The New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters Incorporated
A Policy Statement by NZART Council (revised 1996)
Members will be aware of the requirement in paragraph 27 of the Association Constitution that Branches must not admit to membership persons who hold an amateur station licence, but who are not members of the Association. Over the years there have been attempts to repeal or modify these provisions, but successive National Conferences have made it quite clear that members will have none of it.
The rationale for this Constitutional provision is that it provides at least one way in which non-members can be denied the privileges which membership of the Association brings. We can not stop our non-member brethren enjoying some benefits - such as the negotiations the Association conducts with the licensing authorities, the use of repeaters, and the enjoyment of the benefits of which bandplans bring. Council is firmly of the view that it is unfair to those that do pay their subscriptions if the lot of non-members is made easier by the ready availability of member's privileges which the Association is, in fact, able to withhold.
Further, the Association has to take into account the feelings of its many voluntary workers, who devote many hours to Association matters, and, in addition, pay their subscriptions as well. These persons have even greater cause to complain if the Association makes benefits available to non-members who do not contribute to these benefits by at least joining the Association and paying a subscription.
It is disturbing to Council to find that some Branches not only fail to have regard to their Constitutional obligations by ensuring that licensed amateurs who are not Association members do not join the Branch, but even have as Branch Officers persons who are licensed amateurs but not members of the Association. This is clearly unconstitutional.
If an Officer is not an Association member, but is a licensed amateur, then there is a breach of the Association Constitution. This should also be a breach of the Branch Constitution - if it is not, the Branch Constitution is faulty and must be brought into line. (See the Association's Constitution, paragraph 27.)
Regrettably there are one or two clubs that indulge in a fiction - they attempt to evade their responsibilities to NZART, whether arising under paragraph 27 or otherwise, by purporting to distinguish between the local club and the NZART branch. This fiction ignores the realities, and is not acceptable. The reality is that the local club itself is the NZART branch, and the branch constitution must be changed to reflect this commitment to NZART if that is necessary.
Any attempt (for that it all it is ) to circumvent the Association Constitution by resorting to this fiction is unfair to the local NZART members, other NZART members, and the Association itself.
Relationship between Branches and the Association
Sometimes, Branch members criticise these rules, often using catch phrases such as "breach of human rights", or "interference with independent clubs". These provisions of the Association Constitution are nothing of the sort. They are part of the contract that members make when they join the Association.
By applying to become or by remaining an Association Branch, the Clubs or Branches surrender their independence to the extent required to conform with the Association's Constitution. Branches are expected to keep their houses in order; if they are not prepared to do this, then they should prepare to surrender their status as a Branch. There is nothing in the Human Rights Act to prevent the Association and its branches from discriminating between members and non-members.
Whose job is it to be the policeman?
The answer is- nobody's and everybody's. The Association's Constitution does not specifically charge Council or any Officer with the task of enforcement. So long as we remain members. we are all parties to the contract represented by the constitution and we each individually have that responsibility. If a Branch is incorporated in its own right, then the branch in its corporate capacity also has that duty.
Hardship is not a ground for failing to become an Association member. Association subscriptions can be remitted under paragraph 7e of the Association Constitution and Council will authorise this where there is genuine hardship. But Council's experience has been that the genuine hardship is rare indeed.
Many claims of hardship over the years have been found not to be genuine.
Application for this concession should be made in person by the member. Council will then usually discretely seek further information from the Branch. Council would expect there would be no more that a half a dozen cases throughout the country at any one time. The privacy of the applicant is respected by ensuring that as few persons as possible within the Association are aware of the application.
Why Are We Telling You This Now
Council has never said anything else. But there are now some situations which create special problems for the Association. The Association enters into contracts with public corporations and SOEs relating to right of entry to land for the siting of repeaters. These contracts recognise potential liabilities and require the Association as a condition of the contract to take public liability insurance which could be up to $2 million or more.
This insurance will be taken on terms which will extend to protect both the Association and individual members. Naturally, the corporations we are dealing with take comfort in this insurance, as they know that while the insurance is in place the Association has the indemnities required to meet any claims.
This means that to come within the Association's cover, individuals must be members, as the Association has no intention of paying additional premiums to insure against the actions of non-members. If an individual incurs liability as agent of the Association, then that individual must be a member to take the benefit of any cover the Association arranges.
The Association will not appoint non-members as its agents, as this would nullify the insurance cover. As branches have responsibility with the Association for repeaters, Branch Officers are required to be Association members. This is no more than the Constitutional requirement. Because of these matters, Council will, in future, have to be more active in seeing that the Constitution is observed. As the appointment of repeater trustees is an Association matter, even if exercised through Branches, repeater trustees must also be members.
This, likewise, is a necessary consequence of the provisions of the Constitution. Council, in future, will have to ensure that repeater trustees are Association members, not only because this is a Constitutional requirement, but also to ensure that the persons responsible for the operation of repeaters have adequate insurance cover to meet the requirements of our contracts with the public corporations.
Take action now to ensure that your Branch complies with the Association Constitution. Your Councillor will help you with advice as required.
This policy statement was first published in the August 1990 Break-In .
It is now reissued in a slightly revised form.
NZART Council February 1996