States reject proposed AMA changes

4 minute read

TMR understands that Queensland, Victoria and at least one other state will advise members to vote against changes to the federal AMA constitution ahead of the upcoming AGM.

The federal AMA is staring down a fresh wave of revolt from its state and territory-based counterparts, as multiple states make moves to discourage members from approving certain changes at next week’s annual general meeting.  

The main agenda item for the meeting will be a vote on whether to allow the AMA Tasmania to become a branch of the federal body, rather than a separate legal entity.  

This would allow the relatively tiny Tasmanian organisation to take full advantage of the federal AMA’s IT, corporate services and communications infrastructure.  

The Federal AMA anticipated that it would make for a “more cohesive approach to policy and advocacy”, as well as “alleviate administrative burdens and provide much needed support for Tasmania’s dedicated staff”.  

Around 96% of Tasmanian AMA members are in favour of the merger, and other states and territories have supported the move.  

It’s the additional clauses proposed as part of the change that have thrown some of the states into disarray.  

So far, both AMA Victoria and AMA Queensland have advised members to vote against the resolutions and The Medical Republic understands that at least one more state will follow suit this week.  

New clause 9.2, for example, would allow the federal AMA to establish state or territory branches “if required” to ensure ordinary membership of the association is available in every jurisdiction. 

It specifically states that this will only be done in circumstances where an existing state AMA shuts down or is intending to shut down without a successor entity being established, like in the case of Tasmania.  

Despite these assurances, AMA Victoria told its members that the amendment would give the federal body “the power to establish local branches in competition with existing state and territory AMAs”.  

Both Queensland and Victoria specifically expressed concern over clause 17.1(b)(iii) part C, which requires the AMA federal board to be satisfied that the board appointees from each geographic location have the skills and experience appropriate to be a director of the association.  

“The AMA Victoria board strongly believes that you are best represented by strong advocates who are close to the issues you face, and that AMA Victoria should select its state representative, not the AMA Ltd Board,” AMA Victoria president Dr Jillian Tomlinson said. 

The final noteworthy item for approval is to allow directors to pass a resolution without a board meeting so long as at least 70% of the board vote and 60% vote in favour, where previously 100% needed to vote in favour.  

A spokesman for the federal AMA told TMR that the board would “always uphold strong, doctor-led state representation”. 

“If these changes are made, the states and territories will continue to nominate for the board, but in the shared pursuit of achieving our necessary skills matrix and diversity commitments,” the spokesman said. 

“The AMA is striving to future-proof smooth-running governance, so that the corporation can continue to advocate for and support members.” 

This AGM comes just two months after the AMA WA was unceremoniously expelled from the federation over a stoush about fees; WA claims that it has historically contributed 18% of total funds to the federal body, despite accounting for just 10% of membership.  

By early April, both sides confirmed that they were actively working to bring WA back into the fold.  

A meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place later this month on neutral ground in Adelaide, which will be after the AGM.  

This timing means that, even if the state is welcomed back into the federation as a result of the meeting, WA members will not be able to vote in the AGM.  

Federal AMA has publicly stated that the proposed constitutional changes are unrelated to the situation in WA.  

The AMA’s 2024 AGM will be held online on Wednesday 22 May at 7:30pm eastern time. Members wishing to attend must register in advance

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