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CA ANZ should ‘stick to your own lane’ on the Voice

Regulation

Members have slammed the body’s support for the referendum proposal as beyond its remit and “outrageously presumptuous”.

By Philip King 11 minute read

CA ANZ’s advocacy for the Voice has been met with reactions ranging from disappointment to anger with “stick to your own lane” an indicative comment on yesterday’s report, “You’re the voice and CA ANZ understands it”.

In the wake of last weekend’s referendum on the proposal, which was voted down by 61 per cent of Australians, the accounting body reaffirmed its commitment to “walking with Australia’s First Nation’s people” and said it was natural for any organisation to have a “variety of views”.

But comments on the report pushed back with some readers questioning whether the accounting body should be actively campaigning for any position.

Robert Pitt, formerly of Mazars Brisbane and now principal of Brisbane-based Orb Accounting, said he had been “very disappointed with their stance and activism throughout the lead-up to the referendum”.

“I fail to understand how this advocacy fits within their purview of supporting the members and their professional endeavours,” he said.

It was a point also made by Malcolm Harris, managing director of Stapleton Tax & Accounting.

“The membership body shouldn’t be involved in the political arena, stick to your own lane.” 

David Luttrell, director of Essential Tax and Accounting in Melbourne, went further and called CA ANZ’s stance “outrageously presumptuous” and “misleading”.

“It's not the job of any organisation (CA ANZ, AFL, Qantas, etc) to take a position on any political or social issue,” he said. “That includes flying flags, painting airplanes, posting statements on the organisation's website and making public pronouncements on the issue.”

“Doing so implies they speak on behalf of all members and employees, which is outrageously presumptuous and disgracefully misleading.”

“Individual board members can take whatever position they like, but don't transplant your personal views onto an organisation that represents over 100,000 members many of whom may strongly disagree with your position.”

“At a time when trust, respect, and faith in CA ANZ leadership is marching backwards at a rapid rate the leadership have now, potentially, further alienated +60 per cent of its membership base. Do your job and keep your opinions to yourself.”

Don Walter, partner at Walter Allen Hall in Sydney, also felt the body had gone beyond its charter and seized upon one CA ANZ response to Accountants Daily questions on the matter.

“Taking positions about issues such as the Voice is beyond the remit of the organisation. Saying, ‘We aren't telling members how to vote’ is sheer arrogance.”

The body’s charter outlines its principal objects in Section 3 and Section 4 describes its “Ancilliary objects and powers”:

“(a) to implement and carry into effect, upon such terms and in such manner as CA ANZ may consider appropriate, steps to enable the accountancy profession so far as practicable to speak with a united voice on matters of professional, national and international importance …”

In the run-up to CA ANZ’s AGM this week, more than one commentator suggested its “united voice” failed to represent members.

“Couldn't be more out of touch with members if you tried,” said Toni Angelevski, principal of Acnode Corporate Accounting. “So disappointing.”

The managing director of Melbourne-based Complete View Super, Chris Vocale, said CA ANZ’s position ran directly counter to the referendum result and drew attention to its public standing.

“I think CA ANZ ought to be careful when 62 per cent of people said they don’t support this view. Best you respect the broader public.”

Sydney-based Chris Bloxham of Solve Accounting said he had repeatedly contacted CA ANZ with concerns about its “virtue signalling” and claimed it was running a virtual AGM “so they don’t have to face me and other angry members”.

In a letter yesterday to CA ANZ vice-president Tinashe Kamangira, obtained by Accountants Daily, he highlighted a key criticism of the Voice by No campaigners and said the body’s advocacy would backfire.

“This is yet another situation where elites are forcing their bubble views onto everyone else as to what is best for real Aboriginal people on the ground in Lingiari,” he said.

“When the public (or rank-and-file coalface members of this institute like me) sees privileged people pushing their view that structural, permanent racial segregation in Australia is the way forward to ‘bring us all together’, it makes them sick.

“It will force more ATSI [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander] people to not want to join this hypocritical, top-down profession.” 

Accountants Daily contacted CA ANZ for comment and was referred back to its response yesterday on the issues raised.

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Philip King

Philip King

AUTHOR

Philip King is editor of Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Philip joined the titles in March 2022 and brings extensive experience from a variety of roles at The Australian national broadsheet daily, most recently as motoring editor. His background also takes in spells on diverse consumer and trade magazines.

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