The Corporations Act permits members to request a copy of the members’ register, but associations are not required by law to provide email addresses, which hindered CPA members mobilising corporate governance protests.
There was support — particularly from South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon — to include email addresses on the register throughout a Senate hearings process, but the committee is “adamant” that there would be various unintended consequences, including privacy concerns.
The committee received 13 submissions, and two made particular note of corporate governance concerns at Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.
One CA member, Gerald Jaworski, believes his communication with CAs is held back because he cannot access the email addresses of fellow members.
“My chief concern is that CAANZ leadership has adopted the CPA practice of ignoring legitimate and significant issues raised by members. Instead of upholding values of transparency and full disclosure, members experience misleading communications, stonewalling and denial. A culture of belligerence seems to prevail from the board down to senior management,” Mr Jaworski said.
“The few fellow CAs who share knowledge of the current situation find it disturbing. However, without the availability of the email facility under the proposed new measure, it is practically not feasible to share such concerns with all fellow CAs who would be interested,” he said.
Another CA member, Con Abbott, raised general concerns about the corporate governance of professional accounting associations, and suggested the committee consider evaluating the governance of the peak professional bodies, focusing on the accountability of directors to their memberships.
Mr Abbott’s suggestion was outside the scope of this particular inquiry, however, the committee has put professional associations on notice.
“If further concerns about the corporate governance of more professional organisations emerge, a more comprehensive investigation may be warranted,” its report said.
At this stage, the committee said it is unclear how widely-held the concerns are.
You can read more about the Senate hearings process here.