27 March 2020
The purpose of this communication is to keep you informed of WestCycle’s position with respect to AusCycling, the outcome from the Cycling Australia (CA) SGM earlier today to wind up Cycling Australia and establish AusCycling, anticipated next steps at a National and State level, and what this means for you. Whilst todays meeting was specifically focusing on Cycling Australia, the subsequent next steps across all of cycling in Western Australia are relevant as well.
First and foremost, WestCycle and the State Government remain committed to achieving the optimal model to advance cycling in Western Australia. After careful consideration and protracted discussions with AusCycling proponents on a ‘partnership model’, WestCycle reached a view that the proposed AusCycling model did not meet this objective. WestCycle therefore voted ‘no’ to the resolutions proposed at the CA SGM, in keeping with our position to date. The resolutions put forward at the Cycling Australia SGM did not pass and we explain what this now means below.
Partnership Proposal – where did we land?
The possible partnership with AusCycling was approached with a view to maintaining the integrity of what is going well in WA, whilst capitalising on the benefits of AusCycling. Throughout January and February, meetings and correspondence occurred to identify what this model might look like. WestCycle proposed framework principles for the partnership to be based upon. It was felt that if we could align on these aspects of a partnership, all other parts would naturally flow into a sensible outcome. At the heart of the proposal was a requirement for Western Australia to remain as a ‘federated’ state, with an independent organisation – we see this model as important in terms of principle but also critical to ensure that State Government funding requirements are met Other principles covered, in summary: strategy development, governance and voting rights, assets and financial, ensuring ongoing State government funding to cycling, and possible future transition to AusCycling and staffing. It had been hoped that a compromise position could be reached by the scheduled CA SGM. Unfortunately, the response from AusCycling indicated fundamental misalignment with WestCycle’s position, and/or did not contain sufficient detail to be considered in any meaningful way. In view of the time and effort that had expended to reach that point, WestCycle made a considered decision to indefinitely postpone any further discussion so as to re-focus WestCycle’s efforts where they belong – on the Western Australian cycling community.
Re-iteration of WestCycle’s position
WestCycle has not taken its decision to exercise a ‘no’ vote to AusCycling lightly. In addition to our direct discussions with AusCycling proponents, we have spent countless hours talking with multiple stakeholders and State government to assess the pros and cons of the AusCycling proposal. We have researched other sports that have gone through a similar change. For example, Golf Australia, which has recently transitioned to a hybrid unitary model, recorded a loss $1.4 million last financial year. This effectively halved the equity in the organisation. Cycling cannot afford this same mistake. We have pulled apart every detail of the AusCycling proposal and remain convinced that it represents a step backwards for cycling in Western Australia. Our underlying mantra has always been and remains:
“WestCycle must support the best structure and model that promotes the interests of cycling in Western Australia”.
Constitutionally we are bound to this statement, and are satisfied we have responded accordingly.
Next Steps – National Level
It is our understanding that AusCycling may be established between Mountain Bike Australia and BMX Australia without Cycling Australia. We believe that the earliest date for this to occur would not be until October or later. We note that the AusCycling model proposed was built upon all National Bodies and all State Bodies transferring assets, including cash, to AusCycling. In the AusCycling documentation provided it is stated:
“If one or two States elected not to join AusCycling it would still proceed although the speed of rollout of additional services may vary depending on the size of the state(s) that did not join.”
Our understanding is that there are presently 5 State bodies and one national body electing not to join AusCycling. To date, according to our estimations, the State organisations that have voted NO represent 40% of the opening asset balance. Further to that, we understand that the approximate $2.5 million promised from Sport Australia is still not guaranteed (and under the current economic climate, we expect potentially even more unlikely).
This means that AusCycling, to the extent it proceeds, will by our estimate be established on a very questionable financial foundation. It also means that many of the services and promises that have been made may not now be realistic. For example, we expect that the license costs promoted throughout the national AusCycling roadshow will need to be recalculated based on the present national environment, and these licenses may not be multi-discipline licenses without Cycling Australia’s involvement. And further, we believe that the AusCycling financial model as presented does not properly assess funds ear-marked for specific purposes such as the construction of BMX facilities but rather presents these as available for the new organisation to spend generally – something which we believe is clearly problematic and not in the interests of the local clubs and organisations that have worked hard to fund-raise for specific goals.
A note on road and track
Although votes at the CA SGM did not meet the required threshold to wind up Cycling Australia, we believe that AusCycling proponents are planning a campaign to entice individual clubs of ‘no’ States (ie. NSW, Tasmania and Western Australia) to abandon their State bodies and affiliate directly with AusCycling. This would indirectly achieve the same ultimate end objective, to wind up Cycling Australia. Not only would this circumvent well established governance and democratic processes, but this kind of divisive approach threatens the unity of cycling within States at a time when our communities need it most. We have written to Sport Australia; the Federal Sports Minister and WA Sports Minister expressing our dismay and urge Western Australian clubs and other stakeholders to be mindful of the importance of remaining united as a group of Western Australian cycling organisations. Please reach out to us if you would like further information about that correspondence.
We also need to be candid here in relation to cycling locally. We recognise that an attempt by AusCycling to entice individual clubs to affiliate directly has some level of attraction within the WA cycling community. And more, some of the frustrations locally that we believe have led to this idea being examined are valid. For example, the high level of scrutiny and discussion around governance, voting rights and board composition within the AusCycling proposal (all of which are bad for Western Australia) have also highlighted gaps in WestCycle’s governance structure. WestCycle, in pulling together an organisation that now encompasses ALL of cycling in WA has not yet arrived at the ideal governance model for the organisation it has evolved into. It’s been a ten-year journey and we are still in the process of evolving. While WestCycle has implemented robust engagement through the Advisory Groups, and are proud of what is being achieved in that space, we acknowledge there are improvements to be made. In particular, we recognise that individual clubs do not currently have voting rights within WestCycle, and that this needs to change. A review that we expect will result in the constitution being revised to address this is currently underway, alongside other ‘next steps’ discussed below.
Next Steps – Western Australia
WestCycle remains 100% committed to realising model for Western Australia, that maintains independence, local decision making and financial autonomy.
It is important to frame all our work right now by saying that our immediate priority is supporting our clubs, members, the broader riding community and Western Australian businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic. These are incredibly challenging times for many people and we are committed to making sure we support those that are doing it tough. The State Government is committed to ensuring the ongoing success of cycling in Western Australia and I can confirm that WestCycle remains financially viable.
Behind the scenes, please rest assured that we are still hard at work looking into a range of options to ensure the robustness of the Western Australian cycling community well into the future.
- Future WestCycle as a standalone body. As an independent and robust State body, WestCycle is in a strong position to provide a compelling alternative for the progression of cycling in Western Australia to the proposed AusCycling model, and are actively working on what this will look like. This is likely to include a cheaper membership/license that is relevant across all disciplines and organisations, whilst still providing options for those wanting to compete nationally. One of the obvious areas of license duplication of membership and insurance between current CA clubs and West Coast Masters. This is an area that AusCycling does not address and we are considering ways to resolve this. We have a strong relationship with West Coast Masters, who are already a Member of WestCycle and we all want to see this area improved. For BMX Sports WA Members, WestCycle and BMX WA are discussing potential models as well, and again we believe that we have compelling options for discussion.
- Governance structure. The importance of these changes is noted above. This is being worked up as a stream of work involved in the ‘Future Independent WestCycle’ model discussed above
- Strategic review. In addition, this year we are also embarking on a process of engaging with all of our members and stakeholders on developing a strategic plan for cycling in Western Australia for the next 5 – 10 years.
In light of the current uncertainty and altered working arrangements due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we appreciate your understanding that some of our plans for stakeholder engagement have needed to change. Nonetheless, we expect to be in a position in coming weeks to present further details of our projects as outlined.
If the establishment of AusCycling does proceed, it is likely this will not occur until towards the end of the year. We would recommend anyone that has an existing MTBA; CA; BMXA license that is due to be renewed in the next six months to consider options of day licenses or other temporary options to avoid being locked in for an extended period given that the future of the three National Organisations is not yet clear. Please take into consideration your insurance requirements when making this decision though.
On a final note, clearly WA cycling needs to be an integral part of a healthy national cycling community and with a formal place within a national organisation. At the moment, the short-term path to this goal is unclear, but WestCycle as your representative and the range of important local WA stakeholders (State and Federal Government elected representatives in particular) remain focussed on this as the long-term goal.
Matt Fulton, CEO WestCycle