RSL NSW rejects Port Kembla vote

RSL NSW overrode the wishes of Port Kembla sub-branch members when it rejected granting an Illawarra company a lease to reopen the RSL club.

Soundwaves boss Wayne Murray wanted to lease Port Kembla RSL to keep the club running. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Soundwaves boss Wayne Murray wanted to lease Port Kembla RSL to keep the club running. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Lake Heights company Soundwaves Entertainments general manager Wayne Murray said yesterday he was interested in running the RSL club after it went into administration last year.

Mr Murray said he had spoken to both the Port Kembla sub-branch and the administrators about taking over the lease of the club.

On October 17 last year the Port Kembla sub-branch held a meeting to vote on the three potential lessees of the club, including Soundwaves Entertainments.

According to minutes of the meeting supplied by Mr Murray, the vote was unanimous to "accept the Soundwaves offer to lease the property subject to the approval of NSW state branch being granted [and] that we would arrange with our solicitor to draw up the lease".

Just seven working days later, on October 28, the Port Kembla sub-branch executive received letters from RSL NSW informing them they had been sacked and the state body was appointing an administrator from the Wollongong sub-branch.

"We were then advised by [former Port Kembla sub-branch president] Jim Lyon to go directly to state branch to finalise things," Mr Murray said.

"We were waiting for the lease to come from their solicitor to our solicitor for around 10 days."

Mr Murray received a letter from RSL NSW's legal representative, Bowen Legal, dated November 15 and relating to the leasing of the RSL. The final paragraph stated, "we are instructed that no state branch approval will be forthcoming and as such there will be no lease entered into with your company".

Mr Murray said yesterday that there was "no justified reason" for the denial.

"We were treated in the same rude, obnoxious manner as what the sub-branch committee and executive were all treated."

Mr Murray said RSL NSW had still given no reasons for the rejection of the lease.

The retired servicemen and women of the Port Kembla RSL sub-branch deserved better, he said.

"To see these people that have done so much for this country being treated in such a deplorable and derogatory manner, it's heartbreaking," Mr Murray said.

"We wouldn't have the life that we have if it wasn't for these people.

"Port Kembla RSL is 95 years old, possibly the first RSL club in the Illawarra. Are we just going to watch all our history being demolished?"

The Mercury contacted NSW RSL president Don Rowe but he declined to comment as the matters may become subject to legal proceedings.


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