Navy Club drama

THERE’S been more drama at the Navy Club in Fremantle, with its president quitting in acrimonious circumstances.

John Emmett resigned from the High Street club’s top job earlier this month following 

a committee meeting which had been called to discuss four complaints lodged against him, which he emphatically rejects.

Minutes of the “supplementary committee meeting” of June 10 leaked to the Herald show Mr Emmett faced complaints of “unacceptable treatment” of committee and staff members, not complying with the club’s safety plan and disregarding the club’s voting system.

A source told the Herald while there were already some slight tensions, Mr Emmett was aggrieved when staff closed the club to comply with Covid-19 restrictions without referring the matter to him.

He also disagreed with the interpretation of Clubs WA’s guidelines on social distancing rules as restrictions eased, and when he allegedly blew his top at a barmaid, it led to a verbal altercation with vice president John Cruikshank.

That sparked the committee meeting, which Mr Emmett claimed in his resignation letter not to have heard about.

“It is demonstrably offensive to me and I would venture to suggest, many of the general membership,” he told Mr Cruickshank in his resignation letter.

“Therefore, I reject entirely the pathetic charges laid against me, the president of this club.”


The meeting, attended by six of the club’s management committee, led to Mr Emmett being warned that he faced suspension, being ejected from the club or refused service if there were any further breaches of the club’s rules.

Mr Emmett had come across to WA from Queensland earlier this year, ostensibly to rescue the club after it found itself up to its ears in debt to the tax office.

The Herald’s source said the club’s finances at that time were in complete disarray, with no records of staff holidays and a raft on untraceable cash sales. That led to the resignation of a long-time club staffer, who’s payout of outstanding leave also left the club with a growing debt headache.

But since then, with Mr Emmett as president and new secretary/treasurer Kate Sloss regularly working voluntarily into the wee hours of the morning, the club’s fortunes had been turning around.

Which made the Covid shutdown all the harder to bear; the month they had to close down had been booked solid and the club looked like turning its first profit in years.

Ms Sloss wouldn’t comment on Mr Emmett’s resignation, but said the committee would be meeting this Monday to organise a special meeting of members on Saturday July 18 to ratify Mr Cruikshank as president and plan the way forward.

She’s full of confidence after the club’s tills started ringing when the doors first reopened, with members staying longer, functions being booked and bands signing up for album launches.

There’s also a couple of fundraising gigs on July 11 and July 28, while the open mike continues to bring in healthy crowds.


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