Cyprus Community of NSW’s Annual General Meeting abruptly ends in brawl

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The Cyprus Community of NSW held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Sunday, August 27 at the Cyprus Club in Stanmore, Sydney. There were approximately 150 members present.

President of the Cyprus Community, Andrew Costa, opened the meeting with a minute’s silence for all the members that had passed away over the last year.

Next, there was a request to members to confirm minutes from the 2022 AGM. The meeting minutes were not accepted by members as there was a discrepancy found by former Secretary, Roula Christodoulides. 

The minutes distributed in the 2022 Annual Report stated that five members were a part of the election committee, however there were six, according to Ms Christodoulides’ handwritten notes taken at the time. 

President Andrew Costa opened the meeting with a minute’s silence.

Mr Costa and the Board explained to members that the sixth person was not physically present at the AGM when the committee was appointed, which contradicted the constitution and therefore could not form part of the election committee.  

After much heated debate, a motion was put forward and members voted to not accept the minutes in the 2022 report. The board accepted an amendment to include the sixth name, as Ms Christodoulides had noted. 

Mr Costa then presented the President’s Report that detailed several matters including the significant increase in value of the Stanmore site after being rezoned in May, the challenges the club faces, essential repairs and upgrades required, continuing to support SEKA, language and dance schools, numerous upcoming events, the promotion of culture, the Inner West Hawks soccer club and a proposed Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to be held later this year. 

Mr Costa presented details of a recent appraisal of the Stanmore site that was valued between $65 and $80 million after being rezoned. He informed members that a series of information nights will be held in the lead up the EGM, in order for members to best decide on the future plans of the Inner West site.

Mr Costa went on to say that the Cyprus Community was in the process of planning their Food and Wine Festival, which hosted close to 5000 people last year. He announced that the NSW government had granted $15,000 toward the festival this year. 

Approximately 150 members were present at the AGM.

Next, Terry Bieri presented the Treasurer’s Report that raised a number of historic and current financial challenges faced by the Community. Mr Bieri explained that the poor trading of the club, the need for repairs and upgrades that included Fire Certification, as well as the default interest rate on their current loan, had put enormous financial pressure on the Community. 

He estimated the club’s losses were between $2000-$6000 per week. Mr Bieri said that without the help of members raising funds for Cyprus Capital Ltd, the club would not be able to operate. He reassured members that the Community’s assets had significantly increased in value and still held licenses for 60 gaming machines – 33 of which are operational. 

The Auditor’s Report was prepared by Gary William Day, who was present on the day but could not present the report because he excused himself early due to time constraints. 

The Audit Committee Report was then presented by Argie Argyrou. Mr Argyrou was unable to complete his presentation as some members became increasingly irate and began to shout that the Audit Committee members were unknown until the AGM. 

As previously reported in The Greek Herald, some members were concerned that two members of the Audit Committee resigned to take up positions on the Board. 

A motion was passed to close the meeting abruptly.

Mr Costa explained that the remaining member of the Audit Committee was able to appoint two new committee members as per legal advice obtained.   

Mr Argyrou made a decision to invite fellow committee member, Panagioti Joseph, to the podium to complete the presentation. 

A vote was called to nominate and elect a new Audit Committee from members that were present at the AGM. The new Audit Committee is Andrew Antoniou, Roula Christodoulides and Pantelli Antoniou. 

General matters were then opened with Mr Costa answering questions from members that had been submitted prior to the meeting. By this stage, the meeting had carried on for almost three and a half hours, members had begun to leave and tensions had increased, with members becoming more combative. 

Security intervened to break up the scrimmage and escorted members out of the auditorium.

One concerned member raised a question relating to the Platino development proposal which was unable to be answered as it was revealed that the matter was now due before court. 

After a heated argument between Board members and some concerned members, a motion was moved to close the meeting abruptly. The verbal slurs and yelling quickly turned into a physical altercation that saw one elderly member pushed into the podium and dragged by his shirt. Security that was present intervened to break up the scrimmage and escorted members out of the auditorium. It is unclear if the grapple resulted in any injuries.

A member was dragged by his shirt in the grapple.

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