Warwick Show and Rodeo Society President Neville Fanning.
Warwick Show and Rodeo Society President Neville Fanning.

Mediator for Show dispute

A MEDIATOR will be brought in to sort through an ongoing Warwick Show and Rodeo Society dispute between the management committee and the disbanded Ladies Auxiliary.

Around 200 members and onlookers attended an at times fiery Special General Meeting of the society at the Warwick Showgrounds last night, called for the sole purpose of discussing the management committee decision in March to disband the Auxiliary.

President Neville Fanning opened the meeting by reading a prepared statement outlining the reasons for the controversial move, which he said included the inability of the Auxiliary to work in a "harmonious" manner with society office staff.

Mr Fanning also said the Auxiliary was "struggling" to meet its obligations and needed to return a higher profit from its activities, which include running the showgrounds canteen during the Warwick Show and Rodeo and organising the annual Showgirl Ball.

He said out of 46 other show societies canvassed in Queensland only four maintained a Ladies Auxiliary and a unanimous vote of the management committee on March 13 led to its disbandment.

"Members of the management committee were to attend the next meeting of the Auxiliary to explain the reasons for the decision, but its members cancelled that meeting," Mr Fanning said.

"We believe the functions of the auxiliary can continue to be carried out by those volunteers and also done in other ways, such as leasing the canteen out to outside catering groups.

Auxiliary stalwart Nancy Gross read out a statement she had prepared, in which she took aim at office staff, claiming they had failed to properly support this year's Showgirl Quest and Ball and had bullied and discriminated against entrants in previous years.

Mrs Gross also claimed the paid office staff - including secretary Bronie Keen and now treasurer and former assistant secretary Michelle Hannigan - had threatened at one stage to quit as a result of ongoing tensions between them and the Auxiliary and that the management committee had chosen to back the staff.

Society member and Auxiliary backer Al Cutmore then called for a vote to be held in an attempt to rescind the decision to disband the Auxiliary which led to a fiery passage of debate about the society's constitution and whether or not a vote could be held.

Mr Fanning eventually ruled that no proper notice had been given to all society members about a vote and ruled it out.

He also took aim at unnamed Auxiliary members who he claimed had both posted defamatory statements about the society on Facebook, as well as abusing office to the point where police had to be notified on one occasion.

"The management committee members don't do what they for anything other than the satisfaction of doing it and this type of behaviour really takes the blossom off it let me tell you," Mr Fanning told the meeting.

Others to address the meeting included Ms Hannigan - who defended her role in helping to organise the Showgirl Quest - society patron David Cory, Mrs Gross's daughter Linda Mantova and former society vice-president John Maher.

Several members, including David McIvor and Kevin Roche, called for calm and for mediation rather than a vote.

The management committee agreed and a meeting with a mediator and Ladies Auxiliary delegates is expected to be held within the next few weeks, with the aim of sorting through the future handling of tasks traditionally done by the Auxiliary.

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