High profile CPA review panellist walks, scope of review released

Former defence chief Sir Angus Houston, who was set to chair an independent review into CPA Australia, has withdrawn from the panel effective immediately, as the association releases its review’s terms of reference.

In mid-June, CPA Australia’s board began establishing an independent panel to conduct a review of all claims made in relation to CPA Australia and make recommendations for practices moving forward.

Sir Angus was named chair at that time, but he has since withdrawn from the position, citing time constraints and his independence being publicly called into question.

“My independence to conduct such a review has been called into question because of my endorsement of 'The Naked CEO' and a television interview that I did with Alex Malley,” he said in a letter to CPA Australia’s president Jim Dickson, dated 26 June.

“After almost 20 years and some of the most testing of circumstances in public life my independence and integrity have never ever been an issue. I stand on my record,” he said.

However, Sir Angus said he did not want the review to be tarnished because of his involvement.

Former auditor-general for Australia, Ian McPhee AO PSM, will now chair the review. He was originally announced as a panellist on 16 June.

In the days since the review was announced, chief executive Alex Malley’s contract was terminated by the board.

Review underway

In a communication to members sent this afternoon, Mr Dickson announced both that the panel has been expanded and the review’s terms of reference have been broadened.

The panel is set to have its first meeting tomorrow, a spokesperson for CPA Australia told Accountants Daily.

Fellow of CPA Australia, Su McCluskey, has joined the panel as well as director of the Law Institute of Victoria, Maryjane Crabtree.

Chairman of the Law Committee of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Professor Bob Baxt AO, has been appointed to act as an adviser on governance.

The association said it will be engaging with members throughout the review process in an effort to create a governance framework that meets member expectations.

Mechanisms for communication with members is likely to be one of the items the panel discusses tomorrow, the spokesperson for CPA Australia said.

“We cannot allow questions of governance to go unanswered. Members, staff and the board all deserve a robust independent analysis of the questions and assertions that have been raised in recent times and CPA Australia eagerly awaits those findings,” Mr Dickson said.

CPA Australia advised that recommendations related to governance arrangements, including the association’s constitution, will be brought to the 2018 annual general meeting for consideration by members.

There is currently no date or location set for the 2018 annual general meeting. The 2017 meeting was held in Singapore on 27 April.

Timing of the final report is subject to the panel, however a preliminary report will be delivered to members by Friday, 15 September 2017.

The terms of reference, as foreshadowed in mid-June, include issues relating to corporate governance, particularly including the election of directors and the limits of their terms.

Remuneration will also be a key focus, including disclosures and compliance with the law, accounting standards and benchmarking processes.

Marketing strategy and expenditure will also be examined, on grounds of appropriateness, amongst other items.

The panel has been charged with reviewing claims raised by members and other stakeholders, assessing board and management compliance with the CPA Australia Constitution, by-laws and policies.

The panel will also be assessing whether the current constitution, by-laws and policies align with best practice and member expectations, and make recommendations for improvements where necessary.

 

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