AADA Limited, the independent peak body solely representing motor dealers from all states and territories has been given no choice but to launch legal action against the Trustee of MTAA House (House) in a bid to regain control of over $400,000 in assets critical to the growth of the revived Association.
The secretary of the House is also the CEO of the Australian Motor Industry Federation (AMIF), which represents four state organisations. AMIF claims to represent motor dealers through an unincorporated body called Australian Automobile Dealers Association (AADA).
AMIF, which replaced MTAA in 2011 and represents VACC, MTA-NSW, MTA-SA and MTA-WA has four employees in rented office space in Canberra. The AMIF board has demonstrated total opposition to the AADA Board in their handling of the $400,000 asset.
In March 2011, the Dealer board of the former Australian Automobile Dealers Association decided that operating as an unincorporated entity with no legal standing through the defunct MTAA was not appropriate and on legal advice, wound up the unincorporated body and transferred operations and assets to the Australian Automobile Dealers Association Pty. Ltd. Since that time, a number of meetings have been held with all state and territory AADA Dealer representatives, as well as the representatives of the state associations. The move to refresh the AADA using the new entity was supported by all parties, and the former AADA CEO transferred AADA cash assets (more than $300,000) into a new AADA Pty. Ltd. bank account. The former President of AADA was written to by the House and asked to transfer his control of three units to AADA Pty Ltd. These units are currently valued at $142,400 each.
All parties, The House Trustee, MTAA, AMIF, MTA-NSW, VACC, MTA-Q, MTA- SA, and MTA-WA agreed to these decisions.
AADA Pty. Ltd. became a member of AMIF as a consequence and $300,000 of fees were paid to AMIF nearly zeroing the AADA bank account.
This year, the AADA Dealer Board changed its name to Dealer Support Services Pty Ltd (DSS) and adopted a new constitution. It also created the ‘Australian Automotive Dealer Association Limited’ company. This structural change was made to create a not-for-profit company, limited by guarantee and with a constitution more appropriate to the affairs of a national association. DSS the owner of dealer assets became the trustee of the AADA Trust. In many ways, the current AADA has dramatically changed. It has a new attitude towards Dealer representation, a new focus, new strategies to benefit members (of all sizes) and new plans for the future. Historically however, we remain rooted in the legacy started by Sir Frederick Sutton in 1987. Of course, the Association has evolved many times since then, but it still represents Australia’s Dealers – just better than it has ever been able to in the past since being separated from the control of non-dealers. This independence is opposed by AMIF and MTAA House Pty. Ltd. which now contend that the units in MTAA House belong to the Australian Automobile Dealers Association – an unincorporated entity made defunct by all parties in March 2011. These are the same associations which helped decide that this former AADA entity would become defunct. The same associations which have agreed that all AADA entities belong to Australian Dealers and the same associations which are now making Dealers, who are the backbone of the MTAA Superannuation Fund and the state organisations, fight for their entitlements.
How much longer will AMIF and MTAA House trustees make Dealers wait before they can benefit from their investments? Despite continued efforts by the AADA to be inclusive towards AMIF and other state associations, an open and cooperative dialogue has yet to be reached. Our position remains dedicated to achieving this end, but in addition to this, we must (and will) work persistently to obtain the assets which rightfully belong to our Association and members.
As part of our bid to regain control over the withheld funds, AADA has lodged an action with the Supreme Court in the Australian Capital Territory through the Dealer Support Services Pty. Ltd. (DSS). Through DSS we are seeking a declaration that we are the true holder of the three units — the ‘AADA units’ — in the MTAA Unit Trust. It has also been requested of the court that MTAA House Pty. Ltd. issue a unit certificate to DSS in respect to the AADA units. DSS has also asked that MTAA House Pty. Ltd. offer the AADA units for sale to other unit holders or to be able to sell the units ourselves. A total of 115 units exist in the trust.