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Part 2 of RallySport Magazine's exclusive interview with new Australian Rally Commission chairman, Ed Ordynski. Ed talks about his clashes with current Chairman, Garry Connelly, and answers the tough ARCom questions.

READ THE FIRST PART OF THE INTERVIEW HERE

RSM:
RallySport Magazine’s recent survey indicated that the rally community believed that ARCom were only looking after the top end of the sport. Should ARCom’s terms of reference be widened to require them to monitor state rallying as well?

Ed:
Well the ARCom terms of reference are already very clear on this point – the role of ARCom is not any one area – it is to look after rallying at all levels by taking decisions that are in the national interest of the sport and not any specific group.  ARCom needs to spend its time on much wider issues than the ARC – things like the sustainabliity of rallying itself, new competitors, keeping officials, reducing costs and so on.  The ARC already has far more people on its various committees without monopolising the time ARCom needs to spend on every other aspect of rallying. Hopefully we can change that perception.

RSM:
Given that ARCom meets only a couple of times per year, does that suggest to you that more meetings would enable them to get more work done sooner than the current schedule permits?

Ed:
It’s really a cost issue.  Everyone on ARCom, including the Chairman, is working in a totally unpaid, voluntary capacity.  There’s the cost of getting everyone together from all over Australia.  But I think we can restructure things to make our communications much more efficient and effective and make better use of technology to avoid us travelling.  Committee meetings are inefficient and often slow the decision making process down.  I would like to see the ARCom commissioners responsible for various portfolios, and taking responsibility for running those portfolios – with everyone trusting them and supporting the delegation.  I would like to get to a point where members can say whatever they like without fear of ‘rocking the boat’.  We do have outstanding support from CAMS’ paid employees, Campbell Andrea and Mark Zellner.  Those two guys are actually the hardest working people in Australia in rallying.  Yes, they cop a lot of  flak but it’s usually caused by others.  Their time is sometimes wasted on issues that should never have occurred in the first place.  We often joke that Campbell and Mark could run rallying better without ARCom!  

RSM:
We understand that the ARCom Chairman holds the power to invite people to become ARCom delegates and that no ballots are held to select the best people. Doesn’t this smack of ‘jobs for mates’?

Ed:
No that’s not correct. The CAMS Board appoints the commissioners. Certainly the Chairman may make recommendations but he too, is only on 12 month CAMS Board appointment. The rationale behind appointments rather than ballots is that people with particular talents and skills needed by ARCom can be appointed.  A good example is Arcom’s new deputy for 2007, Col Trinder.  Col was appointed to ARCom for his skills in risk management.  If we had a ballot for an ARCom member from NSW, we may not get someone with Col’s experience in both competing at all levels and risk management.  In my own case, I am certainly not a ‘mate’ of the Chairman.  I have probably had more clashes and disagreements with Garry Connelly than any other competitor – I was even prevented from scoring points in the ARC one year!  Yet he still supported my appointment as competitor adviser.  When I look at the composition of ARCom, we have experienced people with exactly the expertise the Commission needs.  But we can certainly make much better use of that expertise.

RSM:
Do you believe that ARCom’s image needs to be strengthened and its actions explained so that the rallying population can come to accept that it’s not just a “them and us” situation?

Ed:
Some of that is the natural reaction towards a governing body.  When I started rallying we had the saying that CAMS stood for ‘Conspiracy Against Motor Sport.” Now it’s ARCom that’s the easy target. But ARCom hasn’t helped things by appearing to operate under a veil of secrecy with long-winded justifications for decisions taken by them that are irrelevant to most of the country’s competitors. There’s also the problem of ARCom being accused of everything negative that happens in rallying when it may well be something a state panel has caused or Rallycorp, or the host broadcaster, for example. There are far too many administrative bodies for rallying and ARCom takes the blame for all of them.  I think a lot of that will be fixed by better communication and even the fact that Garry Connelly and Steve Ashton are both moving out of ARCom, as  their presence on virtually every other committee implied it was all somehow part of the same mysterious web. We have so many committees, bodies, working groups, advisory panels, rule books and operation manuals just so we can go and do skids in the dirt.

RSM:
So if your appointment is only for 12 months how long do you imagine retaining the position?

Ed:
Sometimes I wonder if I’m going to make it through to starting the position! I think the CAMS Board need to retain that 12 month control and similarly I can’t imagine doing it for more than 12 months at this point in time. It’s our mutual opt-out clause. Garry Connelly estimated he spent about 20% of his weekly schedule on ARCom matters.  I intend to spend much more than that.  But he did that 20% for 15 years so I reckon if I do one year at 100% it’s the equivalent of a 5 year commitment!  I am working flat-out between now and the end of the year to ensure financially I can devote most of next year to the voluntary role with ARCom. I will do my best for a year – I don’t think you can expect more than that and I’m not going to hang around in a role if its impeded with petty bureaucracy, politics or items which do not progress our sport in Australia. It’ll be interesting to see what I’ve learnt after twelve months.  The thing is, we’ve all sat around whingeing about the state of rallying and about ARCom, and rarely have an opportunity to make a difference.  I thought about if for ages. I still sometimes think, “What have I taken on?”  The sport has been very good to me in every way and I have never given much back in terms of voluntary work. Here was a way I could give something back in a way that took advantage of my experience in the spo rt.

RSM:
There is no doubt that ARCom members do a lot of work behind the scenes, but the general consensus is that these are very much faceless people that a large proportion of the rally community could not name. Does ARCom’s image need improving?

Ed:
Absolutely.  But they are not faceless people, it’s just that people don’t even know who’s on ARCom or what ARCom does! Ben Rainsford is well known by everyone in tarmac rallying and is the commissioner for tarmac rallies, arguably the biggest area of rallying.  I’m sure I’m not faceless, nor Col Trinder or Lin Gigney.  But there is tremendous confusion about what we do.  Possum Bourne and I were accused of doing nothing for competitors as the competitor representatives.  Well, we were never competitor reps. We were appointed as competitor advisers to the Commission – that’s a huge difference.  We advised ARCom on many items and the potential outcomes, both positive and negative and for sure, quite often what we said did not go the way we thought it should but other times we made a big difference.  I think we need to clearly let the rally community know exactly what ARCom is responsible for and each portfolio that the commissioners hold.  It is a very understandable criticism of ARCom that commissioners make decisions which affect competitors’ careers, livelihoods, life-savings, major investments and so on, without wearing any impact of those decisions themselves. I’ve accused ARCom of that myself.  You imagine a group of ‘selected mates’ spending four days a year round a dinner table quaffing red wine and saying, “Let’s make everyone pay $5.50 per litre for fuel.”  We need to address that perception.

RSM:
In an age where rallying needs to be increasingly professional to maintain its image, shouldn’t there be a paid position created for a full time rally manager who was appointed to be the spokesperson for the sport?

Ed:
Since I stopped full-time driving in the ARC this has been suggested as a job for me by many stakeholders in the national championship – I feel very honoured about that.  I had calls from several manufacturer representatives and event promoters expressing disappointment that I had taken the ARCom role when they hoped I would ‘run’ the ARC instead.  For sure that role could well be done for the whole sport.  It seems odd in this day and age of commercial sport that there is no-one heading rallying – someone with a vested interest in its success and who likewise wears the responsibility when things don’t go well.  I reckon the sport would be divided on this.  There are those who run their own businesses and so on who would say it’s essential to pay someone to run rallying properly – there’s nothing more powerful than a vested interest.  Then there are others who think a vested interest is morally wrong – they want a committee of  unpaid volunteers  making critical decisions in their spare time.  At the moment at ARC level, no-one knows where the buck stops – is it ARCom, Rallycorp, the ARC Working Group, the Marketing Group, IMG, MCS, or CAMS? And who in each of those do you contact? I don’t know.

Don't miss part three, including Ordynski's vision for Australian rallying - this Friday on www.rallysportmag.com.au

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