Who listens to SCG members?

At Midday on Tuesday, 27th May 2014 time runs out for Sydney Cricket Ground Trust members to ‘have their say’ on which of the 29 candidates wins either of the 2 member elected positions up for grabs on the Trust. However Members need to get their votes sent well before that date if they are to be received in the post in time to be counted by the above deadline if they want to be heard.

Only 2 Seats (out of a total 15) are elected by SCG Members who account for more than 30% of the SCG trust revenue via their subscriptions according to analysis performed by Sam Shepherd who is one of the 29 candidates running.

At face value this would appear disproportionately low which makes it even more important to make votes count given the growing call for a better offering for the Rural and City members alike.

However, as voting is voluntary, only 3 to 4 thousand of the 18,000+ eligible members actually participate in what ultimately decides who will represent them for the 4 years that lie ahead.

If social media is to be believed, members focus their angst on parking, catering, seating and many other off field elements but if people are not passionate enough to vote in the election now, then complaining for the next 4 years if they do not get what they want will sound pretty hollow.

General consensus among the candidates is that the members want the various elements in the “off field” offering at live events to improve which incorporates the match day experience from the time you arrive at the ground to the time you leave. Rural members also deserve greater consideration given they cannot get to the ground as often but when 75% of members do not bother to vote, it begs the question as to why?

Apathy, disenchantment, protest, oversight are all possible reasons for the low participation but progress has been made since 2010 and dialogue descending into a “them versus us” argument is unhelpful when considering you may very well end up having to work with the person you were highly critical of before the election result was known.

The shear number of candidates running along with a preferential voting system mean virtually anyone can win that critical second spot. It is pivotal that we have genuine member representation again this time to build on the work done over the last few years.

There is not much separating a win from a loss in the voting either and who gets second is where it is most intriguing because this is where the preferences come into play.

This was proven in 2010 when James McNally became the first non-international appointment with just 363 primary votes and third place behind Stuart MacGill whom he ultimately beat once the all important preferences were allocated.

This goes to show that no one candidate is guaranteed and if you come second irrespective of profile you are at the mercy of preferences. It could be argued that those with a profile may be vulnerable to people thinking that their vote may not be needed as I raised with Phil Waugh when we spoke. I was also amused to hear that he too had queued up with family and friends to make entry just like the rest of us attending the last Waratah’s home match so he is far more in touch with ordinary members then some give him credit. Phil voiced all the same issues that the other candidates raised and the importance he places on being validated by the members themselves in his appointment and this means they have to vote for him.

Running a campaign is hard on the candidates for sure, but making an informed choice is harder still when you know very little about those running.

As much as I have tried, my own limited reach to the candidates has meant I have not been able to speak to everyone. Mind you if there is no way of contacting them on the candidate sheet, how effective will they be at absorbing member feedback?

Perhaps this lack of contact details is a signal as to whether they will be representing members at all after the vote is cast. Maybe they are just not online. I guess that is for the voter to decide.

There are just 4 lines of text to explain what each of the individual Candidates believe a voter should know about them and no matter how succinct the text is, I maintain that it has got to be inadequate.

Some candidates have been quite creative in using limericks, website links, player and work CVs all aimed to quickly illustrate their leadership histories whilst declarations of passion-a-plenty are almost mandatory for all. Others simply resubmitted an edited version of the same 4 lines from their failed 2010 campaigns maybe hoping this time the lottery of preferences falls their way on the day.

This is all very well to temporarily catch attention but are they listening to members over the longer term?

29 Names is a lot, and being clever in 4 lines of text is a far cry from putting in the time in the 4 years ahead to achieve a productive outcome?

How are we supposed to decide with only that!

I have the following criteria I am using to decide my vote:

  • What are their motives for running?
  • Do they have influence?
  • Do they have relevant expertise?
  • Do they have a broader plan?
  • Are they accessible and do they respond?
  • Are they familiar with the current membership experience?
  • Can they relate to both Rural and City members?
  • What is their availability for the role.
  • How regularly do they attend the ground.
  • Do I think they can do it?

This list is not exhaustive but you get the picture.

Now it is not easy to know where to go to find answers to these questions if you do not know the candidates personally and if you invest everything into one candidate and they lose what good is that which got me to thinking – why not back them all;

“Rather than have 2 winners surface as 27 losers retire to relative obscurity for another 4 years, wouldn’t be better if we all communicated together from now and over the next 4 years to get behind our 2 newly anointed champions (whoever they are) and reinforce the mandate they have when they meet the other 13 trustees? Sure compete now but after the event back the winners to the hilt!”

Having closely read the candidates information sheets and spoken at length with many of them now I can see they are all ostensibly coming from the same place; A deep desire to improve conditions for members.

Some are doing (and will continue to do) this work whether they are elected or not if events such as the Bradman dinner organised by candidate Andrew McKay from Dubbo.

The city of Dubbo boasts more than 10% of those running which gives an inkling of how passionate the rural members are about making their mark here.

One thing is clear, the winners of these positions must be available and able to  influence all the relevant stakeholders (including those that are on the Trust already). They need to be open to continually listen to and be accessible by the ordinary members in order to represent this diverse group over the tenure of the appointment.

This criteria narrows the list considerably in my view.

As Candidates are not allowed access to member records nor are they allowed to distribute materials on SCG grounds, the ability to reach the right people is reduced further still. This places emphasis on candidates with a profile but only where that profile is open to member interest and dialogue.

Lessons learned from Australian politicians in such contests is to the “play the man” but I would argue that this is not one of those times where this helps members needs best.

It was here that I arrived at the conclusion there needed to be a forum to collate all the information in one place and allow the history from 2010 to be built on rather than lost in all the commotion and people to arrive at their own conclusion.

The result is the “SCGvotes website“.

This website lists ALL the candidates in one place, with any relevant articles on offer so that members can  make a more informed decision and post comments in response to various topics that are being discussed. I also reblog candidates posts to help promote voting and hopefully increase visibility to increase participation.

It also gives the candidates a chance to dispel the myths that are bandied around at this time. With some help from the other candidates we may break through those misconceptions.

The site includes specific voting instruction for those members that may have for whatever reason not got a ballot paper which requires some time for new papers to be posted and returned by the deadline, rural members better get a wriggle on this week to make sure their vote is counted.

The Election is managed by the Electoral Commission of NSW and I spoke with Diana at their office who was very helpful her detailed instructions are contained on the site as well.

Voting packs were sent out at the beginning of May for members to submit by post and it is anticipated many of these will already be returned though it is anticipated that a late flurry will be received at the deadline.

“It is for these late voters that this post is intended but even more for the 14,000 that did not vote last time. This is a real opportunity to vote in one of our own with an undeniable majority to champion our cause”

For this reason I welcome all members (including future members on the 12 year waiting list as well) to access the site and make your views known.

The Membership at the SCG is not just for the elite as some would have you believe. Many die hard fans save up for their “Season ticket” and look forward to seeing old friends at this one great meeting place.

I have been a members for 30 years now and I will not let this opportunity pass by and I encourage any of the many guests I have taken out there to post comments to show your support.

Furthermore, this website will remain publicly available to remind us what people stood for and what people value for the eventual officeholders when they are appointed.

SCGvotes is the ONLY centralised website offering a platform to find out more about the candidates and promote participation in this is our ONLY say in how the Trust is operated. It is updated constantly so take a look!

Join me and the other candidates that have already contributed feedback and links to help make this a better place by posting your own comments. I can see there is a lot of traffic going to the site so do not be shy, post a comment while you stop by!

Please share this post to encourage people to vote.

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