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Western Port Biosphere update from the Executive Officer

2 February 2017

Thank you to those of you who could attend the Extraordinary General Meeting on Tuesday, 31st of January 2017. Overall it was a positive meeting with a good outcome. However it is a concern to us that there seemed to be some confusion during the meeting, about the purpose of the meeting and of the vote. We are writing to you to clarify exactly what was discussed and decided to avoid any further potential confusion.

The current position of the Biosphere is that it has a projected cash flow shortfall for the current financial year.  In order to operate as a business we require a level of core funding, which historically is contributed by the five councils with a little bit from project funding. For the last two years we have only received contributions from four of the five councils which has left us with $20,000 less per year with which to operate. During this period we have been using our reserves to cover this shortfall whilst trying to source additional funding.

Depending on the outcome of current negotiations, and with confirmed commitments for $7,000 and a possible additional $5,000, this would still leave $8,000 short of being able to cover all costs for the remainder of the year. Without finding extra funding we will be insolvent sometime in April. Rest assured that we are doing everything in our power to find the extra funds required and to put in place long term agreements with the councils and others in order to provide surety for the future of the Biosphere, and we are confident of doing so.

Given the position of the Biosphere the Board wished to call this meeting to make the members aware of our position and to ask the members to empower them to make any tough decisions that need to be made and to let the members know of the process moving forward.

The motion put to the members for vote at the meeting was;

  • “That members support a process to start the voluntary windup of the company if the board decides that such action becomes necessary”

The important part of this motion is the second bit which states ‘if the board decides such an action becomes necessary’. This was not a vote to start the process of winding up the Biosphere, it was vote to empower the board to make the tough decisions to do so if and when the times comes that it is required. A vote of yes, which is what was achieved, allows the board to move forward with confidence in making any decisions that need to be made.

The process from here. The board are working on gaining the required funding from numerous sources, they are also working with the councils, and new councillors, with the aim to put in place a multi-year MOU around the funding of the Biosphere into the future. Discussions to date have been positive.

Warm regards,

Cecelia Witton
Executive Officer
Western Port Biosphere Reserve Foundation