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21 July 2022

A most unfortunate situation has arisen within Freemasons Victoria where a consultant to our organisation has resolved to publish his differences on social media. This has had the effect of causing damage to the reputation, not only of the fraternity but to the personal reputations of the Deputy Grand Master (Anthony Bucca), the Grand Superintendent of Communications and Marketing (Ash Long) and myself. It has led to the honesty of Anthony Bucca in particular, together with that of Ash Long, to be called into question.

These are the facts:

Earlier this year, Dr Stephen Duns was engaged to provide process support to the Constitutional Transition Committee, chaired by Harry Jenkins and including the Grand Registrar and the Grand Secretary. As you will be aware, Dr Duns acted as support to the Change Management Processes of the organisation during 2021. Dr Duns has received fees for the Change Management Steering Committee Work in 2021; the development of a Leadership Development Framework and assistance to the Constitutional Transition Committee.

It had been resolved by the Grand Secretary, after consultation, and reported to the Masonic Council on 11 July, that the services of Dr Duns were no longer essential to the work of the Constitutional Transition Committee. Dr Duns tendered invoices for his services to be paid by Freemasons Victoria to his company for his part-time consultancy over 18 months.

I was asked, as the person who appointed Dr Duns to that Committee and with whom I had shared a good personal relationship, to formally advise him that his services were no longer required.

On Wednesday 13 July, I spoke with Dr Duns and, in what I believed to be a private conversation, reminded him that although his relationship with a number of senior leaders was fraught, his services to the Committee were being terminated due to the processes of the Committee no longer demanding it. Dr Duns acknowledged that he believed that his advice appeared not to be heeded.

Dr Duns chose to comment on his severance in a post to a number of WhatsApp group members at the same time impugning the roles of Anthony Bucca and Ash Long in the process. Naturally enough, the WhatsApp group members shared the post widely.

As a consequence of this, both Ash Long and Anthony Bucca have been subject to mocking and ridicule. They were accused of having a role in the severance of the services of Dr Duns. This is completely untrue, unwarranted and unjustified.

I accept responsibility for my part in this and regret being frank with Dr Duns. However, I feel betrayed that a simple matter such as severance of a contract arrangement should provoke such an outburst on social media, with Dr Duns knowing that those comments would be distributed more broadly.

It is my duty to defend unfair commentary upon any Freemason, particularly those who strive hard in leadership positions to improve the Craft.

Let me make it perfectly clear that Anthony Bucca and Ash Long enjoy my strong personal and professional support. I value their advice and loyalty, and I guard their reputations zealously.

MWBro. Richard Elkington OAM
Grand Master