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RSL board to face spill after sub-branch revolt


The board of the state’s Returned and Services League will face an attempted coup after opponents of the embattled regime raised enough support to call a spill, InDaily can reveal.

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Organisers of the bid to unseat the current board confirmed they had secured the support of 14 sub-branches to call an extraordinary sub-branch conference, at which they will attempt to remove most of the remaining board, after a raft of recent resignations and revelations of financial turmoil.

The state RSL’s constitution holds that such a meeting must be convened within two months of a written request by “not less than 10 per cent” of the 138 current sub-branches.

Rod Murray, a service member at the Brighton sub-branch and one of those pushing for change, told InDaily the spill had been prompted “because of financial mismanagement, a lack of transparency and poor communication from the state branch”.

He said the conference would move motions to remove state president Tim Hanna, his deputy Jill Hoare and fellow board member Rick Harley.

It’s understood “relatively new appointee” Colin Johns will not be targeted.

InDaily has attempted to contact Hanna for comment.

Murray said if the coup was successful, “we have some very good people prepared to put their hands up”.

He said they included “at least two former board members”, however “until such time as they can see the size of the problem… they’re not prepared to come forward at this stage, which I think would be a judicious exercise”.

He said their candidacy would depend on the contents of an independent financial audit commissioned by the RSL’s national office, which it’s understood has been received in the past few days.

Murray said the motion in his own Brighton sub-branch was carried “unanimously”.

The move comes as the RSL this week topped up its board after the recent walkout, revealed by InDaily, of electee Cheryl Cates, who wrote in her resignation letter that in light of recent events: “I can no longer serve this Board as I am not satisfied that it is heading in the right direction and with the best interest of the League at heart.”

Her resignation followed those of former Liberal MP Ivan Venning, prominent accountant Corey McGowan, academic and businesswoman Francine Pinnuck and former Veterans SA boss Bill Denny, as well as CEO Julia Langrehr.

However, former board member Steve Larkins confirmed today he had been re-appointed to fill Cates’ vacancy – despite having lost his seat at an election last year.

Larkins said he was “next in the line of people who stood for election last year”.

“At this stage I’ve agreed to go back on, because I think it’s a job that needs to be done, basically… to run the organisation” he said.

InDaily has also revealed the League is seeking to sell off its Royal Australian Regiment headquarters in Linden Park as it tries to bolster its flagging finances, which have been hit by a disastrous land investment at Victor Harbor and a trail of loans to the Alice Springs sub-branch totalling around $2 million, which insiders have conceded will be impossible to recoup.

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