Daniell Haenga v Queensland Billiards and Snooker Association (with Australian Billiards and Snooker Council)
The Queensland Billiards and Snooker Association (QBSA) accused Mr Haenga, a snooker player and QBSA member, of breaching the Australian Billiards and Snooker Council’s (ABSC) Member Protection Policy (MPP) and the QBSA Constitution by re-posting on social media disparaging comments about QBSA Board Members and others. It was alleged that Mr Haenga had breached the QBSA constitution by acting in a manner unbecoming or prejudicial to the objects and interests of the QBSA, and breached the ABSC MPP in respect of Discrimination, Bullying and Social Networking.
The QBSA appointed a Judiciary Committee to consider and determine the misconduct complaints of Mr Haenga and the author of the original posts. The QBSA Judiciary Committee determined that 8 of the 9 complaints were substantiated, and that Mr Haenga had breached the Constitution and MPP. Mr Haenga’s membership was suspended for four months. The author of the original posts received a 6-month suspension.
Mr Haenga disputed the determination of the QBSA Judiciary Committee and the penalty imposed, claiming a lack of procedural fairness, bias and a conflict of interest.
The NST concluded that the QBSA had prepared a detailed notice of the alleged misconduct and had provided Mr Haenga with the evidence of the misconduct clearly referencing the relevant rules that had been allegedly offended. The NST found therefore that there had been no denial of procedural fairness.
The NST determined that the ABSC MPP had not been adopted by the QBSA and it did not apply to the alleged conduct. The QBSA purported to adopt the ABSC rules and policy framework after the date of the alleged offending and consequently the MPP could not be applied retrospectively. The ground of appeal that the MPP did not apply at the relevant time was upheld.
The NST determined that Mr Haenga’s re-publishing of a series of social media posts critical of classes of persons within billiards and snooker in Queensland did amount to misconduct in breach of the QBSA Constitution.
The NST agreed that the penalty imposed was excessive in the circumstances, in particular noting the six-month penalty given to the principal offender. The NST determined that a three-month suspension was proportionate and imposed this on Mr Haenga.