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June 19, 2017

CPA Australia newly appointed chairman backs CEO amid recent scandal

By Stephanie Wix

CPA Austalia president and chairman Jim Dickson has released a statement to the board explaining the recent resignations of six of the institute’s directors and backing its CEO Alex Malley over the recent media frenzy about his substantial pay packet of AUS$1.8m a year.

Dickson explained the recent wave of resignations at CPA Australia due to “aggressive media” tactics rather than a protest against the recent revelations.  “There is no doubt that the actions of a media outlet repeatedly and aggressively contacting some directors, their employers and families have created unreasonable pressure on those individuals,” he wrote. “The systematic campaign of targeting our directors has taken a toll. My clear message to our directors was that they needed to prioritise their families and careers, and that it would be perfectly understandable if they needed to resign.”

Dickson claimed that there have been no premature resignations from the Board in the last decade and that the board 23 members had unanimously endorsed Malley’s performance over time, a number which has dropped in a fortnight. However, Dickson only became chairman two weeks ago after the then chairman and president Tyrone Carlin resigned when the pay packet scandal broke.  

Another six directors followed suit with resignations, of which Dickson confirmed three in his statement; directors Deborah Ong, Jennifer Lang and Martin Hourigan. Local media reported that the directors Richard Alston, Kerry Ryan, and David Spong had also stepped down.

CPA Australia has been in a media storm since Malley’s significant salary was publicly disclosed, and claims of mismanagement at CPA Australia subsidiary CPA Advice which had lost AUS$7.4m since it started, as well as alleged bullying in the management were voiced in local media.

Dickson stated that the media’s campaign and “small elements of membership” will not detract CPA Australia from its mission and that issues will be examined in an independent review.

Malley said: “In circumstances where I have been personally targeted in more than 100 negative articles with a range of claims and assertions, the announcement of an independent review is welcome.”

According to the Australian Financial Review, rebel members of a professional body have slammed CPA Australia's announcement of a "fiercely independent" review of the organisation as they claim it will be carried out by prominent admirers of Malley. Brett Stevenson, a rebel member added: "How can the chairman come out and say we maintain confidence in our CEO to press on doing a great job when seven directors of a 12-member board have resigned in the past two weeks?"

However, Malley wanted to move forward and after praising Dickson he said: “I, along with the rest of CPA Australia’s dedicated staff, look forward to continuing our work on what’s important – the operations of the organisation and the outcomes we can achieve for members and the profession more broadly.”

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