Gympie RSL crisis - timeline of trouble tells what happened

RSL ROW: Gympie RSL Club may merge with the Gympie Pines Golf Club and possibly other sporting groups members approve a move to new premises at this morning's annual general meeting.
RSL ROW: Gympie RSL Club may merge with the Gympie Pines Golf Club and possibly other sporting groups members approve a move to new premises at this morning's annual general meeting. Arthur Gorrie

AS THE long running dispute between Gympie's RSL sub branch and the separate but related RSL Club reaches crisis point, members of both organisations are worried.

"How did we get here?" seems to have been the big question in the minds of sub branch members at Sunday's sub branch annual general meeting.

AT WAR: FULL STORY ON DISPUTE HERE

The answer is a long one, going back nearly three years.

According to a timeline summary presented by sub branch vice president Steve Smith, the current crisis, involving an announced club plan to sue the sub branch for potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars, seems to date back to another difficult time.

In that crisis, sub branch members rebelled against their own committee, ultimately electing a new one, partly over a land purchase which many members felt was not conducted with adequate transparency.

That issue seems to have also concerned club officials.

And it all seems to have followed from there.

Gympie RSL Sub-branch president Peter Maddocks.
Gympie RSL Sub-branch president Peter Maddocks. Rowan Schindler

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Gympie RSL's timeline of trouble, summarised from an address Gympie RSL sub branch vice president Steve Smith

May 2015 -

Club reports to members on ill-fated sub branch plan to develop Duke St land as an administration building and drop-in centre, a move which the club interprets as a planned rival entertainment venue.

February 2016 -

Sub branch board is thrown out at AGM, due to concerns about the Duke St purchase and a claimed "lack of transparency."

March 2016 -

New board agrees to sell Duke St property "in due course."

DEAL: Gympie RSL acquired land in Duke Street for their new offices. Clockwise from left is RSL Club President Frank Bontoft, Janelle Walker from United Property Sales, Club Deputy President Len Herron and Club CEO and Treasurer Bob Stretton.
DEAL: Gympie RSL acquired land in Duke Street for their new offices. Clockwise from left is RSL Club President Frank Bontoft, Janelle Walker from United Property Sales, Club Deputy President Len Herron and Club CEO and Treasurer Bob Stretton. Greg Miller

May to July, 2016 -

Agreement achieved between club and sub branch to jointly redevelop the Mary St building and facilities.

August 2016 -

Club advises its members of this at a special general meeting.

October 2016 -

Sub branch agrees $c21,320 - half cost of an organisational plan prepared by consultants, breaking down costs of redevelopment into club and sub branch responsibilities.

February 2017 -

Club, with solicitor present, tells sub branch board it is no longer interested in redeveloping Mary St and plans to purchase the golf club.

BIG PLANS: An artist's impression of Gympie RSL Club's proposed new golf club venue.
BIG PLANS: An artist's impression of Gympie RSL Club's proposed new golf club venue. Contributed

March 2017 -

Club secretary manager provides a presentation of club plans to club members at the club AGM, advising that a contract has been signed and due diligence expected to take six months. No vote of members is taken.

Sub branch determines sub branch and ex-service members it supports will receive no benefit from the venture and would possible receive reduced rent.

Sub branch formally advises club board that no reduction in rent will be considered and sub branch does not support golf club move.

May 2017 -

Sub branch holds special general meeting to change its constitution to allow it to operate a liquor and gaming venue and is told of club's golf club plans.

Members "overwhelmingly support" for protecting its interests and Mary St operations, engages legal counsel.

July - August 2017 -

Club offers to sell 38 poker machines and entitlements to the sub branch so they would not be relocated to golf club. Sub branch requires half the machines (49) should remain at Mary St.

Legal exchanges occur but no firm agreement is reached.

Sub branch rejects an offer to sell some entitlements without the machines.

Amended sub branch constitution is submitted to liquor and gaming authorities.

Pokie machines
Pokie machines WARREN LYNAM/1692659b

September 2017 -

Sub branch meets with Geebung and Gaythorne RSL representatives and hears of their experience taking over the management of their club operations.

Sign erected at golf club saying club had applied to Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulator to relocate all 98 poker machines.

Sub branch engages new legal team, the one which advised Geebung and Gaythorne clubs.

Sub branch president seeks restitution of funds paid to the club for the consultant on the now defunct plan to renovate Mary St. The $21,320 is returned.

October 2017 -

OLGR receives 220 letters of protest in opposition to the club application to relocate gaming machines. OLGR suspends application process.

Club president advises sub branch president the golf club ventuire is suspended.

November 2017 -

Sub branch applies for liquor and gaming licence.

Sub branch receives formal advice from club of planned legal action for breach of agreement over the planned number of machines to be purchased by the sub branch.

December 2017 -

Sub branch members meet with legal team

Gympie's Anzac Day Dawn Services, at Memorial Lane and Normanby Point.
Gympie's Anzac Day Dawn Services, at Memorial Lane and Normanby Point. Jacob Carson

January 2018 -

Sub branch sends formal legal letter to club saying no such agreement exists after club's counter offer and that sub branch will defend its position.

Club constitution reviewed by sub branch board and suspected anomalies are recorded and sent to legal team.

February 2018 -

The club solicitor serves notice of court proceedings over the planned number of machines to be purchased by the sub branch during the golf club venture, which the sub branch had believed was no longer current.

Gympie Times


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