Coast Guard skippers back on deck after shock axing
THE trauma of a sudden axing is finally over for two volunteers dedicated to helping the Coast's stricken mariners.
Coast Guard Mooloolaba members Ian Hunt and Rod Ashlin were the flotilla's respective commander and deputy commander when they were stood down by the Sunshine Coast Squadron Board in February.
There began their battle to clear their names against five complaints made against them.
Administrators were also appointed to run the flotilla.
Mr Ashlin, 71, said he and Mr Hunt, 66, learned details of those allegations about a week after being stood down.
"The matters were of a minor nature but we responded in detail and asserted there were no issues of any wrong doing," Mr Ashlin said.
An investigation was conducted on behalf of the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard national board.
A report from that investigation, dated from March, examined the issues raised and as a result recommended the stand down order against Mr Hunt and Mr Ashlin be revoked at the earliest opportunity.
The report also said the basis for the appointment of administrators was unclear.
Mr Ashlin said he and Mr Hunt were not aware of the report but received a letter from the national board late in April advising they could continue as operational members but were ineligible to stand for a position of office for four years.
They appealed the decision but did not receive a response before the Mooloolaba flotilla's June election.
They were therefore ineligible to stand for leadership positions, which were subsequently taken up by other members.
Mr Ashlin said he learned of the March report recommendations soon after the election.
It prompted more correspondence, including advocacy from Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace and an in-person meeting with the national board in August.
Official confirmation of their vindication came on October 9.
The national board said the stand down order had been rescinded and they were free to stand for executive positions at the next flotilla elections, not due until 2019.
"I can also confirm that the national executive considers that the matter is now closed," the letter read.
Mr Hunt said his spirits were further buoyed at last week's flotilla Christmas party when he and Mr Ashlin were presented with awards for outstanding service to the flotilla.
They have been fulfilling roles such as being senior skippers as well as other tasks since returning.
"It (being stood down) was obviously stressful to both of us and our families and the other concern we had was for the flotilla," Mr Hunt said.
He said rumours about it closing and innuendo about financial mismanagement were hurtful for its members.
"The easy option would have been to quit.
"My feeling was to... stay on and give the new executive support."
Mr Ashlin appreciated the support shown by flotilla members.
"It is still sensitive in that we would never have got justice if we hadn't fought very, very hard," Mr Ashlin said.