The 90 people who will decide the fate of MEAA

AJA 1921-22

The men and men of the AJA’s WA branch, 1921-22. Their legacy is in your hands.

by Charles Firth

This Saturday, the 90 members of the Federal Council of MEAA will hold its annual conference. At that conference, they will be asked to vote on a proposal to abolish the ability for members to directly elect their Federal Secretary and replace it with a “CEO” figure, appointed by the Federal Management Committee, a body of 11 elected representatives.

The main argument in favour of this reform is that having an appointed CEO will make it easier to sack them.

This is certainly an important principle. For over two decades, MEAA has been headed by the same person. Clearly there is a strong desire by everyone to make sure something like that never happens again.

But while placing the decision about who leads the union may sound good in theory, in practice the reverse is true. This type of structure was popular amongst white collar unions (such as what is now the NTEU) in the early 1980s.

These unions ended up having a terrible time getting rid of their Chief Executives because those people were very good at organising and controlling their boards.

They found that over time, an effective CEO will organise their board (in this case the FMC) and ensure the people on it support their CEO.

Clearly MEAA is in need of reform. But something like term limits would be a much more appropriate way to ensure renewal at the top. Along the way, we could also reform things that seem to be more urgent but are not even on the agenda this weekend. This could include a ban on “election” funds for union leaders.

At the very least, reform of this magnitude should be decided by a plebiscite of all the members, or at least after a new election where this issue has been properly debated. Nobody who ran for Federal Council ran on this issue, to make a change of this magnitude without going back to the members first will only undermine the legitimacy of this union.

Below is a list of the 90 or so people who hold the fate of your union in their hands. I’ve noted whether they’re for or against direct elections of the Federal Secretary, based on their public statements.

If you know any of them, please ring them and make sure they know that you want them to vote in favour of directly electing a Federal Secretary.

Also, if you happen to be one of these people, please let us know how you intend to vote, and I’ll update the list to reflect that.

National Office

  • Stuart Washington – federal president (Media) – against direct election of Federal Secretary
  • Philippa McDonald – federal vice president (Media) – against direct election of Federal Secretary
  • Gina McColl – federal vice president (Media) – against direct election of Federal Secretary
  • Simon Burke – federal president (Equity) – against direct election of Federal Secretary
  • Corinne Grant – federal vice president (Equity) – against direct election of Federal Secretary
  • Monica Main – federal vice president (Equity)
  • John West – federal president (ECS) – against direct election of Federal Secretary
  • Jacob Holmes – federal vice president (ECS)
  • Simon Collins – federal president (Musicians)
  • Patricia Amphlett – federal president
  • Chris Warren – federal secretary – against direct election of Federal Secretary

NSW Branch

Media division

  • Greg Miskelly – branch president – in favour of direct election of Federal Secretary
  • Jane Worthington – branch vice president
  • Marcus Strom – branch secretary – in favour of direct election of Federal Secretary
  • Amy Corderoy – in favour of direct election of Federal Secretary
  • Lindsay Foyle
  • Alan Kennedy – against direct election of Federal Secretary
  • Seumas Phelan – against direct election of Federal Secretary
  • Peter Ryan
  • Jenny Tarran
  • Leigh Tonkin
  • David Higgins
  • Narelle Hooper

Equity division

  • Tina Bursill – branch president
  • Chloe Dallimore – branch vice president
  • Roy Billing
  • Amanda Bishop
  • Mitchell Butel
  • Helen Dallimore
  • Matt Day
  • Glenn Hazeldine
  • Verity Hunt-Ballard
  • Robert Jago
  • Lorna Lesley
  • Jonathan Mill – against direct election of Federal Secretary
  • Gus Murray
  • Geoff Morrell
  • Fiona Press
  • Eamon Farren (permanent alternate)

ECS Division

  • David Turnbull – branch president
  • Milojka Garovic – branch vice president
  • Will Gregory
  • Scott Smith
  • Arthur Spink


  • Leon Gaer – branch president
  • Darren Heinrich

Victorian Branch


  • Ben Butler – branch vice president
  • Jane Canaway
  • Wayne Flower
  • Dennis Manktelow
  • Alana Schetzer – in favour of direct election of Federal Secretary
  • Jeff Waters – in favour of direct election of Federal Secretary


  • Abbe Holmes – branch president
  • Bert Labonte – branch vice president
  • Robyn Arthur
  • Alan Fletcher
  • Liam McIlwain


  • Susan Marriott – branch vice-president
  • David Haidon
  • Pat Shaw


  • Tania Hardy-Smith

Elected Official

  • Louise Connor – branch secretary – in favour of direct election of Federal Secretary



  • Terry O’Connor – branch president
  • Leo Bowman – branch vice-president
  • Trevor Hockins
  • Emily MacDonald
  • Quentin Dempster
  • Kathy McLeish
  • Joshua Robertson


  • Carol Burns – acting branch president
  • Kerith Atkinson – branch vice president
  • Jason Klarwein


  • Luke Stone – branch president



  • Samela Harris – branch president
  • Kirsty Nancarrow
  • Tim Lloyd


  • Patrick Frost – branch president
  • Elizabeth Hay

Elected Officials

  • Ashley Knight – branch president
  • Angelique Ivanica – branch secretary



  • Martin Turner – branch president
  • Victoria Laurie – branch vice president
  • Martin Saxon
  • Emma Wynne


  • Stuart Halusz – branch president


  • Matthew Nankivell – branch president


  • Cameron Brook – branch president


  • A. Mark Thomas – branch president
  • Angela Rattray


  • Don Cumming – branch president
  • Michael White – branch secretary


  • Michael White – branch secretary

It’s important that in rushing to solve one problem, MEAA doesn’t create even more headaches for itself. This is an important decision, worthy of proper debate. Let’s not rush to implement an old model that hasn’t worked in the past.


One comment

  1. The main reason for suggesting this change was not solely to “make it easier to sack them”, but more to ensure candidates are chosen for their leadership skills and track record, rather than for their ability to mobilise support within an often limited group of members who are get involved in the union at this level. On this score, I can see its merits.
    After all, we need people who can run a multi-million dollar operation.
    However, a less publicised component of this reform is to replace elected officials at the head of state branches with appointed officers, chosen by … the CEO of course.
    My main concern is that any incumbent CEO (or President) can surround themselves with ‘friendly forces’ that are unlikely to challenge their position, methodology or behaviour, because they are dependent on that person for ongoing employment.
    Elected officials may be more challenging for a CEO/president to work with, but they will bring a range of different backgrounds and will still be answerable to members in different states – and are more likely to represent the interests of those states/branches/members than an anonymous person in Sydney whose only allegiance is to their boss.
    This has already been partly enacted but it is an issue I feel more strongly about.
    Jane Canaway

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