Guild Budget Arrives 8 Months into Financial Year With No Council Vote

There are fears that the Murdoch Guild has stepped into murky waters as allegations of failure to adhere to proper financial process grow.

By Sean Ayres

Until recently, the Guild Council had not been given copies of the Guild’s financial position and its income and expenditure. The latest document handed out to councillors by the President, obtained by METIOR magazine, details the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) amount allocated to the Guild by the University and where it is being spent. This includes staff employed and their wages, as well as other income and expenditures.

At the Guild Council meeting on Monday 6 August, the President distributed copies of the part of the Budget relating to Council expenditure – which is less than 20% of the total SSAF distribution. Following the meeting, the Guild President sent the full Guild Budget to the entire council to look through.

Guild Regulations require that an “audited balance sheet and statement of income and expenditure of the Guild” be “adopted” and sent to the Senate “not later than four months after the conclusion of the Guild’s financial year” (Guild Foundation Statute 17 section 9). It’s understood that the Guild’s financial year is the calendar year, meaning it concludes on December 31st.

Breaking down what this means, Guild Council must vote on the budget and send it to the Senate by April 30th, almost four months ago.

This has not been done as required but there are no allegations of misappropriation of Guild funds by the Executive, with the only issue being failure of process.

When questioned on the matter, Guild President Kombo Mashumba explained that the Guild had a period of time without an accountant and that completion by the required date was impossible. He confirmed, however, that the Guild has been using an interim Budget since the start of the year that was never put to council vote, and that the Guild is still using that interim Budget after a communication mix up with the new accountant.

With a meeting of Guild Council not scheduled until Monday 3 September, the Budget problem will likely draw into its fifth month late, with no sign of being resolved. Although the upcoming agenda of the meeting has not been released, there appears no sign that the Guild Executive are keen to put the document to a council vote.

Some councillors have reported confusion on the issue and don’t support the recent financial management of the current Guild. In the March Guild meeting, Sustainability Representative Rosie Scott requested for the Guild accountant to talk the councillors through the Budget so that they would know their allotments for the year in each portfolio (as per the minutes). This request seems to have been ignored, with no subsequent briefing in following meetings, including those after the new accountant had taken office.

No motions however have been made by any councillor directing the Guild to put the Budget to a vote so it’s unclear whether these concerns have been acted on, other than the request by the Sustainability Representative.

The financial issues within the Guild should be a worrying sign for student members who pay up to a whopping $149 a year through the SSAF fees for full time internal students. Both the Guild Executive failing to follow the proper process, as well as the Council’s failure to keep accountability, are a concern that the majority of students remain blissfully unaware of.