Earl re-elected to third Pipe Bands Australia term
Incumbent Chris Earl was re-elected to two-year term as president of Pipe Bands Australia, the association that represents and governs the six separate pipe band associations based in the massive country.
The former drum-major with a Grade 4 band, Earl ran against challenger Ainsley Hart, an accomplished piper who has served for many years with the New South Wales Pipe Band Association.
The result came after a contentious lead-up to the vote, with Earl’s two two-year terms punctuated by various controversies and scandals, including some AUD$200,000 embezzled, various suspensions and acrimony, including the disbandment of the Grade 1 City of Whitehorse after several members were banned for a number of years because of comments on social media.
Earl had reportedly survived a vote of no confidence following the fraud controversy. After the monetary loss, Pipe Bands Australia reportedly remained solvent after a loan from the Victorian Highland Pipe Band Association, which it is still repaying.
There are only 12 voting members of Pipe Bands Australia, two from each association, even though there are almost 2,500 individual members.
A motion from the floor to enable the two principals of the organization’s College to be part of the vote defeated shortly before the final vote. According to multiple sources, there was a “heated debate” over the request. While some state associations comprise almost 40% of total pipe bands and individual members, all associations have equal representation and weight, even though, for example, Tasmania has a relatively very small portion of members.
The election took place at the annual general meeting of the organization at the Airport Motel and Convention Centre in Attwood, a suburb of Melbourne, as part of their two-day National Conference, held every two years.
There was no immediate declaration of the vote tally. A request for the ballot results to be retained, in case of a court challenge, was also rejected.
Founded in 1924, the Victorian Highland Pipe Band Association is the original name of Pipe Bands Victoria. The former organization remains in existence. Pipe Bands Victoria is the name used to market both associations, and Victorian Highland Pipe Band Association remains active as an administrative facility to support Pipe Bands Victoria.
Recently, the Victorian Highland Pipe Band Association has reportedly attracted members away from Pipe Bands Australia, creating additional dissension.
One member attending the annual general meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “I believe you will find the membership of Pipe Bands Australia significantly decrease this year. Members have told me they are quitting piping as a result of the [expletive deleted] going on, while bands who don’t intend to compete outside their state may seek alternative options.”
Pipe Bands Australia has worked to create closer alliance with the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, according to a confidential pre-meeting brief circulated by Earl that was leaked to pipes|drums. In his report, Earl wrote, “We have continued to develop strong links with the Australian publication The Scottish Banner and Piping Press in Scotland. The editors Sean Cairney and Robert Wallace are thanked for their interest and support of Australian pipe band activities.”
Stay tuned to the independent pipes|drums for more on this story as it develops.
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