Home' The Channel Magazine : The Channel October 2016 Contents 8 | The Channel
dealing with the day-to-day issues. So the linkages, as
well as advice?
AM: Yes. Exactly right.
JP: Alf, I’d like to ask you a little bit about the restructure.
There’s been significant structural changes in the
association in the time that you have been here and
obviously before that. I’d like you to tell us a little bit
about the structure and what has changed in that period
AM: The Australian Newsagents’ Federation was a federation
model. Basically, every state and territory was a member of the
ANF, which had issues in itself. When I came on board, one of
the things I spoke to the board about was how we unify the
channel, how do we get away from the state branches and
become one entity.
The difficulties with separate entities was basically each
state and territory were doing whatever they wanted to do, not
looking at the national picture, which wasn’t very conducive to
a national approach. To be honest, the board smiled and said, “
Good luck. That’s not gonna happen.” Because they tried many
times before and they nearly got there and always at the last
moment it failed. I suggest it failed mainly due to, it might not
sound very polite, power, and people wanting to have their own
territory and turf.
So that was a challenge that I set myself, to try to unify
the channel. Over time, it wasn’t a five-minute job, it took five,
six years to achieve. We managed to chip away at the issues
that were there, to gain trust, to address concerns that they
had with the ANF, or the channel, or any of what I would call
roadblocks that were put in the way. We worked on them,
removed them to get to a stage where Queensland then
merged with us as a national body, so did Western Australia,
and eventually all of the territories have now basically become
part of the umbrella brand of the ANF.
JP: Now you have a national body with staff in other
states. So it’s not an association that is all run from one
central office. There’s diversification of staff across the
country. Is that correct?
AM: There is. We are still an association, so we are conscious
of what we spend and how we spend it. Each of the staff in
the states and territories has specialties in certain areas. In
Tasmania, our Tasmanian manager is also our national policy
So we work together very closely, we are a close-knit
team. We are constantly on the phone with each other,
understanding where we’re going and it stops me having to fly
everyone everywhere all the time, because we have a good
team around us.
JP: I’ve heard this described all the time: these centres
of excellence that mean people in the states have a
dual role. One is to be the local representative of the
association and at the same time they’ve got their
specialties. That’s working out well?
AM: We didn’t aim to do that. We have sort of fallen into that,
but it’s worked out very well for us.
JP: The restructure is a major thing to bring it all together
to one national body. Any tips or comments on the
process looking back?
AM: To be honest, I went at this just using the team around
us and what we had. If I had to look back, I probably would’ve
got an external project manager to do this rather than myself.
At one stage there was a lot of [from members] am I, “Just
trying to create an empire?” And you have to overcome that.
When you overcome that, then things move forward. But that
was really another hurdle we could’ve done without and things
would be quicker if I had an external running it.
That was a challenge that I set myself, to try
to unify the channel. Over time, it wasn’t a
five-minute job, it five, six years to achieve.
JP: A little bit about the area of governance. Is your
association one where the board of directors leaves the
management of the association to you and your team?
Do you find that you have got the right balance between
governance and management in the association?
AM: With governance, originally when I first started, over
time all of the board has gone and done governance
training. We have had a governance trainer come in to train
us on governance. We’ve created job descriptions for the
board: so the chairman has a job description and so does
the vice-chairman. So the board are very clear that they
are strategically running the association and they don’t get
involved with the operation. They still ask questions and I don’t
have any problem telling them about it. Sometimes they give
me input on what they suggest we should do, but operationally
they leave management to run the operation and they are very
much involved at the strategic level.
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