact only support for the introduction of Mixed Harmony activities. My contention is that the success of the motion does nothing to remove a conflict, if it does in fact exist. The fact that it reflects a point of view about a possible conflict has, in my view, no effect on the existence or otherwise of the conflict. I think your response indicates support of that view.

In Australia, wherever the rescission motion is used, the practice is that a notification of intent to move a motion of rescission prevents any substantive action being taken as a result of the vote on the subject motion, until the rescission motion is decided. This is reflected in all model rules issued by our state governments, that contain reference to the rescission motion.

I can find no evidence that Robert's Rules deal with that period between Notice of Intent and the rescission motion being put to a vote.  That is why I asked the question.

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43 minutes ago, David JL said:

In Australia, wherever the rescission motion is used, the practice is that

a notification of intent to move a motion of rescission

prevents any substantive action being taken as a result of the vote on the subject motion,

until the rescission motion is decided.

This is reflected in all model rules issued by our state governments, that contain reference to the rescission motion.

I can find no evidence that Robert's Rules deal with that period between Notice of Intent and the rescission motion being put to a vote. 

That is why I asked the question.

Exactly. There is no such suspension aspect or delay aspect of the motion "Rescind; Amend Something Previously Adopted" in the current 11th edition of RONR.

Using RONR, you had two, maybe three, possible parliamentary tools:

(a.) Reconsider

(b.) Reconsider and Enter on the Minutes

(c.) Adding a proviso (i.e., adding a time element).

Those tools do contain an element of freezing-out action.

***

On a related note:

Q. What parliamentary authority is the most popular one in Australia? (i.e., what parliamentary manual may I buy which contains such an interesting rule as the one you describe for "Rescind"?)

I'd like to add that book to my collection.

 

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9 hours ago, David JL said:

“This meeting confirms that the changes to the Standing Orders made by the National Council to allow mixed harmony quartet and chorus contests at National and Regional contests from 1 July 2015 are not inconsistent with the Constitution of the Association.”

The National Council has stated that the affirmative vote on this motion justifies them going ahead with activities involving 'Mixed Harmony". Prior to the meeting the Council published statements supposedly in support of the motion, that were in fact only support for the introduction of Mixed Harmony activities. My contention is that the success of the motion does nothing to remove a conflict, if it does in fact exist. The fact that it reflects a point of view about a possible conflict has, in my view, no effect on the existence or otherwise of the conflict. I think your response indicates support of that view.

Yes, this is quite correct. The motion in question certainly does nothing to remove any conflict which may exist, since it is not an amendment to the constitution. It is not even a binding interpretation of the rules as they are currently written, since this motion does not appear to have been offered as part of a Point of Order or Appeal. The motion is purely advisory. If the National Council adopts a main motion in conflict with the constitution, that motion is null and void, and a Point of Order to that effect may be raised at any time.

9 hours ago, David JL said:

In Australia, wherever the rescission motion is used, the practice is that a notification of intent to move a motion of rescission prevents any substantive action being taken as a result of the vote on the subject motion, until the rescission motion is decided. This is reflected in all model rules issued by our state governments, that contain reference to the rescission motion.

I can find no evidence that Robert's Rules deal with that period between Notice of Intent and the rescission motion being put to a vote.  That is why I asked the question.

In Robert's Rules of Order, offering notice of a motion to Rescind does not prevent action from being taken as a result of the motion which it has been proposed to rescind. There is a suspending effect involved in making a motion to Reconsider or to Reconsider and Enter on the Minutes. I understand that Reconsider is an American invention, however, so that might explain why Rescind is treated differently in Australia.

With that said, I don't know that this matters in this particular case, since the motion in question doesn't actually do anything. It is a purely advisory opinion (which may or may not be correct) stating that particular actions by the National Council would not conflict with the constitution. "Suspending" an advisory opinion wouldn't accomplish much of anything. The actions in question either conflict with the constitution or they don't, and whether or not this motion is suspended or rescinded won't change that.

Edited by Josh Martin

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Many thanks, guys.

I agree, Josh, that the motion does not actually do anything. It just generates a record in the minutes of the meeting that so many voted yes to the motion. My problem was that the association's Council have shown very clearly that they intend to use that record to implement activities to do with Mixed Harmony. I have been trying to get them to realize that their actions will change the nature of the association, and that requires the approval of the membership via a change to our Constitution. My last resort was to make the Notice of Motion to Repeal, which, under Australian practice should prevent any action being taken on the resolution until the rescission motion id decided. My view is that the Motion does nothing to resolve the conflict with the Constitution that I believe exists. If I am right, their intended actions would be illegal. It seems that the only way to stop this council is to initiate court action, and I am not prepared to do that because neither the association nor myself could afford it! The wows of armature organisations!

Potszbie, the reference on meeting procedure that I use is 'Hocking's Rules', by Don Hocking, ISBN 0 7318 0851 7. It was written mainly for an Australian readership. I have not been able to find a parliamentary authority that extends to the details of the Rescission Motion. Odger's Australian Parliamentary Practice is mentioned in Federal government documents as a reference, but that only describes the effect of a rescission determination i.e. it has 'the retrospective effect of annulling or quashing a decision from the time that decision was made as if it had never been made.' It seems that houses of our parliaments - Federal and State, incorporate such in their own Standing Orders or other documents that control procedure. State governments, in their legislation for local government, incorporated associations, etc. provide model rules (constitutions). Most of these detail the rescission motion as applied in Australia, describing the holding effect that the Notice of Motion has here. Some people here do refer to Robert's Rules - including our President.

Thank you both for your time and interest. You have been most helpful.

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13 hours ago, David JL said:

Some people here do refer to Robert's Rules - including our President.

Has your organization, in fact, adopted Robert's Rules of Order as its parliamentary authority? If it has not, what is said in RONR is only persuasive for your organization, not binding (and likely not even very persuasive, since RONR is the leading authority on the common parliamentary law as it exists in the United States, not Australia).

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No, my association has not nominated any authority controlling its rules. Thus the source of authority must go in sequence from the association's rules to the requirements of the government legislation under which the association is registered, and on up through the authorities upon which that legislation is based.

I am happy to report that our Council has made a conciliatory approach following my last submission to them, which pointed out the difference in the use of the Rescission motion in Australia compared to its use in the USA, and that the Australian interpretation must comply. We now have an offer to negotiate! A start, at least.

Best regards

David

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