Sacked RSL NSW boss Glenn Kolomeitz is frustrated.
After lifting the lid on the league’s financial scandals, including allegations of fraud and cover-ups within its leadership, the Illawarra army veteran’s recent termination means he won’t get to finish what he started.
But that doesn’t mean he’s walking away from his mission to fix the finances and grow the organisation.
“I didn’t realise the depth of the governance problems I’d have to start fixing,” Mr Kolomeitz told the Mercury.
“Having started to fix the governance issues and to fix the company’s structural issues, it's disappointing that I won’t necessarily get to see that through.
“I haven’t disappeared from the scene, so I certainly would look at any options to be able to contribute to those reforms in the future.”
Mr Kolomeitz described this week’s NSW government announcement of a royal commission-style inquiry into the RSL’s fundraising activities as a “watershed moment” for the organisation.
“I think in years to come we’ll point to this moment, the appointment of this inquiry, as the point at which the doors to Anzac House [the RSL NSW’s Sydney headquarters] were opened, the books were opened to public scrutiny and the healing process could begin,” he said.
“This is the moment when future generations of veterans and their families can look back and go ‘that’s when the RSL was opened up and was properly getting back on mission’. ”
The inquiry – which will take place under the state's Charitable Fundraising Act and be headed by former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin, SC – would investigate the allegations of financial misconduct.
“There’s a lot more to be found in that organisation and it goes back decades. I have no doubt,” Mr Kolomeitz said. Asked how much, he said: “Millions”.
Meanwhile, the Illawarra’s parliamentary secretary has backed his government’s move to launch the inquiry.
Gareth Ward first raised concerns over the treatment of Mr Kolomeitz in the NSW Parliament during February.
Investigate political donations: Labor
The NSW Opposition has urged the Berejiklian government to include political donations in its royal commission-style public inquiry into the state’s RSL.
The 2016 annual report for RSL LifeCare, an aged care charity partly-owned by the league, revealed it received donations from RSL women’s auxiliaries across NSW.
The donations included thousands of dollars from Illawarra and South Coast women’s auxiliaries – including Huskisson ($9000), Woonona-Bulli ($4500), Callala Beach ($3500), Milton/Ulladulla ($2400) and Bomaderry ($2000).
Labor’s veterans affairs spokeswoman Lynda Voltz said RSL LifeCare had been a political donor to the NSW Liberal Party.
“I am sure the good-hearted and hard working women from the RSL women’s auxiliaries across NSW, who have been involved in raising money for RSL LifeCare’s aged services, would be concerned to find that their donations were instead funnelled off as political donations to the Liberal Party,” Ms Voltz said.
“Any donations should be immediately returned so they can be used for the purposes they were intended, the health and wellbeing of our veterans.”
The Huskisson RSL sub-branch also donated $10,000 to RSL LifeCare, the annual report said, while the Woonona-Bulli RSL Club raised $5000 for the league’s Homes for Heroes – a service providing accommodation for young veterans living on the streets.
The report only listed donations of $2000 or more.
RSL LifeCare has aged care villages in Nowra, Tura Beach, Merimbula and Eden.