Sunday, May 6, 2012

Australian Skeptics Inc: 2012 Update

This is an update on the Association and players. [I expect feedback to correct and expand this.]

Mark Plummer, a founder of the Skeptics movement in Australia, is deceased: 16-June-2011.

Harry Edwards wrote his account of the events in 2000 including some relevant questions, plus in 1995, a Brief History.

Barry Williams stood down as Editor and paid Executive of AS-Inc at the end of 2008. His last editorial was in #4, Summer 2008. Karen Stollznow was listed as "Associate Editor" for 2008 issues #1, #2 and  #4, being named "Editor Elect" in issue #3 of 2008.

Williams appointed successor in both roles, Dr Karen Stollznow PhD, produced one issue of "The Skeptic", #1, 2009 (March).
This transfer had been announced by Barry Williams in the Editorial of "The Skeptic"in #1, 2008, pg 5.

The masthead description was changed in 2009 from
 "A Journal of Fact and Opinion"
 "Skepticism . Science . Society", and still remains so.

(Dr?) Steve Roberts produced one issue of "The Skeptic", #2, 2009, before handing the jobs of Editor and possibly paid Executive Officer over to Tim Mendham for #3, 2009. Mendham had suddenly stood down as editor in 1987 ("while wearing 5 hats"), causing Barry Williams to assume the editorship for ~19 years. Tim Mendham's position, Executive Officer, is a specific line-item in the P&L statement in the Association returns. He received ~$60,000 in both financial years, 2010 and 2011. From this, do we deduce a start date close to 1-July-2009?

Richard Lead, Treasurer, evaporated without mention between "The Skeptic" 2003 Issue #4 (December) and 2004 Issue #1 (March).

From p 37 of 2003 #4, [37 - The Lead Balloon: Seminar Hucksters — Richard Lead]
Richard Lead, as well as being Treasurer of NSW Skeptics, is a treasure in his own right, though his detractors complain that he has not been buried yet.
There is no reference to any person as Treasurer until 2009 issue #2 (June), pg 9:
Following the Leader Congratulations to Eran Segev upon being elected President of Australian Skeptics NSW, replacing the scourge of the quacks, Peter Bowditch. Eran is joined by new Vice President Dr Rachael Dunlop and continuing Vice President Richard Saunders. The ever level-headed Martin Hadley is Treasurer with John Sweatman Secretary. Readers will be pleased to know that Barry Williams has returned from Russia and has joined the committee.
Martin Hadley is first mentioned after 2003 in 2004 issue #2 (June) pg 60:
Martin Hadley, Secretary of the NSW Skeptics, was admitted to the Bar once and has been thrown out of them on numberless occasions.
Accounts and Association Returns:
From the document extract below of 4th May, 2012, the questions arise:
  • The Association did not file on-time returns for the 4 years, 1996-1999. They were filed as a group in 1999, presumably with Richard Lead as Treasurer.
  • The then current Act, as now, allows for the automatic cancellation of the Registration of an Association when returns are not filed for 3 consecutive years. The inference being that the Association Registry wrote to "Australian Skeptics" in 1999 advising of an impending cancelation of their registration.
    • The NSW Registry of Associations could've acted as early as 2003.
  • The Association filed NO returns until 26-March-2010.
  • No returns have been lodged for the three years, 2000, 2001, 2002.
  • Returns for 2010 and 2011 have been lodged on-time.
Richard Lead is an important actor in these events, being the registered Public Officer of the Association in NSW from 21-July-1997 until 10-December-2009.

His sudden disappearance around New Year 2004 should've caused the committee to select a new Public Officer and register the change. Under the NSW Act, Associations, it is very important for every Association to both have a current Public Officer and that their details be kept current.

The lack of any published historical record of Office Bearers and Committee Members of "Australian Skeptics Inc" makes the tracking of persons responsible difficult.

In Issue #1 of 2009, the groups contact list was entitled "Skeptics Around Australia" and (curiously) omitted the name of the incorporated entity, "Australian Skeptics Inc", that had been included in all 2008 issues at least:
New South Wales
PO Box 438
Collaroy Beach NSW 2097
Tel: 0432 713 195
Fax: (02) 8088 4735
In only two Issues #2 (March) and #3 (June) 2009 of "The Skeptic", included in the Groups Index is the line (instead of the usual line, resumed in #4 (December), 2009, "Australian Skeptics Inc – Eran Segev":
NSW Skeptics Inc – Eran Segev 
PO Box 262, Roseville, NSW 2069 Tel: 0432 713 195 Fax: (02) 8088 4735
With the search tools I have available, there has never been such an Association ever registered in any Australian State. Under the NSW Associations Incorporation Act of 2009, and its predecessor, no person or entity who is not a registered Association may use "Inc" in its name.

Adjacent to the "Editorial" column is the publisher and contact information, which for 2009 issues #2, #3, #4 (June - December) and for 2010 issue #1 (March) reads:
The Skeptic
ISSN 0726-9897
Quarterly Organ of Australian Skeptics Inc.
(ABN 90 613 095 379 )
All correspondence to:
Australian Skeptics Inc
PO Box 262
Roseville NSW 2069
Payment and Address:
For 2009 issues #2 (June), #3 (September) and #4 (December) of 2009 and
2010 issues #1 (March) and #2 (June), there is a Credit Card

Send to:
The Skeptic                     Ph: 0432 713 195
PO Box 262                      Fax: (02) 8088 4735
Roseville NSW 2069              email: 
Or subscribe online: [only in issue #1 2010]

Cancellation of Association Registration:

The NSW Registrar of Associations cancelled registration of "Australian Sketpics Inc" (Y0133609), the publisher of "The Skeptic", owner of the"" DNS registration and operator of the '' website, for almost a full year from 26-March-2009 until 01-April-2010.  7 years returns were filed on 26-March-2010, presumably by the new Public Officer, Tim Mendham.

The National Conference in November 2009 was organised by, and monies handled by, the QLD Skeptics Inc, not the unregistered "Australian Skeptics Inc". This seems to show that the committee understood that the Incorporated Entity could not trade as it did not exist.

Trading while Unregistered.

All these actions may be quite problematic for the individuals involved with the Association during the period of Registration Cancellation:

  • There is no reference in "The Skeptic" to any of these occurrences.
  • Although unregistered, the full Association name and ABN are recited in "The Skeptic", despite the legislation being clear that "Inc" can only be used by registered, incorporated bodies.
  • For two issues, a potentially bogus name, "NSW Skeptics Inc" is published as the NSW contact, while the non-existent "Australian Skeptics Inc" is still claimed to be the publisher.
  • It's unclear if the ABN was valid at the time because there was no entity to be registered. Using and quoting such an ABN may be an offence under Acts administered by the ATO. GST was payable and 'input costs' deductible, but misquoting ABN's for GST is a serious offence.
  • The exact departure date of Karen Stollznow in unknown, as are her reasons, but she was Editor for "The Skeptic" 2009, Issue #1, published in March. It is probable she was the incumbent when the notice of Cancellation was served on or about 26-March-2009.
    • Did she leave the organisation because of this, or
    • did the putative committee fire her as it could no longer legally operate bank accounts?
  • Tim Mendham assumed Editorship and probably paid Executive Officer for 2009, Issue #3 (September), but was not registered as Public Officer until 10-December-2009.
  • The Credit Card field listed on the renewal/subscription form informs us that some Credit Card facilities were being used. There is no advice given that another entity would be collecting the monies.
  • Were the Association bank accounts and assets frozen?
    • If so, how could costs for the magazine, "The Skeptic" and the website,  still be paid?
    • How were monies for subscriptions collected?
    • How were monies received and spent during this "year off" deal with in the Accounts filed with the NSW Association Registry? The entity did not exist, could not trade and could not maintain any bank accounts or Credit Card facilities.
  • Does this deliberate mis-representation of the individuals masquerading as "Australian Skeptics Inc" whilst it was Unincorporated and Unregistered, constitute an offence?
  • The protections of the "Corporate Veil" afforded individuals by Associations do not apply for the "year off". The individuals passing themselves off as the Association during this time are personally liable to any civil and criminal actions.
  • If monies were transferred from the Foundation during this time, was this an illegal act?
    • If so, whom is responsible and culpable?
    • With the cross-over of Foundation Directors and the Associations' Board, there is a potential ASIC matter to be answered if any money was transferred.

Many of these questions could be answered through the bank records an Tax filings of the two entities.

May 2010 Association Records Extract

Association Extract - New South Wales
Printed on 4 May 2012 11:00
Association Name:       AUSTRALIAN SKEPTICS INC
Name Started:   27 October 1986
Incorporation No:       Y0133609
Date of Incorporation:  27 October 1986
Principal Activity:     SCIENTIFIC
Last Balance Date:      30 June 2011
Public Officer (current):
Address:       -------------- BEECROFT NSW 2119
Start Date:     10 December 2009
Public Officer(s) (previous):
Start Date: 21 July 1997
Cease Date:     10 December 2009
Start Date: Unknown
Cease Date:     21 July 1997
Documents Lodged:

Document        Document Type   Received        Lodged
N0482147        ANNUAL STATEMENT - ASSOC        1994    31-May-1994     31-May-1994
N0723884        ANNUAL STATEMENT - ASSOC        1995    05-Jul-1995     05-Jul-1995
N1683479        ANNUAL STATEMENT - ASSOC        1999    26-Jul-1999     26-Jul-1999
N1683484        ANNUAL STATEMENT - ASSOC        1998    26-Jul-1999     26-Jul-1999
N1683489        ANNUAL STATEMENT - ASSOC        1997    26-Jul-1999     26-Jul-1999
N1683480        ANNUAL STATEMENT - ASSOC        1996    26-Jul-1999     26-Jul-1999
N1683485        CHANGE OF PARTICULARS - ASSOC   26-Jul-1999     26-Jul-1999
N4217259        CHANGE OF PARTICULARS - ASSOC   23-Mar-2010     06-Apr-2010
N3902941        ANNUAL STATEMENT - ASSOC        2003    26-Mar-2010     07-May-2010
N3902942        ANNUAL STATEMENT - ASSOC        2004    26-Mar-2010     07-May-2010
N3902943        ANNUAL STATEMENT - ASSOC        2005    26-Mar-2010     07-May-2010
N3902944        ANNUAL STATEMENT - ASSOC        2006    26-Mar-2010     07-May-2010
N3902945        ANNUAL STATEMENT - ASSOC        2007    26-Mar-2010     07-May-2010
N3902946        ANNUAL STATEMENT - ASSOC        2008    26-Mar-2010     07-May-2010
N3902947        ANNUAL STATEMENT - ASSOC        2009    26-Mar-2010     07-May-2010
N3902940        REINSTATEMENT OF CANCELLED ASSOCIATION  01-Apr-2010     06-Apr-2010 
N4314943        ANNUAL STATEMENT - ASSOC        2010    22-Sep-2010     30-Sep-2010
N4545679        ANNUAL STATEMENT - ASSOC        2011    07-Oct-2011     17-Oct-2011
N3848601        SECTION 54 - CANCELLATION OF INCORPORATION      --      25-May-2009

DNS Registration details:
Date: Fri, 04 May 2012 17:46:54 +1000

GeekTools Whois Proxy v5.0.5 Ready.
Checking access for ok.

Checking server []
Domain Name:           
Last Modified:                   08-Sep-2011 02:48:17 UTC
Registrar ID:                    Melbourne IT
Registrar Name:                  Melbourne IT
Status:                          ok

Registrant:                      Australian Skeptics Inc
Registrant ID:                   OTHER 007 111 531
Eligibility Type:                Other

Registrant Contact ID:           Z131543641130234
Registrant Contact Name:         Eran Segev
Registrant Contact Email:        Visit for Web
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Tech Contact ID:                 Z131543641130234
Tech Contact Name:               Eran Segev
Tech Contact Email:              Visit for Web
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Common boilerplate, post-2008, on the subscription/payment page of "The Skeptic":
Are you skeptical?
Skeptics think critically where there is doubt.
The Skeptic promotes skepticism, reason, science, education, critical thinking and common sense.

Skeptics analyse claims.
The Skeptic investigates paranormal and pseudoscience beliefs and practices from a rational and scientific perspective.

Skeptics are open-minded.
But not so open that our brains fall out! An open mind is not an empty head.

Skeptics seek the evidence.
The Skeptic publishes findings that are sometimes humorous, often sobering and always fascinating.
An informative and factual resource for the public and media.

List of “Honorary Life Members” publicly announced in the Skeptic:
 (Count of Active members: 16)

  • Martin Bridgstock Dr, PhD 1990, QLD branch,
  • Bob Bruce 2003, QLD, 
  • Ian Bryce 2003, NSW
  • Irene Case 2000, NSW, organiser of World Conference
  • Prof Richard Champion 1999, NSW branch, long time treasurer  (deceased)
  • Laurie Eddie 2005, SA
  • Harry Edwards 1998?, NSW, secretary, chief investigator (notionally expelled)
  • James Gerrand 1990, VIC branch, Inaugural Secretary AS.
  • Prof Colin Groves 2006, Canberra Skeptics' first Honorary Life Member  (deceased)
  • Peter Hogan 1994?, VIC
  • Prof Colin Keay 2005, Newcastle. founder Hunter Skeptics, AS 1983
  • Tim Mendham 1990, NSW, Inaugural Secretary and Treasurer NSW branch
  • Mark Plummer 1990, VIC branch, foundation member and inaugural president  (deceased)
  • Prof Ian Plimer 1997, VIC/SA.
  • Alex Ritchie 1995?, Dr, PhD, NSW. Retired 1995.
  • Steve Roberts 2002, VIC
  • Richard Saunders 2001, NSW.
  • Ken Smith Dr, PhD, 1990, QLD branch, UQ, Dept Mathematics
  • John Stear 2005, QLD (Gold Coast), retired public servant, "No Answers in Genesis" website
  • Fred Thornett 2005, TAS  (deceased)
  • Barry Williams 2002, NSW

Current New South Wales Committee [13]:

Life Members [4]

  • Barry Williams [emeritus committee member]
  • Ian Bryce
  • Richard Saunders
  • Tim Mendham

Others [9]:
  • Joanne Benhamu
  • Peter Bowditch
  • Dr Rachael Dunlop
  • Martin Hadley
  • Karen Player
  • Peter Rodgers [emeritus committee member]
  • Eran Segev
  • Jessica Singer
  • John Sweatman [emeritus committee member]
2011 declared membership: 16

7 active Non-Life Member Committee Members + 16 Active Life Members = 23.

Definition of an "ordinary reasonable reader"

 Matter No 40005/97 [1998] NSWSC 4 (4 February 1998)

also 43 NSWLR 158 at pp 164-167.

ordinary reasonable reader (or listener or viewer)
 is a person of fair average intelligence,[27]
 who is neither perverse,[28]
 nor morbid or suspicious of mind,[29]
 nor avid for scandal.[30]

That person does not live in an ivory tower but can and does read between the lines in the light of that person's general knowledge and experience of worldly affairs.[31]

The mode or manner of publication is a material matter in determining what imputation is capable of being conveyed.[32]

[27] Slatyer v Daily Telegraph Newspaper Co Ltd [1908] HCA 22; (1908) 6 CLR 1 at 7.

[28] Ibid (at 7).

[7] Saunders v Jones (1877) LR 7 Ch D 435 at 451; Rex v Associated
Northern Collieries [1910] HCA 61; (1910) 11 CLR 738 at 740; Dare v
Pulham [1982] HCA 70; (1982) 148 CLR 658 at 664. Other authorities for
this proposition are collected in Sims v Wran [1984] 1 NSWLR 317 at 321-322.

[29] Keogh v Incorporated Dental Hospital of Ireland [1910] 2 Ir R 577 at 586.

[30] Lewis v Daily Telegraph Ltd (at 260).

[31] Lewis v Daily Telegraph Ltd (at 277); Morgan v Odhams Press Ltd
[1971] 1 WLR 1239 at 1245; Lang v Australian Consolidated Press Ltd
[1970] 2 NSWR 408 at 412; Middle East Airlines Airliban SAL v Sungravure
Pty Ltd [1974] 1 NSWLR 323 at 340.

[32] Capital and Counties Bank Ltd v George Henty & Sons (at 744, 771);
English and Scottish Co-operative Properties Mortgage and Investment
Society Ltd v Odhams Press Ltd [1940] 1 KB 440 at 452-453.

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