The treasurer of InternetNZ, Steven Heath, has resigned in a row over the reappointment of executive director Sue Leader, whose contract runs out on December 14.
Heath resigned during a meeting of the council of InternetNZ (formerly the Internet Society, ISOCNZ) early this month, says InternetNZ president Keith Davidson.
“Steven [Heath] disagreed with a ruling I made during a period that council was in committee, tendered his resignation and withdrew from the meeting,” says Davidson. He says he cannot comment on the reasons for Heath’s resignation as contract negotiations with Leader are still under way, though he hopes her contract will be renewed before that date.
Leader would not say anything about the resignation. “I can’t comment on it as I wasn’t in the room at the time.”
Heath says he took the action because of concerns about the organisation’s financial reporting, which he was trying to raise during meeting. “I was overruled by [Davidson] saying I was out of order while we were discussing her contract, so I resigned.”
Heath says he had discussed the matter with other councillors whom he claims share some of his concerns, and felt it was a case of Leader staying or him. “If you don’t have confidence in the executive director when you’re the treasurer then something’s got to change.”
Heath says he has no problems with Leader’s capabilities in the policy area but in his opinion the accounting and reporting functions were “falling short of contractual obligations”.
Davidson says InternetNZ has been operating with an approved deficit budget this year. “That is, if everything that had been planned did eventuate [InternetNZ] would consume its cash reserves prior to the end of the financial year.” Davidson says InternetNZ has been “pursuing our activities with vigour” which has lead to a deficit position being reached sooner than originally anticipated.
“An interim dividend from Domainz is probable, and [is] the likely solution to the cash shortfall.” Domainz is the wholly-owned company that runs the .nz name space. Last year Domainz paid a dividend of $275,683 to InternetNZ. Heath says he will continue to be an active member of InternetNZ from outside council. A new treasurer will be elected in the next couple of weeks.