Motorcycling Australia (MA) President Tania Lawrence inaugural address to members

There has been some great news this week with the announcement of our partnership with Troy Bayliss Events to secure the Australian Superbike Series for next three years, and a trifecta achievement with our Australian ISDE men joining our women and juniors as World Enduro Champions.  

Troy Bayliss and Motorcycling Australia board member Peter Goddard announce the future direction of the Australian Superbike Championship together at the Sydney Motorcycle Show
Troy Bayliss and Motorcycling Australia board member Peter Goddard announce the future direction of the Australian Superbike Championship together at the Sydney Motorcycle Show

While perhaps less exciting, behind the scenes there has also been a lot of activity to drive a new strategic focus and deliver high performance outcomes for motorcycling across Australia.

Whilst future Board reports will focus on the growth of our sport and progress against our strategic plan, this report it intended to give you an update on some of the key organisational changes we have progressed since our recent appointment.   

Introducing the new MA Board

Our first four Board members, appointed by the Motorcycle Australia Council (comprising State and Territory representatives), met at MA headquarters in Melbourne on 10 August.  Our appointments were made on the basis of significant and varied professional experience that we bring to the MA table:

  • John Bolitho – 35 years of legal and insurance expertise,
  • Michael Strano – 30 years and Logie award winning media and communications experience,
  • Leanne Knowles – 25 years of change management and stakeholder engagement expertise, and
  • myself, Tania Lawrence –  over 15 years senior level government and international corporate strategy and risk management experience.
Tania Lawrence having the honour of accepting awards on behalf of Australia's world-conquering 2015 International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) teams.
Tania Lawrence having the honour of accepting awards on behalf of Australia’s world-conquering 2015 International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) teams.

Within a matter of weeks the Board was delighted to appoint the following additional members to the team:

  • Steve James with 25 years financial management experience; and
  • Peter Goddard with over 30 years Australian and International motorcycling racing and industry experience.

Over and above our specialist knowledge, all six of us have a great passion for motorcycling.  We are avid riders with practical grassroots, competition and recreational riding experience.

Initial focus

In the first four weeks of our appointment to the Board, our focus was to gain an understanding of the financial situation and governance status of MA.  Disappointingly, neither was at an acceptable nor expected standard.

The Australian Sports Commission, who recognises MA as the governing authority for motorcycling in Australia and our grants partner, undertook its own independent review and arrived at the same conclusion.  Their report will be released in the near future. 

It is neither constructive nor helpful to attribute blame.  Instead, with Jeremy Kann our Acting CEO (following the resignation of former CEO Dale Gilson), we have applied our focus to set up a system that will avoid the same issues occurring in the future and ensure our organisation and our sport is sustainable into the future.

Governance Improvements

The Board has introduced a number of governance initiatives including:

1.          Setting up a Conflict of Interest and Gift Register. 

The MA Federation, including the State Controlling Bodies are now working to a strict Conflicts of Interest Policy.  Anyone wishing to do business with MA should understand that we expect full transparency and disclosure of interests so that any conflicts can be managed appropriately.  If you are currently in a decision making role in our sport, be it voluntary or otherwise, and are directly or indirectly benefiting from the sport financially, then you should immediately contact MA to seek advice on how to manage the potential conflict, or you should remove yourself from the conflict.

The new Board also has zero tolerance for any form of bribery and corruption – no back room deals or looking after mates will be tolerated – ethical governance and accountability are not negotiable.   

2.          Establishing a Board Risk and Audit Committee. 

MA has now developed very defined responsibilities for the management of both internal risks to MA and more broadly in the conduct of our sport.  In the past there have been unacceptable differences in approaches to the management of risk across venues and within motorcycling disciplines around the country.  These differences could have potentially lead to catastrophic consequences for our riders and officials.  MA has a responsibility to ensure that our sport’s reputation is held in high regard and can defend itself when challenged by Coronial and other government processes. 

MA is now working very closely with our insurance arm MA Insurance Ltd (MAIL), and with the States, to promote a standardised risk management approach in Australia. 

3.          Establishing a Board Nominations and Remuneration Committee. 

This Board Committee is responsible for recommending the recruitment of key personnel for MA including our CEO.  It also has accountability for performance management of the CEO and senior position holders within MA.  In this way we will be able to ensure a high performance culture is in place from the top down. 

4.          Financial

There has been a fair bit of housekeeping undertaken within MA itself to get the accounting records and processes back to an acceptable standard and to ensure a sustainable financial future for our organisation. 

It has been disconcerting and disappointing to realise just how many important stakeholders have been let down over the years with delays to payments on monies owed.  Acting CEO Jeremy Kann and his team have been working with the Board to address these shortcomings.

We anticipate that by year-end MA will be back in good financial standing.  Regrettably, it is possible that the bottom line will suffer as a consequence and programs for 2016 may need to be revised or even curtailed to return to a positive balance sheet position.   

Insurance Initiatives

Following the resignation of Mr David White, we appointed Director John Bolitho as our representative on the MA Insurance Ltd (MAIL) Board.  We recognise and thank David for his important role in establishing MAIL and his contribution to the sport over many years. 

New insurance developments include:

  • A new information product on the MAIL insurance offering is about to be launched.
  • Family travel support cover is now available
  • Rider income protection, as recommended by the Whole of Sport Review, will be available to our members early in the New Year.
  • Different approaches to claims management are now in place aimed to generate savings from reduced legal fees and time taken to resolve cases.
  • A more streamlined process for claims acceptance and efficient accounting between MA, MAIL and Proclaim has been put in place.
  • In cooperation with FIM, improvements to international rider insurance coverage and repatriation cover with the aim of making it more realistic.
Strategic Developments

The Board has also spent the past three months engaging with International and State motorcycling bodies, government departments and industry opening up a refreshed dialogue.  The objective is to work together to achieve common goals for the support and growth of motorcycling and motorcycle sport in Australia.  Examples of this relationship building include:

  • renewed relationships with FIM, its Commissions and Unions enabling a raft of new international championships across all disciplines and events for recreational riders to be held in Australia
  • a new strategic relationship with DORNA, who are keen to help us develop our Junior Development Program to ensure it is world class;
  • meetings with State and Federal Ministers and road safety bodies with a commitment being extended to engage with MA as the advocate for motorcyclists;
  • introductory meetings with key industry and manufacturer representatives. We look forward to better understanding the key drivers and issues for industry and manufactures and partnering to drive the direction  future of our sport;
  • the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, where we are working collaboratively to build an even stronger Australian competitor contingent in future events;
  • meetings with CAMS and other sport stakeholders to ensure we are taking a holistic approach to the growth of our sport and are applying best practice.

The Board is also pleased with the commitment from the State Controlling Bodies and agreement to a new Mission “Ride, Race, Enjoy”, a new Vision and Values Statement.  In the spirit of collaboration and teamwork we will very soon holding the third in our workshop series with the States and Territory bodies to agree on the detail for our strategic plan to create greater value and opportunities for our members.  I look forward to sharing the results of that workshop in the next report.

Our Future

We are now ready to recruit for a new CEO.  Jeremy Kann, our Acting CEO, has done a tremendous job in bringing the organisation to a state where a new incumbent can pick up and drive home the reforms we are looking to achieve in 2016.  It will be an exciting role for the lucky person and we look forward to interviewing and making an announcement on the position soon. 

On the matter of sport – our primary purpose for being – the MA calendar for 2016 has been released with the support of the Commissions and State bodies. 

In 2016 we will be working to simplify the MOMS, licensing and permitting, building our volunteer base and driving a new junior program, to ensure maximum participation at the lowest cost in the most brilliant and exciting sport on the planet. 

We all want to ensure motorcycling is fun and inclusive.  Our vision is centred on creating world-class opportunities for our members whilst supporting grass root participation across disciplines.  Our six agreed core values will form the basis of all we do.  Be on the look-out as we rebrand and launch this ‘new look’ across Australia. 

Ride, Race, Enjoy!

Tania Lawrence  – President Motorcycling Australia