PASA amends its constitution

14 Nov 2016

The Pioneers Association of South Australia (P.A.S.A.) amended its constitution at a Special General Meeting tonight to change its criteria for membership.

It used to read "...all persons who have at least one ancestor who arrived in the province, now the State of South Australia, before the end of 1845."

It now reads "... all persons who have at least one ancestor who arrived in the province, now the State of South Australia, by and including 28 December 1846."

The arguments "For" and "Against" were circulated prior to the meeting (see below) and speakers were able to briefly state their case at the meeting immediately prior to the vote by those members present (about 50) and by proxy. Our own webmaster, David Wilson, a P.A.S.A. member (with ancestors from the Cygnet, Rapid and Winchester) requested, and was invited to speak against the motion (see transcript below).

The following is extracted from the pre-circulated information:

The Case for Change

1. The main reason for change is to correct an anomaly which has existed since 1935 when the cut-off date for membership was established as the "end of 1845". This date was to coincide with criteria set by the Sydney-based, all male, Australian Pioneers Club, which paid no heed to the South Australian situation.

* It would be much more meaningful to align this important membership date to a key South Australian event i.e. the 28 December 1846, being 10 years after the first Proclamation.

* And even more meaningful to use the criteria established by our ancestors in the Old Colonist Association (founded 1881), who described their "pioneer member" category as "those who arrived prior to the 28th December 1846, being the 10 anniversary since the first Proclamation.

2. Correcting a misconception: Prospective members of P.A.S.A. have often assumed that the current qualifying date is 10 years on from Proclamation 1.e. 28 December 1846.

3. Potential for membership growth: The population of South Australia increased by about 4,500 during 1846 which broadens P.A.S.A.'s membership base and has the potential to result in an increase in membership at least in the short term.

4. The proposed change does not in any way change or dilute the focus of the Association on pioneer ancestors and the early colonial period of out State's history.

The Case for No Change

1. The main reason for not changing is to continue honouring and adhering to the rules and intent established by our Founders 81 years ago.

2. The current date should be retained out of respect to the ideals of our Founders and to all past and president members who have joined under the 11845 date.

3. Changing the date might "impair our standing" and could set a precedent for a future change.

4. The end of 1845 is a more appropriate date because from 1846 onwards there was a rapid increase in population and a marked change in the demography of immigrants.

Further Information

Members might find the following two Journal articles useful reading :

"Who We Are: Defining Pioneer" by Cheryl Willis, page 4. The Pioneeer, Winter 2016.

"Pioneers or Settlers?", by Jenny Neill, page 7, The Pioneer, Spring 2016.

Transcript of speech made by P.A.S.A. member David Wilson, for a "No" vote.

Thank you Mr Chairman, and to the committee for the considerable work they have put into this proposed constitutional change. My name is David Wilson, and I wish to speak against the motion.

Not because of the arguments already circulated, and outlined tonight about the “no” case but rather simply about the date of 28 December 1846 which, as rightly pointed out, is a “significant date” – the 10th anniversary of proclaiming the commencement of the administration of our new colony.

There is another significant date which curiously has been omitted from any discussion so far in this proposed constitutional change.

I refer of course to 27th July 1836, the date the first ship, the Duke of York, arrived at Nepean Bay, Kangaroo Island. This date has become to be known as “Settlement Day”.

Most people do not realise that during the period of five months before the “Buffalo” arrived at Holdfast Bay with our new Governor aboard, there were about 500 immigrants from eight ships which had anchored at Nepean Bay, where the first settlement was established under the auspices of the South Australian Company,

When they emigrated, each of these pioneers had believed that Kangaroo Island was their destination and was to be their new home. But as we all know within 3 years almost all had relocated to Adelaide, but some stayed and their descendants are still on the Island.

When we are talking about membership of this great pioneers association, we should be talking more about when the first pioneers arrived in South Australia, not when the Governor arrived and the administration commenced.

In no way do I wish to downplay the significance of Proclamation Day (after all it is a public holiday), however, I believe that the significance of Settlement Day has always been, and continues to be, largely overlooked. This is not acceptable to me and many others.

Our Association could seize on this opportunity to properly recognise this date, by instead making a commemoration of 27 July the proposed cut off date for membership.

To that end, I had considered moving an amendment to this motion, but realised that it would almost certainly not succeed, as it had not been properly discussed.

Instead I urge members present tonight to vote “no” to this proposed motion, so that it can be properly discussed, and that a similar motion to change the constitution be put again at a later date.

The motion was carried with 83 "Yes" and 33" "No" with 57 proxy through the Chair.