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VANA spins re executive election

Mark Fletcher
October 30th, 2008 · 6 Comments

VANA has sent out a bulletin today referring to my post yesterday about them calling in the Australian Electoral Commission to manage the election of an Executive positions.  The bulletin says this is the same process VANA has used in the past.  My understanding is that this is not accurate.  It has been put to me that in recent years executive positions have been filled by a ring around and without a vote and therefore no involvement of the Electoral Commission.

My understanding is that VANA decided to use the Electoral Commission for the executive election once the results of the results of the poll were known last week.  So, I content that the use of the Commission for the executive election is last minute.

All of this matters because just like the ANF, VANA has been caught out on the Bill Express matter.  For most of this year, VANA stood by the ANF and told newsagents to pay for the Bill Express equipment.  It was only after a pubolic meeting not organised by VANA that Victorian newsagents learned oflegal advice that they should cancel the Bill Express direct debit arrangements.  Witin VANA there are fingers pointing everywhere about who was responsible.

The situation is that the VANA Board has failed its members for years.  Now that there is an opportunity for change, the potential change makers have been gazumped by more wily political operators.  Victorian newsagents, in the meantime, have an association which is failing them.


Category: Newsagency challenges

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lorraine // Oct 30, 2008 at 5:23 PM

    Hi Mark,

    Perhaps it’s because no one has had the numbers in the past to challenge the Chairman and therefore, there being no nominations, no election is required.

    It’s a bit silly. Ron knew he doesn’t have the numbers, and indicated he was stepping down this year anyway, so do the proper thing and not nominate thereby eliminating the need for this stupid election. Why nominate when you’re going to lose?

    VANA is now officially irrelevant and they produce 2 great example on top of the election fiasco :

    1. To get members to a hastily cobbled together one day conference, they charge $75.00 but offer a $250.00+ free ticket to the Newsltd Caufield Cup Marquee. And they still had to ask several times for attendees. And if you don’t come you can’t have the tickets.

    2. The meeting, or discussion, called for November 11 has less than 10 participants registered.

    Have a great day,



  • 2 David Backholer // Oct 30, 2008 at 6:03 PM

    Mark and Lorraine.

    Lorraine- you are correct when you say that the need to utilise the A.E.C. has not been required for several years because the status quo has been returned. The Constitution states that this is the Legal requirement of the Board as it does of the A.N.F. as Mark would know.

    This year the scene is different .The then previous Board recognised that there may be a need for the use of the A.E.C. and for that reason the protocol that dictates the utilisation of the A.E.C. was carried through in the event that it was required some 2 ½ months ago.

    Lorraine, it is irresponsible of people to make remarks about matters they know little about in regards to constitutional matters without first gaining facts as they are.. I am not saying this about you. In fact the right thing was done last Tuesday in my mind. This action is in the A.N.F. constitution as well as the Victorian Constitution of V.A.N.A. it always has been and the reason why we use the A.E.C. is that it is free to members. The A.N.F. pay for the service.

    The State Conference was designed by the previous Board because of the decline in the importance and attendance of Regional meetings. The charge is irrelevant in my mind if the return is there. If you went or know of anyone who went along they will tell you what a great conference it was organised by a hard working Bronwyn Roney who deserves every compliment. We even got a free show bag and seat prizes. Alas I missed out on both. HWT were involved to add added incentive and personally, one who took advantage of both and claimed a Tax deduction on the business left both events after lots of important networking, meeting people and enjoying each others company. I won $125

    I hope to see you on the 11th November inst Lorraine. Please come up to me and introduce yourself.

    The numbers coming along do not reflect in my mind a fair cross section of members so to have it under an umbrella of a formal V.A.N.A. General Meeting is not considered good business sense in my view.

    Mark ,all I will say is that you know my telephone number. Let’s sit down and get to the bottom of your concerns and grievances and maybe we can both be a little happier in the circus- sorry Industry.

    Fellow Newsagents please give us time to implement our “constructive change for the future” You will be excited and you will see constructive change.

    Being negative destroys hope- please remember this.

    David Backholer
    Director V.A.N.A.


  • 3 Mark // Oct 30, 2008 at 6:44 PM


    The VANA Constitution does not require the engagement of the Australian Electoral Commission to conduct VANA Executive elections. 21.1.k states that the Board may determine that the AEC is not required to conduct such elections. As for the ANF, in my year on the Board, the AEC was not used to conduct any elections for Executive members.

    As the Bill Express fiasco and my involvement demonstrates, I am only interested in action. This industry has lost too much time talking. I have doubts that association boards are the right place to generate action.



  • 4 David Backholer // Oct 30, 2008 at 7:15 PM


    this is the last time I will poset here unless you change your somewhat terse and negative views as Newsagents want direction and we will deliver. Some of your vioews are negative towards the Industry and do not work forward. We cannot undo what has been done in the past with regards to werrors of professional judgements. let us move ahead with confidence because by hell we need it right now.

    I extend the hand of professional respect to you again Mark and I note you chose to not mention that.

    You did not read my post correctly Mark. I never said the A.N.F. used the A.E.C. I said that they choose to use such professional people as Accountants and that they have to pay for that service. Ours is free thus saving members money.

    The Victorian Constitution with respect says that in effect such elections if required are to be hands off in the conduct of the election if it is required.

    That means a Newsagent, a Board member or such is not allowed to control the agenda of the election. As you know that is why the election was not held last Tuesday as that would have been illegal to do so and you would have been the first to point it out to me.

    Mark, I am not here for a spat to spat. I am here to constructively work towards the future with my fellow Newsagents.

    Now how about your positive thoughts for V.A.N.A. moving forward and as I said at least give us a go.

    I am a very positive person Mark and to state some of your views that are negative and retrospective in this Industry does nothing for


    David Backholer


  • 5 Mark // Oct 30, 2008 at 7:23 PM


    Your comment is offensive. I am positive to the industry. Look at my pro bono work on Bill Express, my TV commercial investment and the tens of thousands invested in supporting associations this year alone. Look at the work at this blog – tons of positive advice, suggestions and discussions. I am proactive and positive on behalf of newsagents.

    I am critical of poor quality leadership and poor representation. Newsagents deserve better. Those who complain about my complaints and complaints of others are usually the ones who have delivered poor results. What happened at VANA Tuesday is done. I think it was a poor move and that you did not manage it well. Nothing can change that now.

    David, through Tower Systems I serve 1,500 newsagents, through newsXpress 150 and through this place 1,500+ readers a day. I will put the needs of these people ahead of the egos desires of Board members any day.

    As for your comments about the AEC, read the VANA Constitution carefully. What you have just written is wrong. Read your initial comment here and my response. I think you, in your latest comment, are trying to revise what you wrote first up. But I really don’t care about that. I am disillusioned with associations. Newsagents have lost too much time and money thanks to them. Bill Express, again, is a perfect example.



  • 6 Lorraine // Oct 31, 2008 at 7:46 AM

    Hi David,

    I really enjoy that you are speaking openly about the industry. For too long it has been a secret society controlled by non retail newsagents.

    What I’m not enjoying is some of the undercurrent and your comments that some is negative and not in the best interests of newsagents.

    After so much disapointment over many years, the humble newsagent has had so many come and offer so much and deliver so little that we have become cynical about new offers. I’m positive about the industry and I’m positive that VANA is irrelevant to the industry. And I’m positive that change is needed and I congratulate you that you have been elected to effect change. It’s a good thing.

    I’m also positive that changing 3 seats on a 7 seat board does not add up to board control so we are left with a majority of the board that is same old. The fact that the current chairman hasn’t stood down to make way for change is again a positive indication that VANA is irrelevant.

    Changing to a new chairman who has been on that irrelevant board for about 10 years doesn’t say “change” to me. If the proposed new chairman is as rumoured, the distance and fight between VANA and GNS will only widen therefore driving a larger split in the industry than there is. That is not a positive comment. That is fact and it will cost the newsagent money in terms of rebates, funding etc. It’s possible there are other burned bridges that will need to be repaired. Correct me if I’m wrong please.

    So please forgive me when I think that new offers including 10 year VANA board members who have had 10 years to do something are not of interest.

    What is the platform for election of the new Chairman? What will he bring to reconciliation of the industry? How will he bridge the divide that is VANA competing directly with GNS? VANA v ANF?

    Are you nominated for Chairman? If not, why? Who has nominated for chairman such that the Electoral Commission needs to come in.

    A sad joke. The message to me is that the VANA board has changed it’s structure but can’t agree to be united on a chairman. Can they agree on changed direction if they can’t agree on a chairman?

    Have a great day and thank you for reading my comments.



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