CPA facing harsh questions
The remaining members of CPA Australia’s executive board are being put through the ringer.
After the sacking of high-profile, highly-paid CPA CEO Alex Malley, and the resignation of more than half of the CPA board, senior CPA staffers have faced a barrage of questions from the committee at a hearing in Sydney.
The remaining leadership was called to explain their lack of communication with CPA members during the governance crisis.
The hearing relates to proposed changes to the Corporations Act — which were largely triggered by the issues at CPA — that seek to compel companies to collect and share their members' and shareholders' email addresses.
While reforms are still brewing, the recent senate grilling focused largely on CPA’s governance crisis.
“The extraordinary behaviour of this organisation, the obfuscation, the opacity, is just mind-blowing,” Liberal senator Jane Hume told the hearing.
The CPA was asked why it did not pass on a letter to members from 16 former leaders called for the current board to be overhauled.
CPA general manager of policy and corporate affairs, Stuart Dignam, said the CPA's own independent review would ask itself that question.
“We do have an independent review … and it has broad terms of reference to enquire into CPA Australia,” he told the hearing.
“The board and the management of CPA Australia don't believe that an entire spill of the board is in the best interests of the organisation,” he said.
The Corporations Act changes were largely prompted by rebel CPA member, Brett Stevenson, who wanted to communicate with other CPA members about CPA’s lavish spending, much of which went to promoting Mr Malley's TV show and biography,
Mr Stevenson relied on the Corporations Act to force CPA to release its members register, was only able to obtain a list of postal addresses.
Mr Stevenson says mailing every person on the list would have cost about $160,000.
“It's made it impossible for us to communicate with the members, we just haven't been able to,” he said.
This prompted Senator Nick Xenophon to back a private members bill mandating email addresses be included in the members register of corporations.
“If email addresses are available to a company's board of directors, they should also be available for legitimate purposes to members,” he said.
“It's time to bring the Corporations Act into the 21st century.”
There is some resistance coming from the business community, with major insurer AMP saying does not have the email addresses of most of its shareholders, whose average age is 75.
The Australian Institute of Company Directors is worried that email addresses could be sold online.