When the CA vote - representing road and track racing within Australia - for AusCycling was held on March 27, 2020, the result was five states and territories for, and three states against. CT, CNSW and WestCycle (Western Australia's cycling body) were the 'no' vote, and the bylaws required a 75 per cent majority, or 6 of the 8 voting bodies to wind up CA and move to the unified cycling model.
The goal of AusCycling was to reduce 19 cycling organisations across BMX, Mountain Bike at a state or federal level down to one. The benefits would be multi-fold, the proposal claimed, with economies of scale and the benefits of centralising membership, insurance and organisation the major points in favour. Opponents saw it as a power grab by CA, an organisation that has a chequered history of financial and organisational management, though less so in recent years.
BMX Australia (BMXA) and Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) have joined AusCycling and the venture is set to go forward on October 1. An advertisement is currently out for the CEO role, with a Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane location possible at this stage. Currently, CA will not be joining, and presumably, will not receive funding as AusCycling is set to be the only recognised National Sporting Organisation covering cycling.
Cycling Central talked to CA CEO Steve Drake, a strident proponent of AusCycling, about the potential of road and track cycling unifying with BMXA and MTBA under the AusCycling model.
“Cycling TAS have called an EGM (Emergency General Meeting) - or I think it might be called a Special State Council under their constitution - to vote on the AusCycling question on the 12th of September," said Drake. "We’re obviously hopeful that the Tasmanian clubs will vote in favour and pass those resolutions. That will mean that there are six of the eight states that have voted in favour.”
With the commencement date of AusCycling edging closer and also with a few leadership changes within state organisations, two of the three states that voted ‘no’ initially are looking more favourably on the move to AusCycling, with CT and CNSW considering another vote on whether to join AusCycling in the next few weeks.
CT recently held a meeting where it talked positively about the potential of moving to the AusCycling model, though specific questions still remain that need to be answered ahead of their Special General Meeting to vote upon the question. It seems very likely that CT will join AusCycling at this stage.
A ‘yes’ vote would need to then be formally added to the other ‘yes’ states and territories at CA general meeting.
“We would have convened another meeting after receiving a ‘yes’ vote in Tasmania,” said Drake, “but we have actually already received a request from the five ‘yes’ states last week to convene a meeting so we have convened a meeting for the 19th of September. They’ve put forward the same resolutions that were voted on in March.”
That resolution was whether to wind up CA and its member states and move the control of road and track cycling to AusCycling.
Sport Australia, the primary body that distributes government funding to sporting organisations has committed $2.5 million to the new organisation, though that will be reduced if the full number of members is not reached. In the result of CA not joining AusCycling, there’d likely be the situation that Sport Australia will only recognise one National Sporting Organisation, which would obviously leave CA in a very bad situation as the majority of their income is government funding. While the consequences could be dire, Drake extolled the positives of moving to a unified model.
“We’ve missed a trick by being fragmented as we have,” said Drake. “We have a small voice to government in terms of infrastructure. It will be a huge missed opportunity if we aren’t able to come together and make the most of the capabilities that a combined organisation would have.
“As much as cycling is a bit bigger in profile at the moment with the Tour de France, it’s still a relatively small sport when you compare it to AFL and the football codes. COVID has highlighted the importance of cycling in society and we should be doing a better job for cyclists. The current structure makes that hard and the move to AusCycling will make that easier.”
It's understood that CNSW is proceeding down a similar line of inquiry to change its position, with a new disposition towards the AusCycling proposal. It's understood by Cycling Central that even if their position remains 'no' then a number of Sydney-based clubs will opt to move to AusCycling of their own volition outside of CNSW.
That, as well as the fact that a yes vote from CT will mean that Cycling Australia will be wound up, may force CNSW's hand. The CNSW board is meeting September 8, where the question is expected to come up.
The possibility of clubs leaving their own state body to join AusCycling would be a very fragmented reality for cycling.
“It’s a possibility,” said Drake of the potential for clubs to join AusCycling outside of their state’s position. “AusCycling will be set up so that its voting members will be the clubs and if clubs from those states decided that they wanted to join AusCycling then they could do it.
“I agree that it would be fragmented and we would prefer it if CNSW would decide to reconsider it and come along. Whether that’s before the 1st of October or after it, they’d be more than welcome.”
WestCycle, the other holdout, is in a different position than CNSW, they already have BMX and Mountain Bike incorporated within their organisation and are pursuing their own model that they believe to be an effective strategy for growing the sport. They also detailed worries about the process of centralisation, citing as a case study the issues associated with Golf Australia when they amalgamated the state bodies into a single, national body.
Cycling Central has requested responses from CNSW and WestCycle, both are yet to answer, with CNSW’s position likely to be clearer after their board meeting on September 8.
“No, I don’t think so,” said Drake when asked whether the absence of the states would the AusCycling set-up. “We’d love WestCycle to come along, we’d love CNSW to come along. The work that BMX and MTB are doing is configured so as many different entities as possible can come along.
“Ideally, that’s on or before the 1st of October, but it’s also there should organisations come after that. If WestCycle do decide to stand aside, I hope that they change their mind in future when they see how well AusCycling is operating and smashing it out of the park.”
With the October 1 start date for AusCycling looming, the upcoming CT vote is going to be critical in the future of AusCycling. Drake finished by saying that he was hopeful for the CT vote.
“I’m waiting with bated breath for the 12th of September and I hope we get the right outcome.”