Motorcycling Australia (MA) operates under a federated (or ‘Traditional’) structure. States nominate delegates (Presidents) to represent them on the Council of this national sporting organisation. This means that the State/Territory Branches (or State Controlling Bodies) are the constitutional members of the Federation (‘Shareholders’) and their Council representatives play a key role in the appointment of the MA Board.

When one looks at Motorcycling Australia (MA) today and sees a reasonably asset rich organisation with MA owning its’ own office block and a number of states owning multiple properties in their portfolios you would be inclined on first look to say that its’ business operations cannot be far from the mark.

The five (5) strong states are all in a similar position with no shortage of income or reserves to inhibit growth. Following is a summary:

  • Motorcycling Victoria (MVIC) own their current office space and the office next door, and they are currently in the process of developing their Broadford site.
  • Motorcycling Queensland (MQLD) also own their own office space that is also an income earning asset by virtue of several tenants. They also own an adjoining block of land and are developing Queensland Motor Park.
  • Motorcycling NSW (MNSW) own a number of properties, including their office. They are also investing in the development of their Nowra site.
  • Motorcycling South Australia (MSA) own their current office.
  • Motorcycling Western Australia (MWA) own their office building.
  • Motorcycling NT (MANT) and Motorcycling Tasmania (MTAS) operate with a part time/casual administrator.

There are also considerable funds being held in the Motorcycling Australia Limited’s (MA’s) wholly owned captive, MA Insurance Limited (MAIL).

However, it could be argued that the organisation as a whole has been excessively careful with its’ income retention and investments for the future at the expense of the promotion of the sport and the servicing of its’ rider members. The reviewers were advised that collectively, SCBs have in excess of $20 million in assets and considerable cash in the bank.

Indeed, a closer examination reveals an organisation that has many impediments to growth and an organisation riddled with confused messages, poor decision-making as a result of poor governance, no clear plan and one that has reported several fiscal deficits over recent years. Obviously, the funding model is outdated when considerable funds are potentially available to address serious member concerns relating to the provision of basic infrastructure for members, riders and spectators.

The reviewers believe that by assisting MA clubs to provide the ‘basics’ (canteens and toilets), clubs will be better placed to generate additional income that will ultimately enable them to grow member numbers and provide a much more enjoyable experience for all those involved in the sport. The key question for all key decision-makers to address is whether the entire organisation (MA and SCBs) are prepared to utilise the considerable retained member profits to grow the sport!

Motorcycling Australia is slowly emerging from an era of purported autocratic management (and some would even use the word, domination) that exhibited all the typical traits of an autocracy, these being a lack of real consultation with grass roots participants; poor engagement with stakeholders; ineffective communication channels; a lack of trust between all parties; concerns over the transparency of decision- making; conflicts of interest; and a failure to provide adequate responses to questions in relation to financial management and concerns over the governance of the organisation.

Yet, as stated previously, MA and its State Branches (SCBs) have still managed to accumulate the nest egg of assets that one could argue, some of which could and should have been used to develop and promote the sport across the entire country. Certainly, jurisdictions such as Tasmania and NT would be major beneficiaries of any revenue-sharing model that would provide much needed assistance to those member bodies that are not in a position to accumulate the same level of funds and assets as the larger States. Interestingly, AFL power clubs such as Collingwood and Hawthorn (it was reported on 7 May 2015) could be forced to ‘pour millions into an equalisation superfund to assist the financial battlers.’

A large number of stakeholders indicated that many questions have been asked over the past 10 years, with many still remaining unanswered. As in other organisations where structure does not encourage proper governance, bad habits, poor decisions, a lack of due diligence and sloppy practices can ultimately become standard operating procedures.

This appears to be the case at MA. However, with new people at the helm at both a State and National level, there is a certain degree of optimism and strong commitment to a change agenda that can only benefit members and all stakeholders.

With a new President and CEO appointed in the last 12 months, it was felt that the time was right for MA to undertake a comprehensive ‘Whole of Sport Review’ (WoSR) to not only look at what has happened over the last few years but more importantly, to chart the way forward in a more strategic and measured way. Crucial to the future is putting in place a new centralised funding model that is equitable to MA members and provides funds for on ground delivery back to the clubs so that they can achieve long term financial sustainability.

Feedback from the vast majority of stakeholders (State Associations, Clubs, riders, promoters, parents, officials etc) has indicated that MA is currently not in a ‘good place’! The reputation of the national body is poor, there needs to be cultural change within the MA ‘family’ and the organisation needs to develop and then sell a clear but simple vision and associated strategic direction. This is starting to happen.

And, this must be fostered by getting MA head office resourced appropriately to properly service its’ members and State offices. The Review Panel were unanimous in their view that a funding model whereby most of the finances should be channeled into the National office to be utlised wisely on programs and resources to build the sport is the way forward to grow the sport. However, implementing this new model will rely heavily on the SCBs feeling confident that the Board and management can be trusted to expend funds in an equitable, transparent and responsible manner. This may take some time.

Another crucial factor for the future success of MA is a thoroughly reformed relationship between MA and the SCBs in relation to operations and funding. A more collaborative MA-SCB relationship is the most likely condition for future success and the source of the most innovative ideas to grow the sport.

During our examination of MA we found there is one glaring and obvious Fact: ‘Governance and management of the sport are not working effectively!’

Go to the next page for a summary of the issues and the reality of what is required to correct the current situation: