As I have already indicated to you in an email sent 27 April, I am in possession of copies of four documents, being:
- The March 2020 List of Video Streaming Centres and Procedures;
- RW Bro Green's letter to you dated 16 March 2020;
- Your response to RWBro Green dated 16 April 2020; and
- RWBro Green's letter of Complaint (18 pages) dated 22 April 2020.
At the outset, I must wonder why this document is being passed about the Jurisdiction. It is my understanding that once a matter is in the hands of the Grand Registrar, all discussion and dealings related to the issue must stop. That said, as my name seems to be such an integral part of the document, I do feel duty bound to comment.
I am particularly concerned that this document contains many errors of fact, many criticisms of me personally, and is generally designed to denigrate the work of the Grand Master. In the normal course of events, I would not have been aware of the existence of such a document, but to now find it to be available in the broader community simply astounds me.
I take this opportunity to correct some of the misstatements contained in the document and highlight where I believe there is deliberate and intentional comment which must surely be un-masonic, in the first instance. I do reserve the right to address further issues relating to me personally, and at this time, I do believe these should be addressed under the civil code, particularly noting its distribution.
My comments for consideration:
- Page 1, 2nd paragraph – The reference to the Grand Master’s Obligation is important. It is true that the Grand Master took an Obligation to uphold the Constitution and Regulations, and it is also important to note that the Obligation goes further than that because it also refers to Leadership being undertaken without threatening tone, menacing act or heavy hand, and as much of this Complaint lacks that propriety, it should be set aside;
- Page 2, paragraph 3 – Calling for this matter to be dealt with only by those in attendance at the Sydney Masonic Centre effectively dismiss the democratic right of every Mason to exercise his Constitutional right to vote, and arbitrarily sets aside the vote he has already taken;
- Page 2 paragraph 6 -It is fine to call for Masons to resolve matters between themselves, but when the argument used to move this matter forward deliberately offends an individual, pointedly disparages elected Leaders and offers unsubstantiated commentary to advance that argument, it crosses the boundary and must be dealt with outside of our Administration;
- Page 3, paragraph 1 – To clear this point, it was I as Grand Master, on regaining the Chair, who called for the Grand Registrar to please make it quite clear who was actually declared;
- Page 3 paragraph 3 --Noting that your commentary responds to this issue, I will ignore the complainant’s comment that ‘this was not followed by the Grand Master’;
- Page 3 paragraphs 4 and 5 – while much is made of who approved Regional Voting Centres, the fact is that Lodges were invited to request their Centre be used for the purpose of Voting, and it is not for Grand Lodge to either direct or nominate specific Centres;
- Page 3 paragraph 6 – New Lambton. It is my understanding that the DGIW called a meeting which voted to not use this as a Voting Centre. I further understand that the issue of travelling to a nearby Centre was openly discussed and finally agreed, by those in attendance who I understand also included a Senior and responsible Mason, Right Worshipful Brother Robert Peattie, and Minutes were taken at the meeting. I find the reference to the two carloads of Masons to be confused, as I was advised after the event that it was in fact two carloads of Masons who agreed to travel to the alternate venue, and that no one was known to have been turned away;
- Page 5, paragraph 1- the continual reference to the Grand Masters Obligation is still only partly correct, and is included here almost to continually intimidate;
- Page 5, paragraph 4 – From this point on the Grand Master is referred to as MWB Robson. Clearly there are differing authors involved in this document. I personally find the term MWB to not be in accordance with our protocols, and am of the view that here again, intimidation and off-handedness raises un-masonic tendencies. I also cannot accept the comment that the Grand Master was mistakenly and erroneously declared the successful candidate;
- Page 6 paragraph 1 and 2 – I think any reasonable Mason would understand that if the Grand Master is part of an election process, he would not continue to be involved in the administration of such an election. They would also understand that many issues within the Grand Lodge would be devolved to responsible Administrative Officers as the norm;
- Page 6 paragraph 3 – Quite clearly, it is for Lodges and Hall Committees to initially request to be considered as a voting centre;
- Page 6 paragraph 4 – It is my understanding that the long-standing authority for the conduct of Elections has always been the Office of the Deputy Grand Secretary;
- Page 6 last paragraph – I find the inference here that the Grand Master might have erred in ensuring that the Presiding Officers were neutral, to be inappropriately deliberately pointed and offensive;
- Page 7 paragraph 1 – It is my understanding that the comment related to a senior mason at Tweed Heads is a lie;
- Page 7 paragraph 2 – I do not grasp why the association of a member of the Grand Masters Task Team also being a Presiding Officer is of any consequence. Presiding Officers would be Masons of good standing and respect in their District or Region. They would have absolute integrity and this complaint should not suggest otherwise. The fact that the Grand Masters Task Team is made up of many similarly qualified Masons is worthy of note, but of little consequence in this regard. Many Scrutineers have similar associations with administrative and management roles within the Grand Lodge and elsewhere, and hopefully we will always have access to such a competent and dedicated group of responsible Masons. It is entirely inappropriate to suggest that these senior Masons would not be held in the highest esteem;
- Page 7 paragraph 6 – the comment that members of the Grand Masters task Team are hand-picked and answerable only to the Grand Master is an absolute untruth. At my Installation in the Sydney Town Hall, I made it quite clear that I would be encouraging the formation of a Task Team. The fact is that for many years the members of the Board of Management have simply been unable to be out and visiting Lodges on a regular basis. The point of a Grand Masters Task Team was to be able to have a group of respected Masons readily acceptable by the Lodges to meet face-to-face regularly with them to identify issues and then offer solutions to those issues such that we could all advance and enhance the experience of Freemasonry. All this effort was considered our priority as it related directly to my main aim of improving upon Membership Recruitment and Retention. The Grand Masters Task Team was structured as a sub-Committee of the Operations Portfolio on the Board of Management the same as most other Portfolios on the Board have similar long-standing sub-Committees to drive their agenda. The majority of the Members of the Grand Masters Task Team volunteered their expertise. They are answerable directly to the Operations Director on the Board of Management and all their recommendations are brought to the Board, in the normal course, for the Boards deliberation and decision making. The Grand Master is hands-off on the Task Team, and the Grand Master does not even attend the regular meetings of the Task Team. There is a raft of similar references to the membership of Right Worshipful Brother Tom Muir to the Task Team in following paragraphs and they are all ridiculously out of touch with reality and the truth. It is worth noting that a senior Mason in the Newcastle area continues to refer to the Grand Masters Task Team as the Grand Masters Secret Police, and as there are also several refences to Right Worshipful Brother Tom Muir, from that same area, one wonders how much influence that particular Mason has had on the wording of some of this complaint. For the record, Right Worshipful Brother Tom Muir was one of the most respected DGIW’s the jurisdiction has seen in recent times, and he deserves more respect;
- Page 8 paragraph 2 (ii)- I am not amused with the inuendo offered here that simply because he, as a respected Mason, should have an association with me as Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother Tom Muir should be spoken of with such contempt;
- Page 8 paragraph 2 (vi) – here again, the continual connection with Right Worshipful Brother Tom Muir and the Grand Masters Task Team is unnecessary and leans further to intimidation and contempt, both traits unbecoming a Mason, and certainly un-masonic;
- Page 8, Ground 5, paragraph 1 – Any reference to a Mason should have his name spelt correctly. Certainly, RWB Bruce Arnold is not known to this Grand Lodge;
- Page 8, Ground 5 paragraph 2 – There is no such body as the Grand Masters personal Task Team. Rather, the Grand Masters Task Team has always been a sub-committee of the Operations portfolio, answerable directly to the Board of Management;
- Page 8, Ground 5 paragraph 3 – This questioning of the credibility of members of a sub-committee of the Board of Management, is grossly un-masonic and offensive. Similarly, the calling as to why ‘senior members of the Craft were not trusted and enlisted in their stead’ is equally un-masonic and offensive. These statements are unnecessary and alone, they should be enough grounds to invite the Registrars Committee to make a judgement on the credibility of the author;
- Page 9, paragraph 1 – there is no basis for assuming that Regional centres should be spaced evenly throughout the Jurisdiction. This comment defies the demographics of the Craft which sees large concentrations in several areas, and regardless of what may have been put forward by the previous administration when forcing their argument, it does not give every Mason the opportunity to vote;
- Page 9 paragraph 2 – the historical placing of Regional Centres has nothing to do with what is happening now. The fact is that Centres must respond to the Grand Secretary’s request for involvement in the first instance. For the record, I have much more comment to make on this subject of selecting Centres, the influence of the COVID -19 virus and other related misunderstandings and untruths in an appropriate forum in the future;
- Page 9 paragraph 4 – If the author cannot understand Clause 6.5.1, then I wonder why this complaint is still alive. A Mason cannot assume that the written word means something that it clearly does not;
- Page 9 paragraph 5 – It matters not where a Centre is situated in this example. The fact is that those Lodges answered the call to nominate. There can be no more responsible action;
- Page 9 paragraph 7 – This comment that the Grand Master visited certain Lodges, just prior to the election should be struck out. I am personally most offended by this statement. The fact is that I visited Moree in September 2018, clearly long before any election was mooted. The statement that I have similarly visited Narrabri is simply untrue, as I have never ever visited a Lodge in Narribri. The further suggestion that I have agreed to visit Cessnock at some time in the future is also not understood. The fact is that I have answered the call to attend a formal Civic gathering. and to dedicate a local Park which has been gifted by the Local Council to acknowledge the extraordinary contribution the Craft has made in that area. Surely this should be one of the prime roles of a Grand Master. The inferences made here are clearly untrue, and they are offensive to me and all Masons associated with these Centres. I fail to see why so much has been made of these three centres, particularly when I have visited over 78 other Lodges, and at their request. It is correct to note that I am totally committed to the Lodges and I have certainly not found the time to visit some other Centres for a coffee break, simply so that the locals can ‘get to know I and my wife’, as apparently the complainant can;
- Page 10 Ground 7, paragraph 3 – It is interesting that only Centres in the country are being held to account when presence sheets are being discussed. It is my understanding that only 253 Masons signed the presence sheets in Grand Lodge;
- Page 12, Ground 11 – this Ground referring to the activities surrounding New Lambton makes so many broad-brush assumptions that it is not worth considering. It is largely repetitive and unnecessary;
- Page 13 Ground 13 – It is entirely unrealistic to expect the Grand Master to be so directly responsible for these appointments when he was in this case, a candidate. Further, this flies in face of the logic presented earlier in the documented complaint;
- Page 14 Ground 17 – As part of my commitment to better communication across the Jurisdiction, I made it quite clear that following my Installation, there would be better communication and a regular Newsletter to work in favour of Membership Recruitment and Retention. The fact is that it took 6 months until June last year to secure the wherewithal to produce the document. The Newsletter went out initially on a monthly basis and was intended to promote the full range of activities which could be promoted within a Lodge. It quickly gained acceptance and that gave us the confidence to turn it into a weekly publication, and that has been the case since October 2019. Of course, the Grand Master featured in many as he criss-crossed the jurisdiction promoting the various Lodge functions. That is after all his role. The suggestion that there have only been two Newsletters since the Election and hence that somehow proves that it was used to swing votes is preposterous. The fact is that the only week missed was the actual week of the Election. The accusation that this was a canvassing exercise is completely rejected and I find it grossly offensive. I give notice right now that I will be vigorously defending this accusation and will be raising further and actual occasions of canvassing relating to the Deputy Grand Master Elect in both this and the last election, and clear examples from the author of this complaint also. (Apparently the unwritten rule that the Grand Master should never complain is not to be respected and I therefore announce my intention to now name and shame). Rather than refer to the Newsletter as simply self-promotion is offensive. It entirely misses its purpose and it fails to acknowledge that fabulous contribution it has made toward Membership Recruitment and Retention, and the comfort of the Brethren who appreciate its purpose. Further, and regardless of the comment made in this complaint, the Newsletter has attracted the attention of other jurisdictions and indeed only three weeks age, South Australia asked whether they could take the general content verbatim for use in their electorate. And finally, on this issue, what is meant to be achieved by offering a direction that a neutral Mason be appointed to edit the Newsletter. Wake up, we are supposed to be all of one company, equally respected and operating with Integrity, Loyalty and Respect. I look forward to more than a personal apology on this issue as it has made some particularly nasty accusations;.
- Page 16, sub-paragraph (n) – The suggestions made in this sub-paragraph are offensive. And when moving over onto Page 17, the comment relating to Glen Innes that I somehow promised ‘air conditioning within a week’ is ridiculous, it is untrue, and it is a direct smear directed at me. I find that this comment on its own, typifies the tone of this whole complaint, particularly as it pointedly directs venom toward an individual and is included for maximum effect in this regard. I reject the accusations and look forward to them being vigorously defended;
- Page 17 paragraph 3 -I fail to see how this complaint can seek to change the intent of a previous Motion to change the Constitution. The Motion put to the floor of Grand Lodge was quite clear. It is not open to an interpretation such as this complaint seeks to now allocate Polling Stations. It is and should always remain the province of the Lodge to seek to be involved in the election process, as is now the case;
- Page 17 sub-paragraph (o) – As Grand Master, I agree that if any changes need to be made to any elements of the Constitution, they should be pursued. That said, I cannot understand how the author of this complaint would now seek to create a neutral committee when those he claims are close to him and have reliably informed him of so many supposed anomalies, have shown such venom and disrespect to other Masons; and finally
- Page 17 penultimate paragraph – Most Worshipful Brother Robson will not support the issues raised herein as they contain inuendo, untruths, and direct and inflammatory accusations. Much of the document, clearly written by more than one author, is threatening and overbearing. By finally associating my name in the respectful and condescending manner given, and then associating it with my Obligation and commitment to the Constitution and Regulation , continues the bullying tone of the entire document, and is rejected.
I have made much comment directly related to the text of this document. I can advise that I am privy to much more information and I look forward to having the opportunity to speak further of these in an appropriate forum. I can also advise that I am not happy in these circumstances. I have an expectation that the Grand Master would enjoy some support from the Grand Lodge and should not be left to his own devices at a time like this.
We live in interesting times, and we all either act as all of one company, or as shown throughout this text, we are not.
I reserve my rights.
Derek J Robson AM
28 April 2020