No consensus yet on Standing Committee co-option

The Assembly has been unable to reach consensus at this stage on a proposal to co-opt extra members to Standing Committees from outside the body which appoints it.

Currently all members on standing committees are elected from among the membership of the appointing body, as the standing committee is considered to be an extension of that body.

Peter Andrews said the proposal was intended to add people with desirable skill sets.

“As we’ve already talked about in this gathering, the world is a fast-changing place,” he said.

“We would like the option to co-opt individuals with particular skills from outside the body that appoints it.”

The proposal proved to be controversial as some Assembly members did not wish to see standing committees as separate from the appointing body.

Synod Secretary of Victoria and Tasmania Mark Lawrence argued for the proposal.

“There’s a sense in which Standing Committee actually is a different body to the one that appointed it,” he said. “The issues that Standing Committee addresses are often quite different to those of the appointing body and were not on the agenda at the time of the election.”

“Those with the skills needed to address the issues aren’t always able to commit the number of days to attend the appointing body, and are therefore ineligible to be part of the Standing Committee. Therefore we find ourselves not making full use of the gifts and skills in our church.”

The Assembly passed a number of other proposals, including disbanding the Historical Reference Committee in favour of a network of Uniting Church archivists; updating references to Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress ex-officio members of the Standing Committee; and allowing for the late arrival of another proposal.

Discussion on co-opting Standing Committee members will continue in the coming days.