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What RSL NSW thinks about the Maclean Services Club dispute

RSL NSW’s chief executive officer, Jonathan Black, issued two statements on Friday May 22, regarding disputes between the Maclean Services Club (MSC) and the Maclean RSL Sub-Branch.

On the sale of the building occupied by MSC, he said “as the sole trustee for the Maclean RSL Sub-Branch property, [RSL NSW Custodian Pty Ltd] has an obligation to ensure any decision by the sub branch members to sell the property is conducted in accordance with RSL NSW’s constitution”.

Mr Black said the sub branch has “complied with all requirements of the constitution”.

RSL NSW “also respects the right of the Maclean Services Club to make an offer to purchase the property if it wishes to do so”.

“RSL Custodian Pty Ltd has just received a letter from the services club requesting an opportunity to submit a proposal to purchase the property and, in respect of this, postponed a meeting to give an opportunity for the [services] club to submit such a proposal,” Mr Black said in his statement.

He emphasised, however, that the services club “cannot fetter the current commercial process to sell the property that is underway”.

In general terms, Mr Black also addresses “requests for rent waivers/forgiveness by tenanted RSL and services clubs”.

“The RSL NSW Board is very concerned about the extensive impacts of the COVID19 pandemic,” he said.

“Maintaining focus on charitable support for veterans and their families continues to be the Board’s first priority.

“In doing so it is aware of its responsibility for fiscal responsibility and sustainability in times of deep financial pressure.

“Therefore, recognising the important role community clubs have for supporting veterans, especially in regional and rural locations, it immediately agreed to a policy for rental deferral for tenanted clubs.

“This occurred before the government released regulations and codes on this issue.

“The Board also delegated to the CEO to manage deferral of rents, but reserved its decision-making on rent waivers or rent forgiveness because it involves charitable funds forgone.

“Accordingly, a process was set in place to consider all applications for rent waivers, in accordance with the regulations and codes, and the first such applications are being considered by the Board at its May 27 meeting.”

Specifically about Maclean Services Club, Mr Black said “RSL NSW received an application to waive all rent … while it cannot operate”.

“In accordance with the NSW Regulations (which incorporates the National Code), the sub branch (landlord) has been asked to negotiate with the [services] club,” he said.

“It is RSL NSW’s understanding that this negotiation has not concluded, so a proposal has not yet been prepared for RSL NSW Board’s consideration.”

On this issue, the services club’s executive officer, Stephen Fraser, wrote in his letter to the club’s members: “With the COVID-19 virus hitting Australia, every club venue has been closed, so our Club has received no income for nine weeks – just expenses.

“We have applied to the State RSL Head Office to forgive the last three months of rent.

“This application will be forwarded to their Board.”

Mr Fraser said the two parties are due to meet on Wednesday June 3 to discuss the issue.


For more further details, please read Geoff Helisma’s other article on the subject:

Maclean Services Club’s fate decided on June 1