Maryborough RSL AGM - Paul Coleman on the day he became the newly appointed Sub-branch President. Photo: Cody Fox
Maryborough RSL AGM - Paul Coleman on the day he became the newly appointed Sub-branch President. Photo: Cody Fox

RSL SPLIT: Why sub-branch wants to part with M’boro club

MARYBOROUGH’S RSL Sub-branch is heading towards a historic split from the commercial club arm.

It comes after one of the most tumultuous periods in the Maryborough RSL’s history and amid ongoing concerns about its financial future.

The justification for the demerger is set out in a Notice of Motion, circulated to RSL sub-branch members, and highlights fears about Maryborough losing its RSL altogether should action not be taken.

It refers to the original merging in 2005, prior to which the sub-branch and the club were separate legal entities existing “happily side-by-side with the club giving the sub-branch a regular and substantial rent based on market rates”.

“Unfortunately, the sub-branch/club financial performance since the integration in 2005 has been marked by continuing difficulties which, on at least two occasions, required the intervention of RSL Queensland to save the sub-branch from insolvency,” the notice reads

“This has been due entirely to poor management and a lack of corporate governance.

“If you look around the state the majority of successful RSL clubs are separate from their sub-branches and are professionally managed by boards with a wide range of commercial skills (For example Hervey Bay).

Maryborough RSL Club General Manager Craig Lenihan was previously exposed as a military impostor and convicted in February this year of falsely representing to be a returned soldier.

He was also fined for a drug offence.

It’s understood he remains on sick leave.

A major overhaul of the sub-branch committee also took place in February.

The RSL Board was then tasked with “investigating the desirability and

practicality of returning to the previous separate entities”.

Sub-branch president Paul Coleman said this week that a restructure subcommittee was formed and visited Hervey Bay, Gympie, Bundaberg and Kingaroy RSLs, interviewed a number of past members of the Maryborough Sub-branch and previous members of the Services and Citizens Memorial Club board.

“They also consulted with solicitors, the BOQ and our auditors. It is fair to say that, by a significant majority, these people recommend a return to separate entities,” he said

“The cost of demerger has been estimated by Mullins law at $30,00 to $40,000.

“Queensland RSL research indicates that sub-branch membership will drop by 50% over the next few years which, if it eventuates, will leave us with less than 200 members. It will become problematic for the Sub-branch to successfully operate a club with 80 staff and a $10 million a year turn over.”

The imminent decline and ageing of the membership of the sub-branch, and the associated loss in business and management skills base that this would entail was also a significant factor in the recommendation.

Mr Coleman said that under the current structure the club business absorbed an enormous amount of the time and energy of the board to the detriment of the sub-branch members and their wellbeing.

“We also believe the sub branch has a moral and civic obligation to the people of Maryborough to ensure the long- term viability of the club,” he said

“To achieve this, the club must be established on independent long-term commercial grounds.

“The board therefore will recommend to the General Meeting that the sub-branch establish a separate company for the purpose of conducting the business of the club.”

The proposal involves no change to the status or constitution of the RSL sub-branch and no change to ceremonial. commemorative or welfare activities which will continue to be supported by the new club.

Mr Coleman urges all financial sub-branch members to attend the November meeting to have their say and vote on this important proposal for the future of their sub-branch and club.

If approved, the constitution for the new company will presented to the February AGM for their approval.

The Board recommends that, if approved, the new company be called “The Maryborough RSL and Citizens’ Memorial Club Limited” a return to its traditional name.