2015 Natcon BM minutes

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This article includes the minutes of the Business Meeting of the 54th National Australian SF Convention (the Natcon in 2015), which took place at Swancon 40 in Perth, in the Hammersley South Room of the Pan Pacific, 207 Adelaide Terrace, Perth WA 6004, at 11.00am, Monday, 06 April, 2015.


An agenda was produced, circulated to various email lists and made available to attendees.


Chair: Dave Cake
Minute taker: Peter Lyons

Present: Catherine Jemma DeCroy, Doug Burbidge, Zara Baxter, P R Khangure (PRK), Ian Nichols, Frames, Samara Morgan, Grant Watson, Helen Stubbs, Amee Lindorff, Bill Wright, Sydnie Krause, Lexi Hemsley.

Meeting opened at 11:04am, 07/04/2015

0. Dave Cake thanked Peter Lyons for being Secretary.

1. Confirmation of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting.

  • Motion: that the minutes be accepted.

Moved: Ian Nichols. Seconded: PRK.


  • Catherine DeCroy raised a poiny of order that the list of attendees should be taken.

This was done.

  • Dave Cake noted that the minutes are online and much other information is online at the sf.org.au site.

2. Business arising from the Previous Meeting.

  • Dave Cake read out motions from last meeting.

We did not develop the nomination declining rules; Dave apologises. It will continue to remain the previous process. The Standing Committee will work towards this and report at the next meeting.

  • Grant Watson asked if there was any consideration given to an author withdrawing the nomination if they had multiple works nominated.
  • Dave Cake said no and that this will be one of the things looked at.
  • Ian Nichols asked about works listed in nominations.
  • Dave clarifed that works are not needed for Fan Writer but often put in, but the William Atheling award did have work as part of the award. Noted that the presence of work in the nomination depends on category.
  • Dave Cake said that much of the Ditmar Subcommittees work is in the condensing of the nominations into a ballot.

3. Natcon Standing Committee Report

  • Dave Cake reported that this year was a big task: no Natcon and had to find one.

Solicited bids, had interest from Brisbane, and managed to get a 2016 Natcon. Some miscommunication from Standing Committee that led to Natcon and Swancon running on the same weekend. Better than none at all and good that there is an enthusiastic and active group running the Natcon and that they are from a State that has not run Natcons recently.

  • Bill Wright expressed disappointment that not a lot of Eastern States fans were at Swancon, and this would likely to be worse next year.
  • Ian Nichols noted that Easter was the traditional Natcon weekend.
  • Dave Cake said it was more complicated as a tradition, and that ?.
  • Doug Burbidge said that up until 1998 Swancon ws at Easter only if a Natcon.

This millenium not many Natcons had Easter and the newer convention runners had developed a clashing received wisdom. Perth fans have come to expect an Easter convention. WASFF's position is now that they would like to be consulted if a Natcon wanted Easter, so that negotiations could begin as soon as possible and they would work with the Natcon to develop the best possible result. Samara Morgan pointed out that Swancon 2016 had put lot of thought into moving, but Ultimately realized that they could no do so.

  • Amee Lindorff thanked Samara for her point and noted that the extra day that Easter provided helped out of staters with their travel plans; different public holiday dates in different states make other weekends a problem.
  • Frames said that he looked forward to working with the Natcon, and thought that Swancon's program would be stronger for it.
  • Amee noted that Natcon ?had a productive relationship with Swancon?.
  • Grant Watson said that he liked that the conventions were working together and not clashing.
  • Ian remarked that less Eastern States fans were at Swancons.
  • Doug said that that less Swancons were Natcons
  • Dave noted that there now many strong conventions in Eastern States than had previously been the case.

4. Site Selection for the 2017 National Convention

  • Dave Cake asked about bids.
  • PRK said that Continuum 13 will bid.
  • Grant Watson considered withdrawing his and then decided to continue.

A coin toss decided which bid will speak first.

  • PRK spoke about Continuum 13.

? also known as Tole will be convening. Too early to confirm venue but will be looking at the Rialto; Continuum has run a few Natcons before.

  • Grant Watson spoke about his bid.

He has run many conventions. Interested in an independent convention in Melbourne. Australia Day weeked deliberate choiice to not run 5 day con and to not compete with Continuum. Talking to people about committee positions. Has a guest. Intends to be in CBD.

  • Frames asked whether costs would be lower.
  • Grant said that it will be looking for something cheaper.

Intends to run anyway.

  • Bill Wright pointed out that running early in the year puts pressure upon jury awards.
  • Dave spoke about the implications for the Ditmar awards.

Opening nominations before the end of the award year moves next year's eligibility to start of nomination period, resulting in a short period for elgibility followed by a longer period.

  • Doug Burbidge asked about the planned scale.
  • Grant didn't expect less than 250.
  • Ian Nichols pointed out advantages for Australia Day Swancon: get high school and university students before the term starts.
  • Doug pointed out that the 2017 Australia Day is on a Thursday, checked and found that that meant that the Friday was not a holiday in Victoria.
  • Grant said that could be a problem.
  • Samara Morgan asked about clashes with January conventions also in Melbourne.
  • Grant thinks that the convention audience will be a different target market.
  • Dave noted that gaming conventions might have some clashes.
  • PRK asked about Con 70 which ran in March this year.
  • Grant believed that it was a one off.
  • PRK said that it would be a good slot.
  • Ian Nichols declined to present Ratcon the Natcon as a bid.
  • Dave Cake called for a vote. Continuum 13 was declated the 2017 Natcon.

5. Ditmar Subcommittee Report.

  • Dave Cake gave the report with some interjections from Peter Lyons.
  • Nominations were processed, word limits examined, combined Novella & Novelette categories, very low voting.

Not certain of final turnout, but only 22 before the voting was extended.

  • Award statuettes pressure.

Apologise for things being more difficult that it needed to be. Note that much information on the wiki pages. Anyone can edit.

  • Doug BUrbidge noted that content more important than form.
  • Things that are not obvious except to those on committee who have dealt with it for too long.
  • Bill Wright noted that there are only two good websites about fan funds: erwin hirsch fan fund, david langford.
  • Anyone in community can get wiki login, WASFF tech list for anything more technical.
  • Voting script still working well, extra features to make things more easy for people doing the awards would be good.

eg: export functionality / mail merge.

  • Main issue ditsubcom activity (formed from natconcom by those not excluding themselves from it).

Gradually dwindled to 3 people. One is Dave Cake who has tendency to have major ICANN work fall during the critical period. So Jeremy Byrne & Peter Lyons are the main people and Jeremy now not rejoining.

  • Dave Cake asked for peope to join.
  • Samara Morgan asked for if the Natcon convenors/reps on the Standing Committee could be on the Ditmar Subcommittee.
  • Dave said that they could be.
  • Dave asked for questions.
  • Amee Lindorff asked about energising the Ditmar process.
  • Dave Cake talked about promoting.
  • Zara Baxter noted that there has been at convoting, thought there are problems but it can up the count.
  • Dave said that there had been some debate over at con voting over the years.

At Natcon 50 they had at con voting, but a laser cutter was also available; this year more difficult, the Artificatory cutter weighs 1 ton.

  • Samara Morgan said that it took 3 hours at the convention to do the Tin Ducks,

this would prove a problem if there were many awards to process.

  • Frames asked about voter packet.
  • Dave Cake said that its big job to do.
  • Zara Baxter talked about New Zealand cons having a folder of the work at the convention, but also having at con voting.
  • Ian Nichols noted that great effort was needed to create a packet for the Nebulas.
  • Dave remarked that the Hugo packet was a huge undertaking even if much appreciated.
  • Bill Wright talked about getting people who nominate to also scout around for voters.
  • Ian spoke about this might cause publishers to take over from fans in the nomination process.
  • Dave spoke about nominations from publishers and determining if they are active or non-active in fandom.

Publishers find it confusing.

  • Ian said that this could give some advantage to small presses.
  • Dave noted that it was only a small change.

Bloc voting has not practically happened.

  • Dave Cake thinks that we don't do enough to ensure that people who attended last year con can vote.

eg: need to get Swancon to help drum up vote for Ditmars for the next award.

  • Ian Nichols asked about the numbers to be on ballot.
  • Ammee asked about voing memberships.
  • Dave Cake spoke about the Ditmar rule.
  • Samara Morgan spoke about Swancon creating supporting memberships only because someone asked about voting without attending.
  • Bill Wright talked about process and ensuring that people active in fandom.
  • Dave Cake spoke about enforcing the active fandom rule,

writers groups as an example: some are fannish, some are not.

  • Dave Cake said that we will put it onto the report.
  • Doug Burbidge said that there was now a small wiki page for fan funds.

6. Convention Reports.

a. 2014 - Continuum 10.
  • PRK spoke.

Went well, more expensive hotel, but everyone had fun. Small thousands surplus. Award ceremony occurred and Ditmars handed out.

  • Catherine DeCroy asked about the surplus
  • PRK said that it went back to the Continuum foundation.
  • Dave Cake noted that Natcon has no formal funds,

only some small amount of property such as pins in the keeping of Paul Ewins.

  • Bill Wright pointed out that there was a fantastic DUFF delegate - Rita Coulson.
  • General agreement from the meeting.
  • Bill pointed out that ASFF can provide seed funds, though it expects to be paid back.
b. 2015 - Swancon 40.
  • Samara Morgan spoke.

She was awards coordinator and Standing Committee liason.

  • Read out Stephen Griffiths Convenor's speech:

conventions, committee wasff volunteer thanks, extreme easter period encroachment.

  • Samara had a very difficult time and not a good time.

Had very trying time with Jeremy, John Parker lost because of this. Things forgotten because first time running awards and not informed well enough.

  • Samara wants to nominate to help out to make things better.
  • Catherine asked about position -
  • Samara took representative role to protect Conventor from extra stress.
  • Motion of thanks for Samara.

Moved: Catherine Jemma DeCroy. Seconded: PRK move motion of thanks for Samara.

Carried by acclamation.

  • PRK said that he had seen emails and though he did not think them abusive, they were brusque.

Motion of censure of Jeremy Byrne. Moved: Frames. Seconded: Ian Nichols.

  • Frames spoke for and said that he had come home to Samara crying from the emails from a committee

that was supposed to be helped and this should not happen. Also have lost John Parker as an awards maker.

  • Catherine DeCroy spoke against noting that there has already been a motion of thanks

and that such a motion would cause difficulties.

  • Zara Baxter for and said that the role is to guide and support, and the emails of Jeremy did not help.
  • PRK spoke against saying that Jeremy has done a lot of good work over the years,

he has ended up burnt out and his communication is blunt and brusque while he does not condone behaviour, we've also failed to support the committee with fresh blood.

  • Ian Nichols spoke for saying that he hass done a lot,

but if burnt out he should have stepped aside beforehand, it damages the reputation of the subcommittee, need to have tolerance.

  • Dave Cake hands the role of chair to Peter Lyons
  • Dave speaks against sayint that he has known Jeremy for a very long time,

acknowledge blunt and brusque, and mentioned this to him, notes that Jeremy's email style is rooted in the robust email communications of the early 90s. Feels that his committee has let him down, the chair role should include liason and Dave has not done good job of it. Not a good way to finish off his time on the committee, acknowledge the impact and move on, know that it won't happen again.

  • Peter Lyons hands the role of chair back to Dave Cake.
  • Ian raises a point of order to ask what a censure motion actually does.
  • Dave reported that it is to reprimand someone who has not done what their position required.

Amendment: to append the text "with regards to his communication with the Swancon 40 Committee" to the end of the motion. Moved: Ian Nichols. Accepted: Frames.

  • Amee Lindorff raises a point of order on censuring the whole committee rather than just Jeremy.
  • Doug Burbidge pointed out that the motion and discussion will appear in the minutes regardless of the outcome.

Motion as amended: that Jeremy Byrne be censured with regards to his communication with the Swancon 40 Committee".


c. 2016 - Contact 2016.
  • Amee Lindorff spoke.

Launched, productive discussion with swancon committee regarding programming, streaming, and making it a bicoastal event. Have confirmed an International and National guest. Recent changes to government may impact venue viability; confirmation by end of the month. Pitching at 280, though only just launched. Very positive after discussion with groups. Website is up. $185 for membership

  • PRK asked and was told that there are indeed supporting memberships.
  • International guest is Jill Pantozzi from the The Mary Sue.
  • National guest is Keri Arthur.
  • [Minute Taker: A fan guest was mentioned but is not listed on the website, so I have elided the mention.]
  • Incorporated at the top level eventually, but currently under the auspices of the QLD writer's centre.
  • Dave Caje asked and was told that it will be a ongoing organizaton that may or may not be running cons.
  • Tiered memberships structure, trying to encourage people to travel.
  • Peter Lyons asked and was told that the convention will be running from Friday to Monday.
  • Ian Nichols asked and was told that Queens Birthday weekend was different in Victoria to Western Australia.
  • Dave warned that he will not be able to chair the business meeting.

Julian Warner often good to fill the role if available.

  • PRK noted that Dave could chair via Skype.
  • Samara Morgan suggested a room at Swancon for people to attend the business meeting virtually.
  • Both Dave and Ian remarked that last Brisbane Natcon was very good.
  • Kate is the advisor,

7. Selection of the Standing Committee.

  • Dave Cake advised that there would be 4 elected to the Standing Committee to serve along with the 3 Natcon chairs or their representatives.
  • Nominations received from: Dave Cake, Peter Lyons, Zara Baxter, PRK, and Samara Morgan.
  • Samara asked whether there would be any impediment for her to be on the Ditmar Subcommittee,

if she was the 2015 rep and not elected to the committee. She was advised that there was no problem.

  • Samara withdrew her nomination.
  • Declared elected to the Standing Committee are: Dave Cake, Peter Lyons, Zara Baxter and PRK.
  • Dave Cake queried on the Natcon reps.
  • Amee Lindorff is rep for 2016.
  • PRK will get back on who will be the rep for 2017 (likely Tole).
  • Samara Morgan remains the 2015 rep.

8. Motions on Notice.

  • None.

9. General Business.

Motion: to thank Jeremy for his many years of service to fandom in particular on the Natcon Standing Committee. Moved: PRK. Seconded: Catherine DeCroy

Ian Nichols proposed an amendment that he be presented with a gold watch, but Dave Cake ruled it out of order as the meeting possessed no property to back any award.

Ian spoke to the motion that even though he spoke for the censure motion he was aware of the work that has been done, though he has engaged in some conflicts. Dave spoke to the motion citing particular contributions and Ditmar's reputation. Samara Morgan asked about adding that the motion specify previous years. PRK noted that the text was general. Samara was happy with that. Ian moved that the motion be put.

Carried with applause.

Frames moved that the natcon apologize to John Parker. Ian Nichols proposed an alternate wording that Frames deferred to.

Motion: that the Business Meeting express its regret over the difficulties that were encountered by Swancon 40 and in particualar by John Parker. Moved: Ian Nichols. Seconded: Frames.

Amendment: that "and Samara" be appended. Moved: PRK. Seconded: Zara Baxter. Accepted: Original mover and seconder. Frames seconded

Frames spoke to the motion citing reasons for regrets. Ian Nichols spoke to the motion: recognition that there were difficulties and regrettable ones hopefully to be avoided. Carried without dissent.

Samara Morgan asked about the rules for the Standing Committee rules as she could only find the Natcon Constitution. Dave Cake spoke about the location of the rules and content vis a vis the constitution.

Zara Baxter suggests that given the difficulties that the Standing Committee had regarding the rules for the nomination and withdrawls that there should be a vote directing the Standing Committee. Amee Lindorff asked about nomination lead time. Peter Lyons said that he thought that mid-December would be the latest time to start the nominations process.

Motion: that the Standing COmmitee provide a proposal for finalising the business around declining nominations and awards by October 30 and put it on the wiki and circulate it. Moved: Zara Baxter. Seconded Amee Lindorf. Carried.

Dave Cake noted that we did extend the time for voting. Did on our own recognizance, no rules about it. Uncertainity about whether the Ditmar Subcommitee or the Standing Committee did it or should have asked the concom. Dave noted that maybe we need to confer with the concom as it has a lot to do with them. Zara Baxter asked Samara Morgan about her experience. Samara said that it did have a large affect. Late notice meant staying up late, John missing out on some of the convention. Peter spoke about making decision and assuming that we could extend given times notified, but we should have consulted,.

Bill Wright brought up ownership of the awards. Zara Baxter asked about the extension process. Dave Cake said we did it among ourselves, dates were agreed upon but then changed. Samara brought up miscommunication and might it have been better if concom were aware that they should do more promotion, that they though the Ditmar subcommittee was going to do the promoting. Amee Lindorff brought up the need to have things in writing. Dave said that we are adding to the wiki. Amee noted that things are hard to find. Frames asked about just creating an indesign template. Dave was happy. Also, the same for the award plaque. Dave noted that the award form deliberately not supplied. In contrast to Hugo specifications, Dave said that perhaps we should specify the plaque. Samara spoke about creating a document, will have examples.

Motion: that the Business Meeting direct the Standing Committee to investigate the current process of communicating Ditmar requirements to Natcon Concoms with the aim to produce a set of guidelines for future use. Moved: Zara Baxter. Seconded: Ian Nichols.

Amendment: that "and that the guidelines include an executable example for the certificate and plaque" be appended. Moved: Frames. Accepted: Original mover and seconder.


Dave Cake asked for any further business.

Samara Morgan moved that we adjourn to the bar. Dave Cake ruled that he would rather stop the meeting and then go to the bar.

Meeting closed at 1:18pm.