Wilde Times At Swimming Australia: To Lose 1 President May Be Regarded As A Misfortune; To Lose 4 in 3 Years Looks Like Carelessness
Swimming Australia, already steeped in a clash of constitutions with World Aquatics, is once again on the head-hunt for a new president – its fifth in the last three years – after the sudden resignation of Michelle Gallen.
The Importance of Being Earnest springs to mind even if Oscar Wilde’s brilliant turn of phrase – “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness” – relies on the “looks like” for accuracy.
Elevated to the top seat less than a year ago after Tracy Stockwell (nee Caulkins) was ousted in a boardroom coup, Gallen is leaving her post after being appointed chief executive officer at the Australian National Sports Tribunal (NST), an independent body (that appoints people directly from non-independent positions) responsible for settling sports disputes.
The post is a Australian government five-year appointment, which Gallen takes up on September 18.
Swimming Australia told the Australian Daily Telegraph‘s Julian Linden: “The Board of Swimming Australia has commenced the process of finding Michelle’s successor and will announce the new President of Swimming Australia in due course.”
In one of her final acts as president, Gallen called an urgent board meeting for October 20 so that members can vote on whether to accept a new proposed constitution, in line with WA wishes. Gallen has urged the board to rubber stamp the proposal but some members have expressed their opposition to doing so.
Gallen’s departure, while unrelated to the other reasons why there seems to be a revolving door of leadership figures at Swimming Australia, comes at an awkward juncture for the board of what Linden notes is “Australia’s most successful and highest-funded Olympic sport”.
The Dolphins, especially the women, have been riding a rolling wave of excellence in world-class waters of late but at governance level, the doldrums have never been far away.
Australia Threatened With Loss Of World Aquatics Membership…
The national federation has been threatened with loss of its membership of World Aquatics over concerns about governance and constitutional irregularities:
In its exchanges with Swimming Australia, World Aquatics cited the high turnover of executives as a cause of concern but also noted the departure of Canadian medley great of the 1980s Alex Baumann, who left the CEO role on grounds of serious ill healthy, not because of any turbulence over governance.
Even so, in the past three years alone, Swimming Australia has churned John Bertrand, Kieren Perkins, Stockwell and Gallen as presidents and Leigh Russell, Baumann and Eugenie Buckley as CEOs. Out of the role at Swimming Australia, Buckley remains in her role at the Aquatics Integrity Unit amid grumbling over the nature of potential conflicts of interest.
Steve Newman is currently serving as acting CEO at SA as the search for Buckley’s replacement continues.