Bundaberg RSL Sub-branch president Joseph Ellul.
Bundaberg RSL Sub-branch president Joseph Ellul.

RSL president questions club contributions

THE extent to which the Bundaberg Services Club prioritises local veterans has been called into question by RSL Sub-Branch president Joseph Ellul who says seldom do they see more than “market rent” from the business.

However, Services Club general manager Col Rankin said they were fully committed to veterans – “always have been, always will be”.

Mr Ellul said 20 years ago it was the one organisation, but it was split and given its own board and with the advent of poker machines, licencing restrictions, security and regulations they’ve become their own entities.

“Instead of our club supporting us, the boards and business manager downstairs are growing their own business and have stopped pretty much supporting veterans,” he said.

“The 50,000 members that are coming to the club, are supporting the Services Club, not supporting local veterans.”

He said the perceived shift in priority was ripping him up inside.

Mr Rankin said they contribute a significant amount to supporting local veterans particularly through the building.

He said in recent years they’ve spent $11 million on the building and pay hundreds-of-thousands in rent per year.

Without the contributions to the building by the Services Club, Mr Rankin said it wouldn’t be the modern infrastructure that currently stands.

With housing and ensuring veterans have transport to medical appointments some of the major impacts locally, Mr Ellul said the money spent to secure the bowls club at Bargara could have gone towards buying houses for veterans.

“I’ve got a number of veterans that are struggling to pay rent, yet have served in wars and the very business that we started to help them live a better life is being channelled to appease a group of people who are no longer supporting veterans,” he said.

“Apart from market rent, they play The Ode at 6pm every night and I think veterans get a $2 discount on some meals two days a week.

“Apart from that, that money that they make from downstairs, from 100 plus poker machines that should be coming to us is just purely going to grow their own business.”

Mr Rankin said they purchased the bowls club to keep it open and as a means to better cater to veterans and members in Bargara.

He said they were thankful for the support from veterans at their respective clubs and believes the disappointment felt was not a representation of all local veterans.

Having accepted the role as president several months ago, Mr Ellul said he had been working to unify the local veterans after a turnover of four presidents in two years and hopes to build their current membership from 900 to 1000.

He said he didn’t want jobs or positions to change, just to see profits directed towards veterans.

“If people like our country, they should thank a veteran because they paid for what we have with blood, sweat, tears and lives,” Mr Ellul said.

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