KARTING NSW – GOALS AND VISION FOR THE FUTURE
AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL KNSW MEMBERS
I write to you on behalf of the entire Board of Karting NSW. As volunteer directors we find ourselves having to navigate difficult times of great change. This change has been thrust upon us, and it is with great humility and a desire to do what is best for our people, our officials and the average grassroots Karter that guides us on how we are to proceed forward. We have no other ambition except to do what is right and to deliver on the express desires of our Members and act on the feedback which you have all provided over the last 12 months.
Last Saturday the 1st September 2018, the part of the Board that was up for re-election, was unanimously voted back in and given a clear mandate to make karting better in NSW. As a Board, we were given a clear direction on what to do. We do not act without the authority of the NSW SKC; rather we are simply the vehicle to put into action the instructions given.
We understand that the circumstances are somewhat confusing and so this correspondence will look to provide the clarity needed for each and every one of you to be of clear mind to make your decisions and instruct your Club committees’ accordingly.
The resounding message the Board has received over the past year has been that the Members of NSW have lost their voice and their confidence in our national body. In their experience the sport has become too expensive and the rules have prevented many people from participating. This has been shown by plummeting participation rates – around 35% over the last 5 years and 17% in the last year alone.
We need to provide a formula which is a broad church of inclusion for the average grassroots Karter. Much useful karting equipment lies redundant in peoples’ sheds, and they are either unwilling or unable to buy the new equipment the current regulations promote. We also need to provide inclusive formats for other growth areas of karting such as Vintage, Endurance, 4 stroke and Speedway, and bring these groups closer into the fold of mainstream karting. This however, will not be at the expense of those Karters who have the more modern or current spec equipment, and we are not promoting a regression or stepping back in time for the sport. We are not looking to reduce the regulations to a rabble but will take your advice on what is appropriate and achievable. We do not wish to cut off the avenues to those Karters with higher ambitions of competing at national levels either, as they seek a higher order of competition. Rather we will look to offer people appropriate ways to take what they have to their local track, with their families, compete and have fun – which is really what 95% of you want to do and have asked us to provide.
Our Members have asked us to rebuild and redefine the Sport to make it more affordable and fun. We will collaborate with representatives from within the Club ranks to help us build a balanced and inclusive approach.
We have arrived at this point because our efforts to achieve these goals from within the current framework have not been afforded a fair and balanced debate with our national body. We have sought to engage the Australian Karting Association Limited (trading as Karting Australia) these past 12 months to discuss the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which defines the business relationship between NSW and KA – but we have not been successful in bringing them to the table. Their views on these topics have been expressed in their most recent letter of 31 August 2018 to Club Presidents. Our efforts to have rules changed have not received much traction with them either. The Board has also sought information from KA on important matters of governance and administration, and the entity of AKA Inc. Despite repeated attempts to gain this understanding, the information surrounding their authority on the decision not to wind up AKA Inc (including failure to disclose this to anyone) has not been provided to date. We have again repeated our request this week, and still await a response. We do not wish to have a battle with KA, but the lack of information being provided, including representations made to our members over the past 5 years go to the heart of transparency and trust. This has regrettably led to a motion from the SKC of a vote of No Confidence in the Board and CEO of Karting Australia.
The Board of Karting NSW now simply wants to focus on our People, the grassroots Karter in NSW and move things forward positively. We are aware that the move to run the sport independently within NSW is a big step and may be concerning to many members, and this is something we should all consider and take very seriously. It will require a collective effort from all of you and your Clubs to succeed and together we will steer the sport into the future. The Board is committed to restoring and invigorating the grassroots of karting at a Club level within NSW. We have a solid vision to grow our participation by addressing affordability and making it a much simpler format where folk, young and old – and their families can come together and have fun.
We have identified the following key areas of focus or information that may help you understand what is needed to go forward. It provides for transition but over time, will also provide the foundations for the framework to rebuild our future together.
Club Committees and delegates have been provided 21 days to go back to their members to discuss and decide on the Motion (Vote of No Confidence in KA) and then to withdraw KNSW’s affiliation with AKA Ltd (KA). If the vote carries by majority, all Clubs within NSW will disaffiliate from KA. We will then issue KA our 30 day notice of withdrawal.
Track Development Fund:
To be clear, the TDF is made up of member contributions over time. The Board of KNSW will move to protect the value of the Fund for its beneficiaries. In the end, that is You. It is important for those Clubs with TDF Loans to understand the legalities around the loan agreements that they have entered with Karting New South Wales. Karting New South Wales hold the loans with Karting Australia and so the issue of these loans is between KNSW and KA. Clubs should clearly understand their rights and obligations as a guarantor under those Agreements. We strongly encourage those Clubs to undertake their own due diligence and/or obtain advice on who has the authority to forgive loans (if this has been offered to you). We encourage you all to make fully informed decisions. Should KNSW withdraw its affiliation from KA, it is our position that KNSW will continue to collect repayments from those Clubs at current levels and secure them by placing them into a Solicitors Trust account until the Trustee of the TDF Fund under AKA Inc. becomes clear.
We have secured insurance to the same level (like for like – Personal Accident and Public Liability) as currently exists. Clubs, competitors and officials will enjoy the same coverage as they do now.
Karting NSW will introduce its own State based licencing system – for competitors and officials. KNSW would honour or ‘grandfather’ your current licence duration and provide you with KNSW interim licences free of charge. The Board will review licence costs and flow savings to our members. KNSW will most likely recognise other types of racing licences, day licences as well as those from other States as well as national. We would work with the other states to establish reciprocal licence arrangements.
KNSW will continue to issue permits as it currently does under the auspices of the NSW State government. The Board will review permit costs and flow savings to our Clubs for their events.
With control over the outflow of Member money, we will work as quickly as possible to reduce costs across the spectrum. Coming off the back of a loss this year and having to pick up insurance costs, we would look to stabilise cash flows across 3 to 6 months, build some working capital and following this, then commit to reviewing our cost base. Our ambition is to reduce licencing and permit costs over time. If all Clubs stay the course and remain with KNSW, and coupled with the anticipated increase in participation, we are confident that costs will decrease substantially. We will continue to discount in a sensible and viable manner over time and you will all have access to ‘our books’ in an open and transparent way. As a first demonstration of this, we will flow value back to each of you over the year ahead when your licence is up for renewal – you will get a 12 month KNSW licence but pay only 11 months and this amounts to an immediate 8.5% saving. Give us the numbers and we will give you the savings.
We are fully aware of the restrictions and limitations that exist with the current timing systems and have explored various options for the future. However, the Board will involve the Clubs and their members to obtain the most suitable system for now and looking ahead. We think we can stand up a new system in a reasonable time.
By and large, the basis of the rules and processes that we follow will not be discarded but enhanced. The Board of KNSW will consult widely with members to address any perceived limitations as well as exploit any sensible opportunity and we will generate our own unique State-based rule book. The Welfare Directors within the Board will consult with Members through and with the assistance of KNSW Officials and Club representatives. In short time, a State rule book will be produced that will reflect best practice and maintain our high standards on and off the track. Our mindset will be to provide great competition but above all bring back the ‘fun factor’.
Technical and Classes:
Without a doubt this is the area of the sport where the biggest need for a review is required. The Board believes that there must be more freedom and flexibility to allow Clubs to run categories and classes that best suit their individual needs and demographic, while maintaining or improving our high standard of safety and event professionalism that we all enjoy. The Board will establish a Panel consisting of representatives from Clubs, Officials and other stakeholders like industry to review this extremely important part of the sport. It is anticipated that this would be a progressive process where new things are tried and tested, but flexibility is the key. We know that the number one single item that must be immediately reviewed is tyres. The current tyres are too soft and not durable enough for club level racing. We would most probably invite industry representatives to tender a business case for the provision of suitable and cost effective tyres.
Other areas for review would be but not limited to, classes weights, restrictors, and a better opportunity for the use of all available engines in a competitive way, and a general simplification of racing a kart. All equipment new and old would be afforded some consideration. We do concede that this will pose some difficulties, but patience and understanding is key. However, arresting the continual changes to the rules will make life easier for competitors and officials.
We will continue to promote and support all levels of Club and State Championships but open it up in a way that increases competition and simplifies the Calendar. Unshackled from the national calendar we will be able to stabilise our State events a lot earlier and this will include giving championship status to categories that are not currently recognised. We want to promote more women in our sport. We have to breed our new Cadet classes with affordable entry level set ups, as well as drive junior development and embrace our seniors in ‘Masters’ events and categories.
1. NSW Government: The Office of Sport :
The NSW Office of Sport recognises Karting NSW as the sole administrator and body to govern and regulate the sport of karting in NSW including the issue of permits and the conduct of track inspections. KNSW and the Office of Sport enjoy a strong working relationship, which the Board has grown this year and will continue to strengthen. KNSW will continue to seek government funding as available and appropriate.
2. Confederation of Australian Motorsport:
KNSW will apply for its own membership with CAMS.
KNSW will look to open up our contact and relationship with the Karting Industry in an open and contestable way. This will benefit the average Karter as well as suppliers.
Culture, Standards and Behaviour
We have said our aim is to act in the interests of our members. Our express desire is to promote a culture where Families and Friends come together, have a crack out on the track but in between share a laugh with a positive and inclusive culture. The Board has been somewhat amazed at the huge well of discontent in the grassroots level during our time in the Sport and this above all is our motivation to make things better.
Change is difficult at any time, but do not fear it. Nothing stands still for long. Rather embrace the opportunity that it brings to wipe the slate clean and rebuild the Sport the way you want it to be. Standing together as one to do it. The Board believes that this is what people have wanted for years. Together we will be sensible and moderate going forward. Our consultation with you all on all of this demonstrates that we are not approaching this recklessly, but rather giving you all the time needed and every opportunity to make informed decisions that will no doubt set the course of Karting in NSW for years to come and for future generations of our Karters. If you and your Club have the conviction, your Board has the courage. It won’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile in life ever is.
Please contact your Welfare Directors for any further information, but anyone on the Board will be happy to talk to you.
Yours in Karting
Chairman Karting NSW