A Navy veteran has lost a court battle to rejoin his local RSL sub-branch after an eight-year feud with other members.
Trevor Atkins, 73, served as president and treasurer of Port Broughton RSL on the Yorke Peninsula before leaving the sub-branch in 2011.
He made several attempts to rejoin Port Broughton RSL over the years but his applications were rejected by the sub-branch.
Mr Atkins, who is now a member of Brighton RSL, 190km away from his home, launched District Court action against Port Broughton RSL’s decision to turn him away.
But in a recent ruling, Judge Sydney Tilmouth upheld the decision and said the relationship between Mr Atkins and the sub-branch was “divisive”.
Judge Tilmouth said allowing Mr Atkins to rejoin Port Broughton “contains the distinct possibility of fostering further disharmony and further disruption of the orderly discharge of the activities and functions of the sub branch”.
“On balance these latter considerations outweigh any disadvantage to Mr Atkins,” Judge Tilmouth said.
Mr Atkins claimed he was repeatedly denied use of Port Broughton’s services except at public events, and that Brighton RSL was too far away to attend regular activities.
He said he had spent $6000 in legal fees fighting the case, which also included an earlier civil claim in the Magistrates Court. That case was also dismissed.
“It’s getting stupid I think … it’s just not cricket,” said Mr Atkins, who served in the Royal Australian Navy between 1963 and 1983.
“I want to belong to the sub-branch and serve ex-servicemen and women.”
However, he said the latest court case was the end of the matter.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s over.”
The Port Broughton sub-branch declined to comment on the District Court’s decision.
According to court documents, the sub-branch submitted that Mr Atkins was “not a fit and proper person” and rejected his latest application based on “past unsociable and unacceptable behaviours”.
The sub-branch previously argued that Mr Atkins’ behaviour had made members uncomfortable, leading to “reduced attendance” and lost memberships.
It also argued his history of resigning from an elected position before his term of office expired showed “inability to work with others”.
Judge Tilmouth concluded that Mr Atkins was fully entitled to use the amenities at Port Broughton RSL and could run for office at Brighton RSL if he wished to.
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