An open message to National RSL President Rear Admiral Ken Doolan AO RAN (Retd) :






I have exhausted every avenue to avoid publishing the following information and official documents.  In recent times I met twice with Victorian State president, David McLachlan, as well as CEO Michael Annett, Victorian State Branch Property Committee member John Wells, and Peter McPhee, former president of Mitcham RSL and former Healesville RSL sub-branch manager.

Despite my best efforts, the outstanding issues remain.  David McLachlan does not seem to understand that there are no wars anymore, that there is no enemy.  That we are all veterans, that we are all Australian.

The whole issue of the mishandling of Healesville RSL affairs by RSL Victorian State Branch and the suspicion of fraud within some Victorian RSL sub-branches must be investigated by National RSL, with the help of the fraud squad.

I urge you not to ignore this letter.

Healesville RSL committee and myself followed RSL Bylaw Module 6 (what should be done if fraud is suspected – see attachment A).  I called the national secretary, Mr. Robson, to tell him of our suspicions.  Instead of Mr. Robson following it up so that the issue could be investigated, he called his mate David McLachlan and told him that I had accused him of fraudulent activity.

This issue must now be properly investigated. On the one hand, you expect members to follow the RSL constitution, on the other hand they are punished for doing so. See attachment B for my original letter seeking help, dated 15 July 2007.

David McLachlan sent one of his property empire members, John Wells, specifically to meet with me and ask me not to continue with the suspicion of fraud issue. Please read attachment C sent in an email dated 3 July 2007 and addressed to CEO Michael Annett, to understand what transpired.

At that meeting, John Wells asked me to step aside from my elected position as president and I would come out smelling like roses. When I said to him “You want me to betray my members who voted me in as president?” he replied, “They would not know, Sam. It would be between you and us. ” When I asked him what would happen if I refused to sweep the issue under the carpet and step aside, John Wells replied, ” We could destroy and defame you and your family business. ” He added, ” Sam, you have a distinguished career, you should not do that for those members. They are piss pots, they would believe anything we tell them and you would be defamed”. When I said to him that if he did that we would take the Victorian RSL to court and sue them, he replied, ” You and your committee don’t have enough money to take us to court. RSL has millions to spend in court, you don’t” -or something to that effect. That is when I asked him to leave Healesville RSL immediately. See also attachment C.

John Wells, I believe what you have done on behalf of David MacLachlan is cheap and disgusting. You should resign from the RSL. 

Please read attachment D (stat dec by Ann Eileen Sarre) and attachment E (email from Ken Swincer dated July 3 2007 resigning from his position as acting president and email also from Ken Swincer dated 26 July 2007) to see how far the abuse of power and mismanagement on the part of Victorian State Branch have gone.

I ask you, once again, as the head of the RSL, to investigate the whole issue of Healesville RSL (Sam Halim) versus Victorian RSL State Branch, and to investigate the suspicion of fraud (which was reported to you in accordance with RSL constitution and was subsequently confirmed by the Kerry Grills report).

I urge you to involve the Fraud Squad to help you with your investigation of Victorian State Branch with regard to its abuse of the RSL constitution and the way it swept the suspicion of fraud issues under the carpet.  Attachment F (Minutes from a State Executive Meeting dated 17 May 2007) clearly shows that RSL Mitcham was trading while insolvent with the full knowledge of Anzac House executive (trading while insolvent is a crime).  Imagine the shock of my committee when these minutes anonymously arrived on my desk!  Peter McPhee’s involvement with Mitcham RSL (to the best of my knowledge a former president and general manager) was well known, and here he was managing the day to day affairs of Healesville RSL.  Alarm bells started ringing and we started to watch him closely.   See also the email from Michael Annett dated 30 November 2006 also at Attachment F to be read in conjunction with these minutes, in which Anzac House strongly endorses Peter McPhee, describing him as having a “strong reputation for competence and integrity around the Victorian RSL network and enjoys the confidence of myself, Mark Sherlock and Mark Johnson”.   How could this be, how could Peter McPhee be enjoying the confidence of state executives at a time when Mitcham RSL was already in financial difficulty, becoming insolvent within six months? Note also Anzac House’s insistence that we would have Peter McPhee as our general manager “or else”.

I had to endure a campaign of harassment, as the same criminals within the RSL (they know who they are) tried to defame me to divert attention away from the real issue.

– They started a rumour that I was discharged from the Air Force because I was a terrorist. When that lie didn’t work they started another rumour that I was discharged because I was gay. When that lie didn’t work they started another rumour that I had never served in the Australian Defence Forces. When that lie didn’t work, they started yet another lie that I was passing top secret information to the Iraqis during the Gulf War.  And more and more lies, to be repeated by “piss pots” (as John Wells called them).

Please keep in mind the following:

  • I, Sam Halim, served Australia and the RSL with honour. I am not responsible for those RSL members who are incapable of understanding that some veterans from ethnic backgrounds like myself can achieve more for Australia than they are ever able to do.
  • I worked hard to take Healesville RSL from near insolvent to profitability, a fact that was acknowledged by Victorian State Branch CEO and Chief Financial Officer Mark Sherlock in a meeting on 25 October 2006.
  • I, along with members of my committee, erected the Healesville memorial using money out of our own pockets.
  • I made history when I started the whole reconciliation process to honour the Aboriginal soldiers who fought and died for Australia. Reconciliation is now being celebrated throughout Australia (against the wishes of some narrow minded members). I believe this was another contributing factor as to why I was not RSL Victorian State Branch’s favourite president.

President of National RSL, I look forward to seeing your ethics and principles in action in cleaning up the RSL.  I urge you at the same time, for the sake of the future of RSL, to investigate the mismanagement of pokie machines in all our RSLs and the negative effects these machines are having on RSL members and their families (“hey members, come in, we ‘ll look after you, empty your pockets” attitude).

President of National RSL, there are other options available to me, which I am considering.  Please know that I have done my best up till now to avoid any harmful publicity.

In the interim, I look forward to receiving an open and quick reply from you.


(Any disappointed readers/veterans might like to send me any RSL leaks or official documents for publication on my blog, to


An open letter to Victorian State Branch President Mr David McLachlan


Dear Mr McLachlan

Unfortunately you have missed yet another opportunity to reconcile and solve all our outstanding issues.

During one of our first meetings I took the advice of a good RSL member, John West, to apologise to you for allegedly insulting you, for saying that you “were involved in fraudulent activity”.   You accepted that apology but did not seem interested in solving the outstanding issues or in following the RSL consititution.

You and your executives stormed Healesville RSL to reinstate the former manager Peter McPhee, ignoring the fact that he had also been the manager of and was heavily involved in the management of MItcham RSL, which had been trading while insolvent (see Minutes of 17 May 2007 State Executive meeting, published at attachment F, with particular reference to paragraph (j)).  If you remember, we did not sack Peter McPhee for suspicion of fraud, but suspended him on full pay in accordance with the RSL constitution whilst we made arrangements for Kerry Grills to carry out his investigation.

Even though we had the right to sack him we did not.  We were interested in justice after all.

We are still left wondering after all this time why you interfered in our committee’s decision to suspend the sub-branch manager?  We understand he was your friend back then (it appears you have since had a falling-out), but we could not sit back and see abuses of the constitution taking place because of that friendship.

My advice to you is resign from your position as President of RSL Victorian State Branch. You have abused your power and shown a complete disregard for the constitution. You were a part of the defamation campaign against myself and my committee because it was you, you at your desk in your mahogany office, that sent John Wells and others to do your dirty work. I am saying this now, because I found it impossible in my last meeting with you to resolve any issues.   At that meeeting, at which CEO Michael Annett & John Wells were both present, you were even insinuating that website technology was great (I presume a reference to your dear dirty ANZMI)as well as threatening my family business in a covert way.

At the end of my last meeting with you in November 2012, I challenged you to settle all the outstanding issues in court.  Do you remember your reply- it was “We prefer to settle these issues internally, within the RSL” . God, you are such a hero, being against a veteran like that, but you forget that we are no longer at war.  And you also forget who gets the last laugh.  Every time you visit Healesville RSL you will be reminded of me when you see the memorial that I and my committee erected out of our own pockets.  Every time you attend the reconciliation celebrations at the shrine to honour the Aboriginal soldiers who served/died for Australia, it is my face you will see, because it is I who started the reconciliation against your wishes.

Why didn’t you start the reconciliation process yourself?   You had many chances to do so, but you did not.

I am of ethnic background.  From the Middle East.  I do not believe in their suicide bombings but I do understand what it feels like to be pushed against the wall, to have all the doors closed to your just cause.  I understand too, that the current RSL concept is not the same anymore. Gone are the good old days when there were no pokies and the RSL was all about its members.

You were a soldier once. Resign and save face. Your public apology is too late, now. You and some of your so-called executives are deeply implicated in these issues, and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

You can’t last forever in the RSL, just ask Bruce Ruxton.