Special General Meeting, AGM to be called soon
Gurdeep Singh, Secretary of the North Shore Sikh Association (NSSA), says that the time is right for the Association to call a Special General Meeting (SGM) with an Annual General Meeting (AGM) included at the SGM to consider reforms to the current structure and Constitution of the 27-year-old Association. The NSSA is at a cross roads after the NSW Department of Fair Trading informed the Association, in a recent letter, that the NSSA will need to register as an Australian company as its assets are now in excess of $2 Million.
According to legal advice obtained by the NSSA following the Department of Fair Trading’s letter, a Policy of the NSW Government under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009 stipulates that Associations whose income and/or assets exceed $2 million are required to form a more appropriate legal structure and register with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) as a Company limited by guarantee.
In recent years, particularly since the completion of the new Gurdwara Sahib building in Turramurra, the NSSA has grown both in terms of the number of its members and the scope and activities of the association in the Sikh, Punjabi and Indian community.
Responding to criticism from certain sections of the community about the procedures of the NSSA, Singh says the Association has a two-tiered structure and an “outdated” Constitution that was drafted 27 years ago when the size of the community was a fraction of what it is now, and the needs of the community at that time were limited. Many members of the community and other associates of the NSSA find this structure and Constitution inadequate.
Singh says that sections of the community are frustrated with the processes and governance provisions in the current Constitution of the Association, and these sections feel that they have no voice or representation in the Association’s deliberations. According to Singh, as the NSSA seeks legal opinion in working out its new company structure and constitution, it would be timely and helpful to have a general meeting in the near future, with a view to involve the wider community in the Association’s move to becoming a registered company with the ASIC.
In response to a question from The Indian Sun on the implications the move from an association to a company can have for the community and the gurdwara, Singh says: “There is a legal requirement to hold a SGM. The SGM is legally required to satisfy the procedural steps to be taken in order to transfer the Association’s registration from NSW Fair Trading to ASIC. A binding requirement of the law is that in such a situation as the present one, a Special Resolution must be passed through a SGM for the transfer to become legal; then a Company must be registered with ASIC and subsequently the current Association must be de-registered from Fair Trading. There will be no adverse effects of any kind on the assets, membership and equity of the stakeholders.
“Given the position where the current Constitution of the Association requires a normal AGM to be held in March 2014, legal advice as agreed by the NSW Fair Trading Department is that the AGM can be held as a part of the SGM.
“This is an opportunity for the entire community to come together to help adopt a Constitution so that the new management structure and the operating environment can cater to the needs of our future generations. Community leaders shall be soon contacted by the NSSA to come forward and help the Sub Committee formed for this specific task.
“The Gurdwara Sahib at Turramurra is a modern building and is a permanent platform for the future generations of the community to better their religious, spiritual, social and cultural well-being. This opportunity to transfer the registration of the Governance to a Company based system can and must lead to an ambiguity-free, better and more equitable structure.”