Mr Earl thanked Mr Bassani for all his work for pipe bands in Australia and said that through it he had ‘engaged hundreds of drummers at workshops and in structured progressive examinations over two decades’.
In his response Mr Earl also speaks of the ‘betrayal’ of PBA by those involved in the alleged misappropriation of association funds and that as a result a new management and control structure was now in place. Mr Bassani’s resignation earlier this month came in a strongly worded letter to the PBA. Personal comments have been redacted. The edited letter reads:
‘Dear Secretary, I write to advise you of my decision to resign from my position as Principal of Drumming for Pipe Bands Australia. I now find that my disillusionment with the lack of effective and capable leadership of the Association ….. and some highly questionable decisions in recent times make my continuation in this position untenable.
‘I do not agree with actions taken in respect to the City of Whitehorse Pipe Band as this, to me, was a clear demonstration that we have confused our priorities and, consequently, have ignored the purposes of the Association, as per our rules. I also feel that the Music Board has been undermined …. on a number of occasions and totally ignored on others, and personally, that there have been attempts to undermine my own position and discredit me. I consider myself to be a person of high integrity, and I choose not to retain office in the PBA under such circumstances.
‘Unfortunately, I do not see a positive future under the current leadership, only one plagued by more controversy. The recent alleged fraudulent activity by a former office bearer, while truly being a monumental betrayal, is also an example of our leadership’s monumental failure in observing its governance responsibilities for the Association, since the Act requires them to oversee the Association’s financial affairs ……. This is what the Incorporated Associations Act would have been referring to when it makes reference to ‘overseeing the Association’s financial affairs’. Council has made its decision in respect of defeating the no-confidence motion in the President, as is its right.
‘There has also been a picture of ‘consultation’ painted by the leadership but this is not to be believed in my opinion. Matters are being put before the wider membership for voting without any discussion and debate by council, and, in effect, no due diligence being undertaken in testing such proposals and possible ramifications before going to the membership. This is dangerous and allows vested interests to gain a foothold and be driven through. I also note most of these proposals emanating from a single Branch; take from that what you will.
‘I feel that I have more to offer in the position but my own sense of ethics and self-worth has led me to this decision. Most others in resigning from such a position would simply walk away, but having invested over 20 years in this role, I care too much for the Association to do this without stating my reasons in the hope that you will be able to bring the Association back into line and the Committee to a position of due diligence and accountability.
Greg Bassani, OAM. BEd. BTech, DipT, JP’
In his reply Mr Earl writes: ‘Pipe Bands Australia acknowledges and thanks Greg Bassani for his long-term contribution as Principal Drumming towards the advancement of drumming standards and proficiency in Australia through the development of a comprehensive syllabus.
‘Under Greg’s stewardship of the drumming division of college, the state branch network of vice-principals has engaged hundreds of drummers at workshops and in structured progressive examinations over the two decades. The Australian drumming syllabus is also used in several overseas countries, including Hong Kong and other south-east Asian countries where regular examination days are held.
‘Several leadership positions within Pipe Bands Australia have changed this year with the appointment of Tim Bodey as new national treasurer, Tony Bidgood OAM (Principal Drill and Dress) filling a vacancy on national management committee and Jamie Forsyth being appointed Principal Rules and Administration. The discovery of alleged misappropriation of funds was a betrayal of our association, our bands and members. It was a jolt of massive proportions that exposed the inadequacies of reporting platforms and some procedures that the association had followed for many years.
‘These factors combined to facilitate the swift implementation over the past two months of a new financial platform that now sees regular reporting at both national level and in all branches of the association that remains solvent. That platform was first canvassed in 2016 as moves were underway to improve the transparency and robustness of financial accounting and remove it from the ‘cottage industry’ model of the past. A strong committee and council continues to meet challenges as it has over the past year with a firm focus on supporting bands across Australia and now Papua New Guinea with that nation’s fledgling pipe band association having been admitted to associate membership of PBA.
‘Bands and council are mid-way through voting in the annual ballot that includes proposals to adopt the RSPBA Grade 4A MSR requirement in Australia while still retaining the option for bands to play two parts each of strathspey and reel and modifying the drum major solo course to be in line with requirements at Scottish competitions.’