Media statement: Political donations made by RSL LifeCare



13 September 2017


Political donations made by RSL LifeCare

For more than a century RSL NSW has prided itself on being a non-partisan and non-sectarian organisation. One of the RSL’s roles is to engage with governments of all political stripes to progress public policy aimed at helping veterans and their families, as well as securing Australia’s defence needs. For that reason, and the fact that we are a charitable organisation, we do not make political donations or participate in partisan political activities.

Earlier this year, through media reporting, it became clear to the leadership of RSL NSW that RSL LifeCare had made certain political donations to the NSW Liberal Party. RSL LifeCare is a subsidiary organisation, controlled by RSL NSW, chiefly through the right RSL NSW has to appoint or remove directors on the RSL LifeCare board.

The newly elected President of RSL NSW accordingly wrote the attached letter to the NSW Liberal Party and stated:

“Whilst I understand RSL LifeCare has underlined that it followed due process in this instance, I am conscious that we need to guard against even the remotest possibility that the public could perceive RSL NSW, or its subsidiaries, as anything other than non-partisan. With that in mind, I would appreciate if in this instance the NSW Liberal Party could consider refunding the amount of money in question”

The NSW Liberal Party subsequently agreed to refund the donations made by RSL LifeCare. During the conduct of the Bergin Inquiry this past week it was revealed that additional donations had been made by RSL LifeCare. RSL NSW will comment on that revelation during the course of the Inquiry in accordance with the Inquiry process.

RSL NSW and Mr James Brown are not available for further comment.

Attachment: Letter to the NSW Liberal Party from newly elected President of RSL NSW