1. I was interviewed today regarding the CPA Australia issues by ABC - not sure what department will use but probably Lateline Business.
2. Here is my response to the below email all members will have received today from CPA Australia.
To call their letter a disgrace is too good.
3. Thanks for all the emails. Too many to respond at moment but please take this as a big personal thanks for the present.
Well no doubt you will have received this email, along with the other 154,000 CPA members by email, who are not on my mailing list.
Let me respond, not in anger which always my initial reaction, but one of profound disgrace that we have a board of CPA Australia that would put their seal of approval to such a letter.
Is it little wonder that members are not prepared to speak out about the elephants in the room that the CPA leadership are conveniently ignoring. This is typical of the threats and intimidation they use against members who speak up about some of these very important matters, and is the sort of culture that they have developed at CPA Australia. To their shame.
So let me comment on their little piece of handiwork. This is just a quick response while waiting for my flight back to Armidale.
And let me say for Messrs Malley, Awty and Hughes, and the entire CPA Australia board that this was a flight that I paid for (all economy class) just to do an interview for ABC on what I regard as major issues impacting on CPA Australia. It was not a junket to Singapore to avoid the issues paid for by CPA Australia.
The closest parallel I can think of is the voluntary work done by thousands of CPA members past and present for the benefit of the profession and the members.
They do not and have not seen CPA Australia as an opportunity to promote themselves while rewarding themselves handsomely on the tab of CPA Australia.
No, they did it for the sake of the profession, of the professional standing of the CPA designation and for them as members.
Therein lies a great big lesson for the current CPA leadership at both board and senior management level.
Not the sort of self promotion, 'milking the cow' expenditure and denigration of the profession that too often typifies much of the current CPA leadership.
If you for one minute Mr Carlin and the board of CPA Australia think they can get away without reporting the remuneration of the at least $3,800,000 ( and that is the minimum we can calculate) remuneration paid to Messrs Malley, Awty and Hughes in 2016 without fully disclosing and rightly receiving some member backlash I suggest they have lost the plot.
This is scandalous and they jolly well know it. Hence why no full disclosure.
This is why we have requested a s.202B full disclosure of all the directors remuneration for 2016.
Lets hope they do not comply with that request with the same ‘pained’ regret they have exhibited in complying with the law in relation to s.169 of the Corporations Act and the Members Register.
Let me comment on their email below
Let's keep some perspective here eh. I have a mailing list of now over 1,000 members from whom I have received positive responses of support from almost 400 of them, and only 19 have asked to be unsubscribed.We write to advise that you may soon receive unsolicited correspondence from a member, who has requested access to CPA Australia's full register of members.
I have requested access to the full members register because the Corporations Act 2001 allows this to enable members to have some means to communicate with other members when the board and senior management of the company have gone astray. My words, but you catch the drift. Members have very little power to change things in a company, and that is why this request can be made. It can only be used for proper purposes. This is the law of the land, and this section was put in place partly to cover situations such as this.
It has to because that is what the law requires. No mention of the email addresses (which you quickly managed to utilise with your members register to send out this email eh. The irony is hard to ignore.)The register includes your name, preferred postal address and joining date.
Stop and think about that paragraph for a minute.It is with regret that we have released this information to the member, however we were legally obligated to do so under the Australian Corporations Act 2001. We are now concerned about the security of your personal information.
They regret having to comply with the law!! Really.
You board members cannot be so arrogant to think you are above the law. I can just imagine it “We regret that we have to hold an AGM because we reckon the members should just trust us but we’ll do because the Corporations Act requires it but with regret”.
Now there is an example and a half of our accounting professional organisation setting the standard so low you would need to be a lizard to get to it. And this is from the leadership of CPA Australia.
“And that you are now concerned about the security of the members personal information.” I have made the request as per the law which is very specific that it cannot be used for improper purposes and that it will be protected as per the privacy laws. It is a criminal offence to not do so.
I have given the board that assurance in writing, but that was conveniently ignored and not mentioned eh?
But no, that is not good enough for them. Just think about it a bit. They are trying to impugn or intimate that I am an unsavoury or untrustworthy person, and that they doubt I can be trusted with this Register. That's the sort of misinformation and threatening bullying behaviour that characterises the current CPA leadership when a member such as myself asks serious questions on major matters and challenges their answers.
Thank goodness we have the Corporations Act I say.
Of course the irony that CPA Australia have used that members Register with email addresses to communicate this message to the members at minimal cost while for me to communicate such a message would cost in the vicinity of $160,000 is not lost to anyone.
I would suggest that as President/Chairman Tyrone Carlin you have set a very poor example here.
Too right, that’s the law. But what you failed to mention is that the Register cannot be used for improper purposes (again that is the law). Is the board trying to suggest in making that comment that there is something inappropriate about communication with the whole membership on these issues.The member has advised that having access to the full register "will enable communication with the whole membership."
Or perhaps are trying to gain some support from their supporters to protest and say they do not want to receive material from me.
Well I have no idea but if members do not wish to receive communications from me, and let me say at $160,000 a pop with no email addresses the board have done their darn’dest to limit that possibility, then they can just unsubscribe as they do with any other email communications. This is the 21st century after all.
The sooner the members can be made aware of these matters the better. They certainly will not get the messages from CPA Australia who use their heavy censorship to prevent members communications with each other on these issues. Their hypocrisy is sickening.
Not necessarily negative (although its hard to put a positive spin on many of the things that are occurring) but truthful and exposing matters and issues that the CPA leadership would prefer to cover up with their management speak, or minimal exposure, and are offended by any member challenging them on these issues. Just take the excess remuneration as an example.The member has to date distributed a series of negative emails containing numerous inaccurate claims about CPA Australia's performance, remuneration, governance, office bearers, members, CEO, management and staff.
Too right. Actually I think it is over 23 group emails (and this one makes at least 24, I’ll make sure I add it to the subject) and a heck of a lot more smaller notes on the website, and individual emails to members. I haven't counted the pages but it just goes to show to what lengths I and many others have to go to get CPA leadership to listen. I reckon a lump of 4 be 2 might be just as effective with our leadership for all the listening they have done.There have been over 20 emails since 21 February, many with large file attachments and documents running to hundreds of pages. We are aware of instances where the same email has been sent five times over a five-hour period.
But it was also to communicate the issues with the members so that we could show that what we are saying has credibility. What the board has failed to say is that when they saw these emails of mine were gaining some resonance with members they automatically shut down functions on the website (Find A CPA for example), along with any contact details or or even names, of members, divisional councillors, committee members, discussion group leaders etc. What a farce. That is the response of a leadership in denial and willing to go to any lengths to 'protect their patch'.
This is what has been needed to correct and combat the misinformation provided by CPA Australia, as well as their love of minimal disclosure. Just take Remuneration as an example. They call a one figure total as complete disclosure and holding no secrets ( have a look at their memo of 2nd March, it's a doozy in saying crap, and they call that an informed response). What about our governance regime being ‘best of the best’, when members do not even vote directly for board members.
The reason I sent over long periods is because google will only allow a reduced number of emails to be sent BCC ( which I would only do for privacy reasons to recipients), so I often had to send them to 10 recipients at a time. One night I stayed up to 4am (not since university and young baby days have I had to do that) to send them. Sometimes I might even stop and have a meal break or chat with my wife or children, or do my other work. Who cares. Sending emails over a five hour period. What an awful thing to do. I’m gulity. We all can’t just flick a switch and send off emails to 155,000 members as they can at CPA Australia.
I have even had to open three email accounts because of the daily limitations on sending emails set by google. I'll go back and check but on some of the emails I may have sent the same email over 50 times to ensure all members received it on the mailing list. That's the reality when you can only send an email with ten or twenty recipients.
And the CPA leadership see that as a shock horror thing to do. A bit like paying for my own flight to Sydney to do the ABC interview. Voluntary work and effort may not be in the vocabulary of the current CPA leadership but I can tell them it is still alive and breathing within the membership.
A big reason for establishing the website was to provide a more efficient way to communicate with the wider membership. But such has been the resistance and opposition from CPA leadership that the wider membership has probably not even heard of these emails. Thanks goodness for the AFR and Joe Aston and Edmund Tadros for their reporting on these issues to not only the wider membership but also the wider watching world. To think that these issues are just the preserve of some ‘rogue accountant from Armidale’ (the expression used by CPA leaders and staff to belittle what is being said) brings to mind King Canute and turning back the tide.
But let me assure the CPAA leadership all the members will hear, one way or another. You can move the AGM to Singapore to avoid scrutiny but you cannot run away from your obligations and the reality of what these emails are exposing.
Well they certainly have not told me, or asked to be unsubscribed (apart from 19 out of the over 1,000 on my mailing list). I suggest members take that with a grain of salt (no, actually with a great big tablespoon of salt) the boards contention of 'multiple complaints'. Unless of course we are talking about 19 members. Insofar as external organisations relevant to CPA's organisation - well exactly what does that mean and who are you referring to.We have received multiple complaints about these emails from members, as well as external organisations centrally relevant to CPA Australia's operations that have also been recipients.
Do you mean universities and academics. Well let me assure members that that would be so untrue because the academics are some of my strongest supporters.
We have established a website which our Naked Webmaster can more accurately explain but the aim was to reduce the possibility of CPA Australia or anyone else for that matter trying to breach it, and gaining access to anyone who registers on it. It is a very well known website source and was completely published. We will actually put the details of the location on the website for members to look for themselves.We also understand that the member is distributing information through a website established through an anonymous registrant in the Bahamas and hosted by a company based in Iceland.
I just love the pejorative way the words were chosen by the Board (I have a fair guess who wrote this section - very clever but very misleading).
“Distributing information” - established a website for all to clearly see, very open and transparent. I have never heard anyone refer to a website as ‘distributing information’ as if we were passing on privy material to others. Sneaky language but very mischievous I would say.
“An anonymous registrant” - of course, just as we have most of the members commenting anonymously because of the CPA Australia’s leadership approach of bullying and intimidating. What planet are you living on. Of course it would be anonymous.
“Bahamas and Iceland” - not so keen on the global reach now eh? Please whoever wrote this paragraph is trying to make a vice out of a virtue. Clever but as with many of these issues misses the point totally.
Now. lets get this straight so there is no misunderstanding. I have spoken to Graeme Wade on the phone either two or three times in 2016 about many of these issues. The message I received back was basically all is well, the self promotion of Alex Malley (which was the guts of my phone calls) is a remarkable success, and you are the odd one out Brett. I spoke with Graeme Wade again in 2017 after I sent my 1st group email which covered a few more things) and we exchanged a couple of emails in response. I am only too happy to publish them if Graeme Wade gives me permission. The same message really though this time he intimated that if I wasn't happy with the way CPA Australia was operated I perhaps should consider CAANZ or IPA.We have repeatedly attempted to engage with the member on matters of concern since they were first raised prior to the 2016 AGM. This has included multiple phone conversations, correspondence comprehensively addressing specific issues and correcting false claims and assumptions, and an open invitation to further discuss any matters at any time.
My summary of those communications would be that this is the way things are Brett, everything is going smoothly at CPA Australia, and really if you don't like it, leave.
I didn’t like it but I didn’t leave, and my group emails will probably tell the story from 21st February to now. CPA Australia have responded to my emails with two letters. One on 2nd March from Jeff Hughes sent by affidavit just to show how open to discussion they were (it is on the website under CPA Responses, and also my response to this, in the same section). I would encourage all members to look at this one, it really is a doozy. A very practical lesson in how not to write a business letter.
Their second response was more to other disgruntled or members asking questions. It was not directly addressed to me. It is the 16 page memo. Again refer to the website for this letter and two parts of my response to that (on remuneration, and on governance).
I would suggest that their two memos contain more misinformation and ‘false claims and assumptions’ than all my emails put together. Try this one - a one figure amount for the remuneration of the 15 Key Management Personnel is said to be ‘complete disclosure and holding no secrets’. Have a look at my responses and see what you think about who is misleading who.
No problems with me on that. Just as I trust the CPA board will have no problems in my writing to ASIC and the media in relation to your ‘regret’ at having to obey the law, or perhaps to the media and all the members when we find out exactly how much the individual directors were paid last year so we can also know how much Malley, Awty and Hughes were also paid.Please be assured that we have made every effort to protect your personal information. For completeness, we have written to the Australian Privacy Commissioner and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to inform them about these circumstances.
I have no problem obeying the law on these matters.
One thing I do know is that I have bent over backwards to ensure that all the emails are not hidden away for just a few ‘friendlies’ (ask Jeff Hughes, he will tell you the meaning of that given that was part of the classification system he/the board use to determine worthwhile recipients of the 16th March memo). They are for all to see, and the website is also for all to see. None of this was ever done in secret, it has been done openly and transparently. Perhaps the board might like to look up those words to get the correct meaning.
If you would like to discuss further, please contact email@example.com.
The Board of Directors of CPA Australia Ltd
Begin forwarded message:
From: "CPA Australia" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Important information from the Board of Directors
Date: 1 May 2017 at 12:17:10 pm AEST
If you can't see the email below, view the online version.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT | 1 MAY 2017
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FROM THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
We write to advise that you may soon receive unsolicited correspondence from a member, who has requested access to CPA Australia's full register of members.
The register includes your name, preferred postal address and joining date.
It is with regret that we have released this information to the member, however we were legally obligated to do so under the Australian Corporations Act 2001. We are now concerned about the security of your personal information.
The member has advised that having access to the full register "will enable communication with the whole membership."
The member has to date distributed a series of negative emails containing numerous inaccurate claims about CPA Australia's performance, remuneration, governance, office bearers, members, CEO, management and staff.
There have been over 20 emails since 21 February, many with large file attachments and documents running to hundreds of pages. We are aware of instances where the same email has been sent five times over a five-hour period.
We have received multiple complaints about these emails from members, as well as external organisations centrally relevant to CPA Australia's operations that have also been recipients.
We also understand that the member is distributing information through a website established through an anonymous registrant in the Bahamas and hosted by a company based in Iceland.
We have repeatedly attempted to engage with the member on matters of concern since they were first raised prior to the 2016 AGM. This has included multiple phone conversations, correspondence comprehensively addressing specific issues and correcting false claims and assumptions, and an open invitation to further discuss any matters at any time.
Please be assured that we have made every effort to protect your personal information. For completeness, we have written to the Australian Privacy Commissioner and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to inform them about these circumstances.
If you would like to discuss further, please contact email@example.com.
The Board of Directors of CPA Australia Ltd
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Copyright CPA Australia 2017
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Brett Stevenson CPA BComm MDiv