Ordinarily, RASA would not engage in political discourse regarding propaganda and negative messaging in the Amateur Radio community. However, given recent announcements and unfounded commentary on social media, RASA presents the following analysis.
The VK community needs to support the ACMA & AMC – and this means in our actions, not just our words. For those unaware, the AMC was the successful tenderer to deliver exam and callsign administration services on behalf of the Commonwealth. You can read more here http://www.amc.edu.au/industry/amateur-radio
As in politics, it seems a month is a very long time our hobby. On the 5th of February 2019, WIA President, Justin Giles-Clark wrote to members, clubs and the community, quote:
“The WIA congratulates the University of Tasmania and Australian Maritime College (AMC) in being selected by the ACMA as the preferred provider for the delivery of amateur radio examination, callsign management and associated services….
The WIA regards this as a watershed moment in the history of amateur radio in Australia. The expedient delivery of these services by a skilled team backed by a sandstone university promises to deliver a robust, cost-effective and efficient qualification service for the Australian amateur community.
It is the view of the WIA Board and the WIA Education Group that anything other than a smooth transition to the AMC will damage the already fragile amateur radio community. For this reason, the WIA and ACMA met in October last year to begin planning for this potential eventuality. We are committed to ensuring that the WIA does not cause any disruption to this process.
There will be changes and uncertainty in the near term. To ensure a smooth transition and continuity of services for this great hobby the WIA will work collaboratively with the AMC and trust you will as well.
It is the view of the WIA Board, the WIA Education Group and many members we have spoken to that the transition to the AMC will allow the WIA to refocus its resources on delivering all the objects of the Institute.”
That was written about five weeks ago.
More recently, WIA Secretary Mr. Peter Clee also complimented AMC when he stated:
“One of the things that the WIA has been losing money on for the last ten years is this deed. The members have really been supplementing exams….
….The AMC have been running exams for a number of years. They actually do a really good job. I think that they will do a good job with Amateur examinations.” (Perthtech, 2 March 2019)
These very public statements by WIA Directors are in stark contrast to the most recent letter from the WIA just two days later (4 March 2019), to quote:
“The AMC have subsequently released their pricing and preliminary information on other processes
The result of the negotiations between the AMC bid team and ACMA procurement has resulted in the “headline” entry price to the hobby of Amateur Radio rising:
- $75 to $115 (Foundation Assessment, Practical Assessment & Callsign Recommendation) for adults – an increase of over 140%, (WIA’s proposal was $49)
- $40 to $115 (Foundation Assessment, Practical Assessment & Callsign Recommendation) for youth – an astonishing 285% increase. (WIA’s proposal was $27)
The WIA board and the Education Group is horrified by the existential risk that this creates for the hobby of Amateur Radio, especially given the widespread community support (at both a local and international level) for attracting younger participants to the hobby.
Not only has the process increased costs and failed to provide continuity (despite solutions to this being offered by the WIA), the processes described by the AMC in their recent release paint a picture of an exam service that, in the opinion of the Education Group, is of a significantly lower standard than that which was previously offered by the WIA and vastly inferior to that which the WIA proposed.
A succession of royal commissions have demonstrated the consequences of decision making that fails to consider the customer.
The only rational conclusion the WIA can draw is that the AMC, parties to the AMC bid and those involved in the ACMA procurement process have weighted political, commercial and personal factors ahead of their customers’, the community and the hobby of Amateur Radio.
The WIA, as the only Amateur Radio organisation that is demonstrably committed to furthering the hobby, remains committed to resolving this situation for the benefit of our members and the community we represent.”
Let’s unpack this latest communication from the WIA and pose some questions.
Firstly, and perhaps most obvious and alarming, is the about-face in the WIA’s position that it supports the AMC and their strong reputation, and that (quote):
“anything other than a smooth transition to the AMC will damage the already fragile amateur radio community. For this reason, the WIA and ACMA met in October last year to begin planning for this potential eventuality. We are committed to ensuring that the WIA does not cause any disruption to this process.”
The WIA now appears to promote anything but a “smooth transition”, instead now taking a combative and disruptive posture towards ACMA, with claims that “the ACMA procurement process have weighted political, commercial and personal factors ahead of their customers’, the community and the hobby of Amateur Radio.”
Anyone who has worked with corporate or Government tenders will know that Government agencies look for stability and a solid track record when evaluating outsourcing contracts. There is no doubt that AMC offers these qualities; indeed the WIA President and Secretary have both made comments to this effect.
Next, there are claims of outrageous price hikes by the AMC. The ACMA approved these prices; the WIA has been operating a similar pricing model for years and making a loss. A loss in the order of tens of thousands of dollars.
For the WIA to now compare a pricing model based on their failed bid is nothing short of disingenuous and unprofessional; their proposed pricing model did not meet the ACMA selection criteria. It certainly does not align with their hitherto very public support of AMC.
The WIA has also refused to hand over intellectual property over which it claims ownership, namely the more recent licence exam questions, including the Foundation Licence question database.
Given the WIA has no use for such IP, and given it has publicly announced its support and co-operation with the AMC, why would they now take a path of obstruction?
What is to be gained by withholding an examination question bank? How does the hobby benefit from this combative and obstructive stance? Or, as has been suggested by some Directors, do the needs and interests of the company come first? If so, a review of the WIA Company’s Constitution doesn’t offer any insight…
Lastly, every club member around Australia should be dismayed that Mr Giles-Clark believes that “The WIA, [is] the only Amateur Radio organisation that is demonstrably committed to furthering the hobby”.
This is a gross misrepresentation of the facts. All clubs and associations are demonstrably committed to improving the hobby at local and national levels. Indeed, many local clubs have been providing exams, fully fitted radio shacks with workshops and various technical classes for many years.
To suggest otherwise illustrates an organisation disconnected from its constituents.
Would it not be more “in the spirit of co-operation” for the WIA to accept that it lost the tender and offer a constructive, collaborative relationship with AMC?
Would it not be better for the WIA to:
- congratulate AMC and willingly hand over the exam question bank – surely this is a good thing for the hobby?
- actually work proactively with AMC to ensure a smooth take-up of services; encourage assessors to continue their good work; stop the negative campaign via its news outlets; and
- perhaps suggest some opportunities to reduce prices for pensioners and young people once the processes are bedded down?
Surely, a collaborative approach would be better for the WIA and the hobby? As it stands, the WIA is undermining any positive relationship it may have had with both the AMC and ACMA.
There is nothing but division and angst to be gained from the WIA’s combative stance.
Should we not remind Mr Giles-Clark of his own words? “It is the view of the WIA Board and the WIA Education Group that anything other than a smooth transition to the AMC will damage the already fragile amateur radio community.”
The AMC was selected by ACMA. RASA wishes the AMC every success and acknowledges that there will be some uncertainty whilst the new processes are rolled out.
RASA also supports:
- price discounts for pensioners
- price discounts for children
- one practical exam to be included at no charge with a theory or regulations exam; and
- continued process improvements across all services
We ask for all parties to accept ACMA’s decision and work for a successful outcome for the hobby.