NSW RSL should start paying directors, Minister says, after inquiry suggests reforms
The New South Wales Government has recommended board members at the state’s scandal-plagued RSL branch start being paid, less than 12 months after an inquiry into financial mismanagement at the charity.
- The NSW RSL was the subject of a year-long inquiry, which wrapped up last November
- The inquiry heard former president Don Rowe had spent $475,000 on a corporate credit card
- An overhaul of the organisation has been backed by Cabinet
NSW Veterans Affairs Minister David Elliott has proposed a substantial overhaul to the NSW RSL.
Cabinet have backed the changes, which include board members being directly elected by members instead of state sub-branches, and at least one director coming from outside the RSL.
The organisation would also have to table an annual report to the NSW Parliament to allow for a state audit of its finances.
Mr Elliott said the reforms were needed to restore confidence in the organisation.
“I think to attract appropriate levels of directors, quality directors — people that may have left the military and gone on to senior leadership roles, I think the RSL needs to be given the option to pay their directors,” he said.
“It has been a challenging time for the RSL NSW, which has long been a highly regarded and respected organisation in our community.
“For too long the system did not serve the branch members and this reform will ensure power returns to them.”
The president of the RSL NSW, James Brown, said any move to pay directors would mean changing the organisation’s constitution — something that would have to be voted on by members.
“The RSL is a big and complex organisation. Directly and indirectly it employs more than 3,000 staff in NSW, more than 200 properties and it manages nearly $2 billion worth of assets,” he said.
“It is a big job and we need to think carefully about how we attract the right people to the organisation.”
Mr Brown, who was elected in May last year, said the changes outlined by the Government represented a “seismic shift” for the way the RSL is run in NSW.
The year-long inquiry into the NSW RSL wrapped up in November last year and the State Government released the report, by former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin, in February.
The inquiry heard evidence that former president Don Rowe spent $475,000 on a corporate credit card over a six-year period, including $213,000 in cash withdrawals.
The inquiry also heard Mr Rowe used his corporate credit card to cover meals, mortgage repayments, mobile phones and flights for family members during his 11-year tenure.