The old diggers came to Wellington for the RSA's annual meeting with their guns trained firmly above the heads of their national leaders.
Delegates from Christchurch and Auckland, concerned about an $840,000 head office budget deficit over the past two years, arrived at the meeting earlier this month with votes of no confidence in national president Don McIver, his national executive and executive management teams in their briefcases.
Concerns expressed in both no-confidence motions referred to poor governance, poor personnel management and financial mismanagement.
Of particular concern to delegates was the personal assurance Mr McIver gave the 2012 annual meeting that the $203,960 budget blowout in the 2011-12 financial year was a one-off. That was followed the next year by over-expenditure of $637,777.
The organisation's financial troubles come against a background of an ageing and dwindling membership.
Every time an RSA club such as Wainuiomata's closes, as it did in May, the national office loses vital membership revenue. When the Wainuiomata RSA closed, it had about 700 members, but only 50 to 60 were regularly turning up.
Mr McIver acknowledged that a fall in membership fees was hitting the organisation's revenue.
There are about 100,000 RSA members, paying $10 a head in annual fees. Those fees raised about $950,000 this year, which was down by $100,000 on 2012.
Auckland RSA president Graham Gibson said the Auckland and Canterbury branches came up with the no-confidence votes because national office staff "had fallen asleep on duty".
"We needed to put one over their heads to wake them up. The no-confidence move was not intended to destroy the organisation, because we believe it has a future."
The organisation had to adopt a more commercial approach at local and national level to prevent more RSA clubs being forced into voluntary liquidation, he said.
Mr McIver accepted that the RSA needed to find other avenues of income, "and we have started that process". But he insisted the RSA would survive.
Delegates at the annual meeting decided to ask former RSA national president Robin Klitscher to oversee a review of national office governance and management structure, and report back to next year's meeting.
In the meantime, Canterbury's no-confidence motion would remain on the table.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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