Two points to note in Rob de Castella’s comments in …

Comment on Pay dispute with Robert de Castella: Alice runner John Bell raises new issues. by John Bell.

Two points to note in Rob de Castella’s comments in the Alice News.
The first is that his claim that I was a “volunteer” is incorrect. In late March 2009 I received a phone call from Deek offering me a job as Project Coach. He actively recruited me. Before that phone call I had no knowledge of the Project. He asked me to set up his Project in Central Australia for a documentary that was proposed to him by film maker Matt Long of Good Oil Films. The Project was Matt Long’s idea. But neither of the two white men had had anything to do with the Aboriginal community, and they were in desperate need of someone with the skills and experience to set it up for them.
Secondly, Deek is incorrect in claiming that “government funds became available afterwards” i.e. after I was sacked on 10 November 2010.
On 7 March 2010 Deek claimed in The Sun Herald that unless he received $500,000 “within the next few months, the Project would have to be abandoned.”
In the article he detailed what he wanted the $500,000 for; it included “salary to pay a full time Project Coach to train the athletes to run fast and far.” That was my job. It was the main reason why I was employed.
Information I have obtained under FOI from DoHA shows that Deek received $187,000 from DoHA on 28 April 2010 and a further $313,000 for the project on 18 October 2010. A total of $500,000.
I worked for the period 1 April 2009 to 10 November 2010. So he got the $500,000 before my employment finished.
I discovered the existence of the $500,000 DoHA grant after I was sacked, a few days after my return from New York on 9 November 2010.
A few weeks later, Deek was to return to the NT to thank the athletes and their communities in December 2010. I emailed him asking him to fund my airfares to accompany him … I dropped it in the email that I now knew about the $500,000. He emailed back to me on 26 November 2010 “JB you are welcome to accompany us at your own expense … by the way, there is no $500,000. More misinformmation? What games are you playing now?”
He cc’d the email to a dozen people in the Project in the NT and at Good Oil Films. Including NT Police.
I am presenting this email evidence at the Tribunal and I will point out his public claim in the Alice News on 18 June 2012 that the money did not become available until after my employment was terminated.
Deek knew I had no money, being on a Comcare fortnightly disability payment, and he knew I could not afford the airfare and accommodation.
I am waiting on an FOI request now with DoHA to obtain details of the Project budget for 2009,2010 and 2011. DoHA has been stalling me for many months. I will know tomorrow. Deek has stated in evidence to the Tribunal that no money was earmarked in the budget for a salary for me. It will be interesting to see if he did or not. If he didn’t I will ask how did he justify the Project to DoHA because grant guidelines state that applicants must have Aboriginal community agreement through consultation. I performed that role.
If he did provide a salary, then the obvious question to be asked is – what did he do with it?
I also have information from a reliable source that DoHA originally rejected his application but it was overridden by direct intervention by Mark Arbib, who went to New York with Deek in 2011 and ran the NY Marathon.
An interesting fact about the departmental funding guidelines for 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 is that they did not allow funding for overseas travel or accommodation under a specific guideline heading “What is NOT Funded” … overseas airfares and accommodation were a one line item under this heading.
Then in 2011/2012 this one line item was conspicuously missing … the year that Mark Arbib went to NY.
I will also give evidence to the Tribunal on Monday that Deek has publicly accused me of being “destructive” and “bringing the Project into disrepute” … all because I lodged a claim with Tribunal that he reneged on a handshake agreement. I am waiting to see now if he will try to get anyone in Alice to give evidence against me.
I have not asked any Aboriginal person in Alice Springs to give evidence on my behalf. I did not want to embroil Alice Springs people, who are dear to my heart, in these issues. Because of racial sensitivities and longtime friendships in a dispute that is essentially between two white men who live in Canberra.
However, four Alice Springs people from the wider community are giving written statements on my behalf. One Aboriginal person from FNQ, the uncle of Catherine Freeman, has also provided written statement of evidence on my behalf. Other Aboriginal people around Australia have offered.
Thank you for publishing this letter. It is very stressful and I have not been feeling well for a long time.
I will keep you informed of the Tribunal outcome.
Kind regards, John Bell
[ED – Mr Bell sent his letter before the tribunal hearing on Monday this week. He asked not to publish it before the tribunal hearing had taken place. We have offered Mr de Castella the right of reply.]

Recent Comments by John Bell

Pine Gap and the Nobel prize the Oz government ignores
@ Alex Nelson. Jewish refugees pre-WW2. I have never forgotten the story of the SS St Louis, told to me in 1955 by my grade 5 teacher at St Pius X primary school, Sister Mary Gangolfa, a Missionary Sister of the Sacred Heart, recently arrived in Oz from the Black Forest to teach the sons and daughters of young WW2 veterans.
Nearly 1000 desperate Jewish women and children sailed from Hamburg in 1939 to escape the Nazis. They headed for Cuba, where the ship was refused landing. No one wanted them. Because they were Jews. Shunned, they returned to Belgium, where many eventually died in WW2. I can understand why Russell has become a peacenik, with no disrespect using that word. It’s an admirable cause.


Pine Gap and the Nobel prize the Oz government ignores
@Nadine Williams. “We are the future, we are the link”. Such wonderful inspiring marching music lyrics!. Reminds me of the Good old days of peace activism and the stirring calls to arms (so to speak)…”Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” circa 1968. I can see Kim Jong un joining in….singing at the top of his voice…as today’s born again ICAN Nobel Prize peace activists march on the UN – that paragon of global justice – to demand that all countries get rid of their nuclear warheads. I always loved Puff the Magic Dragon. Ah,nostalgia. Here am I at three score years and eleven, trying to persuade that other paragon of justice -the AFL – to get rid of Collingwood Football Club. In the interests of world sanity.


Pine Gap and the Nobel prize the Oz government ignores
Russell writes a nice heartfelt article. Emotional and committed to the notion that he and his fellow self-named “peaceniks” are enlightened and inhabit a black-and-white “Us against Them” world where they have always been pitted against those hateful “conservatives” who are warmongers who refused to see the light in all the peace causes down the years.
But my experience has been that life is shades of grey. Vietnam halted the Communist drive down through SE Asia long enough to let Malaysia and Indonesia overcome the insurgency.
My South Vietnamese friends Tom and Than Dong will tell you of genocide cleansing throughout their old Montagnard village countryside when Hanoi took over and the oppressed people have since learned to keep their mouths shut on fear of death.
My left wing American friends who did contract work at Pine Gap will tell you that the facility does good work to ensure world peace stability.
And the Amerixan community in Alice has been a socially binding force for good in the Centre.
My German friends from the Black Forest will tell you that the Wall came down because the West fought the good fight but they warn the reality of world Communism in Russia remains an ever present and constant evil.
The best way to describe our world where the vast majority of us “progresives” and “conservatives” know the reality and we all work towards peace in our own ways – is that our daily lives and values are a good mix of “fifty shades of grey”. Not peaceniks v warmongers.


Gap Centre is the centre of The Gap
I would like to commend both Centres for their incomparable work with the young people of Alice down the years.
They have all been magnificent in their selfless work and countless Alicians must have great stories to tell about them.
I would like to pay special tribute to the late Mrs Joan Higgins and Alan, her trusty sidekick of many years at Wills Terrace, and Graham and Ronda Ross down at the Gap.
I have had the great privilege of seeing them in action, giving amazing help to kids in need, 24/7, 365/12. Such good hearts. Alician Treasures.


Same sex marriage campaign in the bush takes to YouTube
Peter. It looks like you have me sorted as a bigoted, born-to-rule white male heterosexual No voter – in no uncertain manner.
To make matters worse, I was also born an Essendon AFL third generation supporter and will go to the death as a True Believer, maintaining the faith in the Mighty Bombers. Your mind is made up. So be it.
However, your comment makes me wonder what your moral judgment is of a No voter who happens not to be white (eg Vaughan) or neither white nor male (eg Theresa)?
Do they have any redeeming qualities as No voters, or are we all No vote bigots with no empathy etc? How do you rationalise their No vote views?
I ask these questions in good faith. I am genuinely curious to learn your thoughts.


Be Sociable, Share!